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That's Amore!
by Charles M. Bonanno
Charles M. Bonanno -- all rights reserved
 

@ # % $ ^ * type symbols used to identity different 'voices'.

A single capitalized word within a sentence is meant to be spoken with emphasis.

Totally capitalized word(s) within a sentence are meant to be shouted or yelled.


Year 2015 Isla Sorna 120 miles West of Costa Rica High-Security Dinomorph Confinement Facility

<click> Auto-alert perimeter alarm. <click> <click> Breach detected at 0545 hours. <click> <click> Auto-alert perimeter alarm. <click> <click> Breach detected at...

^ That's enough of that! Yo, Harold?! You awake out there?

# Yeah. Yeah. I'm on it. Give me a sec, Sue. Here ya go. I've got a red light in sector 12, subsection 4. It's cold. Running diagnostics. Damn!

^ What's up? Something burnt out?

# Nah. It's the access gate in front of the guest compound. My board's showing it powered down and wide open.

^ Well... do something. We're Both going to catch hell if something gets inside.

# What the heck ya think I'm trying to do? The servo isn't responding. Someone is gonna have ta go out there and close it manually.

^ In the dark? Alone? That's in Your job description. It Isn't in mine. Don't forget to slap on some barbecue sauce before you go.

# Ha! Ha! Very funny. Call the guard shack. Let Them close it. I'm declaring a Yellow Alert. Lock the joint down. Raise all barriers to Stage Two power levels.

^ Like I need someone to tell me how to do my job. Done, and done. Anything else on your screen?

# All clear. Fence perimeter motion sensors show no activity. Going infrared. Shit! Shit! Shit!

^ What...?

# Get admin. on the horn. Tell 'em we've got a situation out here.

^ Roger. What's the deal? They're going to be ticked when I get them out of bed this early.

# It looks like... hold on. Let me double check. Okay, I'm tracking a heat source traveling outbound.

^ Outbound? A patient?

# 'A patient?' That's rich. After all this time ya still talk like a nurse. When are ya gonna learn? Most of those Things out there would tear ya apart without a second thought!

^ Give it a rest, Harold.

# 'Give it a rest'?! Just you wait until I find the SOB who let a hatchling wander inside my bunker because they were too lazy to close a service port!

^ You've got to admit it was funny. It sneaks up from behind and bites you on...

# I know exactly where it bit me, thank-you-very-much.

^ And what does the brave and highly trained security guard do?

# Don't remind me.

^ He pops the emergency exit and finds mama Allosaurus waiting outside. All four metric tons of her.

# I'm overjoyed my near-death-experience amuses you.

^ And then she chases your butt back to the compound for... what? Three? Four kilometers?

# It was Six, as if anyone cares. If I hadn't forgotten my old two-banger trail bike outside, she'd have caught me for sure. And lets not bring up the subject of butts anymore... okay?

^ Sorry... but... you must be finding it kinda hard to sit right about now. Didn't Doctor Challenger yank out the last of the stitches just before you started your shift?

# And they itch like freakin' mad! Who'd a thought something that small would have so many friggin' teeth?!

^ Hang on. I'm getting something on ship-to-shore.

Good morning, Captain. You're going to be docking... when? Running late, huh? Okay, give me the live cargo count. Please go slower, I'm writing this down. Thirty-five head assorted cattle. Forty-four hogs. Twenty-nine sheep. Eighteen goats. What about the chickens for Safari Joe's Feed-A-Dino show? Was that one hundred and twenty? Good. See you around noon. Bye.

^ It was nothing important, Harold. Just the Nostromo's weekly supply run. Go on. What did you see?

# Looked human. Running due North more or less. Kinda hard to tell with all the foliage in way, but I did get some IR scatter off something metallic. About the size of a large handgun or small auto carbine I'd say. The image faded off the screen around a hundred meters out.

^ Anything on visual?

# Nope, still way too dark under the canopy. Sunrise in twenty-five minutes. You'd better contact the helipad, Sue. There's gonna be any empty seat on the return flight.

^ Heck of a way to commit suicide. I'm calling up a SAR team.

# You jokin'? What ya think search and rescue is gonna find? Besides, most of 'em are runnin' around the north coast trying to locate those poachers air-patrol spotted. By the time you round up anyone... speaking of the devil.

^ What...?

# Someone's callin' on the SAR channel. Probably Lopez. You wanna listen in?

^ Sure. Patch on line five. It's secure.

# Here ya go.

* Buenos diaz, Senor Winters! Wake up and turn on scrambler, please. Have I got sweet deal for you, mi amigo!

# It's on. Speak to me.

* Sixty-Forty?

# How about Forty-Sixty?

* Aye! You're killing me! How am I going to feed three wives and twelve children?!

# I've read your personnel file, Lopez. What wives? But ya Do have a bunch of kids. How about I call the Costa Rican child support authorities and tell them where to find...

* Did I say sixty-forty? Forgive my poor English! I meant to say forty-sixty.

# I thought so. Go ahead. What ya got for me?

* What I Don't have is a better question.

# That much?

* Like you'd never believe. These gun-loco idiots came loaded. And it's not like they're going to mind us selling their stuff.

# No survivors?

* Survivors? You make good joke my greedy Norte Americano friend. LOPEZ LOVE YOU CRAZY GRINGOS!!

# Yeah... yeah, we love you too. How about keepin' it short. I'm kinda in the middle of something right now.

* Bueno. Let me check list. Six large-caliber Israeli special-forces sniper rifles still loaded with armor piercing or exploding rounds. Two damaged, maybe good for parts. Nine Glock handguns with mucho spare ammunition. There be two no... make that three crates of fragmentation granades and... mierda! Come on, Mario. Get rid of that thing. You trying to get us killed?

# There a problem?

* No... no problem. It's one of the new guys. He very estupido. He loading the crate of dino eggs we found into truck. One whiff and the scaly ones will follow us all the way back to the compound. We've already used half of our pepper spray supply keeping them away as it is.

# Eggs? Since when do poachers collect dino eggs?

* Who knows? Maybe they planning to make omelets for breakfast?

# Any idea who they were?

* Well... I'd bet my next paycheck most of them were Arabs. Everything in sight is covered in those squiggly scratches they use and I found a couple ripped up Korans. No ID's, of course, but I did find something funny.

# Funny ha ha or funny strange?

* Funny strange I'd say. One of the poor bastards wrote a few words on a tree in his own blood before he died. Since they were in English I thought you might be interested.

# And what did they say?

* As near as I can tell it went something like, 'Osama Lives Forever'. That mean anything to you?

# Osama? Osama? Nope... sounds like a hemorrhoid ointment, doesn't it? Just clean it off before you leave and forget about it. The last thing we need is a tour group spotting it.

* Already done.

# You finish counting noses yet.

* I'm guessing ten Arabs. Maybe two or three local mainlanders. I'll know for sure when we finish putting the pieces together... literally.

# Sounds ugly.

* The worst I've seen in eight years working here, mi hermano. Whatever these people did... may God look after their souls... really ticked off the natives.

The smart one usually chase Greenpeace Free-The-Dino-People protestors around for fun... or pick-off a couple from a poaching party if attracted by gun fire... but this was wholesale slaughter.

# Any chance some escaped in those speed boats air-patrol photographed coming ashore?

* No, compadre. I checked. Something really Big used the boats, and the two men guarding them, as chew-toys. The only way they could've escaped is by water. And that'd be one Madre of a swim.

# How much longer are you gonna be out there?

* Four... five hours tops. It's going to take about an hour to finish loading their stuff in Big Bertha. And a couple more to bag up the remains of those who tried to run away into the smaller armored hauler.

Cleaning up their last-stand inside the campsite should keep us busy until... Miguel! Show some respect for your elders! That's Not a soccer ball! Did I tell you to kick that old man's head into the bag? Stop! That's even worse! Don't swing him around by his beard! Pick him up with Both hands! Good. Now turn around and bring back the rest of his body. What you mean there's no more? Look again!

# Good help is hard to find, isn't it?

* Getting people to work out here? You have no idea.

# I imagine it was the usual M.O.

* Si. The usual. The smart ones stampeded a large no-brainer through their campsite a couple nights back. It immediately attacked their noisy portable electrical generator.

Imagine, with dozens of nice tall trees to pick from, these fools pitched tents on the ground and lit the place up like a San Jose whorehouse. While they were blasting holes in the Acrocanthosaurus the others got in unnoticed and... you know. They might as well have posted signs inviting Them to dinner.

# Where exactly are you? Your signal is pretty weak.

* Ah... where's that maldito map? Here we go. Quadrant Sixteen. Sector twelve. I'm in forest clearing roughly thirty-five kilometers away, as the Pterodactyl flies, if you don't count a few mountains. I'm standing on the edge of a large nesting site.

# Large? What are you talking about, Lopez? A couple holes in the ground filled with infertile eggs doesn't exactly meet the definition of that word. It's not like these things breed successfully or true all that often. They're only Scabs, not real dinosaurs.

* I know it. You know it. But I think someone forgot to tell them, compadre. There be... nueve, diez, once... twelve old nests within a few meters of where I'm standing. And I'll bet you case of imported American beer no cute little pollitos came out of all those empty eggshells.

^ Harold, I'm e-mailing a note to the genetics lab. Doctors Chan and Yamaki are going to want to know about this.

# Yeah... go ahead. Just keep quiet about the other stuff, okay?

^ Duh!

* Sue? That you, preciosa? You still married to this loser? Any chance you in market for Real Man?

^ You know any, Lopez?

* Ouch! That hurt. My pride is mortally wounded. How will I ever recover?

^ If you set your mind to it, I'm sure you could round up a date out there.

* You have a dirty mind, mujer. Lopez cosmopolitan. Lopez broadminded. Lopez no bigot. A little fur, some claws, or even tail no problem, but Lopez never jump on a scaly prehistoric museum exhibit having more teeth than a chainsaw!

^ It's true. You really Do learn something new every day. I'd always thought it was an ancient instinct that kept most animorph Scabs from wanting to work surrounded by dinosaurs, but it really turns out they're scared of Lopez with a hard-on!

* Very cute, funny lady. Maybe you come out here and try one yourself?

^ Sorry. I've never dated outside my species, but what about that Coelurosaur that tags behind you like Lassie? I thought you two were the best of friends.

* Some friend. I knew she had to be up to no good, but I couldn't believe something that small could be dangerous. Hombre, was I wrong! The whole thing was probably her idea. I went outside Saturday morning to remove leaves covering a remote sensor pod, and Lucy started singing old pop tunes full blast while...

^ What's so strange about that? Delusional and psychotic, no doubt... and it's a given that only the highest degree saurians can compete out there for long... but at least a fifth of them aren't anywhere close to dumb animals.

* Por favor! Madonna? Marion Mason? I know for fact Lucy opera fan. She can repeat word-for-word every line of dialogue Rossini ever wrote. You should hear her perform The Barber of Seville. Magnifico! Bring tear to eye.

^ Let me guess. She was providing cover?

* Verdad. I never heard him coming. Bang! I'm flying through the air and Lucy is cursing at big raptor male not to damage her share or...

^ What kind of raptor? Velociraptor? Utharaptor?

^ Give me break! You think Lopez have time to check Dr. Stein's Field Guide to Modern Dinosauria? If not for padded Kelvar vest that monster's kick tear me in half! I threw pepper bomb in its face and drove jeep like bat-from-hell. Now I've got three cracked ribs and it hurts like el infierno to breathe. That teach me for going outside all alone.

^ Share? What did she want a share of?

* My liver and kidneys. Such terrible language. If I ever catch that little traitor I clean her mouth with soap!

# Here we go! Sorry, Lopez. Gonna have to cut this short. Call me when ya get back.

* We meet in warehouse to exchange merchandise?

# Sure. Usual time and place. Over and out.

^ What's happening, Harold?

# I've got two implanted transponder tracks coming into range on an intercept course. Call up monitor twelve if ya wanna watch.

^ That didn't take long. And no can do on monitor twelve. That feed curcuit went down yesterday for maintenance. Give me a blow by blow anyway. Might as well get all this down for the legal department.

# Tango nineteen in the lead bearing one hundred and seventy two degrees magnetic. Gamma sixty two coming up fast from behind. Wait... Gamma sixty two is slowing down. Tango nineteen still closing. Running computer sim. Got it. Unless the target alters course, Tango nineteen will make contact in one minute... maybe one minute and forty-five seconds.

^ Let's see... let's see... here it is.

Subject: Tango nineteen. Utharaptor ostrommaysorum. Carnivore. Male. Adult. Seven hundred ninety kilos and five point eight meters length upon admission. Human range intelligence. Ability to vocalize without Voder, good. Saurian norm morphology. Committed 2012. Recluse. No record of attacks on park personnel or tourists. Approach with caution.

# Come on... don't keep me waiting. I've got a killer headache coming on. What about the other one, Sue?

^ Hunk of junk! I knew I shouldn't have upgraded this console to Windows 2016. It's taking forever to decrypt... finally!

Subject: Gamma six two. Deinonychus antirrhopus. Carnivore. Female. Adult. Seventy-two kilos and three point one meters length upon admission. Human range intelligence. Ability to vocalize without Voder, good. Saurian norm morphology. Committed 2011. Known hazard and major trouble maker. Avoid contact.

Doesn't sound good, does it?

^ When does it ever? This ain't no petting zoo we're running here. If they were even halfway rational they'd be over on Isla Nublar with the saurian herbivore morphs. They sure as hell wouldn't be running loose just waiting to pick us off.

# Why'd you think he did it?

^ He who?

# The runner.

^ And its gotta be a guy... why?

# Women are rarely that moronic, Harold. It's a lot neater... and far less painful... to kill yourself with a handful of sleeping pills. Only an over-melodramatic male suffering from terminal testosterone poisoning would think death-by-dinosaur is a Good way to end it.

^ Is that some kinda subtle battle-of-the-sexes dig, Sue?

# Jeeze, you think? You'll never see Me climbing over a twenty-thousand volt electric fence with a bunch of brainless drinking buddies.... and that goes double when that fence is the only thing between me and Jurassic nutcases that want to bite my Fat Ass off... so I can collect dino teeth to sell to some rich Bozo on the mainland. Sound familiar, Tarzan?

^ "I'M NOT FAT!! I'M JUST BIG BONED!!"

# Forgive me. I don't know What I was thinking. < I've seen a fully morphed Apatosaurus-Scab with thinner bones! >

^ You mumble something about an Apatosaurus?

# Not me. Most likely cross-talk on the comm. freq. You know how those night-run tour-guides love to chatter. They never shut up when they're driving camera-totting tourists around in one of those armored personnel carriers in the dark.

^ Yeah... sure. I wonder. Why does that designation sound so familiar?

# What are you talking about, Harold?

^ Gamma sixty two. Doesn't that reference code remind ya of something?

# Did you sleep through All the orientation seminars or just most of them? Gamma sixty two is famous. She was in all the papers. Think back a bit. The NYC Domino's Pizza massacre ring any bells?

^ Wow! That's her?

# Yep. The city's most famous radical feminist wakes up a dino and starts speed-dialing home-delivery cheese pizzas. Probably would've kept it up all night, but the manager eventually noticed his people weren't coming back. Took out four of his crew before a SWAT team brought her down with a Trank dart.

Need I remind you what she was tearing off and topping those pizzas with, hubby dear?

^ Like any guy'd ever forget that! Human intelligence and saurian instincts. Talk about a nasty combination.

# Don't knock it. We'd both be out of a job otherwise. Someone has to keep an eye on this bunch. And if the U.N. Department in charge of dangerous Scab Reservations can make some bread showing off these to the tourists... so much the better. Helps pay our salaries and their upkeep.

^ Not our problem anyway. Let admin. go out there with a pooper-scooper and pick up what's left of that idiot. And, while we're on the topic of expensive upkeep, why don't ya take a look inside the bottom right-hand drawer of my desk?

# Oh, no. You're not getting me that easy. If another one of Doctor Vasquez's Specimens comes crawling out, I'm going to cook and feed it to you. And I won't care if it can talk!

^ Mistrust, thy name is woman.

# You've been warned.

^ Go ahead. You'll be sorry if ya don't.

# Oh my... how? Where did you...?

^ It wasn't easy. I had ta call in a few favors. That's probably the only two kilo box of authentic, all natural, hand-made, gourmet, Belgian, chocolate valentine bon bons within a thousand square kilometers.

# Hummm! These are great! I take back almost every nasty thing I said about you yesterday.

^ Better-late-than-never, I always say. Leave me some.

# You're on a diet, Mr. Forgetful. Remember?

^ What's a couple gonna matter... Hey! What ya mean 'almost'?

# You might have the long-term memory of a pea-brained Stegosaurus Scab, but I don't. Do you really think I'm going to forget I caught you playing grab-ass with Silicone-Sally from the visitor information desk?

^ Silicone? Really? But they feel so...

# Harold!

^ Oops.

# Oops is right.

^ Come on, honey. You know me.

# That's right. I do.

^ Brrrrrr! It sure got cold all of a sudden. Did someone tow the island into the Arctic Circle?

# Go ahead and make jokes. You're just lucky that's All I saw you doing, or you would've woken up tied to a tree this morning. And then we'd both see how comical you can be while something scaly gnaws on your sorry carcass!

^ After all the trouble I went through, That's the gratitude I get?

# What are you talking about, Harold?

^ Get up and go to the locker behind my desk. Open the box on the second shelf.

# Why should I look at that antique blunderbuss you're always cleaning.

^ My mistake. Try the top shelf. And I'll have you know that 'blunderbuss' is a very expensive collectable. It's an authentic, signed, limited edition, Smith and Wessley repro. of the 44 caliber magnum revolver Filthy Harriet used in all her movies.

= And I still say it'll blow your hand off if you ever fire the thing.

+ So you'd better not drop it. Just put it back and look inside the other box.

# EEEEEEEEEE! A black silk nightie! And black silk bed sheets too!

^ Damn! My eardrums! Did ya have ta screech like a love-sick raptor into the freakin' mike?!

# Sorry! But these are the same exact ones... How did you...?

^ You serious? You've been bouncing off the walls all month with your nose glued in ta that Victoria's Secret catalog. So I borrowed it and had everything you'd circled flown in.

# Give it back. I have lots more to order.

^ Heck if I know where it's at. I left it in the comm. room next to your stack of old fashion magazines. The whole pile was gone when I got back from lunch. The cleaning crew probably took 'em to the dump.

# No matter. I'll simply place my order on-line when I get back to the apartment.

^ And how exactly are you planning ta pay for it? Your last off-island shopping spree is still the talk of all Costa Rica. I know for a fact you've got goose eggs left in your company debit card.

# Well... look what I found! A brand new... a brand new Full debit card... and someone with a bad memory wrote his PIN number on the back too!

# Sue. I'm warning you. Put that back! And get your grubby little mitts out of my desk or...

^ Or what? You're not crazy. You won't unlock that bunker door until the shift-change this evening. Ciao... FAT ASS!!

# &^ $# -ing bitch!!!> Where's that aspirin? My head feels like it's gonna explode!


= AAAAAAAEEEEEEEHHHHHH!!! OW! OW! OW! NOT AGAIN!!

+ Oh, look. Red Eyes fall down and go BOOM!!

= MAN!! THAT HURT!!

+ Red Eyes break bones? Red Eyes going to die? Red Eyes become food for Margo and her friends?

= Go away, Margo. Or, so help me, when I get untangled I'm going to stomp you flat!

+ Not likely. I'd die of old age waiting for you to catch me. You've got to be the clumsiest raptor on the island.

= I'd like to see You turn on a Euro dime when you're as heavy as I am. And I'm not clumsy! I tripped on something!

+ That's what you always say, Red Eyes.

= For the last time. My name is Oswald! Martin Oswald!

+ What kind of name is Oswald for a dino?

= Okay, how about this? Call me Red Eyes again and everyone's going to know your real name is Margaret Snuggle Bunny Swartz.

+ You wouldn't dare!

= Try me. At least My folks weren't new age apocalyptic millenium hippies.

+ Okay. You win... Oswald.

= I thought you'd see things my way. Now come over here. I'm stuck.

+ Useless male. Can't even untangle a few vines without a woman's help.

= Oh, shut up... watch the claws down there! I'm sore enough already.

+ Poor baby. Want Mama to kiss it and make it better?

= Don't you dare! Get your jaws anywhere near my vent, and I'm going to show you the meaning of extinction up close and personal!

+ There... you're free. Don't trip on those roots, twinkle claws.

= Why won't you believe me? I'm not as dumb as that bunch You hang with. I hunt along this game trail almost every other day. Do you think I'm going to risk a broken leg running full-blast on a path I haven't checked first?

+ Dumb? Look who's talking... Mr. I'm-smarter-than-the-average-bear.

= Don't even think of going there.

+ There you are, backpacking through the middle of Yellow Rock National Park, and The Martian Flu Virus zaps you into one of the deadliest creatures ever...

+ Give it a rest.

= ... to walk the planet, and big macho Utharaptor turns into Yogi Ursine! You could've stayed hidden in those mountains and valleys forever, but micro-brain decides...

+ Come on. How many times...?

= ... to raid camp sites and steal picnic baskets. No wonder they caught and shipped your scaly ass to this island...

+ That's enough!

= ... paradise. Hell, anyone that stupid deserves to be stuffed and mounted. If it had been up to me, I would've had you filled with servos and stuff. The New Boston Museum of Natural History can always use another animatronic display!

+ I said, THAT'S ENOUGH!!

= Fine. But only if you finally tell me why.

+ Why what?

= Why did you do it? It was months after My change before I gained control over my more...primitive... impulses. By then it was far too late. I'd been classified as a danger to society and dumped here to rot. But You never lost it.

+ I... ahh. Well... It's kinda hard to put into words.

= Spill it. You blew a chance to stay in the real world I never had. After all the panic you caused, even that shark-morph lawyer Johnny Cochran couldn't convince the authorities to let you stay anywhere near norms. The worst Scab reservation they might've shipped you is heaven compared to this place.

+ Peanut butter.

= Say again?

+ I did it for peanut butter sandwiches.

= Let me know if I've got this straight. You caused an entire State to crap in its pants... and closed the park for months while the National Guard hunted you down... because you had a craving for peanut butter sandwiches?

+ Yes.

= That it?

= Well... almost. I kinda like strawberry jam, too. Are you happy now?

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

+ Come on, Margo. Get a hold of yourself. Rolling in the dirt is so undignified.

= 'I kinda like strawberry jam, too.'

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

+ Be that way. I'm leaving.

= Come back here! I'm not finished with you!

+ Talk to the tail. I'm going to check what I tripped over. Besides... you've probably scared-off everything in earshot anyway.

= Me? I didn't just crash and burn. You almost made as much noise as Ricky and Lucy going at it.

+ Have you been spying on them again? Doesn't the word privacy mean anything to you?

= Nope.

+ I thought so. Can't say that I haven't warned you. Either one of those two can track you four klicks by scent alone. If you wind up taking a one-way trip through a T-Rex's intestinal track, you'll have no one to blame but yourself.

= Bah! You're no fun at all. You should come over some time. Ricky's a riot. It's like watching a six-ton eighteen wheeler trying to hump another.

+ I'll keep that in mind when I step over a fresh steaming pile of shit that smells like you.

= That's no way to talk about your friends.

+ You're Not my friend. You're Tammy's friend. You hate me. She sent you to keep an eye on me. Remember?

= Oh... right.

+ It's a big island. Why don't you go back to wherever you hang out and stop bothering me?

= And get Tammy mad at me? Like That's gonna happen.

+ Can't blame me for asking. What the hell? I tripped over a... camera?

= Oh, goodie! Take my picture!

+ And how exactly am I suppose do that? Neither of us is exactly ready to take up a career playing the piano. See this hand? Two fingers and one thumb. Two big and one freakin' huge claw. And not a one bends all that much. Not that it matters, it looks like it's broken...

= <Keep your voice down!>

+ What?

= <Shush! Something... moaned... when you said it was broken.>

+ <I didn't hear anything.>

= <U 'raptors like you evolved to hunt things as large and stealthy as a diesel powered garbage truck. Raptors my size can smell and hear a mouse fart. Look up. Monkey Boy is on the second tree limb to your right. Slowly, nano-brain!>

+ <I'm impressed. Pretty good camouflage suit... wait a second. You mean I beat you to prey and it turned out to be a norm?>

= <In your dreams, slowpoke. I picked up his scent and I let you win.>

+ <Like I'm going to believe that.>

= <Think about it. Monkey Boys don't fight fair. They carry guns. If he'd been packin' the first of us to show up probably would've gotten shot. I'm thinking, let him run out of ammo shooting You then he's mine. Smart, huh?>

+ <Your concern for my welfare is under-whelming. I can't wait to return the gesture. So... what's next?>

= <I'm gonna jump.>

+ <Be serious. Too high. You'd never make it.>

= <Squat down.>

+ <Screw that. You're Not gonna jump off My back.>

= <Do it!>

+ <No way. You'll rip me up.>

= <If you don't, I'll tell Tammy I saw you practicing that drunken stagger you call a mating dance on Samantha!>

+ <That's a lie! I'm faithful! I'm loyal! I love my wife! I'd never break my marriage vows!>

= <Really?>

+ <Of course. I'm not stupid. She'd kill me.>

= <She said that?>

+ <Every day for the last two years, and that goes double when she's gravid. She started right up after our honeymoon. Tammy was tearing the guts out of the hog I'd brought her for breakfast, and she threatened to do the same to me if I ever got within ten meters of another female's tail.>

= <And you believed her?>

+ <Name three things more dangerous than a jealous female Utharaptor.>

= <I see your point. Damn... he's on to us. Get down before he climbs out of range!>

+ <Oh, all right. Watch the... OUCH!!>

= GOTCHA!!! SOUP'S ON!!! AUGHhhh... AUGHhhh... AUGHhhh...

+ Wake up! Margo? Hello? Anyone home? Oh, well. Rest in peace. Tammy loves me. Tammy doesn't. Tammy...

= OW! STOP PLUCKING MY FEATHERS!!

+ You're alive? Sorry. I thought I'd collect a few before scavengers showed up. You know how Tammy loves to line her nest with bright and colorful things.

= Well go collect 'em off someone else! It'll take months to grow those crest feathers back! Oh, my aching head. What happened? The last thing I remember is grabbin' the norm's jacket and pulling him out of that tree.

+ It was a tie. You got him, and he got you.

= HE SHOT ME??!!

+ Nope. He clobbered you with a metal camera case he pulled out of his backpack. Never saw it coming, did ya? Whap! Whap! Whap!

Oops... I miscounted. It was more like. Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap! Wha...

= That's enough! I get the point!

+ ... p! Whap! And, Whap!

= And you were doing What while he was pounding my skull even flatter?

+ I... I was busy.

= Is that blood smeared all over your muzzle? Did you kill Monkey... what's that I smell? Strawberries? Peanut butter? Wheat bread? I get it! While he's trying to crush my skull, you're eating a sandwich you stole from his backpack!

+ I'm deeply offended by your accusation. Like any single sandwich could be worth more than your life. There were three, actually. And a half dozen double glazed creamed-filled donuts. Sweet!

= That's it. You're dead. I'm gonna get you for this. Just you wait!

+ Why wait? Go get your entire pack if you want. Bring 'em on. One by one or all together, I don't care. Kill! Tear! Kick! Stomp! Blood! Blood! Blood! Wheeeeeeeeeee! The world's spinning around, and around, and arou...

= Huh? What's wrong with you? Get up you big lummox or... that's it! No wonder they finally cornered you inside a candy store. You're a sugar junkie!

+ I think I'm gonna... I think I'm gonna...I THINK I'M GONNA BE SICK!!!

= Idiot! Retard! Fossil Brain! You're a pre-freakin' historic meat-eater! Your stomach can't handle that much... YUCK!! Now there's something I would've liked to have died without ever seeing. Monkey Boy isn't somewhere in that mess, is he?

+ Behind... behind you. Twenty meters. I hung him upside down on a broken branch by his backpack. He's not going anywhere... NO!!! NOT AGAIN!!!

= Gross! Is there Anything you won't eat? While you're busy turning yourself inside out, I'll be over there talking to my lunch.

+ Sure. Have fun. Oh, look. A pink stegosaurus with angel wings just flew behind that cloud!

= I hope you're worth all this trouble. Yeah you. Who the heck do you think I'm talking to... the tree? Stop shaking! You're makin' me jumpy! What's your name?

@ David... David Fisher, sir. OW!

= THAT'S MS.! MISTAKE ME FOR A STUPID MALE AGAIN AND I WILL DO MUCH WORSE THAN STICK YOU WITH A CLAW TIP!!!

@ Yes, mam!

= Why aren't you safe behind that fence, norm? You got some weird kind of death wish?

@ It's my... it's my job. I'm a photograher. I'm here to... to...

= To go unarmed into a dino lunatic asylum? Talk about needing to find a new line of work. I understand they pay big bucks to test new MFV vaccines. You might get lucky and die before... THEY SHIP YOU SOMEWHERE TO LIVE LIKE AN ANIMAL!!!

@ ... to take pictures!

= Don't lie to me! You're looking more appetizing by the second!

@ It's true! My newspaper is running an expose on Scab reservations!

= Is that a fact? So why aren't you throwing chickens at us like all the other tourists? Even a tin can on tank tracks is a safer place to take pictures than hanging from a tree like a pinata.

@ My boss said those picture had been done to... done to...

= I believe the word you're look for is 'death'. As in 'done to death.' Considering your current situation, I can't think of a more appropriate phrase... can you?

I ASKED YOU A QUESTION!!

@ OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN... !!!

+ Back... back off, Margo. You've had your fun. Damn...my stomach hurts!

= Back off yourself...Oswald. It's like the warning signs say.

+ Which? 'You came, it saw, it ate you'? 'Don't feed the dinos. Keep limbs and small children inside the vehicles at all times.'? If you're close enough to read this sign, you're dead'? Or... 'Humans, the other white meat.'?

= No Comicsaurus. 'Anything on the other side of the fence belongs to the dinos.' Well... This belongs to me!

+ And Mother Nature says only size matters. Want me to show you how survival-of-the-fittest works, Shorty?

= Bully!

+ Pipsqueak!

= Chauvinist pig!

+ Nest robber!

= Scavenger!

+ Go lay a egg!

= Been there, done that. And a couple of mine actually hatched last year. That's more than you and Tammy can say.

+ Great. Just what the world needs, even dumber copies of you. Get out of the way. Crap! Not only is my stomach killing me, my mouth tastes like something nasty crawled in and died!

= What's the big deal? You'd probably eat it anyway.

+ Funny. I'm laughing. See my tail wagging? Move aside or else. That norm's not the only thing that's beginning to look more appetizing by the second.

= I won't forget this.

+ Sure you will. You've got the attention span of a fruit fly. Now go chase something small, furry, and defenseless while I talk to... what's your name?

@ David Fisher.

+ Okay, David Fisher. Mind if I call you Dave?

@ That's fine... that's fine by me, sir.

+ And he's polite too. Remarkable... for a bullshit artist. Feather-brain over there might swallow your 'photographer' story, but I don't. No employer in his right mind is...

@ Sir?

+ Yes?

@ Could I possibly get off this tree? I'm getting dizzy being upside down.

+ Where are my manners? Of course. Go ahead and undo the straps, but I've got to warn you. Run away and I won't be able to protect you. Margo will be on you in a heartbeat. Chasing after things is kinda hardwired in our brains and she's a heck of a lot faster than me in a sprint.

@ I won't run.

+ Smart kid. It's good to see 65 million years of post-dinosaurian evolution wasn't a total waste.

@ Now?

+ Sure. Go ahead. Sorry I can't help you. Believe me, you wouldn't want me grabbing you with These things. Just be careful when you undue the last strap...

@ AUGH!!!

+ ... that you don't fall on your head. Homo Sapiens... yeah right. Talk about a work-in-progress.

= After what he did to me, I hope he cracked his skull!

+ Shut up! My... if that's not the most adorable aggression display I've ever seen. I'm scared now. Like to see mine? Well? I thought not. You still with me, Dave? And don't stick your tongue out at me behind my back, Margo!

= Phooey!

@ I'm okay. Just a little bump.

+ You're not bleeding, are you?

@ I don't think so. Why'd... why'd you ask?

+ A smart mammal doesn't ring the dinner bell... if you get my drift... around here. A real bad move. Usually fatal. So...?

@ I'd better double check?

+ Bingo.

@ Nothing. Just a bruise and a couple leaves.

+ Good. Now show me your wallet.

@ You want to see my wallet?

= Don't do it! He's just gonna steal your money!

= Zip it, you! Like I'd have any use for that stuff. Stop wasting my time, kid. Show it to me or I'll tell Margo you're hiding a pepperoni sausage in your underwear.

@ My underwear? Why would I...?

+ Forget it. Inside joke. Trust me, you Don't want to know. Just do it.

@ Okay. Here.

+ Cheaply cured and dyed cowhide. Plastic cred cards. British Euro paper money. Stale Viagra pills.

@ Huh?

+ Perhaps you haven't noticed. I don't have eyes on the tip of my muzzle. I can smell that wallet, but I sure in hell can't see it. Move back a bit so I can turn my head.

@ Right. Sorry. Here.

+ Look at these claws, Dave. Do you Really think I could hold that tiny thing? Just Show me your ID cards.

+ Yep. You're David Fisher all right. You look mighty young for a guy that's suppose to be... what? Thirty-nine? You're either one of those age-regressed chronomorphs, or much more likely, YOU STOLE IT!!!

@ I'm David Fisher!

+ Margo? You hungry? The Domino guy's here. You want the Vienna sausage and meatball special?

= You should talk. I've seen your hemipenes. I've got my own theory why real Utharaptors went extinct.

+ YOU LITTLE BITCH!! YOU'VE BEEN SPYING ON ME TOO???!!

= Only once. Boring! No style whatsoever. I get a bigger kick watching Tony pouncing on chickens. You can never tell whether that little Procompsognathus is planning to eat or screw 'em. But if you're paying...

@ Keep her away! You're right. I'm only seventeen. The wallet belongs to my dad. I'm David Fisher, Jr.

+ Back off, Margo. So I imagine he's the photographer, too.

@ He was.

+ He was? What happened? The newspaper photographer gig pays pretty good. Why'd he give it up?

@ He got real sick at work a month ago. The ambulance came and took him away. The only things they left behind were his torn suit and wallet.

+ Tough break. What was it? His heart?

@ Worse.

+ Worse?

@ It was The Flu. He started... changing. The doctors wouldn't let us... my mother and me... see him. They said... they said he didn't want us seeing him turning into a mindless animal. They... they put him in a cage... they put him in a cage and shipped him here a few days later.

+ You're right. It was worse. Come on. The gate you entered is about a half kilometer that way. I'll escort you back. This is no a place for a kid.

@ No! I can't go back without seeing him!

+ Do you have any idea what you're asking? There's easily four or five hundred assorted saurian Scabs on this rock, and most of 'em would like nothing more than to kill and eat you. And not necessarily in that order. How do expect to recognize him if you never saw...?

@ I've got a picture inside the wallet. It's not the best quality, but that's gotta be him. That transport ship was the only one scheduled to land here, and it's not like... like...

+ No offence taken, kid. We know how rare we are. Lucky us.

@ Please. All I ask is that you take a look.

+ OH... BOY!!! Ah... ah... pretty big guy. Any idea where this photo came from?

= Move over lard tail. Hey, isn't that the one...?

+ Zip it, Margo!

= Ignore her. You were saying, Dave.

@ As near as I can figure, one of the sailors onboard the cargo ship took this snapshot and gave it to his younger brother. The kid scanned and posted it on a Web-Ring run by dinosaur enthusiasts. I ran across the website by accident two days ago.

+ That still don't explain how You managed to got here. This isn't a kiddy theme park. Not only does it cost big bucks to get a visitor's pass, you can't set foot on the island until you sign a meter-thick stack of waivers absolving management of all liability.

@ The newspaper still hasn't gotten around to canceling my dad's press pass. I faxed over a request asking permission for his assistant, namely me, to take some pics for a feel-good Sunday special the paper was planning to publish.

They did everything but pack my bags and hand-carry them to the airport. I don't know what happened over here, but the people running this place are desperate for some good publicity.

+ Margo?

= What? Why does everyone look at me when something happens?

+ MARGO!!

= It was Tina's idea! She's the one that found the paint cans at the dump.

+ I know I'm going to regret this. Please elaborate.

= You know the old abandoned research station?

+ Yeah. I've been inside a couple times. Full of broken mad scientist junk. It's a cool place to rest on a hot day, though.

= Well, I was checking out the closets for anything edible last week and I ran across this old groundkeeper's uniform. Tina took it and stuffed it with grass and stuff. We... that's me and a couple of her friends... hid in the tall grass for the next two days. At the right moment she tossed the manikin alongside the road and started yelling...

+ Don't tell me. The old 'Help. I'm hurt. Rescue me.' gag?

= What can I say? It's a classic.

+ And older than dirt. None of the regular drivers would be dumb enough to stop and open their door.

= That's why we had to wait so long for the perfect patsy. If you know anyhing about those Teamster drivers, you'd know they always give the earliest tours to the people with least seniority.

+ Yeah... it's a time-honored tradition. My union shop at Disney World worked exactly the same way. Whenever a greenhorn got assigned to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, we'd always give 'em the dirty end of the stick.

= And this newbie took the bait hook line an' sinker! He didn't even get a chance to push the panic button.

= I'm afraid to ask. How many? How many norms did you get this time?

+ Lets see. There were two ... no, made that three Japanese business executives. Two German guy's on honeymoon. A French couple with two pre-teenage girls. A Russian politician. Oh... and the driver of course.

+ You killed eleven people!

= Who said we killed anyone? They didn't shoot at us like those jerks a couple days ago. Tina had other plans for Them. That's where the paint cans came in.

+ You didn't. Please tell me you didn't do what I'm thinking.

= Naked as mole rats and splattered with green, blue, and yellow latex paint. I wish I had a picture of their faces when we paraded them past the tour buses coming out the main gate. At least that bunch knows how it feels to be gawked at.

+ How could you do that to children? They're probably going to be traumatized for life!

= The girls thought it was part of the tour. They smeared more paint on their parents, and themselves, than we did. You should've heard them beggin' their parents to come back again next year.

+ No wonder Pangea World rolled out the red carpet.

= I've got some paint left over. Can I...?

+ Don't even think about it. Come on, kid. Lets get moving before Margo comes up with any more bright ideas. Forget the gate. There's a security bunker just a few hundred meters away where...

@ I can't go yet. I saw your reaction when I showed you that picture. You know where he is. Tell me. I've got to see for myself that he's okay!

+ Read my lips, kid. You'd...

= You don't have any lips.

+ ... never make it. He's so far away you'd have to walk through...

= And your jaws don't move when you talk.

+ ... the hunting territories of at least twenty major predators. I'd be lucky...

= But you do drool a lot.

+ Give me a second.

= OW!! That hurt! Watch the tail!

+ Big mosquitos around here. Like I was saying... I'd be lucky to get there in one piece myself. And, in the extremely unlikely event you managed to get that far, you'd be toast the second he laid eyes on you.

@ Maybe he'd remember me. Maybe he'd remember who he use to be and change back.

+ This is real life, kid. Not some badly written science fiction. Face the facts. He's gone. Period. He did the right thing. He had the docs keep his family from seeing what he was becoming. Don't ruin you life, and your mother's too, with false hopes.

I've only heard of one, and only one, saurian polymorph in the whole damned world able to pass himself as a norm at will. Maybe another couple dozen high degree saurs can morph into something human enough to walk into a bar and get a drink without causing the general population to freak out, but that's about it.

@ But it's not impossible... right?

+ 'Not impossible'? Sure. I guess. If nothing else, the Martian Flu Virus has redefined the word impossible. But even remotely likely? No. There's about as much chance of your old man's brains and body returning as that feathered pain-in-the-ass over there sprouting wings and flying.

= You'd like that, wouldn't you?! You'd like nothing more than to see me get shot down trying to fly away from here!

+ Damn!

= Hah! You missed!

+ Gotta work on my follow through. I'm slicing up a bit.

@ But you said so yourself. You could make it there. I'll give you anything you want. Just take me to him.

+ Anything? Okay, I won't ask for too much. I won't ask for my human body. Just get me back home. I'd like to see my old neighborhood again. I'd like to sleep in a real bed, and not a pile of dirt and leaves I've scrapped together with my feet. I'd like to eat cooked food off a plate. I'd like a meal I didn't have to kill first, or had to find before maggots got to the best parts.

Can you do that for me, Dave? Please.

@ You think I'm being childish, don't you?

+ No. Just a good son to your father. There aren't that many people who'd have the balls to come into a place like this at your age. You do both your parents proud, but do you think it'd be fair to your mother if she lost you too?

Ready to go back now? Good. Pick up your camera gear and I'll give you the twenty-five Euro coin tour on the way to the bunker. You'll be safe once you're inside.

= Since you don't. Can I have him?

+ <He aims. He swings.> HE SCORES!!

= OUCH!! That stung! Can't you take a joke?!

@ I'd like to thank you... ah? Mr. ...?

+ Call me Oswald. Why are you smiling, kid?

@ Oswald? I can't picture you with that name. All the Scab Net fiction I've read would have someone as big and powerful as you called... I don't know. Raptor Red? Sharp Claws? Red Eyes?

= See? I told you!

+ And I imagine you've written more than a few yourself.

@ Yeah. Some.

+ Great. Lets get going. You can tell me all about your other bad habits on the way. Margo! Stop sneaking around back there! Get out in front where I can keep an eye on you!

= SPOILSPORT!!


) Security post two calling security post one. You hear me, Winters?

# Winters here. You got anything to report, Mark?

) You sound like shit, buddy. Did I wake you up?

# I wish. I've got a migraine that's off the friggin' charts. Gimme your report before my brain explodes.

) All clear on the Western Front. Four tour vehicles en route and on time. I handed 'em over to Security post three at oh eight twenty. They're scheduled to return in four hours for the next load.

# Anything else?

) Yeah. These radios suck. Any idea when Engineering plans to fix the land lines? I know the cellular phone towers have top priority, but the satellite television link has been down all week. I'm missin' my Soaps!

Winters? You there? Yo! Winters! What's with all the groaning? You okay? I told you not to eat Cookie's breakfast hash. That toxic waste isn't fit for human or dinosaur consumption. You're going to be sittin' on the can until...

# AAAAAAAUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

) SHIT!! WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!! TALK TO ME, WINTERS!! WHAT'S GOING DOWN??!!

# PAIN!! IT FEELS... IT FEELS LIKE MY INSIDES ARE...

) Winters? You reading me? Come back. WINTERS!! COME BACK!! PICK UP THE DAMNED MIKE!!

# NO!! THIS CAN'T BE... NOT ME!! DEAR LORD!! THIS CAN'T BE... THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING!! SUE! HELP MEEEEE...!!

) Winters? Winters? You copy? Crap! Alert! Security post two calling HQ! I repeat... Security post two calling HQ! Medical emergency personnel report to Security post one! Notify Captain Potter!

% HQ calling Security post two. Medical personnel have been alerted. E.T.A. twenty minutes. Captain Potter en route to HQ. Please clarify the nature of the emergency.

) Unknown. Winters just started screaming in pain and calling for his wife.

% Did he say anything about a breach in the bunker? Did something get inside?

) Negative. I didn't hear any warning alarms going off. Downloading audio log to your terminal... now.

% Download confirmed.

) What do you want me to...?

( Sargent Cooper, this is Captain Potter. Transferring traffic control to your station. Confirm.

) Confirmed. Radio link established. All lights green. But what about...?

) Sit tight. An armed rescue team is on the way. We're notifying his wife. Good job. Out.


] Susan. Can I come in?

^ Good morning, Frank. Long time no see. Why the long face?

] It's about Harold. Captain...

^ I don't believe this! Did that penny-pinching tight-wad called security to get his debit card back?! Just wait until I get my hands on...

] It's not that. Captain Potter ordered me to escort you to Howard's duty post. Doctors Chan and Yamaki are already on their way there.

^ Chan? Yamaki? The only things that'd get those two out of their lab is the Second Coming and... NO! NOT HAROLD!! WHEN??!! HOW BAD??!!

] Nobody knows. It started just a few minutes ago. I've got a squad waiting for us by the main gate. There's no time to get you suited up. Captain Potter said you'd better get out there ASAP.

^ Give me... give me a second to grab something.

] Hurry.


+ This is as far as I go, Dave. The security bunker's in the center of a small clearing just beyond those trees.

@ Why here?

+ Don't want to take the chance of being spotted near you. Those ex-army rent-a-cops tend to Trank first and ask questions later. The last thing I need is to be knocked out and dumped on the other side of the island. It'd take days to hoof it back to my territory, and there's no telling what I might run into.

@ Could you do me a favor?

+ Sure. If I can.

@ This is... this Was my dad's cel phone. It's one of the new weather-proof solar-powered voice-activated models. There's still several hundred minutes of air time left in the account and the phone itself should work for years. You're probably not allowed to have these things, so please be careful using it.

But if you... if you happen to run into him... could you please call us and say how he's going? Just speak the word 'Mom' out loud and the speed-dial will do the rest.

+ You've got my word. Go now. Take care, kid.

@ Thanks for everything... Oswald.

+ Make yourself useful, Margo. Hang onto this thing.


} Lieutenant Mercardo?

* Report, Sargent.

} The perimerter is secure, sir. It's safe to disembark the med. team.

* What about the bunker?

} Sealed tight. Corporal Corbin has the codes to override the locking system when you give the word. I've also got a couple people from Enginering tagging along in case he disabled the mechanism from inside. They'll torch it open if necessary.

* Good. Is there any chance Winters might've left the bunker?

} No, sir. I checked the computer logs myself. The hydraulics on the main entrance and garage doors haven't been cycled since the last shift change.

* What about the intercom?

} Same as the radio. No reply. Your orders?

* Keep sharp, Sargent. Every scaly in a square klick is probably eyeballin' us by now. Get everyone out of the APC's and moving. Medics and civilians in the center.

} What about his wife?

* She's to stay with the vehicles until we've appraised the situation.

} Understood. You heard the man. Lets move! Thomas to the rear. Melendez and Anderson guard the vehicles. Unarmed personnel to the center. Lock 'n load people. Heavy Tranks, Pepper Spray, and Tasers only. Be ready to switch to lethal loads on my command. Go! Go! Go!

{ Oh... man! I've got a bad feeling about this! We're gonna die!

[ Stow it, Corbin. You're distracting me. Keep scannin' that treeline.

{ Can't you feel them watching? I just know they're gonna get us.

[ If you don't shut up They will be the least of your worries. Where's the PR-56 remote? You'd better be ready to open that door when the CO says Open Sesame.

{ What if he didn't change just a little? What if he's turned into something really dangerous? I had a neighbor once who...

[ Like I haven't heard this story a zillion times already. Big deal. It's not like he hurt anyone. All he did was run off with a platter of steaks you were gonna barbeque.

{ A Sabertooth Tiger, Marco! He looked exactly like a Sabertooth Tiger from that old Walking-with-Prehistoric-Animals vid! He couldn't even talk without a Voder!

[ Yeah... and now he's a fabulously wealthy radio shock jock with thirty million fans. Go fig.

{ But... but...

[ But what? Where you've been living most of your life... the Moon? In the Exceedingly unlikely event Winters got zapped Big-Time by that freaky Martian virus, the odds are far better he'd wind up a cute little bunny wabbit than anything actually dangerous.

Although, there's always the slim chance he might've changed into something really weird like Corporal Starbuck did last year...

{ 'Something... something Really weird'?

[ Before your time. He's still here, too. Check out the coffee vending machine in front of the officer's mess. Polish his chrome trim and he'll make you the best cup of espresso you'll ever...

} Cut the chatter! You and you... flank that door and stand ready. Marko... go stand over there. You're backup in case Winters runs out and gets past them. Shoulder that Tasser and grab a net launcher.

You waiting for a signed order from the president, Corbin? OPEN IT!

{ I'm on it, Sarge... THAT AIN'T NO BLOODY RABBIT!!

} Get out of the way, Corb... FUCK!! CHAN!! YAMAKI!! GET OVER HERE!! MARKO... FRONT AN' CENTER!! LOAD THAT SHOTGUN WITH SOLID SLUGS!! EVERYONE ELSE... FALL BACK!!

: Fascinating!

- Marvelous!

: Look at that skull structure, Chan. Definitely one of the Tyrannosauridae.

- I concur. The vestigial arms and two-digit claws are a dead giveaway too. What do you think, Yamaki? Nanotyrannus?

: Most likely. A few x-rays of his cranial sutures should put that question to rest. Did you see that? His tail grew at least another forty centimeters and stopped abruptly. The transformation seems to be proceeding in incremental steps.

- You know what this means? We might soon have a breeding pair!

: Just think of the odds. They've got to be Way beyond astromomical. Australia sends us the only known female Nanotyrannus norm, and less than a week later a male drops out of the blue!

- I Told you this would happen.

: Oh, brother. Here we go again.

- How much proof do you want, Chan? You said it yourself, 'just think of the odds'. There Has to be some kind of link between sentience and the way the MFV manifests itself.

You've read the same reports from the CDC. Except for poorly documented mutations among a handful of great apes and dolphins, humans have been the sole victims of this interplanetary pathogen.

: That's Supposed interplanetary pathogen, Yamaki. The causative agent has yet to be isolated. Until some lab povides conclusive proof, I'm still going to believe some idiot living on good ol' planet Earth somehow cooked it up.

- Okay. For the sake of argument. Lets say the virus came out of a petri dish. How do you explain... That?

: Don't have a clue. And I imagine you can?

- That's right. I read his personnel file on the way here. His fear of the MFV, and its victims, borders on clinical paranoia.

- And he takes a job Here?

: Where else? Human norms are practically the only inhabitants of the island. Scabs hardly ever visit the reservations. Would you? And that goes double for This one.

As for the dino's on the other side of the fence, they hardly count as people in his mind. He rarely sees them except as images on a security monitor.

- So if your theory is correct...

: Exactly! The MFV has nothing to draw from his subconscious But dinosaurs!

- Talk about your worst fears coming true. That still doesn't answer the question. How are we going to get him out of there? He's getting bigger by the second.

: The garage doors will be the only option soon.

- That's not what I meant. He's not likely to be a rocket scientist when this is all over. We'll need to attract his attention to get him to vacate. You volunteering for the job of fast food?

: My scream n' run like mad days are long behind me, colleague. Two or three strong tranquilizer darts should suffice to keep him unconscious. After that we can attach a rope to one of the vehicles and pull him outside.

- Sounds like a plan to me... not as entertaining mind you... but workable nonetheless. Give me the camera. We're going to need some pictures all this.

: I thought You had it.

- Not me. I thought You had it.

: I grabbed an emergency med. kit when Captain Potter called.

- Same here.

: Rats!

- Double rats!

: One of the rarest manifestations of the Martian Flu virus is happening right under our noses, and we don't even have a Brownie camera to record the event! We're going to look like a pair of pinheads when the news media gets wind of this!

$ Look what I found, Sarge.

} Who the heck's that, Vasquez?

$ It's gotta be that trespasser who got through the fence this morning. He just wandered into the clearing like he was taking a stroll through central park. What ya want me to do with him?

} Lieutenant?

* What is it, Sargent?

} The shelter's secure. I think it's time to bring Mrs. Winters over.

* Do it.

} Go to my APC and escort her here. Lock that joker inside the cargo...

: Sargent Stone?

}Yes? What do you want, Doctor Chan?

: Could that young man come over here, please?

} Him?

: Yes, please.

} You heard the doc. Move! Take off, Vazquez.

: Good morning... ah?

@ Fisher. I'm David Fisher, jr.

: It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fisher. I'm Doctor Chan and my colleague here is Doctor Yamaki. Perhaps you can help us?

@ Sure. If I can.

: Would you be so kind as let me see that device?

@ No problem. Here.

: Yamaki? You're the mechanical genius. Do you have any idea how this thing works?

- Not a clue. It has more dials and buttons than a gene splicer. I see a lens, but are you sure it's a camera?

: I'll check. Is this a camera, Mr. Fisher?

@ Yes, sir. It's a True-Witness Uplinker.

: And that is...?

@ It's a totally computerized digital camera. It encrypts sounds, still images, and short video sequences and sends them real-time to a dedicated main server via a secure cellular phone connection. When you touch that big amber button...

: This one?

@ That's right. When you touch that button the camera stamps the user's finger-print, retinal pattern, and GPS onto the shot. If your biometrics haven't been programmed into the camera, or if it can't record exactly where and when the shot was taken, the picture is rejected by the system. Kinda makes it theft and lawyer proof.

- Did you happen to bring something a little less high-tech? Something with old fashion film perhaps?

@ I've got a thirty-five millimeter in my backpack.

: Great.

@ It's broken. A dinosaur stepped on it.

- That will void the warranty every time. You have any ideas, Chan?

: We've got a camera And a cameraman. Why don't we use both? The worst that can happen is that he misspells our names afterwards.

- Best idea I've heard all morning. How about it, Mr. Fisher? Do you want to be famous? We're making history here. You'll be the first photographer to film someone being mutated by the MFV into a Nanotyrannus.

Take as many shots as you can of the transformation and the reactions of everyone watching. All you've got to do afterwards is provide copies that Chan and I can submit with our research papers. Is it a deal?

@ Could you do something about the trespassing charges?

: Consider it done. Sargent?

} What's up, Doctor Chan?

: There's been a mistake. This young man... what's your name again?

@ David Fisher.

: There's been a mistake, Sargent. Mr. Fisher here isn't a trespasser. He's currently working as a photographer for the science department.

} What are you up to this...?

[ SARGE!! HE'S WAKING UP!!

} Keep cool, Marko! YOU!! Load heavy Tranks and backup Marko. YOU!! Load Lethals! Everyone else stand ready! Guard that damned perimeter!

# Sue... Susan? SUSAN!!

- Keep calm, Mr. Winters Your wife will be here shortly.

# Voice? I know that... voice. Yamaki? Doctor Yamaki? Hard to... hard to think. Eyes fuzzy... too bright. Everything feels... everything feels... wrong!

- That's right, Mr. Winters. I'm Doctor Yamaki. Doctor Chan is here too. Try to keep still. Are you in pain?

# Pain? Can't move... numb... going numb. Seeing... seeing double. Too...too many smells. I can... I can smell... SUSAN!!

^ OH MY GOD!! HAROLD!! LET ME GO!!

[ What I do now, Sarge?

} Hang on to her, Vasquez. Yamaki! Chan! Do something!

- Please come with us, Mrs. Winters.

^ But I've got to...

: It wouldn't be safe to go in there right now.

- Doctor Chan is correct, Mrs. ... ah Susan. His condition hasn't yet stabilized. Getting excited right now might do him more harm than good.

^ 'Harm'?! Look at him! How could it get any worse?

# SUSAN!!

[ SARGE!! HE'S TRYING TO STAND UP!!

: Go. Try to keep him calm.

^ Can't you... can't you do anything?

- You know better than that. All we can do now is monitor his progress until the virus runs its course. If by some miracle he retains a good measure of his intellect, he will be transferred off island for rehabilitation and...

^ You mean a reservation, don't you?

- A medical research facility for now, but yes... a reservation eventually. Maybe even Isla Nublar. You have my word, Susan. Your husband will be well treated. He will be relocated to a protective, and humane, environment.

Mr. Winters will be encouraged to interact with other saurians that have also retained a significant portion of their human mental, and behavioral, capabilities.

^ Otherwise...?

- I'm truly sorry. Otherwise he stays here.

^ Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!

: What choice do we have? I know it sounds cruel, but we're not dealing with your typical run-of-the-mill transformation here. As a rule, reptilian cases tend to land on the high end of the bell curve. The dinosaurians even more so.

High degree animorphs are relatively rare and inherently harmless. How much damage could any Scab do with the mental and / or physical attributes of say... a horse? A raccoon? An otter?

Predatory dinosaurs kill. That's basically All they do. And one hundred and twenty millions years of the most brutal evolutionary history imaginable has made them very good at it

Near norm saurian Scabs still possessing a degree of human intellect are potentially, and in a few regrettable cases have proven to be, even better killers. They are as Alien to the mammalian lifeforms currently dominating the Earth as something from Outer Space.

They can't be reasoned with. They can't be trusted. They can only be contained.

^ But what if he doesn't lose his mind? What then?

- They are the ones that people, Scabs and norms alike, fear the most. Some of the saurians confined to this island are orders of magnitude more dangerous than the extinct dinosaurs they resemble. Humans are mammals. Most Scabs are mimicking living or extinct mammals. We can't help but understand the mindset of our common heritage.

: Doctor Yamaki and I have interviewed hundreds of MFV victims since the plague began, Susan. Despite their altered appearances, the human kinship I've felt towards them has never wavered. I've spent many an enjoyable evening sharing a drink or meal with family and friends that resemble anthropomorphic lions, tigers, or whatever.

Not so with... them. I see only death when their cold reptilian eyes stare back at me through that fence.

Don't lose hope. It's only a matter of time before we find a way to combat this bizarre disease. Who knows? In a few years the Scab reservations might become nothing more than an unpleasant footnote in the history books. But, for now, they are the best solution for all concerned.

Go to him, Susan. Try to keep his mind active. The first few hours are always the most critical. If he's unconscious there's little hope his mind will survive. He needs you now more than ever before. Be strong.

^ I'll try.

[ Stop right there, Mam. Don't get any closer to the doorway. You should be safe where you're standing. Want me to hold that while...?

^ No! No thank you. It's not heavy.

Harold?

# Su... Sue? That you?

^ Yes, dear.

# Can't see... I can't see you clearly when you... when you don't move.

^ Do you need anything? Is there anything you want?

# Talk... talk to me, Su.. Su... Sue. Hard... getting harder... to... concentrate. Tired. So... so very tired.

^ I'm so sorry. You've always complained that I never shut up, and now I can't think of a single to say.

# Not... not... you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm... I'm...

^ DON'T GO TO SLEEP, HAROLD!! WAKE...!!

# A... awake. I'm awake. Sorry I wasn't... wasn't a better husband.

^ You were always the best, honey.

# Not true. Lied. Lied. I lied to... you.

^ About what?

# Why I... why I quit job. Why I quit job and brought you here. Escape. Get away. Had to get away from the craziness back... back home. I thought I... we... would be safe here. Wrong. I was wrong. Nowhere safe. Forgive... forgive me?

^ There's nothing to...

# NO!! MORE!! Lots more! Must tell... must tell... must...

^ OPEN YOU EYES, HAROLD!!

# ... tell you. All those other women... not true. Stories. Lies. I have never wanted any other woman... woman since you... since you came into my life. Stories... lies to make you jealous. Paid... paid Sally to trick you. To see if... to see if you still loved me.

^ You tubby duffus. You never fooled me for a second. .

# NOT FAT!! BIG BONED... AAUUUGGGHHHH!!

^ HAROLD!!

# Hurts! It Hurts! SUE!! PLEASE MAKE THE PAIN STOP!!

^ Hold on! It should... it should be over soon.

# Stopped. It stopped. Don't want to forget... forget... forget...

^ Forget what? What is it you don't want to forget?

# Me. I feel... I feel Me fading away. I don't want to forget... Me. I don't want to forget... Us. I know... I know I wasn't the easiest... the easiest guy to live with, but we had... had some good times together. Didn't we?

^ The best of times, dear. Always the best. We'll get through this together...

# NO!! You can't kid... you can't kid a kidder. Know... I know score. Can't... can't go on like This. Promise. Remember... promise! REMEMBER YOUR PROMISE!!

^ Please don't ask me to...

# Beg? Want me to... beg? AAUUUGGGHHHH!! PAIN'S BACK!! TEARING ME APART. WORSE THAN BEFORE!! SUE... HELP ME!!

^ Rest, baby. Close your eyes. It... it will be over soon.

# Love... you. Love you... forever.

[ What the...? LOOK OUT!! SHE'S GOT A GUN!!


= Three days to get out here to investigate?! I thought you PETA and PETS people were serious about protecting animals and Scabs! Didn't you hear me? They've already wrecked a nesting site and injured several females that were just trying to guard their eggs! Who knows how many more poachers might still be out there?

What ya mean it makes no sense? I overheard him myself! Their leader, an old guy with a long white beard, was bragging how he was gonna raise the hatchlings and use them to terrorize people! Who? Heck if I know. Most of it was just noise to me. He only talked in English when a camcorder was running.

Nope. He's not around anymore. The mate of one of females made sure of that. There wasn't much left after he was done. Fingerprints? Not unless you want to check inside a Utharaptor's colon. Wait! Scratch that. I saw the big guy spit out something or other. Maybe it's still there. Why don't you come look?

Me? Who am I? Nobody special. Just a concerned citizen trying to do her best for the environment. Speaking of which... why don't you bring along a bunch of those ACLU lawyers too? More-the-merrier, I always say..

And lets keep this to ourselves. I'm taking a big risk calling you. There's no telling Who might be implicated in these criminal activities. If the people running this place get advance notice, they'll have time to arrange a cover-up and You will never get the credit for cracking this conspiracy. Think of all the publicity... and donation checks... that will be coming your way when this hits the media.

Don't forget. Land your boats exactly four kilometers south of the main docking area just after nightfall. Dress lightly and wear comfortable shoes. There's going to be quite a bit of walking... and running... involved. Yes... running will Definitely be involved.

Safety? You have my word. My friends and I will take Good care of you. I promise, it will be a night you'll never forget! By the way. If you had to choose between green, blue, and yellow, which would you say is your favorite color? Why? Nothing important. Just planning a little redecorating.

+ Margo? Where are you?

= Got to go. See you soon. Bye!

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!! In fact, I'll be seeing a whole lot of you!

+ Margo! Come out from there!

= Keep your scales on! I'm coming!

+ What were you doing in those bushes?

= A gentleman doesn't ask a lady that kind of question.

+ You're no lady. And I heard you laughing. Were you using that phone to make crank calls?

= Maybe.

+ For the love of... grow up, Margo.

= You want it back?

+ No. You keep it. At least it'll keep you busy and out of trouble.

= <That's what You think!'>

+ You say something?

= Yeah. I said, thank you.

+ Let's go. The Nostromo should be docking at the feeding station soon. I want to get there before the sheep are all gone. You know how Tammy loves fresh mutton. It might break her out of the foul mood she's in.

= Getting shot would piss anyone off.

+ It's only a scratch, but try telling Her that.

= Not in this lifetime. My parents didn't raise any... did you hear that?

+ Sounds like someone's shooting a canon. I wonder what's going on back there?

= Monkey boys are always blasting away at something. Why don't you walk into the clearing and take a look? I'll even paint a bulls-eye on your side. You'll look just like those dinos kids like to shoot at in video games.

+ Cute. I was just wondering if Dave is okay.

= He looked like a smart kid to me. I'm sure he can take care of himself.

+ You're probably right. Although, he's going to have a tough time taking care of his mother And trying to fill his old man's shoes as a photographer.

= How so?

+ I use to know one. He told me all about it. He said it didn't matter how talented, educated, or experienced you were. You had to be incredibly lucky too.

Lucky enough to be at the right place and time to take that one-in-a-million shot that captured the public's attention. Then... and only then... would all the right door's open for a young person trying to make a go in the business.

= That kid has luck to burn. He walked out of here in one piece, didn't he?

+ I suppose you're right. I'm glad he didn't find out what your pack did.

= What My pack did? You where there too!

+ Of course. Someone had to talk to the person responsible for getting Tammy shot at.

= Talk? You wanted to 'talk to the person responsible for Tammy getting shot at'?

+ That's right. Okay, I confess. I Was rather ticked off at the time. And I may have used some rude language too. Why do you ask?

= Just curious. Tell me. What do you remember about that night?

+ You know me, I've never been much into gratuitous violence. I just tagged along behind everyone until the lights went out and the action started. Even though it was a moonless night, my eyesight is quite good by starlight.

I just ignored all the screaming and went looked for the guy with the white beard Tammy told me about. I eventually found him, and a couple of his guards, trying to climb one of the trees. I asked the guards to let me pass and we parted amicably.

= <More like ten or twelve parts, if you ask me!>

+ You say something?

= Oh, nothing. Just clearing my throat.

+ Like I was saying. After the guards went away...

= <That one way of putting it!>

+ Will you Please pay attention while I'm talking? All that mumbling is very annoying.>

= Sorry. Keep going.

+ After the guards left I...

= I didn't say anything!

+ ... had a long conversation with their boss. I explained in no uncertain terms how unfriendly it was for his men to disturb nesting females, and how much I disliked anyone shooting at my wife. He apologized profusely and I left.

= What... exactly... did he say?

+ Now that you mention it, I can't seem to recall the conversation. I was rather upset at the time, and I'm pretty sure it went on for at least an hour, but the whole incident is mostly a blur now. How strange.

Not that it matters. We must've been friends by the time I left.

= Why do you say that?

+ Only friends share food. I wasn't hungry when I went back to Tammy with his apology and promise he wouldn't do it again.

= You've got that right. After that little 'talk' I saw you two having, I sincerely doubt if he'll be bothering anyone ever again.

+ That's good. I don't like getting that mad. You know me. Mr. Mellow himself.

= Whatever you say. Although, I still think we should have told the kid what happened to his old man.

+ Yeah, right. I can hear it now. I'm truly sorry, David. Your dad is dead. He got shot to bloody pieces because we needed something big, mean, and loud as a distraction. I'm sure he would appreciate the news.

= You're probably right.

+ Let's stop wasting time. I can taste that sheep already and Tammy is waiting.

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