No your eyes do not deceive you I have updated and FINISHED!
Wow! Well I've just written the closing AN for this story and I don't think I can say anything else. Just as always-
Please enjoy this. Savour our last chapter together in this series and be sure to click that review button. My feelings right now really need you to hit that review button!
Jess spun her chair around to face the ADD, tapping a few buttons and opening coms.
"Oooohkay my beautiful people, we have an alert and possible incursion. Patching co-ordinates to ARC vehicles six and nine. I'm afraid everyone else is going to have to follow, we've been caught in the middle of an upgrade so no sat nav in the other vehicles."
"Hey, Abby! You take six, I'll be nine!"
"Connor! Stop it!"
"Just havin' a joke, Becker. Gheeze! Plus you'd totally make a crude sixty-nine joke to Jess!"
"What do you mean a 'sixty-nine joke'
"I'll, um, explain later, Emily."
"If you've all finished babbling, Jess has been trying to say something."
"Thanks, Lawrence, you truly are my knight in shining armor." Somewhere Becker was heard spluttering. "Second alert to beta team. Co-ordinates sending to vehicle nine-"
"Aw that's no fun!"
Jess watched as her alpha team scrambled out of nine and replaced by Leroy. "Co-ordination will be performed on two separate channels. If Beta could switch over now." A few seconds allowed for each team member to adjust their comm settings.
"Alright, I've got you Matt, eta 20 minutes." Jess hit a key. "Leroy, eta 40 mins. Matt, you're at another warehouse, industrial machinery present, I've called an evac, just hacking into CCTV now. Leroy, I have no eyes on the anomaly in your area so far. Residential area, I'm trying to get a clearer location and find it's street."
As the SUV's progressed towards their locations, Jess fidgeted, flicking back through her channels.
"Jess, hand me a comm." Stacey had appeared behind her without notice.
"What? Oh, hm? Wait, sorry Leroy, not you."
"I'll take Leroy's team, Jess. Come on, help me set up another computer."
"What's up, Jess?"
"The creature's broken through one of the tech rooms at the location. I've lost the cameras."
"Isn't there anything you can do?"
"I'm sorry, Matt. The lower ground still has visual, I can get you to the anomaly and monitor all activity around it. But you're on your own in finding the creature unless it climbs back down a level."
"Alright Jess, thanks."
The SUV's pulled up outside the worksite, Becker jumped out before the engines were shut down, distributing EMD's and handing Connor a closing device. Abby pecked Connor on the lips as they went their separate ways, following Matt and Becker.
The following minutes were silent as they scoped out the area.
"Shh!" Abby raised a hand to the air. "What was that?"
Everyone froze, straining their ears. Then they heard it, a couple of shuffles and a thud ahead. Becker crouched lower and crept forward, signing to the others. A sharp clatter sounded as a soldier knocked a work tool to the floor. After cringing with the rest of the team, Becker gestured to the soldier in question to return to the SUV's. Heron started to comply, head down, knowing the punishment would come later.
Heavy whirring sounded ahead and cursing under his breath Matt lead the team on.
As the team approached the next hall in the warehouse a scream was heard and before the team had time to gather their wits, a creature charged them. Matt and Better took the first shots. Abby, diving out of the creatures path giving a small cry of help, but under the noise of crashing boxes, a spray of blood from the creatures injury and Bounty's yelp of pain as she was thrown to the side, no-one heard.
As quickly as the creature came, it was gone again, finding itself trapped and under fire it twisted in the enclosed space, showering more crates on the team, and returned to the other room.
While Becker and Matt helped Abby back to her feet, another primal scream sounded from the next room followed by a thud. The heavy whirring of industrial machinery continued in the ominous silence and the team didn't need to look into the room to know the creature was dead.
The team stood around the dead creature, first in slight shock at the brutality of its death. Then, they slipped into their normal attitudes, Abby mourning the loss of (what she had no reason to believe was) such a beautiful creature and Matt and Becker mentally debating the cleanup.
"Well," Matt broke the silence, "your job is animal transportation."
"I'm not a coroner!"
"It was an animal. The remains need to be moved. Get to work."
Becker glared at Matt and gestured at the creature. "It's missing a head." Matt gave him a pointed look. "I'll start the search then."
As the soldier walked away, shining his light in all crevices, Matt inspected the area around the dismembered body.
"Hey! Becker!" He saw the man tilt his head in acknowledgment and so he held up the object he'd discovered for the solder to see. "The dinosaur will be missing it's front horn."
"Great." The soldier turned to raise an eyebrow. "That'll help me distinguish it from all the other dinosaur heads I find."
Both Jess and Lawrence were heard snorting with laughter over the comms.
The animal head was eventually recovered, having been transported a distance by one of the pieces of machinery. Jess, in the meantime, had organized a truck to remove the creature to a secure location and Matt busily organized everyone to assist in loading it.
A yelp from Bounty distracted Becker and Lawrence as they helped lift the dinosaur. She three legged-ly ran to Becker whining. Immediately dropping what he was doing, leaving another solider to run forward and take his place, Becker picked his girl up and carried her to a stack of wooden planks, depositing her and checking her over. As she had been running around the site, Bounty had cut a corner too closely and torn her leg on a nail.
Knowing the team was struggling without his help and they were unable to do anything about the injury until they returned to the ARC, Becker did what he could quickly. Telling the others to wait with the ex-incursion until he was done, he quickly removed his EMD, protective vest and shirt, then tied the back material of his shirt around the wound and re donned the other items.
"Lawrence! Watch out!" Jess's voice her the concern which most associated with her worrying about Becker.
"I'm okay, Jess. Becker, we got a situation here."
Becker squinted at the truck as it left the site, wondering if he ought to have made it wait for their final sweep of the warehouse. "Go on." Turning, he raced back into the building and heading deep to where he knew Lawrence to be. Listening to the chatter he know there was another two incursions. One seemed serious. Lawrence was dealing with that one. From the trouble he was having he was guessing it was something from the future. The other incursion was nothing but a bird and the distance between the two were closing.
"Just a small bird, Jess. I'm surprised you caught it on the camera."
"I miss nothing." Becker could almost see the cheeky smile on her face. He rounded the corner to join his teammates as a flurry of wings passed through the opposite door.
"Not a clue what the scary thing is- or how it's come from the same anomaly as these older animals. Well the dead one was a Uintatherium, from the Eocene. Sooo given the era… I'll give my Star Trek collection betting that that bird was a… Foro." Connor mumbled at first, then began to get excited. "Wow, a Foro. The fabled missing link. If we could study one we could prove or disprove an evolutionary link between a Cuckoo and Hoatzin! Maybe if we caught it and- " He broke off as he caught Becker's look. "I'll get down there and open up the-"
"Anomaly fluctuations. Your anomaly is about to close Matt." Recent improvements in equipment sensitivity had allowed the team to pick up frequency patterns in the anomalies. Given the collected data they already had, they had been able to start monitoring the harmonics resonating and pick up on the first signs of the waves decaying.
"Damn!" The entire team swore.
"We need to get moving guys! We got about 5 minutes! Lawrence, future creature. You know what to do."
Lawrence did know what to do. Becker's code was for "Contain if you can, but under no circumstances let it leave the warehouse." Becker started to follow the direction of the supposed Foro, ready to start herding. "CONNOR!"
"'m going! 'm going!"
Connor had just left the vast room when Bounty picked up on what was happening. True to her thoroughbred Collie nature she rounded on the bird. Within seconds the two animals were dancing around each other, testing predator and prey, deciding who was who. Bounty then paced backwards, the bird following with a squawk. Bounty hunter turned and fled, the rest of the team broke a sweat trying to keep up, hoping that Connor would reach the anomaly before Bounty had lured the creature there.
"Bloody 'ell!" Connor jumped to the side as he cleared himself and the equipment from the animals bounding down the stairs to his level.
Adrenaline coursed through his veins as Becker reached the top of the steps. Looking down at the anomaly for the first time in the course of the incursion, he noticed the emptiness of the room about the center, the stone concrete floors and walls, echoing back every sound, and mostly he noticed the rapid fluctuations in the anomaly.
"Five seconds." Jess read from one of her screens before turning back to the video feed from the lower ground. "What the- BOUNTY!"
Jess screamed uselessly as Bounty Hunter jumped through the anomaly, baiting the bird to its homeland.
"BOUNTY!" Becker started to sprint from the steps, the others in tow. "BOUNTY!" Calling desperately for his dog he lost his footing and fell to the bottom of the staircase.
Matt and Abby jumped the last steps, terrified that the fall may have altered his sight once more but by the time they reached the man he was already on his feet, running once more for the anomaly.
"BECKER!" Abby attempted to call him back, Connor trying to grab at an arm. "BECKER!"
The anomaly started to fluctuate in size.
"BECKER DON'T! IT'S CLOSING!"
The army man continued to run making a last second leap at the orb, as he fell through the air they heard Jess's now-muted scream through their comms.
"It's closed!" Abby gasped.
"Where is he? Where is he?!" Jess's cries came through to the team, forgetting, in her panic, to consult the screen in from of her.
"NO!" Becker pushed his upper body up with his arms and looked for the anomaly before pushing himself all the way to his feet. He spun on the spot once, then turned his attention to the ground where he knew his dog had made her leap.
"No." Becker's hands rose, fingers twisting in his hair as he looked.
She was gone and he froze.
Bounty, the beautiful, happy, fluffy tailed, wide eyed dog was gone.
His Bounty, the creature who saved his life, who rescued him from the deepest darkest despair was gone.
He continued to stare at the ground. There was still a creature on the loose and he knew he should be helping Lawrence but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. The world was wrong without her. She was all that was right, everything that his life was, the reason his life was good.
Becker just felt numb. Numb, with a gaping hole eating at his chest, somehow the emptiness weighed so heavy inside of him. Tears fell thickly from his eyes at the knowledge that his complaining was gone. She was lost.
A hand touched his shoulder and he knew Connor was behind him wearing the same shocked and disbelieving expression. He turned his head and saw his pale face and only one thought rang through his mind.
"Where is she?"
He had to know. It would eat at him if he didn't. But at the same time he was terrified. What if she were in the past? What if she were in the future? Neither option was favourable. They didn't even know what the future was, Becker just knew that those things, those predators, they were always present.
He didn't want to know.
He didn't know which would be worst.
But he had to.
Connor shook his head.
"Sorry, mate." He spoke softly and Becker's heart stopped. It was the future.
No. It was the past.
"I don't know."
"What?" Becker's eyes widened. He had to know.
Connor took a step backwards as Becker's eyes narrowed.
"Where. Is. She."
"I don't know." The scientist looked close to tears at the loss of Bounty and the hurt on Becker's face.
"WHERE IS SHE CONNOR?"
"I- I don't know!" Connor looked around wildly, almost as if expecting Bounty Hunter to jump out, barking that she was still in the room. "I- I didn't get a chance to check the dating device. And it doesn't make sense here with them being past and that other creature future… I just- I didn't get a chance. I don't know how two times were here. Perhaps if two anomalies from past and future both opened here, at the same moment, with reverse polarity to one another, they may stabilise and allow both in but I don't- I'm sorry, Becker. I mean it could be Spaghetti Junction through there, I- I just- Becker I- I don't know. I don't."
Becker backed away from the older man, shaking his head in horror. "No. No. No." Glancing around all walls of the room he looked back at Connor, stepped forward once more and grabbing his shirt again, hissing as he spoke. "Make an opening device."
"Helen Cutter used one. She said you can't always see anomalies but they're there. It's still here. You need to open it."
"OPEN IT, CONNOR!"
"I'm sorry, man. I can't. I can't make an opening device."
He started to shake his head. "I- I'm not going to."
"CONNOR!" Becker started to shake the man in desperation. "GET MY DOG BACK!"
"Becker!" Matt tried to intervene. "Let Connor go."
"Not until he says he'll bring her back."
"He's right. He can't make an opening device- sorry- shouldn't make an opening device. Becker, you have to understand. They're too risky. After everything that happened with New Dawn you should know that."
Connor slipped out of Becker's grasp as the soldier turned on his other colleague and friend.
"THERE'S NOTHING RISKY ABOUT IT! HE MAKES IT, WE BRING IT HERE, HE OPENS THE ANOMALY, WE GET BOUNTY, WE CLOSE THE ANOMALY AND DESTROY IT!"
"It's not going to happen, Becker."
"FOR GODS SAKE! How many times have I stopped you guys going through there? How many times have I saved you from them? And how many times have I let you go through when you asked? Just let me have this! PLEASE!"
They all looked at the man with sorrowful eyes, Jess's quite sobbing making a soundtrack to the silence. Becker, big, strong, action man Becker was begging them and, that which was in their power to do, they wouldn't. They shouldn't.
"Come on, Becker. Let's get you back to the ARC."
He shook his head, ignoring the tears, part of his mind thinking of how Bounty once licked them away. Back before Jess. Back before he regained his sight. Back when she was the only light in his dark. "No." He looked at the ground, almost seeing the ghost of Bounty's paw prints where she jumped. "I'm not leaving."
"The anomaly isn't going to reopen."
"I don't care."
Becker moved to the side of the room and sat heavily on the floor, never taking his eyes off the spot from which Bounty vanished.
Becker pushed his team mates off him and ran for the anomaly, finding himself in the past. His sight was clear for a moment as his surroundings were illuminated by the orb. Then the light vanished. Out in the long grassy plain he saw his precious dog, chased by a raptor.
He tried to shoot the predator with his EMD but when he made to lift the gun from his side, it melted away into water.
"BOUNTY!" The man screamed at the top of his voice. Hoping with every fiber of his being that the dog would survive. He ran after the animals, feet flying faster than ever before. Trees suddenly approached obscuring some of his sight but he only increased his pace. The forest braches whipped back at his face, tearing long gashes into his cheeks.
Pushing through thick foliage he finally came to an opening.
After staring in shock at the sudden change in surroundings he realised he was in the future he once visited when they had to save that Maitland child.
Then horror hit him.
The Future Predators.
He needed something loud. Something that would distract them from his search for his dog. Time blurred as he made a makeshift wind chime from discarded pieces of metal. Hanging it from a useless power cable he stood back in satisfaction before beginning to call for his puppy.
Searching, he found himself back at the sight of the anomaly he had once entered through, now closed. Ahead of him he recognised the stretch of road he had run down during his suicide mission to save the team and there, hiding under one of the cars, was Bounty.
"Bounty! Bounty Hunter!" He called softly, not wanting to draw attention away from the chiming metal which was being torn into by multiple predators.
The dog heard her master, her head spun in his direction, ears perking up and she gave a low keen. Relief flooded through him. He had found her.
"Come here girl! Come here, sweetie."
Shuffling out from her hiding place, Bounty started to creep forward, keeping close to the ground. Then, when no threat appeared, she increased her pace until she was flat out sprinting.
Only a moment too late the two noticed the young Future Predator.
No. No! It couldn't happen. Becker's unconscious determination changed the events and the dream back-paced.
There, hiding under one of the cars, was Bounty.
"Bounty! Bounty Hunter!" He called softly, not wanting to draw attention away from the chiming metal which was being torn into by multiple predators. But he wasn't loud enough, she couldn't hear him over the clatter of the metal.
He had to risk it. If he didn't she would die. Running from his cover he drew the attention of several predators.
He had given both their positions away.
No! No! He had to get her to safety.
And there hiding under one of the cars was Bounty…
The next morning Becker refused to leave his bed. He was phoned by each member of the team, and two, at least, knock on his door, but he refused to converse with them, with anyone. It was late afternoon before Jess finally managed to persuade him to let her in.
They sat in quiet for a few minutes until Becker shortly asked what she wanted.
"I- Um- I've lost a dog before. I- I was thinking that you may- well that I could help."
He looked up with bleak blank eyes. "How can you help?" His eyes were watering up again.
Jess looked nervous, uncertain. She bit her lip and fiddled with the hem of her skirt before looking up at him, their watery eyes meeting. "Would you-" she swallowed, "can- Come with me?" She stood and held out her hand, inviting him to join her.
The soldier sat in the car, stunned. Throughout the entire journey he made not a noise, barely moved, not caring where Jess was taking him, not bothering to ask. He just watched the outside with the same cold blank eyes.
Jess was half tempted to call him up on his actions, not appreciating his surroundings, as she often did to get her way and to draw him out when he was being surly. But it wasn't going to work. The sight of him so closed scared her. She knew Becker was one to shut the world to his heart but- this wasn't his heart he was shutting. His mind wasn't there. Becker literally did not care about anything going on around him. He was stoic.
When Jess finally pulled to a halt, she moved to Becker's side of the car and gently coaxed him out. It was then that Becker took note of what was around him.
The immaculately kept lawn caught his attention first, then the perfect picket fence and the bold coloured shrubbery that made the borders. Raising his eyes, he realized how dry they were from his excessive crying, forgetting again about where he was and thinking only of Bounty.
"Becker." Jess gently pulled his arm towards the front door.
When Jess started to fish some keys from her bag, Becker's eyes fixed onto the wooden engraving handing by the door "The Parkers."
"No. This isn't the best time to meet the family. Jess. I can't."
"They're not in." He still looked uncertain. "I promise you, Becker. It's okay. Please, trust me."
The man took a deep breath before accepting her outstretched hand.
If he were in any other mood, Becker would have taken the time and care to notice his surroundings. Trying to find out all he could about the place where his Miss Jessie P grew up. When she lead him upstairs and into her childhood bedroom Becker would have looked carefully around the room. He would have noted the ballet pictures, dance pumps draped over computer equipment, a floral dress from a flamenco competition hung proudly on the wall next to science prizes.
Instead, out of force of habit, he made her messy bed to sit down on.
"I- I stayed here last night." Jess waved at her bed covers by way of explanation.
He looked at her in slight confusion.
"I came back here because, well, because when Fey- remember my dog? Well when she died I was inconsolable. I was hoping that being here, where I tried to get over her death, I hoped it would bring me some comfort about Bounty going through the anomaly. And well…" Jess turned away to collect a notebook from her bedside table, flicking to a page she looked down and then pressed it to her chest. She pulled an uncertain face. "Here."
Had anyone else been given the photo which was stuck in the notepad, they would have focused on Jess. The girl was wearing a bright pink, filly princess gown, a plastic tiara on her curled hair, glitter covering her and a Happy Birthday banner hanging in the background.
But Becker only had eyes for the figure in her arms.
"Bounty!" He looked stunned, shell shocked. Jess decided to explain.
"I didn't think about it until I remembered you came back from work without your shirt on." She said. "You'd tied it on Bounty." She wobbled on her feet as she moved nervously. "It made me think of Fey. You see… she came to me injured. She followed me home from school. Wouldn't stop. It was as if she knew me. She- She- I made Mum and Dad let me look after her. Then they fell in love with her too."
But Becker didn't hear her words.
"She's dead." His voice was thick. "You told me. She is dead."
"My dog is dead."
"That's not it Becker. That's not the point."
He looked up at Jess for half a moment before returning his sights to the picture in his hands.
Jess felt her heart break for him.
"The point is that she lived, Becker." She dropped to her knees in front of him. Her hands reaching around him to grasp the hem of his shirt, cold fingers touching his warm skin. "She wasn't stuck in a past era, or in the future. She was here. In this time. With a family that loved her just so much."
"But, Jess." He leant forward, placing his forehead against hers, still looking at the picture. "I don't care." Feeling her tense he continued. "I want her here. I want.." He took a deep, shuddering breath, his voice breaking. "I want her back. Jess, don't you see? She saved my life. If it weren't for Bounty…" He removed a hand from the picture to brush his fingers over Jess's face then dropped it back to his lap. "You and me… We wouldn't be you and me. There wouldn't be any 'us.' I would have never made it back to the ARC. I would never have left Marianne. I'd never have got her back to start with and it's only by getting her back, by finally seeing her in my blindness, that I understood how deeply I feel for you.
"It's all thanks to Bounty, Jess. I want her back. I need her back."
"You can't have her." Jess whispered her words, unsure of how they would be taken. "She's already lived an entire life. A full life. She was happy."
"So, she forgot me then." His voice was low and broken.
"No! No, Becker! Not in the slightest! She never forgot you!"
"Then why didn't she find me?" He finally stopped gripping the edges of the notebook with one hand so that he could trace a finger over the image of his girl.
Jess sniffed, finding the entire conversation hard. She wanted Bounty back too. She wanted the puppy that she could hold in her arms. The one that woke her up the morning before with a lick to the nose. But she'd had that dog before when she was younger. Fey, jumping up on her covers of a morning and licking her until her resolve gave in and Jess rolled out of bed. She had had that.
"Maybe she didn't know where to look."
"She could have found me. If she found you she could have found me. She forgot."
"No, Becker. You're forgetting." Jess tilted her head so that she could see his eyes clearly. "Think about all the things that I suggested we did with Bounty. I told you she would like Lord Of The Rings. Remember? When Lord Of The Rings first came out on video my brother bought it. He'd loved the film and books. He put it in straight away and Fey heard it and watched it. She loved that film. I remember because I'd been ill and in bed. She had been looking after me but then just left. I was so confused that she would do that. She always stayed with me.
"Oh! It makes so much sense, Becker. And I said about not introducing her to tennis balls, I said about teaching Bounty to dance to I'm Gunna Be 500 miles. Remember? I said these things because Fey loved them. Fey loved them because she was Bounty. Because she remembered you. Because these things reminded her of you. I could never get Bounty to dance when you weren't there. She did it for you. To remember you. She loved you, Becker. She loved you."
His face screwed up in pain. "God, this isn't helping. I want her back. I don't want her to have just remembered me. I want her with me." He let out a harsh breath. "Jess."
She threw herself on him, them both falling back on the bed. "I'm so sorry!"
"You didn't make her go through." He turned them onto their sides, Jess's head resting on one of his arms.
"I'm the reason she's dead. I'm sorry. If it weren't for me she'd still be alive. You would still be able to see her. I'm sorry, Becker." Her words were a rush, trying to escape before the next sob forced it's way up her throat.
The man closed his arms around her, pulling her into his chest.
"How?" Becker swallowed as he heard his voice wobble. "How did it happen?"
Jess took a deep, shuddering breath. "I- I was being bullied." Jess was silent for a while longer as she tried to regain some composure. "I- was walking home from school one day and… and… they wouldn't leave me alone." She sniffed again. "They started to get aggressive. Fey- Bounty- she heard me cry for help. She- she came and barked at them. Warning them to get away from me. They ran. But one of the boys he- he ran into the road. And there was a car coming and it was going to hit him and-" Jess took a huge chocking breath. "And- and-."
Becker tightened his grip, he could tell where it was going.
"She- she ran into the road and jumped at him and pushed him and he fell out of the way but… but… Becker, it's all my fault! She…"
"It's okay, Jess." His voice was tense. "She loved you too. What about the boy?"
"What about him?"
"Well, was he hurt?"
"No, well, the wing mirror caught his arm and broke it. But he was okay."
"So it wasn't for nothing."
"No. Nothing she did was for nothing."
Half an hour later Jess pulled him up off the bed again, then disappeared under in to retrieve a box. Leading the way again, she carried the box downstairs, through the house and out the back door to the yard.
In a back corner, between two maple trees, lay a large logged trunk of a tree that once stood in that spot, the meaning of the spot was clear.
Jess gently slid to her knees in front of the tree remains and opened the box on her lap. Looking back up to Becker she handing him a piece of cloth.
The soldier knelt down into the soft dirt, the shirt he had lost just the day before resting on his lap, his fingers playing at the now old and tattered hem. Jess slipped her bottom from her heels to the ground, leaning on Becker. Linking their arms she slid her fingers down to intertwine with his.
"I miss her."
"Me too, Becker."
He blinked at the tears several times. "I'm never going to get her back."
Jess felt terrible for taking away the small hope he had nurtured, the small hope that, sometime in the future, Bounty Hunter would come bouncing back through an anomaly.
Dragging his eyes from the grave Becker looked at the women at his side. At the feel of his fingers tightening their grip on her, Jess glanced up.
The shine of her eyes reminded Becker faintly of a dream he once had, a nightmare where all that he loved faded. Keeping his grip on the shirt, he lifted his arm over and around Jess to encase her and press a kiss to her head.
"Don't leave me."
The wind picked up, whipping Jess's hair into their faces. She smiled sadly up at him, squeezing his hand.
"I'm not going anywhere."
Oh god please don't hate me!
This is it! I can't believe it's finally over!
I hope you all got that reference to the dream there! I've been planning to use it for over a year now! Gheeze!
The worlds BIGGEST thank you to EVERYONE who has R&Red and Favourited and Followed and I want to write all your names out here like I normally do but it will delay my posting this by another hour at least if I do and I think I've left you waiting long enough.
However a special thanks is to SLP for giving me this plot bunny. How I laugh when I remember that I asked her "Would you like this to be a one-shot, I think I can do that"!
I'm actually a little sad now! Bye bye my dear story! I hope everyone has enjoyed reading this as I have loved writing it!