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Inheritance

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It's Lex who brings it up first. Ellie meets her for coffee every now and then, in neat and trendy out of the way little coffee shops that Lex has found, where the clientele are far too young - Lexie's age - and the brews are far too complicated.

The caffeine makes Lex's eyes sparkle and her fingers move even more quickly than usual, snapping around with her trademark enthusiasm while Ellie slips at her plain black coffee and searches Lex's face for the child she once knew. She is still there, not quite buried under the smart and expensive business suits that Lexie sometimes wears, fitting a coffee with Ellie in as she rushes from one meeting to another.

Lex always has time for Ellie, and Ellie will always make time for Lex.

They all thought that Lexie would do something with computers when she grew up, and in a way she does. She's one of the city's brightest sparks, modelling the movements of derivatives and hedges, complex transactions that Ellie can't even begin to understand. Her models predict how the markets will move, how they will respond to changes in the financial climate, to disasters, both natural and man-made, and the fluctuations sent spiralling out by hostile takeovers launched by city slick predators.

It was easy, Lex confided once over a drink or two. They were in the kind of wine bar where even Lex looked out of place, filled with brightly plumed things that Lexie usually avoided once business hours were past. It was easy, Lex said, once you'd seen a flock of Gallimimus wheel and turn, chased down by something even hungrier than a venture capitalist. Once you'd seen that, humans were simply predictable.

It helps that Lexie's fearless, Ellie thinks, taking in Lex's fierce eyes and firm set chin. After Isla Nublar, nothing could make Lex lose her nerve, and it's at times like these when Ellie sees the child Lex was most clearly, the one who kept her cool when Ellie and Alan were losing theirs, the one who shielded her brother's body with her own.

Lexie is still fearless, and when Ellie stares into her face, sees that the resolve there, she starts to believe they can actually do this.

Strange how someone with such a finely tuned killer instinct is still a vegetarian, but then - thinking back to Isla Nublar - Ellie thinks that perhaps that's not so strange after all.

-o-

Kelly tackles her next, as if Ellie still needed tackling. Maybe she'd been a little too circumspect when talking to Lex, but Kelly bounces into the Italian restaurant she's chosen, and hurls herself into the seat opposite Ellie.

Kelly has a beaming smile for her, like she always does, and now that she's older, Ellie can clearly see traces of her father in her face.

The resemblance is more than physical. Just like Malcolm, Kelly has a habit of leaving chaos in her wake, but unlike Ian she also has a habit of sticking around to sort it out afterwards. Ellie can only admire her for that.

She's thinner, too, having lost the rounded cheeks that Ellie remembers, the way they dimpled with every smile. Not even Isla Sorna could dent Kelly's joy in living, so this poised young woman she sees before her must simply be a product of Kelly growing up. She feels a pang of guilt, or sadness maybe - she's seen Kelly so rarely over the months and the years that have passed on by while Ellie has been busy with the business of living. Perhaps if she'd see Kelly more often, these changes wouldn't seem quite so noticeable, but any guilt soon fades as Kelly chatters away, her eyes bright and her laughter contagious.

She extracts a promise from Ellie before she departs, and it's one that Ellie intends to keep.

-o-

Amanda phones after that - they haven't met in person since Amanda and her family first returned, alive and intact, from Isla Sorna, when Amanda's effusive gratitude was a little hard to bear, but Ellie made a point of staying in touch, and Amanda's brittleness faded with each conversation, each Christmas card.

They've experienced something few other women could ever claim, and that ties them all together in ways that Ellie couldn't even begin to explain.

It doesn't surprise her that Amanda is involved, and neither does Amanda's passion. Out of all of the children, all of the young people whose lives InGen's creatures touched, it's Eric who grows up to be a palaeontologist, not Tim like everyone expected. And Eric's passion is Amanda's, because there is little that Amanda would not do for her son. She lied to save Eric, braved monsters to save him, and sometimes Ellie wonders why all the fairytales have the Prince riding to the rescue. Amanda may not have the clout she'd pretended to possess to Alan and Billy, desperate for their help to find her child, but she's persistent and she's driven, and sometimes that matters more than money.

Ellie hears her out, agreeing in all the right places because Amanda's ideas - in some of which Ellie can clearly see echoes of Lex and Kelly and Sarah - are the right ideas. Amanda is a born organiser, persuasive and fierce, refusing to take no for an answer, something that Alan and Billy know only too well.

Ellie supplies names, contacts, a sympathetic ear and a pep talk or two. But most of that isn't necessary.

Amanda will have it under control.

-o-

"You ready?" asks Sarah, and there are worlds wound up in that question, so many answers that Ellie could give. In the end it doesn't matter if she's ready or not. If there's one thing that the past has taught her, it's that the future will not wait for you to seize it. And if you're not ready to take the opportunity when it presents itself, the future will bite.

Neither of them are new to public speaking - as academics they've given more than the occasional lecture - and it helps to think of this as simply another lesson to teach. The tour has been organised by Amanda, the graphics are down to Kelly, and the funding is Lex, but when it comes down to it, it's Sarah and Ellie who will have to carry the day.

Ellie has heard all of the arguments about how the dinosaurs on Isla Sorna do not belong in the modern world - people tell her that, expecting her to agree. They're surprised when she doesn't given everything she went through, but Ellie can't understand why. For all of the terror, all of the fear and all of the death, there was wonder, too.

She knows what is driving the current political agenda - she's read all about the spread of pteranodons across South America, as they move in migratory patterns across continents that no longer exist. She knows that people are scared, that they're looking to their governments for reassurance, for protection from the monsters they think are out there, just waiting to pounce.

They don't understand that the pteranodons' breeding cycles are slow, and that in spite of how adaptable they are, how miraculous, it will be another miracle if they manage to maintain their current population levels. One helicopter brought down in a midair collision does not mean that the skies are no longer safe, and the skies should be big enough to share.

Miraculous does not always mean safe, and a false sense of security should not be allowed to dictate how the world should be. Ian Malcolm would say that was chaos theory, but to Ellie it's just common sense.

The truth of it, the hard kernel at the heart of everything, is that no matter how the creatures on Isla Sorna arrived in this world, humans have a responsibility to them, and a moral obligation to share the world with their creations. Ellie - and Lex and Kelly, and Sarah and Amanda - have a chance to make sure that happens, to make sure that now these creatures are in the world, the world will not feel their lack.

Because it will not be the dinosaurs who inherit the earth - their time has come and gone, and the few that InGen has created will not change that. But Ellie and Sarah and Amanda have a responsibility to make sure that when the Earth is inherited, it will be by their daughters as well as their sons.

The end