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Oops! Friendly Fire

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12:15 PM Wednesday

“So why do I need weapons training again? I thought that’s what your soldiers were for…” Sarah asked Becker while batting her eyelashes at him, flirting mercilessly over her tea.

“You never know when it might be necessary to defend yourself.” Becker answered, all business at work, even during his lunch break.

“And you wouldn’t want to accidentally shoot a co-worker.” Abby chimed in, eyes sparkling with mischief.

“That’s happened here?” Danny asked.

“It was only a small tranquilizer dart and it was just that one time!” Connor spluttered in response, turning red and standing, ready to stalk off when the ADD alarm went off and lunch was left behind.

 

7:22 PM Wednesday

It had been a long afternoon. A small flock of Parvicursor had come through an anomaly in muddy pasture and the team was muddy and exhausted as they headed home. Abby was loathe to tranquilize any creature under a foot tall, and these dinosaurs were small, fast and omnivorous and had proven to be difficult to catch. Worse was their habit of zipping back through the anomaly, such that several had to be captured multiple times. It was useless to even try and capture them until the locking device was set up. The team groused at Connor as he tried to rush the process and only succeeded at taking longer than ever. To make it up to his teammates, he put Sarah in charge of unlocking and relocking the anomaly while he helped chase, but he only succeeded in ending up lifting their spirits through his misfortune, as he ended up face down in the mud multiple times. They managed to get the last creature through just before the anomaly closed.

Connor told Abby to go on home while he had stayed behind to deal with the locking device. This meant that a muddy and tired Connor had to fight the crowds and dirty looks on mass transit home, so while she was already snuggled on the couch with a bowl of soup, he was just getting to warm up in the shower. She decided to be nice and let him choose what to watch tonight, even if it meant being subjected to sci-fi again.

 

12:43 AM Thursday

Connor turned off the telly. He had been showing Abby episodes of classic Dr. Who to introduce her to Sarah Jane, UNIT and the Brigadier so she could understand the importance of certain characters in the new Dr. Who, but Abby had nodded off shortly after midnight. Well, at least she had been willing to watch. He debated over waking her to help her to bed, but instead decided to slip a pillow under her head and a blanket over her body and let her sleep on the couch.

 

3:07 AM Thursday

Three creatures shambled out of the anomaly into the alley. They looked like a cross between an anteater and a punk armadillo, with spikes sticking out of its armor. One by one they sniffed the night air and headed off towards the dumpsters behind the nearby restaurants. Shortly after, a large theropod predator hopped through the sparkling void. The Dromaeosaurus paused for a moment, and then followed the trail of the Edmontonia.

At the ARC, the siren blared out into a nearly empty room. The staff on call, quickly checked the ADD and sent a message to the ready room, where Becker and his team were already dressed and assembling their weapons. “We have an anomaly in a populated area, folks. Be ready!”

The moment the ARC detector was triggered, a signal was sent to Connor’s laptop. Connor awoke with a start and rolled out of bed. He was determined not to be awakened by Abby serving Rex’s breakfast on his face again. By the time Abby’s phone received the automated message from the ARC, Connor was dressed and had the location of the anomaly. Abby and Connor dashed to her Mini.

“We will be at the anomaly site before Becker and his men.” Abby warned. “And Danny and Sarah will be the last folks there. They have the furthest to go.”

“We have police reports of a large animal overturning the dumpsters in the alley where the anomaly is located.” Connor reported, checking the feeds on his phone.

“Ok, so a large scavenger; hopefully a herbivore, but possibly omnivorous.” Abby turned into the alley and skidded to a halt a few 100 yards from the glittering shards.

Abby and Connor quietly climbed from the vehicle and Abby pulled the dart gun kit from the backseat. Before she could decide what level of tranquilizer to load, they heard rattling and scraping from the dumpster nearest Connor. Abby looked around and listened carefully while trying to keep her breathing normal.

“An oversized rat, I hope?” Connor suggested. He swallowed a nervous breath.

“Shine the large light over there, and let’s see if we can get a look at it.” Abby directed.

Neither Connor nor Abby were prepared for the sight illuminated in the torch beam. An elongated snout protruded over the edge of the rubbish bin, followed by a pair of baleful eyes that blinked in the bright light.

 

3:28 AM Thursday

“I need a sitrep!” Becker shouted as he and his soldiers arrived at the anomaly scene. He dashed up to where Abby and Connor knelt next to the Mini. His heart raced, as he could not tell if and if so who was injured. He never expected to be greeted by breathless giggles.

Connor took pity on Becker first. He stood and gave him a mock salute and stated in his best Sergeant Benton imitation, “At least one, possibly more, large, armored cretaceous era herbivores have come through the anomaly, Sir!”

“And this is cause for laughter?” Becker asked, raising an eyebrow. The creature chose that moment to pop its head out of the dumpster again. Becker whirled around, taking aim. The sound of multiple guns being cocked echoed down the alley.

“Don’t Shoot!” Abby was standing and all seriousness now.

Becker nodded to his men. “So what is it?”

Abby turned to Connor. “Edmontonia, I think.” Connor said. “Late Cretaceous herbivore that will probably be a pain to get back through the anomaly, though I am more worried about any predators that might have followed it through. They tended to be of the long, sharp pointy teeth variety.”

Becker glared at Connor. “You are more nerdy and obnoxious than usual tonight.”

“Sorry, lack of sleep makes me geeky.” Connor replied. “Did you bring the Locking Device from the ARC?”

When Becker nodded, Connor headed off to begin set-up. Becker sent one soldier to assist Connor and turned back to Abby.

“Right, it’s a herbivore so don’t shoot.” He began.

Abby interrupted, “Even if it was a carnivore, you don’t shoot unless someone is in immediate danger of being eaten or trampled. It’s my call!”

“Fine, then what do you suggest we bring them down with?”

“Well, best not to bring them down at all, just try and herd them back to the anomaly. If you absolutely have to,” Abby paused to glare at Becker, “Use the large darts for penetrating power on a large armored herbivore, but aim for the underbelly if possible. They are filled with Immobilon, which would be used to bring down an elephant or rhino, so be careful. If we have to use the tranquilizers, we will then need to use M5050 to revive the animals after we have returned them through the anomaly.”

“Ok, so you three load up with tranquilizers, the rest of us will stay armed and begin herding the creatures back towards the anomaly.” Becker ordered.

 

4:06 AM Thursday

The soldiers spent the next half hour trying to encourage the reluctant creatures to return to the anomaly. They tried pushing and yelling, but only succeed in getting one of the soldiers sliced when he got pinned between the wall and one of the Edmontonia’s spiked armor. The creatures would allow themselves to be herded towards the glittering lights, but when they got within 50 feet of the anomaly they would veer off. Becker sent the injured soldier to get stitches and made the decision. They would have to be tranquilized.

Meanwhile, Connor had finished setting up the locking device and closed the anomaly with a flourish. He turned to the sergeant to see his reaction, and found him standing to one side watching the anomaly with one eye and the antics of his fellow soldiers with the other. Connor sighed and turned back to his computer and then froze as heard a snort and low growl from somewhere behind the now locked anomaly. He tried to force himself to start breathing again. He knew nothing had come through the anomaly since he had been here. A predator would not have stood waiting patiently for the last half hour, to reveal itself now when he could have easily been a convenient snack much earlier…would it? The anomaly was dimmer and smaller now that it was locked. Would that have brought him to the predator’s attention? Because he knew, if he was not imagining the sound, that it was too similar to what he had heard before…a theropod, perhaps another raptor or some near relative. He turned to the soldier; if he was imagining the sound then the sergeant should still be smiling and enjoying the show. He made eye contact with a now hyper-alert soldier scanning the area behind him and swallowed hard. The predator leapt toward Connor just as Danny’s vehicle entered the alley, illuminating the area. Startled by the light, the dromaeosaurus attempted to switch directions mid-air and succeeded only in knocking Connor off his feet and into the locking mechanism. Sparks and feathers flew and the anomaly unlocked.

Danny and Sarah jumped out of the hilux and ran over to where Connor was slowly picking himself off the pavement.

“Connor, are you ok?” Danny asked as he gave the younger man a hand up.

“I think so,” Connor said as he slowly straightened, “I’m not dromaeosaurus dinner, but I’m not so sure about the locking device.”

“Sarah, you help Connor with the device, while I go help Abby.” Danny turned, “What did you say you thought the predator was again?”

As Danny came over to help Abby, she asked over her shoulder, “What’s up with the locking device?” while she continued to try and herd the Edmontonia out of the dumpsters and back towards the anomaly.

“Did you just miss the Connor getting pounced on by a predator?” Danny was shocked, normally she was more aware of what was going on around her.

“We’ve been a bit busy here!” she said backing up quickly to avoid being impaled by the slowly moving armored pests. As what Danny had said clicked in her head, she turned to him. “Who was pounced on by what?”

“We have a carnivore, a predator, in the alley. Connor identified it as a dromaeosaurus. All I know is its got lots of teeth and claws. Connor’s ok, but the locking device was damaged.” Danny summarized the situation for Abby and then announced to Becker and his soldiers, “We have a fast moving predator, be alert!”

 

4:41 AM Thursday

After another half an hour of fruitless searching for the dromaeosaurus and useless coaxing of the Edmontonia, the herbivores crawled out of the dumpsters. Either the Edmontonia were no longer spooked by the carnivore lurking behind the glittering shards, or they had simply eaten their fill and were ready to go home, but they finally were allowing themselves to be herded back towards the open anomaly.

Sarah had grabbed the backup computer and was patching it into the system, while Connor was working on repairing and reassembling the locking mechanism.

As the herbivores walked placidly towards the anomaly, Becker noticed movement in the shadows. Becker trained his weapon on the predator. Abby noticed his motion and followed his eyes. Abby took careful aim at the dromaeosaurus. Unfortunately, just as she fired her tranquilizer gun, one of the Edmontonia lurched forward, causing the dart to ricochet back towards her. She ducked, Becker and his soldiers hit the dirt, but Connor, who was busy setting up the anomaly closing device, did neither. The dart found its way to the seat of his pants.

“Ow!” Connor reached down and pulled the offending object from his backside, before collapsing in a heap like a marionette whose strings are suddenly snipped.

“Connor!” Abby screamed as she watched him collapse. “Danny, grab the dart case.”

“Shouldn’t we take care of the dinosaurs first?” Becker asked, grabbing Abby’s wrist.

Abby turned on Becker snarling, “That dosage can take down a stampeding rhino, it will kill a man within minutes without the antidote. Now let me go!” Abby pulled away from Becker and dashed over to where Sarah knelt by Connor. Becker took a moment to give orders to his men and rushed over as well.

“Abby, he’s barely breathing. His pulse is weak and very slow.” Danny stated as Abby scrabbled through the case, preparing the antidote.

“I’ve already called for an ambulance.” Sarah stated, looking nervously around.

“Find the dart! I need to know how much went in to administer the right amount of antidote.” Abby said with rising panic in her voice as she rummaged in the dart case.

“Can’t you just use the M5050 we would use to wake the creatures? Becker asked.

“In a pinch, but it’s not made for humans either. There should be Narcan in the case for accidental exposure to Immobilon. Here it is!” Abby held it aloft in shaking hands.

Becker quickly located the dart and held it up. Abby looked it over and then quickly measured a 3 ml dose of antidote.

“Intravenous, subcutaneous, or intramuscular?” Becker asked.

“1st choice intravenous, 2nd choice intramuscular.” Sarah read from the data sheet that had rolled out of the packaging of the Narcan.

Danny ripped open Connor’s sleeve, but they could not find a vein. “His pulse is so weak…”

“Dammit, we are wasting time he doesn’t have…” tears welled up in Abby’s eyes.

Becker had rarely seen Abby give in to despair and made a quick decision, “Go intramuscular then,” he said as he quickly undid Connor’s belt and zipper, and then rolled him to one side, yanking on the waistband to expose the large muscle group of the glutes.

As Abby brought the needle towards Connor, Danny noticed the tears in her eyes and shake of her hands. He put his hand over hers. “Just take a deep breath and do it.” Danny encouraged her and she quickly administered the dose.”

“You may need to do…” Abby choked back a sob, “do CPR if he stops breathing.”

“Becker, help me get him away from the anomaly and out to the street so emergency services can find us. Sarah, get the locking device ready. Abby, you still have a predator to find and get back through the anomaly. Let’s go people!” Danny turned to Abby. “I’ll take care of Connor, don’t worry.”

Abby pressed the emergency kit into Danny’s hand. “In three minutes, if his breathing and pulse have not improved, repeat the dose.”

Becker and Danny carried Connor to the end of the alley. After they lowered Connor to the ground again, Becker dashed off to help Abby.

 

4:54 AM Thursday

The predator had disappeared again. It was amazing that an animal with a body the size of a large dog, over 6 foot long if measured head to tail, could disappear so completely in the alleyway. The dromeosauraus was fast and a silent hunter. Becker had spread his men throughout the alley but was worried of putting them in danger by spreading them too thin. He had one man stationed on either side of the anomaly, so at least Sarah shouldn’t have to worry about being eaten. He glanced over just in time to see her look of triumph as she locked the anomaly.

It had been at least 3 minutes, so Danny checked to see if Connor’s pulse had improved. “Dammit!” he swore softly. He could not even find a pulse now. He watched Connor’s chest and saw no sign of breathing. He rolled Connor onto his side to administer another dose of antidote, then onto his back to begin CPR. He quickly fell into the rhythm of 2 breaths then count chest compressions as he had been taught in first responder training. He had been doing it long enough that he was getting dizzy and his arms were getting tired. He stopped for a moment, and then restarted with compressions only until the dizziness passed. He knew passing out would not help Connor and considered calling to Becker for help, but knew they had their hands full with the predator. He checked Connor, and resumed CPR. He was unsure of how long he had been going when the ambulance arrived and the paramedics took over. He gave them the paperwork on the tranquilizer and antidote and told them Connor had been given 2 ampoules of antidote. They called that information in as they loaded Connor into the ambulance and quickly drove away, leaving a stunned Danny staring at the departing lights.

 

5:19 AM Thursday

Becker’s men had gone to the far end of the alley and begun a sweep back towards them. Becker was starting to worry that the creature had managed to escape the alley when he allowed his attention to be diverted by Connor. Abby had joined him near the alley entrance, their view of the street blocked by Danny’s and the ARC vehicles. Becker could have sworn he heard a snort from the street, when he was distracted by Danny stumbling around the vehicles. As Danny came into view the dromeosaurus leapt from Abby’s side of the street towards Danny. Becker tackled Danny, and could not help but notice the orange and black stripes on its hide as it passed within inches of his nose. Abby managed to get a clean shot at the carnivore before it made either of them into a late night snack. It staggered a few yards towards the anomaly site before collapsing.

While Danny gave Abby an update on Connor, Becker got his men organized and they quickly got the predator back to the anomaly. Sarah opened the anomaly, Abby administered the M5050 to counter the Immobilon, and the soldiers quickly got the dromeosaurus through before it awakened. Sarah re-locked the anomaly, and Becker assigned two men to guard the site until the anomaly closed.

 

6:00 AM Thursday

“So to the hospital then,” Sarah said firmly.

A dazed Danny looked up. Abby just kept her head buried in his shoulder.

“To check on Connor. Becker, you drive.” Sarah turned towards Becker as she shoved Danny and Abby towards the car.

“I think I missed something.” Becker whispered to Sarah as the walked to the car.

“Connor wasn’t breathing when the ambulance arrived. Danny had been doing CPR for several minutes.” Sarah explained. “I already called Lester.”

They drove to the hospital in silence. The rising sun cast an orange glow with harsh black shadows, like the dromeosaurus hide. When they arrived they found Lester already there. It was a tense wait until the doctor finally came out.

 

6:53 AM Thursday

“Well, it is taking a while for the drugs to clear his system. Even though you administered the antidote right away, etorphine is subject to enterohepatic recycling. That means as the drug is cleared from his blood stream, some of it is reabsorbed by the small intestines before his body can get rid of it. He is currently on a ventilator to assist his breathing, but hope to take him off in the next few hours. We won't know if there is any brain damage until he awakes. There were multiple contusions across his lower torso and back, but no sign of internal injury. I take it the animal attacked him before the mishap with the tranquilizer. I assume that is why you were trying to tranquilize it?” The doctor asked.

Abby only nodded, tears welling in her eyes again. “Can I see him now?”

“Just for a few minutes...” The doctor turned and went back to work.

Danny accompanied Abby in. Hooked to the ventilator, he was still a mass of beeping monitors and tubes. He looked more like something from one of his sci-fi shows, than her flatmate. Abby sobbed once and clung to Danny. “He’ll be alright.” He said, more to reassure himself than anything.

 

7:17 AM Thursday

“So, what’s this I hear about Connor shooting you once?” Danny asked, trying to get Abby talking and distracted. “I know he’s infatuated with you, but tranquilizing seems a bit extreme, even for Connor.”

Abby blushed at the thought.

“So if you were alright, he should be too.” Sarah stated, handing Abby some coffee.

“It’s not the same, we were using much stronger tranquilizers tonight, not meant for humans…back then we were using ketamine phenyl tranquilizers. Ketamine can be used on humans as well as animals.” Abby sighed, she might as well tell the tale to Danny, Sarah and Becker now so Connor would not have to hear it and be embarrassed by it again.

“There was an anomaly in the mall and a family of raptors came through, two adults and one juvenile. We didn’t know what we had and, so frankly I am amazed we were even able to bring the adults down. We had found a Cleaner…before we knew about Helen’s clones. We had taken him into the staff locker rooms where the juvenile had jumped him and I was looking after him while Connor checked the room. The juvenile had hidden under a bench and his first shot went wild, missed the raptor and hit me. He got it on the second shot through.” Abby summarized. She knew she was not wholly accurate, embarrassing mistakes had been made on both sides: her giving him the gun to scan the room; his ridiculous cop routine and their argument; her imploring him to shoot it already and not making sure she was out of line of fire. Truly neither one of their finer moments, she felt she didn’t need to advertise it, especially now.

Becker sensed there was something Abby wasn’t saying, but that was common in blue on blue situations. As she was ok after the mall incident and he witnessed this incident, he knew further inquiry was unnecessary, but made a mental note to go over friendly fire prevention tactics in future training exercises. Meanwhile helping Abigail deal with this was of primary importance. “The doctor said it would be a few hours, we should get some breakfast.”

As the coffee had only succeeded in making Abby feel more anxious, she allowed herself to be led away for a little while.

 

2:34 PM Thursday

It was only two hours later when the doctors had taken Connor off the ventilator, but several hours more before he began to stir. The doctor had gone in to do his mid-day check on Connor, and found him mumbling indistinguishably, getting louder and more agitated as if in a nightmare. They could hear him clearly in the hallway when he finally shouted, “I tell you, Brigadier, the Brontosaurus is large and placid. And stupid!”

Lester had stopped by on the way back to the ARC after a meeting with the Ministry. At this declaration of dinosaurs, he turned to Becker, “That man is a menace to security. Get a team in here to…” He tapered off at the sound of Abby laughing. “Ms. Maitland, I do not see what is humorous about such a breach of security. Secrecy is still necessary…”

“It’s a line from an old episode of Dr. Who he was making me sit through last night.” A smile of relief lit her face.

“Hmm…Plausible deniability is always useful.” Lester looked thoughtful.

The doctor came out. “Mr. Temple is awake and appears to have sustained no serious damage. We will keep him here overnight for observation, but should be able to release him early tomorrow. You can go in and see him now.”

Abby walked in to see a pale but awake Connor sitting up slightly in the hospital bed. He quirked an eyebrow upon seeing Abby. “Et tu, Brute?” He croaked, his voice rough and weak after being on the ventilator.

“What?” As Abby lifted the water cup and straw to his lips, she worried that perhaps Connor’s brain had been damaged after all.

“Revenge?!” he whispered.

“No, never!” Her eyes went wide with shock. That he could think she would have put his life at such risk to get back at him, she choked back a sob and turned to leave when she felt his hand on hers.

“Just kidding!” he whispered pleadingly, “but do you think you could get everyone to stop with the jokes about when I shot you. It was an accident!”

“Done already.” She said, pulling up a chair beside him. “So Lester was livid when you woke up muttering about dinosaurs, but when I mentioned it was from Dr. Who he just smiled and muttered something about plausible deniability.”

Connor looked perplexed for a moment and then a smile lit his face, “Like on Stargate SG-1’s episode Wormhole Extreme. You know you could do a kick-ass Major Carter if you’d ever go to a convention with me.”

“Oh no, I am not sitting through another sci-fi series, you said we still have years of Doctor Who to watch. How long did this Stargate thing run?”

“Just 10 years, but then there are the spin-offs, Atlantis and Stargate Universe…” Connor answered and Abby rolled her eyes. She sensed what they would be watching on the telly while Connor was recuperating at home, but somehow, she really didn’t mind.