Actions

Work Header

Welcome to the Jungle

Chapter Text

Peter jerked the controls to the left spinning the Milano out of the way of the oncoming space rocks.

“Hurry it up Rocket! How long till we reach the jump point?” Gamora yelled as she tried to train the lasers on the mess of pursuing tentacles. “The Zarlax is gaining on us!”

“Cool your pants! We’ll be there in two minutes!”

“Are your pants on fire Gamora?” Drax asked in confusion as he turned from looking out the airlock to staring at Gamora.

“Now’s not really the time Drax!” Peter shouted from the controls as he swerved to miss another one of the monsters darting limbs. There was a screeching sound as one of the creatures clawed suckers gripped the ship and tore its way down the left side of the Milano. “Dammit!” he let out. They’d just got the ship repainted less than a month ago.

“Quill! Over there!” Rocket shouted, pointing his paw to a glimmering sliver of light just beyond the field.

“Got it!” he yelled as he shoved the throttle all the way down on the Milano pulling just ahead of the pursuing creature and darting through the gap.

Rocket wasted no time, slamming his paw on the jump button as they passed through. There was a whirring sound as ships engines fired. The stars pinwheeled around them turning into thin white lines around the Milano as it jumped to hyperspace leaving the asteroid field behind them.

Quill slumped into the pilot seat with a sigh and the Milano pulled out of hyperspace a couple minutes later. They were safe, back on familiar territory in the Nova Empire. The rest of the Guardians were pretty much doing the same thing. Slumping in relief as the adrenaline rush died down. Well everyone except for a now teenaged Groot who couldn’t be bothered to look up from his video game.

It’d been about six months since Yondu’s funeral and it had been nothing but non stop action. First they’d stopped a civil war in the Spartax Empire and exposed their leader as a corrupt fraud. Then they’d broken down a slave trafficking ring run by the Kree. Now they’d just escaped a Zarlax that had been feeding on a moon.

Thank god Mantis had stayed behind on the Elector with Kraglin, a few weeks ago they’d found out she was absolutely terrified of creatures that had limbs ‘that squiggled’ whatever that meant. No one had figured it out until Groot had shown her an octopus creature on his game and she’d refused to sleep for two nights.

“I need a vacation.” Peter let out softly as he ran his fingers over his Zune.

“Vacation?” Gamora asked glancing over towards him, “What’s this vacation?”

“It’s uh- a Terran thing. You take a break from work and try to relax and de-stress.” Peter tried to explain, “Sometimes you travel to exotic places and sit on beaches, things like that.” Gamora frowned at him mulling it over. He could tell she didn’t really get it. Hell Gamora hadn’t even known the meaning of fun before she’d joined the Guardians.

“Why would you want to break what you have worked on?” Drax asked from his chair.

“It’s a figure of speech buddy.” Peter said running his hand through his hair.

“What does one do on a vacation?” Gamora asked. She must still be trying to wrap her head around the concept Peter thought. It was one of her habits, fishing for more information whenever Peter did anything that the team termed ‘too Terran.’

“You don’t really do anything,” He said, “Just sleep, eat, relax and try to get your head back on straight.”

A look of comprehension passed over her face. “I see. Yes, I think you should take a vacation Peter.” Gamora declared with finality.

“What?” Peter blanched. Sure he’d mentioned it, and he probably needed one, but that didn’t mean he’d actually been serious about taking one. What would his team do to the Milano without him? Wait his team- “I think you mean we should take a vacation Gamora.”

“No, just you. I have no interest in it. Does anyone else?”

There were various negative answers from all over the cabin. Ranging from: Nah, sounds boring I wouldn’t get to blow anything up to laziness is unbecoming of a warrior.

“Peter,” Gamora said her tone serious, “You have not been the same since Ego’s planet,” Peter flinched, “and Yondu’s death. You have been eating less and sleeping only when you collapse of exhaustion. You very much need to relax and take some time for yourself. This vacation sounds perfect.”

Peter gulped. There was no arguing with Gamora when she used that tone and she was probably right. Peter had been avoiding processing his feelings and they’d just been so damn busy he really didn’t have the time. “So where do you think I should go?” Peter asked in a small voice.

Rocket snorted, “Somewhere with a harmless population. The last thing we need is to leave you somewhere only to come back and find you dead because you’re useless without us.”

Peter balked, affronted. “I am not! I lived in space for 26 years without you guys!”

“I agree with Rocket,” Drax chimed in, “You are very squishy and unmuscular, much like a pitiful baby. I do not want to leave you somewhere undefended.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence Drax.” Peter muttered, crossing his arms to stare down his team.

“I think,” Gamora started slowly, “That we should take you back to Terra for your vacation. You should be safe on a planet filled with your own species and you have much emotional trauma to reconcile with your home planet.” Peter really didn’t like that idea. He’d been avoiding returning to Earth even after he got his own ship. It reminded him of his Mom and he really didn’t want to go back.

“Yes,” Drax agreed, nodding, “A planet filled with other squishy beings would be most safe.”

“Do I even get a say in this?” Peter let out petulantly as he puffed his cheeks up.

“No Starmunch you don’t. Maybe this vacation thing will help you get over your stick in the mud streak. Now tell me what are the coordinates for Terra.” Rocket said his fingers flying over the controls as he prepared for another jump.

“Wait you guys want me to do this now? Can’t it- I don’t know wait for a couple weeks?” Peter protested waving his hands around to vent his frustration, “I mean I don’t even have any supplies or anything!” His arguments didn’t seem to be swaying his team who were all looking at him. Even Groot had glanced up from his game at this point.

“Got it.” Rocket said as he scrolled down the list of planets.“Should only take a couple hours to get there.”

“Come on guys-” Peter started, but Rocket was already slamming his hand down on the jump button. Then they were careening through hyperspace again.


 

“You guys are all traitors,” Peter said. He was slouched over in his seat glowering at his crew, “This is all some mutiny for you guys to steal the Milano.”

“Of course Quill. Not like we couldn’t get our hands on half a dozen better ships if that was our intention.” Rocket said sarcastically as he lowered the shields and landed on a beach.

They’d arrived on planet less than ten minutes ago and circled the atmosphere until Gamora had found an island with beaches she deemed suitable for relaxing. Now they were touching down and Peter wasn’t any less happy about the turn of events.

Drax had handed him a pack of essentials and was now herding him down the walkway and onto land despite Peter’s protests. That was how Peter found himself standing on a sandy beach as his crew said their goodbyes.

“Do not die before we return.” Drax ordered as he pressed one of his very deadly knives into Peter’s hand.

“I’ll try not to. But you wouldn’t have to worry if you just took me with you!” Peter called after him. Drax had already turned, headed back towards the ship. He kept on walking and didn’t answer.

Next was Rocket who in his usual assholey way was showing he cared. “Here,” He said shoving two mechanical devices into Peter’s free hand.

“What are these?” Peter said squinting at them. One was a small square device on a metal chain. It looked a little like a bracelet. The other was about the size of a coffee mug with a big red button on the side and half a series of smaller grey switches on the other side. He had a sinking feeling that it was a bomb.

“Tracker so we can find your humie butt when we get back here. The other thing does a lot of things.” Rocket explained averting his gaze.

“Rocket so help me- is it a bomb?”

“No!” the raccoon responded. He was way too quick in answering for Peter not to be suspicious, “Well I mean it’s not just a bomb. It does other things. It will take down a power system, break locks, stun people, you know real useful stuff.” Peter’s lips quirked up despite his anger at the situation. Rocket was a big softy and not just because of his fur.

“You flip all the switches and press the button and you should get a pretty nice explosion. If you wanna use the other features flip these switches over here.” He explained showing Peter the various modes. With a gruff ‘Take care of yourself Starmunch.” Rocket was sauntering up into the ship.

“You better not blow up my ship!” Peter yelled. Rocket flipped him off before darting out of view.

Next was Groot who had been awkwardly hanging around the side of the ship watching everything. Peter was a little surprised he’d come down to seem him off at all. Groot had been an angsty hormonal little shit ever since he hit his teenage stride.

“I am Groot.” The teenaged tree said quietly.

“Yeah, I’ll miss you too Groot.” Peter sighed as he reached out and hugged their youngest member. Groot remained stiff and quickly pushed Peter off of him.

“I am Groot.” The tree said again.

“Alright, alright got it no visible displays of affection. You’re too cool for all that. Don’t fight with Mantis and listen to Rocket and Gamora until I get back.” Peter advised though he was sure the tree probably wouldn’t listen. Peter ruffled Groots leaves one last time and then he turned to look at Gamora.

She approached him slowly. Her practical black synthetic boots not making a sound as she gracefully made her way towards him. Groot looked between the two of them, made a face like he wanted to vomit and quickly retreated to the Milano.

Their unspoken thing was still very much unspoken. But they’d had a bit of a physical thing going on ever since Yondu’s funeral. Not sexual or anything like that. Peter would hold her hand or they’d cuddle together when the nightmares were bad. There were also the long gazes from across the ship. Basically Peter was crushing so hard he didn’t even know what to do with it and Gamora was even more emotionally constipated than him.

“We will be back in three to four cycles.” She said looking him in the eye. “I know you are angry.” Peter scoffed, “But this will be good for you. Don’t be a baby.”

“Take care of everybody,” Peter voiced grudgingly, “Make sure Rocket doesn’t weaponize the ship.”

“I will.” She glanced between Peter and the forest, “Try to relax and stay out of trouble. If you need us call using the beacon.” Gamora lowered her voice suddenly, “I know losing Yondu was hard and being back on Earth reminds you of your mother. But please Peter try to find some calm. Everyone has noticed that you’re off, even Drax came to talk to me about it. I think this will help you.” Peter stared stonily at her his throat tightening.

“I don’t see why I can’t stay. I’d get over it eventually.”

“We don’t want you to get over it Peter. We want you to heal.” She smiled sadly at him. “I tried for years to just get over what Thanos did to me as a child. It always came trailing after me. It wasn’t until I met you that the nights weren’t so dark anymore. I don’t want that for you. I don’t know if this will help, but if a vacation does what you says it does, it certainly can’t hurt.”

Peter didn’t know how to argue with that so he closed his mouth with a click. Then Gamora dove in and wrapped her arms tightly around his waist in a bone crushing hug. She turned her head to look at him her hair tickling across his nose and kissed him softly on the cheek. Peter’s mouth dropped open all over again. He stuttered out ‘I-I- Gm’ra wha?” from his confusion. He felt the blood heat in his cheeks. He was sure he was blushing.

She smirked at him as he stood frozen and darted back to the ship before he could even think to follow.

That was how Peter was left standing alone and watching his ship fly off without him. The last thing he saw was Groot staring from the back window and waving sadly at him. If he wasn’t pissed about the whole thing he would honestly have been impressed by Groots actions -that was more interaction than most of the team had gotten out of him all week.

Peter knew they’d be back, there was no doubt in his mind that they’d leave him. They were friends -wait no scratch that, they were family. Deep down he knew Gamora was probably right about this whole thing too. But that did nothing to lessen his anger at the fact that his team had effectively went over his head and forced a vacation on him.

He picked up a rock off the sand, rolling it over in his hands. It was smooth from being beaten against the shore for years. He didn’t know how he felt about any of this. It was strange to be back on Terra.


 

It was humid on the island. It had only taken about twenty minutes and Peter was sweating through his layers, his red ravenger jacket sticking to his skin. He peeled it off tossing it on top of his pack. He considered taking off his undershirt too, but decided against it. He didn’t have any ultraviolet protection and burns were the last thing he needed. Then he peeled his boots and socks off too and flopped down in the sand, sticking his toes into the water.

He had to admit the island did seem kind of peaceful. He’d never been out of Missouri as a kid, but he remembered one time his classmate had bragged about going to Hawaii he was sure it was just like this. There was a slight breeze rustling the trees in the jungle and it resounded perfectly with the gentle crash of the waves. Soon enough Peter found himself drifting off.

It was past midday when Peter blinked awake. The tide had come in lapping at his thighs he sat up slowly cracking his back as he moved to get up. He had no idea if this island was inhabited or not, but he figured it was best to set up shelter before night came.

His socks were now crispy from the sand and the sweat. Peter grimaced and tossed them aside he unzipped his bag. Thank God it looked like Gamora had packed not Drax. He saw his stun guns, Zune, lock picks, a sleeping roll, a med kit, a couple weeks worth of food rations, and four changes of clothes along with some other miscellaneous stuff that looked useful. Near the bottom he snagged a new pair of socks and yanked them on followed by his boots. He wadded up his coat and the nasty socks and shoved them into the pack. He zipped it up and shoved the straps on his shoulders before heading towards the tree line.

The forest reminded Peter of other tropical planets he’d been on. Thick undergrowth climbed on everything, roots covered the ground, and the overhead was a canopy of green that hid the sky. Birds were chattering and it was actually quite peaceful. Peter found an animal trail and began following it. His plan was to find some fresh water and camp somewhere around there until he found a village.

He hiked for a couple of hours taking hydration pills when he got thirsty. It was hot and really rather awful. Peter was kicking himself for not staying on the coast where he could feel the breeze. On the plus side he’d probably seen about a hundred shades of green and hadn’t found one that matched Gamora’s skin yet. He was glad there was no one around to see him because he was sure he would have a dopey grin on his face.

Crack.

There was a snap of wood behind him somewhere followed by the ground shaking.

What the hell? Peter thought as he turned around quickly.

“Oh shit.”

Standing right behind him was fucking dinosaur. A fucking ten ton, scaled, dinosaur. It was kind of a brown color and was walking on four legs legs. It had spines all along its back getting smaller as they approached its tail. Peter wracked his brain for a name, he thought it started with an S. Stogee, stega, stego- that was it! A stegosaurus! Peter silently cursed his elementary school teacher for skipping the dinosaur chapter in their textbook.

Peter gulped he really hoped it wasn’t a meat eater. The creature didn’t even seem to notice him as it trampled around. Peter let out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding when the dinosaur bent its head and ripped a leaf off a plant, munching it slowly. While the lizard was distracted he darted off the path and into the jungle.

He didn’t stop until he found himself on the edge of a spring splashing through the water.

“You got this Starlord. You’ve got this.” He muttered to himself leaning against a tree and catching his breath.

It was a testament to how strange space is that Peter’s first explanation was they had gone through a wormhole and he was 60 million years in the past. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time it had happened to him. But if that was true, well that really sucked. Being on a nice deserted tropical island was one thing, being with a bunch of huge scaly animals was another.

Peter unzipped his bag and pulled out his guns clipping one to each hip. Better safe than sorry who knew what was out there. Thankfully alien tech was way better than anything on Terra. Peter was pretty sure one stun would even take down something as big as a stegosaurus. He could practically hear his inner Rocket telling him to go back and test it.

After he felt the adrenaline die down and he actually sat down and thought about it maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. Sure there were dinosaurs, but that was actually kind of awesome. Maybe he could even ride one. It sure would be way more interesting than sitting around a normal island. Besides he was Starlord, he’d saved the galaxy twice this was gonna be nothing compared to that. How hard could it be?

Chapter Text

It turns out it could be really hard. Especially when he realized Gamora had forgotten to pack a tent for him. Peter was so used to sleeping in the Milano that he hadn’t even thought about a shelter until the mosquitoes began eating him alive. Mosquitoes, that was certainly not something he missed about his homeworld. There was a constant buzzing in his ears from the moment the sun slipped below the horizon. Around midnight he’d given up sleeping and began taking revenge. Blasting bugs with his stun gun and watching them sizzle into nothing. It gave him a carnal satisfaction to see the little pests vaporize. He sat around itching and shooting until the sun came up.

Needless to say Peter was grumpy when the sun began to rise. He’d cursed Gamora out in seven languages and a few he’d made up when the curses didn’t seem to do his situation justice. He brushed his teeth and choked down a protein bar before shoving his damp blanket in his pack. He wanted out of this swamp, maybe he could find a nice village and rent a room. He should have more than enough Units on him -shit. Units. Terra didn’t use Units. Peter prodded around in his head for a bit trying to remember what his homeworld’s currency was. Dollars, Euros something like that if he remembered correctly. This backwater planet didn’t even have a unified currency.

This vacation was getting worse by the minute. Okay no Units. It’s not like he didn’t know how to steal a little voice in his mind muttered. I don’t steal from innocents anymore Peter argued as he walked. Besides getting thrown in a prison somewhere with alien tech and no papers for three cycles sounded awful. But then again at least he wouldn’t be out here with these goddamn bugs. With the last thought Peter smacked a bug that had landed on the side of his neck. He decided he’d worry about the money problem later if he even found a village.

Morning faded into afternoon and Peter had only come across a handful of animals. He could hear high pitched squawking and chirping from the forest canopy. Occasionally he saw some bright feathered creatures dart overhead. He wasn’t sure if they were dinosaurs or birds, but they didn’t seem dangerous and they did little more the stare at him curiously.

Peter walked for a while longer before he noticed the trees thinning. A few minutes later and he stumbled out onto an open grassland.

The grass was lush and thick. It came up to his knees and rolled with the wind, rustling unanimously. The field was really more of an afterthought thought because right in front of him were eight huge long necked dinosaurs.

They had their necks sloped gracefully down as they munched on the field, spread out in a loose semi circle. They were incredible Peter thought as he inched forward. Peter figured these ones just like the one he’d met yesterday were relatively harmless and curiosity got the better of him. He held his hand out in front of him and cautiously approached one on the fringe of the group.

“Hey girl,” he called gently to let the beast know he was approaching. The dinosaur lifted its head slightly to peer at him. It swallowed a mouthful of greens and then let out a low bellow. “I’m not gonna hurt you. You just have such pretty scales.” Peter soothed as he continued forward. He was just a few feet away when the dinosaur closed the gap and moved her neck into his outstretched palm.
Her skin was warm and bumpy. Peter ran his hand down her neck towards her head. The dinosaur snorted lightly at him as she continued to eat. This was awesome! Peter felt a grin stretch across his face.

“Is that some tasty grass there?” The dinosaur breathed out loudly. “I take that as a yes. I think I’ll call you Elo.”

Peter swore he heard some light static in his head. He frowned and tapped the side of his neck. He really hoped his translator wasn’t on the fritz. The dinosaur brayed again and the static worsened. Peter hissed and clamped his hand on his translator. Elo called again. There was a burst of static and then a clear question formed in his mind.

Friend?

Peter’s mouth dropped open. These animals they were sentient. It was just like with Groot his translator was still trying to learn and pick up the language.

“Yeah girl I’m a friend.” Peter said with a laugh. Elo nosed into Peter’s hand and then straightened up. She let out a long nasally call. The rest of the herd lifted their heads and craned their necks to stare at him. “Uh hi everybody.” Peter waved, “Any chance I could get a ride?”

That was how one Peter Quill found himself napping comfortably on the back of a dinosaur as it roamed the valley.

Despite the rough morning he found himself really enjoying the herds’ company. His translator was slowly picking up more of their calls. The registered more as ideas than words, but the intelligence was clearly there. He wasn’t sure what the dinosaurs were hearing from his translator, but the intent seemed to be coming across. They didn’t seem to mind Peter and Peter was glad to have someone to chatter at. Especially when they were giving him free rides and creating a breeze as they walked.

These creatures were pretty amazing. He just wished he could remember more about them. He’d tried to figure out more about where he was at and asked the herd questions as he thought to them. So far he’d found that they’d been living out here for a while, but they were born somewhere that was bright and smelled bad. There were also a bunch of other -he wasn’t really sure how to translate it- eaters around. He asked them about people like him and one of the larger dinosaurs in the herd roared loudly. The translator took that to mean an affirmative. Peter let out a sigh, well he still wasn’t sure what was going on but apparently it wasn’t a wormhole.

When the herd of long necks reached the end of the field and made to turn around Peter slid off Elo’s back. He thanked the herd for their help and explained that he was going to keep going and look for a place to sleep that way. Elo bent down and chewed on his hair a bit, then let out a mournful call and the herd followed her and trudged away. Peter waved at them one last time and then turned to head down the valley. His goal was to reach its end by nightfall, then he could hopefully find a river and follow it to civilization.

Peter popped two more hydration tablets as he trekked through the undergrowth. He was humming ‘Come and Get Your Love’ as strode onwards, kicking the brush aside as he went.

“Hell (hell), what’s the matter with your head, heeeaadd” He sang softly, his head bobbing along to the imaginary music. “Hell (hell), what the matter with your mind and your sign and oooohhh!” His voice got louder as he walked along. Hell it's not like anyone could hear him. It was kind of like when he was back on Morag he mused, not a soul around to judge his performance.

He’d just finished singing most of Awesome Mix Vol. 1 when he saw something sparkle in the afternoon sun. He immediately turned towards where he saw the flash his ravanger instincts kicking in. Yondu had hammered it into Peter’s head quick that it was a real shitty ravanger indeed who didn’t investigate shiny things more closely. Hell, even if Yondu hadn’t taught him that Peter had always been way too curious for his own good that was what got him into half his troubles. Well that and as his team would say his complete lack of self-preservation instincts. Peter let out a snort. That was long standing argument on the Milano. Peter absolutely refused to accept because if any of the guardians had no self-preservation skills it was Drax. Peter’s calls saved the Galaxy, Drax’s tended to get them into fights.

As Peter drew closer the strip of shimmering material broadened. Soon Peter found himself staring at what appeared to be miles of fencing. Huh, that was weird. The fence was made out of some sort of metal alloy. He wasn’t familiar enough with Terran metals to name it, but it seemed pretty heavy duty. There were metal posts about twelve feet apart with metal cables linking them together. If Peter had to guess the fence was probably over thirty feet tall. The base looked to be a couple of feet thick. He went to knock his fist against it to see if it was hollow or not. His head already trying to calculate scrapping prices. There was a hiss in the air and then a spark.

Peter had barely touched the base when the electricity connected.

He whipped his hand back faster than Xeyem whirlwind.

“Shit! Ouch!” Peter yelled as he stuck his fingers in his mouth. He couldn’t feel his fingers.

The whole fence was now crackling with electricity. How had he not noticed that?

Damn that shock hurt he thought sucking on his fingers. If it wasn’t for the in case of emergency insulators he had tucked into his boots for doing electrical work on the Milano he’d probably be dead right now. If the slowly returning tingling sensation in his nerves were anything to go off of the fence had enough electricity to take down a whole herd of elephants.

Peter glared at the fence as he nursed his fingers. This whole structure was certainly a development. He hadn’t decided what it meant yet, but it was definitely something. This thing seemed pretty hightech which could mean he wasn’t alone out here. That might be good, but he still didn’t know what kind of mad people were out here or even where here was. This could also mean there was intelligent life here other than the dinosaurs and hopefully someone with tasty food and a bed. Peter also had more than a few questions beginning with what the hell his planet had been doing since he’d been gone because dinosaurs really?

Peter had probably been standing around thinking about the fence area for an hour while he waited for feeling to return to his right hand. He could see the light in the jungle shifting and he was anxious to get going and find someplace safe to sleep.

Now what to do Peter thought as his eyes traced the fence. The fence stretched out in both directions and didn’t seem to end either way. Well that line of thinking was out.

“Eeny meenie minee mo.” Peter muttered as he wagged his pointer finger in both directions.

Aw who was he kidding there was really only one path to take and that was through this goddamn fence. Fences were meant to keep people out and that almost always meant that Peter wanted to be in. Besides why should he throw away his perfect twelve percent of plan just because of some barrier?

“Well Rocket let’s see what this baby can do.” Peter said to himself as he dug around his pack and pulled out Rocket’s not-bomb. He turned it over in his hands until he found the little grey switches. Okay, he thought trying to remember what Rocket had told him. Third down from the big red death button should put out an EMP and knockout the grid. Then he just had to slip between the cables of the fence to the other side. Easy peasy.

Peter grinned and flicked the switch down.

There was a whirring sound as the fence died and then Peter slipped to the other side.

Chapter Text

Claire had been working for Masrani Corp. for over a year now. In that time there had been no major incidents; she had made sure of it. She had been thorough and organized. Had always made sure that safety came first and both the visitors and shareholders were happy.

That was why when she received a call at five p.m. on a Sunday informing her that all of the fences and electrical devices in sectors eight through ten were down, she wanted to know why.

Her heels were tapping down the driveway towards her car before she was even off the phone.

“How does something like this even happen?” She demanded into the receiver.

“We’re not sure Ma’am. We think it might be a failure in the power plant on that side of the island.”

“How long until the fences will be back up? That needs to be our top priority!” Claire said in her clipped tone as she climbed into her mercedes GLE and turned the key in the ignition.

“The electrical engineers haven’t found the problem. They’re saying it might take as long as a week.” the employee replied in a wary voice.

“A week?!” Claire hissed as she slammed her foot on the gas pedal and pulling onto the road. She needed to be at control ten minutes ago. “Tell them they need to have it up in twenty-four hours!”

“But Ma’am-”

“I don’t want to hear any excuses! Just tell them to get it done. I’ll be over in fifteen minutes. Keep me posted if anything develops.” With that Claire hung up and tossed her phone onto the empty passenger seat. She pulled onto the main road and shifted gears, urging the car to go faster. Then Claire drove like she had hell itself on her heels.

She said it would take her fifteen minutes, it took her just under eight. She was then bursting through the doors and demanding answers. She wanted to know how over a year of careful planning and protocols had suddenly gone out the window.

“Karen, Lowery, what’s the status?” She demanded as she stepped into the control room.

“We’re still not sure what caused the shutdown.” Karen started not glancing up from her screen as she typed furiously, “But all electronic devices in these regions have been completely shut down. At first we thought it was a power outage, but then we lost all contact with the Gyrospheres in the valley. We’re sending manuel evacuation vehicles in now.”

Claire nodded and then turned her attention to Lowrey, “What about asset containment?”

“The engineers are preparing to go into the field now. They should be ready within the hour. Though with Zone Nine down we have ACU troops preparing to go with them.” He replied. His usually messy desk was a war zone right now, but Claire couldn’t bring herself to care as long as he got his job done.

Zone Nine that would be a problem Claire thought as she looked at the overhead screen. The map had three large sections off the eastern coast flashing bright red as the words warning blinked across them. Zone Eight and Ten contained mostly harmless dinosaurs -herbivores and small scavengers that roamed the valley- but Zone Nine was a predator zone.

“Make Zone Nine our top priority,” Claire snapped, “And I want all rides and personnel bordering these zones evacuated. Tell them it’s not a drill but don’t set them into a panic either.”

“On it,” Karen said as she dialed and began speaking into her headset.

“Good. The last thing we need is another Jurassic Park.” Claire let out as she glanced around control. “Get me Vic Hoskins in here now. I want to know if this could possibly be a terrorist attack. Also has anyone called Mr. Masrani yet?”

“Uh, Ms. Dearing,” A french accented voice said from behind her. Claire glanced back and saw an unfamiliar dark skinned man.

“Yes, Mister…” Claire started, but she couldn’t place the man.

“Call me Barry.” the man said as he fidgeted and rubbed his fingers over the back of his palm. The man was obviously nervous and unused to how chaotic control could be.

“And what do you need Barry? Please be quick about it, if you can’t already tell we have a bit of a scene on our hands.” Claire replied shortly. She didn’t have time for newbies who hadn’t read the manuals.

“I am a predator trainer. I’ve been here for a little over a year, working with the T-Rex and Spinosaurus. I’d like to volunteer to go with the engineers into Zone Nine.” Barry was still showing nervous ticks, but when she met his eyes there was steel there.

“I see. And you’re certain you’re up for the task?” Claire said trailing her eyes across the man. He bobbed his head yes and then opened his mouth to speak again. Claire cut him off, “Yes, you can go just make sure you sign the correct waivers. The chief engineer is in room 143 preparing. Go find him and introduce yourself. Tell him Claire sent you.”

With that Claire turned back to facing the screens, ignoring the sound of fading footsteps. She had a problem to solve.


 

Peter had decided that this side of the fence was just as boring as the side he had come from. In fact he didn’t even know why someone had bothered to put the fence up. So far all he’d found was a small creek and some weird looking orange flowers.

He let out a long sigh and shrugged his backpack off his shoulders, letting it drop to the ground. He stretched and rolled his shoulders at the sudden weightlessness that came from not having a ten pound bag strapped to his back. He then glanced around the campsite he’d chosen for the night. It was in a clearing between four very large trees. Roots spread like veins across the ground keeping the encroaching undergrowth at bay. Off to his right a little brook gurgled as it flowed along.

The area reminded Peter of the time his Grandpa had taken him on a camping trip. It was before he’d known his Mom had cancer. Grandpa had told him it was a man’s trip and his mom looking always more tired had laughed and helped Peter pack all the things for a ‘man’s journey’.
They’d driven all day to get to a state park. Then they’d pitched there pup-tent in a clearing next to a stream and fished and made s’mores. Peter found himself smiling at the memory his mouth watered even now thinking about those s’mores.

That was it, he thought, the solution! He needed a campfire! Everyone knew the smoke kept the bugs away. For not being on Terra for most of his adult life he couldn’t help be proud of himself for how useful the little he did remember (that wasn’t traumatizing emotional hurt) was useful.

All around him the jungle was growing dimmer and the bugs were starting to come out in swarms. Peter could hear a few distant bird calls, but mostly he heard the chittering of insects as the jungle’s nocturnal creatures came out to play. All Peter knew was he refused to spend another night like last night. If he had to camp he wanted to do it with style, and that meant he wanted a fire. With that one goal in mind he tramped back into the jungle to find some burnable wood.

He’d made about four trips. Each trip dragging fallen branches and slightly rotted logs back to where he’d left his pack. It was on his fifth and final trip that he noticed something was amiss.

Peter glanced over his shoulder but didn’t see anything. He couldn’t quite place it something was just off.

The clearing was too quiet. It was eerie.

There was a high pitched chirping to his left. Peter jumped about four feet off the ground as he swung around to find the source of the noise.

Standing on the roots of a tree was a little dinosaur. It stood on its back feet and came up to about his knee. It had two clawed hands with four fingers each that it was using to tear at at a rotten log. It’s tail stretched out about three feet behind it and swayed as the little creature moved. The dinosaur’s torso was covered in short little brown feathers with white and black stripes trailing down its sides to the tip of its tail. It’s snout was a vibrant blue color with a patch of tiny red feathers on the back of its neck. It swayed on its legs and turned to stare at Peter.

“Hey there little guy.” Peter said getting closer. The dinosaur chirped again. There was a rustle behind him and two identical little dinosaurs shot out of the underbrush. “Wow you have some friends.” There was another chirp which Peter took as an affirmative.

Peter kep expecting to hear more static from his translator as it picked up the language. But instead there was nothing. Weird. Maybe these lizards weren’t as smart as the ones in the field. He set that thought aside for later, languages were really more Gamora’s thing than his.

“You guys are pretty cute, you know.” Peter babbled as he got closer, “I bet Yondu would have taken you to put on his dash.” There was more rustling and Peter found himself surrounded by twelve little dinosaurs. “Wow are we having a party here?” The creatures angled their heads to the side, staring at him, then the chirping changed into a low rumble that echoed throughout the hollow.

Peter gulped. The dinosaurs didn’t look so friendly now. Especially not with their sharp little teeth showing.

The dinosaurs darted at him, snapping their jaws as they flung themselves at him. Peter squirmed and managed to throw two off, flinging them across the field. For every one he kicked off there were four more right there to take their place. Their little claws and sharp teeth shredding through his clothing.

“You little motherfuckers!” Peter growled as he reached for his stun guns. He got one out and began firing aimlessly around him.

His random fire struck one of the pack and left it yelping and twitching on the ground. After that the rest of the pack backed off glancing at him and their fallen comrade, making little crooning noises.
“That’s right. You better be scared.” Peter growled at them as he aimed his gun.

The little dinosaurs tilted their snakelike heads to the side as they stared at him, unblinking. What Peter thought was the first dinosaur he’d seen made a call and then the surrounding pack backed off, darting off into the underbrush leaving their fallen comrade behind.

Peter glared wearily into the surrounding jungle. Sure the troublemakers had left for now, but Peter had the sneaking suspicion they’d be back. He looked over to the dino he’d stunned. It was still twitching on the ground. Well at least he knew his stun guns were at a high enough voltage.

Peter sighed and went over to it. He felt kind of bad, sure the pack had tried to eat him, but that was just nature- it was a dog-eat-dog world after all. And the little sucker looked so pathetic he couldn’t help but feel guilty.

What Drax would probably call his squishiness won out and Peter scooped up the still crying creature. Hell he could always decide to eat it later if it was too much trouble. Peter grabbed the fallen firewood off the forest floor and walked a couple more paces into his campsite.

When Peter saw the rest of the clearing he just about had an aneurysm.

He wished he’d blasted all the little shits. The insides of his pack were strewed clear across the campsite. Packages of rations were torn open and left half eaten all over the forest floor. His pack was thankfully not ripped to shreds, but it was pretty damn close! The straps were still intact but the little monsters had clawed through the top. Peter knelt down and dumped the rest of the supplies out. It looked like they’d destroyed four days worth of protein rations. His tech despite being a bit banged up and a little nibbled on seemed mostly intact.

Peter gave a silent prayer to whatever deities were out there that his Zune had remained safely nestled in the bottom of his pack through the whole event.

He couldn’t say the same for his clothing. Two of his shirts had been clawed up and dragged halfway across the clearing before they were abandoned. Peter let out a frustrated sigh as he held up one of his favorite pairs of pants only to find a hole his hand could fit through now existed where his ass should go. Worst of all though was his ravanger jacket. They’d had a field day with that. It’d been stuffed on the top of his pack and they’d practically torn it to pieces trying to get to food. One of the sleeves was loosely hanging on by a few threads and the collar had multiple bite marks.

“This is all your fault,” Peter growled at the unconscious remaining dinosaur. The dinosaur of course didn’t answer.

“I’m so sick of this place already,” he grumbled as he picked up his scattered supplies. “Quill you need a vacation.” He mimicked in a high pitched voice, “It will be good for you. Everyone’s worried about your mental health. Hah I’m gonna show you worried about my mental health when you get back here! I’m gonna go Tarzan on your asses!” With that Peter stuffed his remaining clothing into his pack and set it back down. “I’ll leave you guys on this island for three cycles and we’ll see how you like it!”

If he was being honest he’d know exactly how much his team would like it -no scratch that they would love it. Drax would pick a fight with everything that moved. Groot would, well he would probably still be a grumpy teenager, but he’d be a grumpy teenager that was getting a lot of sun and hopefully wouldn’t be a teenager forever. Rocket- well actually Peter wasn’t sure how much Rocket would like this place, but so far it was all plants and animals and no people so he’d probably be okay with it. Gamora she’d probably climb a tree somewhere and call everyone idiots. Peter frowned this daydreaming wasn’t doing anything for him and he still had a prisoner to deal with.

He went over to the unconscious dino and pulled some Xandarian asteroid rope from his storage pockets. The stuff was known for being so magnetic that once it was set a single thread could hold a ship in a planet's orbit for over 20 cycles. Peter laced it around the little cretins limbs and then paused before deciding to wrap some around its mouth too. He legs still stung from the nips earlier.

“I could use you for bait.” Peter said darkly before he moved the animal next to his pack where he could keep an eye on it.

By that time dusk had set in and the forest was rapidly getting darker. Peter decided the last thing he wanted to be was unable to see these little monsters in the dark so he stacked all the wood he’d gathered in one pile, dumped some fuel on it, and smashed two ignition stones together.

The sparks flickered to life and fell onto the gathered pile, as soon as they landed on the fuel there was a blast of heat as a wall of flame rose to life.

Peter quickly stepped back and brushed his hand along his forehead to make sure his eyebrows were still there. “Now that’s what I call a fire!” He exclaimed with a whoop of joy. No bugs for him tonight.

He smiled as he watched the flames rise over his head. His Grandpa had always said it wasn’t really a bonfire unless you could see it from space. Now if only he could get his hands on some marshmallows, he hadn’t had a s’more in over twenty years.

Peter pulled his sleeping roll out of his pack and spread it on the ground beside the fire. Then he plopped down on it and tucked the rest of his stuff under his head as a pillow. He also slipped his Zune out and tucked one of the earbuds into his ears. The mixture of crickets and Pink Floyd sending him off to dreamland.

Chapter Text

Barry was having a rough day. No scratch that Barry was having a rough week.

It started when he’d been dumb enough to volunteer to go with the engineers. He had to admit looking back it’d been a little bit naive of him. He’d volunteered to go primarily because he wanted to make sure people were safe and they didn’t do anything stupid to provoke the bigger predators. The engineers at the beginning had eyed him suspiciously but hadn’t denied him when he said Claire Dearing had approved.

That was how Barry had ended up stuffed into the back seat of a jeep. Next to him was an ACU guy that had some sort of weapons fetish. The guy had four guns on his person and two wickedly sharp knives strapped to his boots. When Barry had climbed into the backseat the man had shot him a crazed grin and asked him if dinosaurs tasted like chicken. Barry had scooted as far away from the man as was physically possible.

The two front seats were taken by the two engineers who pulled up GPS coordinates of the zones and were so deeply engrossed in their technical discussion they didn’t even greet Barry when he climbed in.

Barry sat still for a couple of minutes before he leaned forward and asked, “Are we prepared to go?”

The two engineers blinked at him as if he had a second head. “Yeah. Yeah just give us a minute.” The one on the passenger side said dismissively before turning back to his companion.

After thirty more minutes of sitting in a jeep Barry decided he’d had enough.

“You do understand that every minute that the fences are non-operational there’s a greater chance either the dinosaurs or staff of the park will be gravely injured?” He demanded.

The two engineers looked at him again before the driver inserted a key into the ignition and started the jeep. “Jeez no need to get your panties all in a twist back there.” he said as the vehicle roared to life. He switched the jeep into drive and pulled out heading towards the islands east side.

Barry glared at the driver and crossed his arms. Honestly he couldn’t believe their attitudes.

“Yeah no need to worry. This is probably just a bug in the powerplant it’s not like we’ll have to go check all the fencing to fix the problem. This’ll be fixed in 48 hours tops.” The engineer on the passenger side explained. “Corporate is just freaking out because they don’t want a ‘Jurassic Park incident’.”

Barry didn’t relax at this news and instead resigned himself to staring out the window.

It took about an hour for the crew to reach the eastern power plant. The engineers entered first and found the power off. They’d immediately begin the manual reboot for the main system. A few minutes later and the machines whirred to life. The lights flickered on and the distinct humming of electricity could be heard.

“See what did I tell you?” The engineer directed at Barry, “Just a system bug. Hey Jim get a hold of Control and tell them power’s back up.” The other engineer nodded and pulled out his phone.

“Yeah, power plants back up. Job well done and all that.” Jim said smugly into his phone. There was a pause as he listened to the voice on the receiver.

“No,” he said slowly, a frown forming on his face.“Wait, repeat that. What do you mean all the fences are still down?” There was another pause.

“Control wants us to what?” He asked irritated, his eyebrows creasing together. “But that will take weeks! They’re gonna need to send out more teams if they want to do that. Fine fine I’ll tell them.” With that Jim hung up the phone and growled out, “The fences are all still down, whatever the problem was it’s not here. They’re sending out all the engineers to manually check over 200 miles of fence!”

“But that will take at least a week to go over all the wiring!” the engineer still fiddling with the power plant controls said.

“I know, we can only hope we get lucky and stumble over the problem early on.” Jim grimaced, “They’re sending supplies our way. We’re supposed to start on Zone Ten and move back across the island.” The other engineer frowned and nodded.

Barry would have smirked if that didn’t mean he’d be stuck between arrogant engineers and muscle headed ACU guys. Instead he sighed. “Perhaps we should go then.” The engineer pulled a disgusted face before stalking back towards the jeep. J’en ai ral le bol Barry thought to himself where did these two get their attitudes from?


 

Corporate had been breathing down their necks for days. The problem still hadn’t been found and no one could explain why they electronics had simultaneously failed. Each day the fences were down the harder Control was finding it to keep the news out of the press. The engineers had been fielding hourly phone calls asking about the problems.

Barry would have felt sorry for them if their attitudes didn’t continue to worsen. Last night Jim had snapped at Barry for standing too close and breathing too loudly. When they skipped a section of the fence on accident and he pointed it out one had snapped out, “Look now even Zookeepers think they can do our job.” Barry had promptly closed his mouth and stormed off into the jungle to keep from punching him. Between arrogant engineers and the muscle headed ACU guy it was some of the worst company he’d kept in his life.

They’d been out in the jungle for about a six days. In the evening Barry or the ACU soldier would stand guard while the engineers slept. Then in the morning they’d awaken someone from corporate would drop off meals, they’d eat and the engineers would get back to testing wiring in the fences. They’d covered around 40 miles work of fence and found nothing. Yesterday they’d finished Zone Ten and made it a few miles into Zone Nine. Surprisingly there’d been not so much as a peep from any of the resident dinosaurs.

Barry was just settling down for his evening watch when something harsh drifted past his nose.

“Do you smell smoke?” He asked, raising his nose in the air to get a better whiff. The soldier shrugged at him non-committedly and went back to polishing his weapon. Of course he did, why had he expected anything more from this knucklehead?

“Alright,” He said flashing an irritated look at the soldier, “I suppose I’ll go check it out myself. If I don’t return in half an hour call Control and get a search party out here.” The soldier grunted and that was probably as close as Barry was going to get to an answer from him.

Barry knotted his boots and slung his rifle over his shoulder before trudging into the forest. He felt a bit like a bloodhound as he used his nose to keep him on track, heading towards where the smokey smell was strongest. Dusk had just given way to night and the nocturnal animals were out on prowl. Overhead there was the distinct scuttle of evening birds and lizards along with the melodic symphony of the crickets. If this was anywhere but Jurassic World he might have even called it peaceful, but here nothing was peaceful he thought. He kept his hand securely on his rifle as he walked.

He was only about ten minutes away from the jeep when he caught a flicker of light through the trees. The smell of smoke had progressively become stronger. He edged closer not sure what to expect. When he stepped around the last tree he found himself in a clearing. There was a fire with a man next to it. He was sprawled out comfortably, fiddling with something. He hadn’t seemed to noticed Barry.

“Hey!” Barry called. “What do you think you’re doing out here?” The man didn’t turn around. In fact he didn’t respond in anyway. What was he invisible this week? With that thought Barry marched right up to the man and grabbed him by the shoulder. The man jumped and then skittered back away from Barry. He yanked on a wire and two earbuds fell out of his ears. Had the man seriously been camping in the jungle and decided that ear buds were a wise choice?

“Who are you? And what do you think you’re doing here? These pens are restricted.” Barry said harshly, peering down at the man. The man had short blond hair that looked a bit dirty. His chin was covered in stubble like he hadn’t shave in over a week. All in all he looked a little like tarzan.

“How long have you been out here?” Barry added.

“That’s a lot of questions there. Which one do you want me to answer first?” the man asked calmly.

“Uh,” Barry let out, some of the tension rolling off. A man stupid enough to camp in the predator pens was a lot better than a raging island fire. “The last one please.”

“Oh about a week.” the man said shrugging. That was crazy. The electrical fences had been down for a week now. That was probably how the man had gotten in Barry’s mind provided.

His mouth didn’t seem to share the calm rational of his mind though as he blurted out, “A week?! How are you still alive?” As if to prove how insane this man was. A dinosaur darted out of the brush and over to where the man was sitting next to the still blazing fire.

Barry raised his stun rifle. “I need you to move very slowly and head towards me.” The man let out a low chuckle.

“Really man it’s cool. This is Cat.” The man said pointing towards the dino. “She’s just kind of been hanging out with me all week. She really likes my protein rations and Cat Stevens.” He shrugged and somehow didn’t seem to care that there was a meat eating reptile prodding at his leg.

Barry blinked taken aback, “Is that a Coelophysis?” He asked pointing to the dinosaur curled up by the man’s side.

“Uh, I guess? I haven’t really been paying close attention.”

“But they hunt in packs,” Barry said as he got closer to inspect the little brown and grey dinosaur. It was indeed a Coelophysis,“What’s she doing alone?”

“You could say she and her pack had a falling out. They made some bad choices and left her to take the fall. It’s fine. We’re cool now.” The man pulled something out of his coat and tossed it a few feet away on the ground. The Coelophysis darted after it.

“We’re cool,” Barry echoed in disbelief. He couldn’t believe this man was still alive. This guy wasn’t even shaking two sticks at where he was. He was in the predator pens for godsakes and instead of having the sense to get out, apparently he’d just made himself at home like he was on vacation!

“You’re going to need to come with me,” Barry said shaking his head. “We can head back to the ACU and the engineers. They can take you to park security and deal with you. It’s a miracle you weren’t eaten.” with that the man frowned.

“Nah it’s cool man I have permission to be out here. The higher ups know about it. Military training exercises.” The man said lightly. Barry highly doubted that. They didn’t let anyone but the researchers, feeders and animal trainers in the pens.

“What regiment did you say you were on?” Barry asked suspiciously.

“I didn’t. It’s the 99th.” Barry stood there waiting for the man to expand more. He didn’t.

“You don’t really have the bearing of a military man.” Barry hedged, prodding the man for more information.

“You could say my captain was a little unorthodox. He appreciated men who could think on their feet.”

“Is that what you’ve been doing out here-” A crash sounded from behind Barry back towards the jeep. “Merde!” Barry cursed as he turned around and ran back towards the fence. He didn’t look back. The employees were more important than some idiot in the woods.

He skidded to a stop when the jeep came back into view. The two engineers were on the ground behind the jeep. They were crouched low. Their bellies pressed into the gravel road. One was covering his ears. Barry could hear light whimpering from their direction. He swivelled and looked at the fence.

“Nom de Dieu.” Barry said his mouth falling open. One of the younger female Tyrannosauruses had figured out that the electricity was out on the fence and was slamming into it trying to get at the tasty people on the other side.

The metal creaked ominously as the dinosaur reared back and went in for another slam. The metal wasn’t made to stand up to that kind of blunt force. It wouldn’t last much longer.

The ACU guy was firing his stun rifle widely. It looked like he’d never shot before in his life. His short cropped hair was singed from all the electricity.

“Shit!” Barry let out a curse in english. This whole situation wasn’t good. If he didn’t figure out something quick everyone was gonna be dino dinner. He stayed in a low crouch and snuck over to the engineers.

“Did either of you call Control?” He whispered urgently. The more composed of the two engineers shook his head.

“I don’t want to die!” He whimpered tears running down his face. Barry slapped him.

“Pull yourself together. No one’s going to die. Get up in the jeep and use the radio to call for backup.” The engineer took a shaky breath and nodded slowly. Barry gave the two a once over and prodded the other engineer on the ground with his boot. “If this gets ugly get your friend in the jeep and go. You don’t look back.” The more composed engineer nodded again.

Barry turned looking to the ACU soldier. He looked wild. Barry had suspected the man was a loose cannon, but honestly he didn’t know how he passed his psych evaluation and got hired. He was dancing around the clearing and firing off his stun weapon. The Tyrannosaurus was tracking his movement, every single action the man was taking drove the dinosaur further into a frenzy.

A crash sounded followed by a roar and a snap snap snap as the metal cables were yanked from the fence and the Tyrannosaurus crashed through.

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” The ACU soldier yelled as he pointed his rifle at the dinosaur. Barry tackled him to the ground. The soldier's rifle clattered to the ground beside them.

“Fuck,” then Barry broke off into a string of french curses as there were teeth where the soldier had just been standing. The Tyrannosaurus turned it’s beady eye trying to find its prey in the low light.

“Be silent and still.” Barry hissed quietly to the soldier he was laying on.

“Fuck that!” The man roared rolling out from under Barry and reaching for his fallen rifle. “I’m gonna add dino to my kill list!”

The Tyrannosaurus heard the man more than saw him. But he was already lunging jaws open. Barry held his breath as the world seemed to slow around him as he watched.

There was zap and a flash of light and the soldier collapsed unconscious on the ground. The dinosaurs jaws snapped shut on open air.

There was the rustling of brush as something approached from behind them. Barry gulped.

“Well you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man: no time to talk,” rang out from behind him and Barry slowly craned his head to see who was singing. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the Tyrannosaurus doing the same tilting its head to the side as it stared at the anomaly.

“Music loud and women warm, I’ve been kicked around since I was born.” Then Barry saw him the crazy american that was camping in the jungle. He was in a tattered red leather duster that was fraying at the seems. In his hands he had two pistols that looked like nothing Barry had ever seen before.

He continued to sing as he got closer, “And now it’s alright, it’s okay, and you may look the other way.“ He seemed to be swaying as he walked. Was he dancing? It was a hell of a time to be dancing.

To Barry’s amazement the Tyrannosaurus was just staring at the man and letting out low growls. “And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive Ah, ha, ha, stayin’ alive!” Barry’s mind connected the song when the man managed to reach the chorus, the Bee Gees. Of all the soundtracks Barry imagined while dying. He had never thought it would be the Bee Gees.

The Tyrannosaurus let out a loud roar and stomped its feet on the ground.

“Hey-” the man broke off, “If you don’t like my singing you just had to say so. You don’t have to be so rude about it.” he huffed crossing his arms. Barry heard the rumble of an engine and then a screeching of tires peeling out. The engineers must have finally pulled their heads out of their asses and got the car started. Barry hoped they’d called the ACU too. But then again he’d be dead with these two crazy white people long before anyone got here.

Barry pulled out of his disorganized terrified thoughts and back to the present where the man was apparently still trying to reason with a ten ton predator.

“No you can’t eat them. You look fat enough.” the man said. The T-Rex roared and rushed forward. Barry rolled out its way hugging his rifle.

The man laughed. Laughed. As he dodged the flashing teeth of the predator and darted under its feet and across the broken fence.

“Okay you’re sensitive got it! But if you weren’t so fat you might be able to eat me Rexy!” He called with a grin. The dinosaur pivoted around, tail lashing out angrily behind it. Then it’s eyes focused on the man and she charged. The man stepped off the broken remains of the fence and off to the side as the dinosaur rushed past. Then he lifted one of strange pistols aimed and in a flash of electricity fired.

“Man why does no one respect the classics.” the man grumbled as the ten ton dinosaur crashed to the ground behind him. Barry’s mouth dropped open.

The man sauntered over to where Barry was still lying face up in the gravel trying to figure out what the hell just happened and how he was still alive. He leaned over Barry and offered him a hand up, “You alright man?”

“Wha- who- You just took down a T-Rex by singing and dancing! You crazy bastard!” Barry stuttered out not even noticing as he slipped into French.

The man laughed. “Who knew T-Rexs didn’t like the Bee Gees?”

Barry just shook his head. “Thank you for saving my life. I don’t know how you did it, but thank you.”

Instead of responding the man turned to the jungle and called, “Hey Cat, you coward, you can come out of hiding now. The big guy’s gone.” To Barry’s surprise the Coelophysis stuck its head out of the bushes and chirped. Who the hell was this guy?

Then it clicked. Crazy good survivalist, cool under pressure, military background and an obvious skill in working with animals, “You must be the new guy they were looking at hiring for the raptors.” He said in awe. Owen Grady his mind supplied.

“You can call me Peter.” Owen said sticking his hand out.

Barry shook it, “Peter?” he asked confused, “I thought your name was Owen.”

“Oh it is,” Peter replied, “I go by Peter though, it’s my uh- middle name.”

“Makes sense,” Barry said. “You can call me Barry. I got hired on with the raptor program too or will be when they’re born. Not the easiest job, but damn if they don’t pay you well.” He finished with a wheezy laugh. Man he hoped he wasn’t turning crazy too.

“Pay?” Peter’s ears seemed to twitch at the word, “I love a job that pays well.”

“Come on why don’t we get out of this jungle?” Barry asked before he looked around and realized they had no jeep.

“Just a minute I have to go grab my pack.”

“That’s probably a good idea. I need to call this in and get containment down here. The ACU guys probably won’t be back for a while anyways. If those idiot engineers have even called in what happened yet.” Barry grumbled

Peter grinned, “Sounds good to me! I’ll be right back with my stuff and Cat.”

Barry paused from pulling his phone out. “We can’t bring the Coelophysis with us. She needs to go back to her pack.” Peter looked at Barry like he had just kicked a puppy.

“But her pack were a bunch of little shits and her manners are way better now.” Peter said crossing his arms.

Barry let out a chuckle, “She’s not a pet you know. She’s a wild animal.”

“I know she’s not a pet. A pet wouldn’t have respect for Cat Stevens. Come on man, who knows where her pack is now. She’s been with me a week.”

“You should understand this Mr. Grady, she is a predator. We cannot just let her out with people.” Barry said firmly. At first Peter’s insistence had been funny, but it appeared the man was sincere in his demand.

Peter glared at him. “Fine.” Then he leaned down and whispered something to the Coelophysis. It tilted its head. If Barry didn’t know better he would almost say it nodded. Then it darted back into the jungle.

“I’ll be back in five.” Peter grumbled at Barry before he trudged back towards his campsite.

Barry sighed as he reached inside his back pocket and pulled out a slightly beaten up cell phone. He pressed the call button and held it up to his ear, “Yes Control, we have a bit of a situation out here. I need ACU and containment personel out here stat. And a jeep to pick us up. We might need medical,” Barry added looking down at his own scrapped form, “I’m bringing back a guy I think you might want to meet. You’ll never guess who I found in the jungle.”

Chapter Text

The man hadn’t been lying when he said someone was coming to pick them up. It was less than five minutes from when Peter packed up his campsite and said his temporary goodbyes to Cat before a huge entourage of Terrans appeared. It started with a whirring and chopping sound overhead then some sort of manned ship appeared. A man called out something and waved. The man- Barry shouted something back and bright streamlights were flipped on. It was like night turned to day. Peter hissed at the sudden brightness and hunched down. He quickly turned his head away and covered his face as his eyes adjusted to the bright light.

When he could see again he glanced around. About twelve wheeled vehicles had arrived and there were about thirty people now on the road. Most of them were dressed in some sort of army uniform of green and grey with guns slung over their shoulders or in their hands as the approached the T-Rex Peter had shocked unconscious.

Peter opted to get out of the way. These people gave him an official vibe that his time with the Ravangers had taught him to shy away from. There was a lot of shouting and muttering as the armed men rushed around issuing orders. Someone in a white lab coat came and stuck the T-Rex with some sort of sedative he assumed. Poor Rexy he thought, that was going to be worse than a hangover when she woke up. Peter had enough experience to know drugs and electricity weren’t a fun mix.

“There you are Grady!” Barry called out from a few feet away as he stepped closer to Peter, “Got a bit lost in this crowd. Are you ready to go though? They’ve got a jeep ready for us.”

Peter plastered an unassuming smile on his face and said, “Sure I’ve been waiting to get out of here for a week.” Barry laughed and beckoned him over to a vehicle on the far end. The bumper had silver insignia that said jeep. There was already a man behind the steering wheel.

“Get in the back.” The driver ordered. Jeez what was it with the bossiness of these people? Was it a job requirement?

Peter felt around for the door handle before finding it and yanking. To his relief the door opened with a click. “After you.” He said to Barry who shot him a grateful smile and climbed over to the far side of the jeep. Then Peter climbed in and barely had enough time to shut the door before the driver was peeling out.

“Where are we headed?” He asked curiously as he took in the interior the vehicle. He couldn’t remember much about cars, other than he knew his Grandpa had a pick-up truck. This one seemed nice enough though. Squishy seats even if the tech was outdated.

“Control. They need statements from both of you about the breakdown the ACU guy had. Said he was crazy enough to try and take down a T-Rex by himself. Guess you guys saw it though. That must have been crazy.” Peter shot a questioning glance at Barry. Not sure how much the other man had let slip what actually happened. Barry raised a single finger across his lips and slipped him a small smile. The message was clear his lips were sealed about what Peter had done. Peter let out a low sigh and nodded in relief at the other man. Governments getting a hold of his tech and asking questions was the last thing he needed.

“Yeah it was crazy. Good thing Barry was there.” Peter lied easily.

“No, No it was all you my friend.” The man replied with a conspiratory smile.

“Well whatever happened you guys are gonna be legends back at HQ.” The talkative driver continued. “I mean this is never gonna go public, but still regular celebrities with the staff.”

“So what exactly is it you do around here?” Peter casually asked the driver. He needed as much info on this island as he could get or else someone was going to call his bluff real quick.

“Uh, well I’m not in the ACU- yet anyways. Mostly I just move people and supplies across the island. Sometimes I get put in charge of the dinos in the valley and the the Gyrospheres.” The driver said with a shrug, “It’s a good enough job. Best insurance I’ve ever had in my life.”

“Uh-huh.” Peter nodded along pretending to know what insurance was and why someone needed it.
“Hey Barry,” the driver spoke up again, “Did you hear they got the fence back up?”

“No. I didn’t that’s good,” Barry replied tiredly his accent coming across thicker as he struggled to stay awake.

“Yeah. The engineers just got to it down along the eastern side of the valley a whole section of fence had the wires completely overloaded. They’ve no idea what did it. Think it could be lightning? I’ve also heard some rumors about terrorism around HQ.”

“Mmhm,” Barry mumbled non-committedly as he dozed against the window.

“Fence? What fence?” Peter asked curiously. Barry took that as his cue and promptly fell asleep. Light snores rose from his half of the seat.

“You can’t be serious!” The driver exclaimed. Peter furrowed his eyebrows at the man. “No shit you’re serious! You really don’t know? The park electrical fences have been down for a week. They’ve had this part of the island shut down for the public while they fixed it.”

Park, Peter caught as he tuned out the rest. This island was park? Like a- his brain struggled to find the word from his childhood- a zoo. That was crazy. They had all these dinosaurs in pens just so people could come look at them. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it, especially not after talking to Elo and her herd. Well that explained why the dinosaurs were here, but not how they got here.

“Wait,” Peter said catching the end of what the driver was saying, “Repeat that again.”

“I said the electrical fences have been down for a week!” Despite the exclamation there were light snores coming from Barry’s side of the jeep.

“I see,” Peter hummed. Shit he thought as something dropped in his stomach. The fences that had to have been him. Rocket he mentally cursed, his gizmo did more than just take down the grid. Maybe he had made it for space tech, but apparently the Terran tech just short circuited. He needed to figure out the limits of that thing fast. Rocket’s creations had a tendency to overdo things and the last thing he needed was the bomb part of the gadget going off and blowing up Terra.

With the rumble of engine and the gentle sway of the road Peter found himself dozing. The next thing he knew the car was grinding to a stop in front of a large white office building.


 

Peter was ushered out of the car by a mix of men in uniforms and men in business suits. Him and Barry were lead along a long bright hallway before they were ushered into an office. There was a wooden desk in the center of the room with a screen and various baubles covering it. All in all it looked like a rather swanky place and Peter was itching to put some of the stuff on the desk in his pockets just for the hell of it.

“I can’t believe this,” Barry whispered in awe.

“What?” Peter whispered back. Whatever was going on Peter was operating with little to know intel and sure he’d pulled off jobs in worse situations before. But usually he liked to know what he was in for.

“This is Mr. Masrani’s office.” Barry replied.

“Uh-huh,” Peter nodded like he knew who the hell that was.

“I’ve never met the big man before, never had much of a reason to.” Barry said peering around the room before locking eyes with a black leather chair and flopping down in it.

“Mr. Masrani and Ms. Dearing will be with you shortly.” One of the suits said as the others filed out of the room.

“Yeah,” Peter spoke up, “Is there anyway I could get a shower and my friend here down to medical before we see the big bossman? I’d hate to make a bad first impression. You get it I’m sure.” The suited man’s eyes roamed over his form with a distinct grimace forming the longer he stared.

“I suppose Mr. Masrani wouldn’t mind if you showered.” He said his lip curling slightly at the last word. “I’ll call up medical staff to tend to your… friend.” With that he motioned for another suited man to lead Peter to the showers and pulled out a communication device. “I would suggest you hurry though, Mr. Masrani is a very busy man after all.”

Peter nodded and did a little mock salute as he followed a young brown haired man out of the room.

While Peter certainly needed a shower he needed intel and access to their tech far more. That and a way to forge documents fast. He had no idea who this Owen Grady guy was or what his background was, but Peter wasn’t about to get found out in his lies so early on.

The suit kept in a straight line down the hallway and eventually indicated a room. Peter smiled gratefully and swept through the doorway. It was a bathroom that was for certain. There were white porcelain toilets and sinks along one wall and a series of stalled showers on the other.

When he spotted the showers the only thing he could think was oh crap. He’d left his backpack with all his slightly cleaner clothes in the room with Barry. He only had the clothes he’d been in the day before and his beaten up ravenger jacket on him. Well that and an assortment of tech on his person. It seemed that there were no towels or clothes provided. That wasn’t really a problem Peter thought with a grin as he spotted a line of blue lockers on the wall. It took him less than minute to have three of the locks picked and the locker contents scattered about the floor. He managed to find a light blue button up that said it was made of a material called cotton, a pair of grey jeans, and a brown vest that felt a bit like his jacket. He pulled a towel and what he assumed was soap from the pile before separating the contents and sticking them back in their lockers. Hopefully these clothes would make him blend in more with local fashions. That and throw his guard off when he exited the bathroom.

Peter stripped flipped the water on and lathered up. The water was murky as it ran off of him and into the drain. He wished he could stay and enjoy the first hot water he’d felt in a week for longer. But it took him a quick five minutes then he was turning the valve with the water off and toweling dry.

He pulled the newly acquired clothes on and checked the mirror and blinked. He looked like Indiana Jones. He let out a low whistle.

“Looking good Quill, looking really good.” He’d have to remember to parade this outfit in front of Gamora when she got back and see if that got him another kiss.

Peter looked down at his ragged clothes he’d stripped out of. With the exception of perhaps his ravenger jacket that he was more than a bit attached to the rest of the clothes looked beyond repair. Between Cat’s prior gang and the T-Rex incident he was certainly running out of clothes. He frowned folded up his jacket and set it on the bench then scooped up the filthy pile of clothes and shoved them in what he assumed was a trash receptacle.

Now with stage one of his plan down it was time to start stage two. He tucked his jacket under his arm lowered his posture into a slouch and kept his head down. Then he strolled right past the suit in the hallway. The man didn’t even glance up from his communicator device as Peter made his way past him. He kept walking until he was sure that the man wasn’t following him and then ducked into a room marked lab 1.

The room much like the rest of the building was a clean white and smelled faintly of antiseptic. Luckily for Peter there was no one in the room as he made is way over to a screen on the wall. It was marked with the logo of StarkTech whatever that was. Peter pushed a button and waited as the screen lit up. It had a blue background and a single enterable line asking for the password. Peter smiled to himself all in all the set up was quaint and something even a baby could break into on his side of the galaxy, they didn’t even have basic biometrics.

Peter cracked his fingers, “Okay let’s see just who this Owen Grady is.”

He pulled out a scrambler from his jacket. The scrambler was a small piece of tech Peter never left home without. After all you never knew when you would come across something worth stealing. It’s something he had built and adapted himself and it’s basic function was to hack into government systems and switch out files to give him access to records, and occasionally help him insert a cover for a big job.

It was one of the few pieces of tech that Peter had that Rocket desperately wanted to get his hands on. To keep Rocket’s grubby paws away from giving it an upgrade that would make it explode Peter had the habit of never letting it out of his sight.

Peter flipped the scrambler on. It let out a low beeping noise and flashed a couple of times. Then he was in.

“Find me all the files on ‘Owen Grady’.” Peter said into the scrambler’s microphone there was a hum and then the set of personnel files appeared on screen. Huh, Peter thought as he skimmed through the file it looked like Owen was fresh out of the U. S. Navy and had applied of be part of the Security Detail and Velociraptor research program here at ‘Jurassic World’. He came heavily recommended from former colleagues and commanders alike. He was in his early thirties and was born and raised in Oklahoma. All in all he seemed like a real down home all american boy. It made Peter feel a little guilty about what he was about to do to the guy.

“Okay rewrite Owen Grady’s file for one Peter Quill. Use codename ‘Owen Peter Grady’” There was a high pitched beep from the scrambler and then a set of new files were appearing on screen. Peter grinned when he saw that the new employee application included a photo of him from the Klyn. He quickly went back and swapped it for one of his slightly more professional photos he kept for highbrow thieving jobs. Then Peter clicked submit and just like that Peter stole the identity of one Owen Grady.

Chapter Text

After wrapping up his identity theft Peter quickly went to scanning other files for information. He started with anything he could find on the island. It turned out Isla Nubar was originally developed by John Hammond and a company called Ingen in the 90s. It was built as a theme park/preserve/lab called Jurassic Park. There’d been some mistake in their science though and after an accident the island was shut down and never opened. That was at least until Simon Masrani came along. That was interesting to say the least. It seemed humans had begun to start genetic modifications and playing with biotech. They were still way behind the galactic curve, but it was clear a lot had changed since he left.

He wanted to stay and dig a little bit deeper —it never hurt to know people’s dirty little secrets after all— but he was sure he’d already been gone for long enough to be suspicious. With a sigh he pocketed the scrambler and turned off the screen. He was pushing the chair in when there was a tap tap and definite click of a door swinging shut.

Peter turned around slowly. Standing behind him was a woman with shoulder length orange hair. She was wearing a white pantsuit and high heels. Somehow her presence seemed to fill the room. Peter gulped. He had no idea who she was, but she was clearly someone with authority.

“You must be Mr. Grady.” She said staring down at him. “It appears you’ve gotten a bit lost after your shower.” There was a thin smile on her lips, that told Peter she didn’t buy that at all. “Everyone has been looking everywhere for you. Please follow me and do your best not to get lost again.” The orange haired woman said with a pointed look, before turning and walking back out the door. Her heels clicking along the concrete floor. Peter blinked and then hurried into the hall after her.

“It’s been a long week and everyone is very much looking forward to going home, including me. So if you could follow and we could finish this debrief all the more quickly.” She stated as she led him down the hallway.

“Sorry,” Peter said his right hand rubbing the back of his washed hair, “It’s just this place is so big.” He did his best to put on what Rocket called his idiot face as he tried to play the ‘I’m innocent and dumb’ card.

The woman turned her head and shot him a look that did little to hide her displeasure. “You must have quite the poor sense of direction then Mr. Grady. First getting lost in the predator pens and now getting lost in the labs.”

“Yeah well that’s me,” He said with a chuckle, “Always getting lost in the worst places.”

The woman hmmed at him before opening a door and ushering him back into the large glass office he had started in.

The office was different from how he had left it. For starters Barry was clean, awake, and bandaged up. Secondly, Peter noticed all the suits but one had left the room. Now there was just four people in the room: Barry, orange haired lady, Peter and a well trimmed man behind the big glass desk.

“Claire!” The man said cheerily,”You seem to have found our missing hero. And you must be Owen Grady,” the man deduced, “Please come in, sit, make yourselves comfortable.” He said gesturing at two empty plush leather chairs on the other side of the desk.

The woman -Claire, gracefully crossed the room and situated herself on the chair closest to the wall. Peter promptly followed and plopped himself down in the empty chair next to Barry. He stared at the man behind the desk. This must be the big bossman Simon Masrani. He dressed in a way that dripped power, but his expression was friendly for someone who was as wealthy as he was.

Masrani reached down and opened a drawer of his desk. He set two envelopes on the table and slid them across, one to Barry and one to Peter.

Peter blinked curiously at the sealed paper in front of him, “What’s this?” he asked. Though his fingers were already hard at work tearing open the package. Barry was doing a much more delicate job off to his left. When he finished he was staring down at a slip of paper with a number and signature on it.

  

“Just a token of my appreciation.” Masrani answered, beaming, “The way I hear it you two may have single handedly contained a Tyrannosaurus.”

Barry gasped to his left, “In the name of god,” He whispered.

Masrani laughed, “No need to go all french on me Mr. Lafayette. That amount is drops in the bucket compared to what you’ve saved the park by handling that fiasco.”

“So much. Sir this is- I can’t possibly take this.” Barry stuttered out.

Peter was turning the slip of paper over in his hands. He had no idea what the amount was. Sure, he read the number: $500,000, but it meant nothing to him. Apparently, Earth wasn’t so advanced that they were running on a universal digitized currency like Units yet.

“Nonsense. Whatever you have to say I won’t be taking those checks back boys.” Masrani answered with an easy smile, “That and I’ll make sure you start with an extra high salary. We here at Masrani Corps. like to take care of our employees.”

“Employees?” Peter asked. He was sure his eyes were glinting with intent.

“Indeed Mr. Grady. I looked over your resume personally and I would like to hire both you and Mr. Lafayette onto the raptor project. You’ll be a fine addition to the team.”

Peter plastered a look of awe onto his face. “You mean that?”

“Of course. Before we get all the details ironed out on that though, we need your report on what exactly happened by the predator pens.”

“Sir,” Barry started, “I went out with a crew of engineers because I was worried about people being around the predator pens while the electricity was out.”

Masrani nodded, “Yes, we got know that much from the engineers. What I’d like to hear from you is how you met Mr. Grady here and what happened when the Tyrannosaurus broke through the fence.”

Peter swallowed and kept his facial expression neutral. This could go very badly very quickly.

“Of course. The engineers had just started working on the fences outside the Tyrannosaurus enclosure that day and we were wrapping up for the evening. The ACU soldier who was with us was on break and I thought I heard something down the road. I went to check it out and I found Peter here with a backpack out by the road looking a little lost.” Scarfian hells, god bless Barry, Peter thought. He could have kissed the man right now. Although he really wouldn’t have pegged him for a natural liar.

Masrani quirked an eyebrow at them, “I was a bit lost.” Peter explained, “But I was here for an interview.”

“Mr. Grady your interview wasn’t until later next week.” Claire said with a stony look.

Shit, Peter mentally cursed carefully keeping his face perfectly neutral. He didn’t have the time frame down as well as he thought. He knew from the files that they had invited Owen Grady for an interview, but apparently he was off on the date.

“What were you doing on the island so early?” Claire asked she was perfectly poised and looked like the cat that caught the canary.

“Oh you know vacation,” Peter brushed off the question with a wave of his hand, “And I like to get a feel for a place before I commit to work there. Sometimes companies like to paint a real rosey picture and you don’t know what you’re getting into. Learned that from the service wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.” He added with a practiced shrug.

“I see,” Claire said, her eyes narrowing as she scratched something down on a pad of paper.

“What happened next?” Masrani prodded.
Barry began to talk, “Well I began to question Peter and was planning to take him back to the Jeep and call down security.”

“You keep calling him Peter, but I was under the impression your first name was Owen.” Claire interrupted again.

“Yeah, I go by Peter though. It’s a middle name.” Peter answered. This woman was too smart for her own good. He needed to watch himself or he had no doubt she’d catch him. He was just glad he’d already falsified his background or she’d probably be all over that as soon as she left the room.

“Ms. Dearing this isn’t a deposition or an interrogation. I know this has been a long week, but this is just a formality to go with the rest of the reports. So let’s finish this quickly with no more interruptions.” Barry cleared his throat awkwardly, “Please continue Mr. Lafayette.”

“I heard crashes and a scream so I rushed back to the fence. When I got there there was young Tyrannosaurus who had figured out the fence was down and was pushing against it.” Masrani nodded and Claire jotted down a comment, “The two engineers were ducked behind the jeep and the soldier was taunting the dinosaur.” Barry swallowed, “I ran over to the engineers they were really panicky so I told them to get out of there and call for backup. By this time the Tyrannosaurus had snapped the cables and the ACU guy was shooting at her. He was crazy yelling about taking another prize or something like that.”

“Claire make sure you have that.” Masrani said frowning, “I want to talk to Hoskins after this too. Continue.”

“Yes, well the Tyrannosaurus was really angry. The Soldier was being really loud, making himself a target. He was practically sending off all the triggering prey signs for a dinosaur. She charged him and I tackled him out of the way. I thought we were down for,” Barry whispered, “Then Peter showed up.”

All the eyes in the room shifted to Peter, “Uh,” He said intelligently, when the silence dragged on and it became apparent they were waiting for his side of the story, “I mean I heard the screams too so I followed Barry. I got there after he saved the crazy guy. It was pretty apparent that guy was gonna be a problem so I shot him with one of your stun guns. Then I distracted Rexy.”

‘Rexy?’ Barry mouthed at him. Peter ignored him and continued, “It was dark enough I couldn’t get a clear shot so lured her back to the fence and when she was on the metal upped the voltage and connected the gun to the fence. She went down pretty fast after that. Then all the people showed up and I’m pretty sure you know what happened.”

“That was some very quick thinking Mr. Grady.” Masrani said appreciatively, “Very brave too running towards the screams instead of away from them.”

Claire opened and closed her mouth like she had something she wanted to add.

“Well I did serve in the Navy. I’d be an awful shipmate if I freaked out when things went to shit.” Peter lied.

Masrani laughed, “Yes, I think you’ll fit in just fine around here Mr. Grady. Well it was nice meeting both you gentlemen. We’ll make sure your statements are filled.” Barry nodded gratefully and Peter followed suit, “I hope you’ll settle in well Mr. Grady, Ms. Dearing here will help you sort out the details.” Claire looked like she wanted to protest, but Masrani was still talking, “And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that I expect nothing about this incident to leave this room,” Masrani said darkly, his presence threatening for the first time, “Because that would be bad for the company and when things are bad for the company there are consequences.”

“I would never!” Barry answered scandalized. Masrani smiled cheerily again as if he hadn’t just subtly threatened to ruin their lives. Peter was reassessing his read on this guy. Clearly there was more to Simon Masrani than first met the eye. He’d definitely need to do some more digging on the man.

“Now good evening gentlemen.” With those final words and a small wave Barry and Peter were being pushed out the door of the glass office.

Claire hissed out a ‘Wait for me,” and then shut the door behind her to have a private discussion with Masrani.

Barry and Peter were left standing alone in the hallway. “Wow,” Peter summarized.

“Yeah, wow,” Barry echoed laughing, “I can’t believe we pulled that off my friend.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t talk about my amazing singing.” Peter complained.

“I have completely wiped any memory of that from my mind.” Barry replied rolling his eyes and patting Peter’s shoulder

“Oh come on the Beegees are a classic.”

“No, my friend I never want to have the Beegees as my dying soundtrack. Promise me if we get into another life threatening situation and you feel the urge to sing, you’ll sing something else.”

Peter frowned, “The whole point of singing ‘Stayin’ Alive’ is not to die.”

“That doesn’t sound like a promise.”

“Fine. Okay no Beegees. Happy now.” Peter grumbled.

“Yes, now I believe Ms. Dearings words were for you not me so I will see you tomorrow.” Barry said turning to walk down the hallway.

“Come on you can’t leave me alone with her. What kind of friend are you?” Peter yelled after him.

“The good kind. I thought you would be happy to be left with a beautiful woman. I know I would.” Barry said stopping to look at him.

“Haven’t you seen the way she looks at me? Like she’s out for my blood or something.”

Barry frowned at the comment before a smile worked its way back on his face. “I think that if you can sing to a T-Rex you can handle Ms. Dearing. If not I suppose you weren’t cut out for raptors anyways.” Then Barry turned and continued down the hallway.

“Barry! Damnit I’m not going to forget this!” Peter shouted after him. Barry laughed once more and then he was gone.

Peter sighed, today certainly had been eventful to say the least. It certainly beat sleeping in the jungle for another night and Cat stealing all his protein bars. Peter still couldn’t figure out why she loved them so much. He’d go back and get Cat as soon as he got everything squared away here. Like hell he was leaving her in the jungle alone. He’d just have to wait till everyone’s guard was down then sneaking her in wouldn’t be a problem.

Peter tapped his fingers against his leg as he planned. Maybe he’d even bring her back on the Milano when Gamora picked him up. Yeah, that would work.

“Okay,“ Peter muttered to himself. “Step one is to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing here. Step two is getting Cat. And step three is getting my hands on some ingredients for s’mores. Definitely a lot of ingredients for s’mores.” Peter was so lost in thought that he didn’t hear the distinctive tap tap of high heels until someone touched his shoulder.

Peter jolted and whipped around knocking the hand off his shoulder. When his brain caught up to his body he found one irritated Claire Dearing staring at him.

“Uh, whoops sorry you startled me.” He tried to apologize.

“I see that. Here this is yours,” She said dropping his backpack at his feet. “You left it in the office.” Peter nodded dumbly and reached down and picked up the tattered pack. “Now let’s go Mr. Grady. I have real work to do after I finish babysitting you.” And in blaze of copper hair Claire Dearing was clicking down the hallway.

Chapter Text

This woman was definitely not Gamora Peter thought as she led him down the hallway. It wasn’t even that she wasn’t pretty, because anyone would have to be blind to say otherwise. Maybe in an alternative universe where he had grown up on Earth he might have flirted with her. But now she kind of just reminded him of the Sovereign Bitch Ayesha, he couldn’t even say why. He quickly shoved the thought away before he could linger on it and bring up memories.

“Mr. Grady the company will provide you a trailer, fully furnished of course,” the woman rattled off, before pausing to read his expression. She frowned at him waiting for a response, “Is that not satisfactory?”

Peter had only been half listening to what she was saying as they walked. She’d said something about pay and some other stuff, but he’d tuned it out. Too busy reflecting and staring and the creepily identical hallways.

“Uh,” He said elegantly. Watching the lines of disapproval reappear on Claire’s face as his mind scrambled to remember what she’d been talking about. Finally it reconnected and Peter rushed out a, “No, no that’s fine. I’m not picky,”

You really couldn’t be on a Ravager ship Peter thought to himself. Hell, he’d slept half his childhood in the air vents to avoid being ‘eaten’.

Claire’s eyes roamed over his crumpled clothes and still unshaved face, “That much is apparent.”

Peter grimaced, yup something about her was just a bit too much like the Sovereign for his liking.

“You know you could kill someone with your high heels,” Peter muttered a bit petulantly as Claire clicked down the hallways in her absurd shoes. There was a sudden pause in her footsteps as she turned to stare at him.

“Excuse me?!” She said, outrage creeping into her voice.

If the look on her face was anything to go off of Peter had greatly miscalculated how snarkily his comment came across. He’d meant it to be irritating, he just hadn’t meant for her to chew his head off about it. It was something he would have said to Gamora, probably as a joke. Gamora would have laughed and then told him a story that made him queasy about exactly how she had killed someone with her shoes before just to give him nightmares.

“Just you know they’re very sharp and uh- pointy.” Peter finished lamely, trying to brush the whole thing off.

“I don’t recall asking you for fashion advice Mr. Grady and you’d do well to keep it to yourself.” Claire replied coldly before turning and continuing down the hall. Her high heels clicking away.

“Jeez okay,” Peter mumbled to under his breath. He was so glad he’d only be here for a couple more months. He hoped the work he was going to be doing was way below her pay grade. Anything to not have to deal with this woman on a regular basis.

“This is lab five where the current brood of velociraptors are being incubated. The last batch didn’t make it past hatching, so I wouldn’t hold my breath for training anything anytime soon.” She explained as they passed windows overlooking a set of warming machines. Peter glanced inside and saw six eggs sitting inside a closed tank with lights shining on them. Next to them were several other tanks filled with eggs of various shapes and sizes.

“So what exactly are my duties supposed to be?” Peter asked, speeding up to walk beside Claire. He gestured at the room beside them.

“That will be in your contract. You can read through it and bring it back signed tomorrow.” She replied shortly as she pressed a large manila folder into his hands, “Look Mr. Grady-”

“Peter,” He interrupted her.

“What?” She asked tiredly and man did the lady really looked like she needed some sleep.

“Call me Peter. It’s weird that you keep calling me by my last name.”

“Fine, Peter. To be perfectly frank I find your presence a bit abrasive at the moment. I’ve been working for the last 48 hours without sleep, I’d really like to go home.”

Peter nodded dumbly at her, not really sure what else to say. It finally looked like they might be on the same page about something. He’d like to be out of her presence and sleep too.

“Be back by 9 a.m. tomorrow and we can go over any concerns you have with your contract with HR. I’ll also arrange for someone to take you on a tour. Here,” she pressed a map into his hands, “This is the location of your trailer, talk to the front office and they can arrange a ride. Any other questions?”

“Uh, is there a place I can get some more clothes and some food?” Peter asked holding up his ratty backpack by the strap, “In case you didn’t notice I’m a little low on supplies.”

Claire sighed, led him out of the building and pointed him in the direction of the main town of the resort. She then shoved a card at him. Peter raised his eyebrow.

“I somehow doubt you have a wallet on you. Whatever you buy will be deducted from your first paycheck.” She said in explanation, “Goodnight now Mr. Grady.”

“Peter!” He called after her as she walked over to some kind of shiny silver vehicle and got in. With that last word Claire was whipping out of her parking space and speeding down the road. And for the first time since leaving the jungle Peter was alone.


 

It took him a bit to find the place Claire was talking about. He followed the road down, papers tucked into the crook of his arm and backpack thrown over his shoulders. As he got nearer he began to spot more and more people surrounding little shops and diners. There were happy families in shorts all over the sidewalks. They were smiling and pointing at all the dinosaur memorabilia they passed. Whenever Peter got close they pushed their children off to the side and glanced suspiciously at him. Peter couldn’t blame them, he’d had a shower, but he probably still looked like a space hobo. He just ducked his head and kept walking.

He passed several shops that had funny names from ‘Pterodactyl Takeout’ to “Herbivore’s Herbs’ before he finally saw a store that looked promising. The wooden sign over the doorway read brachiosaurus books and there was little flyer in the window that read open. Peter ducked inside and found himself jammed in a room with rows of books. The books were everywhere, not just stacked on the shelves but on the floors and window sills as well.

“Hello?” He called. There was a distant thump from across the room and then the crash of a toppling pile of books and several loud curses.

“I’ve told you before I don’t allow any children in my shop!” Started a young woman with glasses as she pulled herself out from behind one of the shelves. She was so focused on her tirade and avoiding stepping on the books she still hadn’t even glanced at Peter, “This is a shop for the paleontologists and scientists on the island, not the daytrippers. And I won’t-” She broke off mid-sentence as she glanced up and finally saw Peter. She had safely made it to a register surrounded by yet, more books.

“Uh, hi,” Peter said awkwardly, giving the woman a little wave, “I’m here to buy books?”

The woman gaped at him. Her mouth hanging open like she couldn’t believe he was really there.

“You alright over there?” Peter wasn’t sure what was going on, but he was pretty sure no one had ever reacted like this to him in his life, and that was really saying something because he’d met a lot of weird aliens.

“I’m Millie!” The woman blurted out, before blushing, “I… I’m not normally like this, you know, so rude.” She swayed a bit and fiddled with her shoulder length brown hair, “It’s just we hardly ever get people in our shop and when we do they’re either tourists looking for the gift shop or kids that don’t have any respect.”

“It’s fine, just please don’t go crazy librarian on my butt,” Peter chuckled as he turned on the charm. Millie looked like she was a reader, she’d be the perfect person to help him get caught up on all the dino knowledge he’d need to pull off this con of a vacation.

“Yeah, I’ll try not too. I really am sorry about that. I can’t believe I did it, I always make such terrible first impressions.” She said as she rubbed her hands together.

“It’s fine trust me, some of my best friends we met in way worse situations than this,” like prison and kidnapping Peter mentally added, “I was just wondering if you could help me pick out some reading material?”

Millie seemed to perk up at that, “Oh, absolutely! What are you looking for?”

Okay, innocent bumpkin face take two. Peter mentally grinned. By the time his crew picked him up he’d be back up to his top con artist game. They’d have to go find something awesome to steal to celebrate.

He smiled at Millie, “Well you see I just got a job here, but I really don’t know much about dinosaurs and I feel like I need to catch up.”

Millie nodded and began chewing on her lower lip in thought, “What type of job?”

“Uh, in the dino pens. I used to work at the zoo before they hired me, but it’s way different and I don’t feel prepared.”

“Well you aren’t exactly a scientist, but I’m sure I can find you something that will be helpful!” She boasted proudly as she began moving around the scattered books. Picking them up she’d turn them over and glance at the titles before rearranging them into a different stack, “Let’s start with a basic dinosaur encyclopedia and some reptile behavior research.” She said adding a couple books to a growing pile she had in her arms.

He may have miscalculated was the only thought that crossed Peter’s mind as he stared at the monstrous pile of books that now towered over the register. Millie had insisted he’d need a run down of half a dozen species and then when he said he’d be working with Velociraptor she’d squealled and insisted he read the works of Dr. Alan Grant.

“Millie this is great, but there’s no way I can carry this many books with me. I just got here I don’t have a car.”

“Oh,” She frowned as she glanced at the books, “Well how about this, you take Dr. Alan Grant’s work, these behavioral science books, and a general dinosaur encyclopedia. This should get you started. Then after you get your first paycheck you come back and buy the rest.” She finished with a grin.

He nodded, that made sense. He didn’t have to tell her he’d probably be back in space before he ever saw a paycheck. He really just needed to know enough to get by. But there was no need to tell her that, especially since there seemed to be a light in her eyes at the prospect of finding a fellow serious reader. He didn’t want to break her fantasy.

She bagged the four books and he handed her the card that Claire had given him. He watched curiously as as she slid it into a machine and asked for a signature. It seemed the card worked like a weird non-electronic voucher. He signed it sloppily Peter Grady. Then she passed him the bag and he began to tiptoe across the mindfield toward the door.

Before he slipped back out into the tropical heat he turned to Millie, “One last question, do you know where I can get some clothes and food around here?”


 

Millie pointed him to a megastore near the visitor center. Apparently, it’s where most of the island staff shopped regularly. By the time he got there the sun was already beginning to set. He tried to cut his ogling of all the junk food he remembered from childhood short and stick to the basics. There were three rules about food in space. Number one make sure it lasts. Number two eating your crewmembers food is grounds for getting shoved out the airlock. And number three don’t ask what’s in it. With that in mind Peter just went around the aisles randomly grabbing things that looked edible and putting them in his basket. Some things like cheerios he remembered from being a kid, but most of the food looked foreign to him. None of it came in packets or the neon colors he was used to. When his basket was full he decided he probably wouldn’t starve.

Peter followed the signs to the clothing section of the store and spent all of five minutes grabbing pieces of apparel. He tried to pick out clothes that reminded him vaguely of Indiana Jones, this was a crazy adventure after all, even if it was tame compared to some of his normal ones. Most of the stuff looked weird to him and the jeans seemed oddly tight. So he vouched for the safe t-shirt and old man type clothing combo in addition to his adventure wear. He had no idea what was normal on Terra and it was better to be safe than sorry.

He figured the small pile he amassed was enough for him to replace the wardrobe that Cat’s friends ruined. He passed the craft aisles the first time and then decided to circle back around and walk down the aisle. He remembered that at the store in his hometown they always kept the sewing supplies in that aisle and he really needed a sewing kit if he didn’t want to leave his jacket in pieces.

With his hardwon spoils in hand he followed all the other enthusiastic shoppers to the front of the store and waited in line. It was as awful as he remembered it. The cashiers had fake smiles painted on their faces and worked too damn slow! When he finally made it up to the register and was greeted with a far too chipper, “Hello” He had already tuned out most of the people. The cashier continued to make idle chatter but Peter was too focused on the bright pink package of bubblegum stacked by the conveyor belt to pay attention.

He remembered that brand, they’d had it back in the 80s when he’d been a kid in Missouri. He used to beg his mom to buy it for him whenever they went to the store. She used to ruffle his hair and tell him no.

He’d been in fifth grade when he decided he just had to try it, everyone else in his class could blow bubbles and he’d never even tried the gum! It was the first thing he ever filched. The cashier had been talking to his mom about the price of carrots and he’d just slipped it into his pocket. They’d paid and left. That night Peter had tried to chew three pieces at once and forgot to spit it out before bed. He woke up the next morning with gum clumped in his hair and a very peeved Mom. She’d been so upset with him she gave him one of those bowl haircuts he hated.

He swallowed down the lump in his throat that was forming from the memory. This, this is why he never wanted to come back to Earth. There was no weird bubblegum in space to remind him of his Mom. To remind him how he’d give almost anything if he could have just a little bit longer with her. If he could just go back and take her hand.

Peter blinked down any emotions he had and starred at the eye jarring magenta wrapper on the shelf. He couldn’t help himself he did what he always did when he got emotional, he stole.

He did a subtle glance around at the cashier. The cashier was preoccupied dragged all of Peter’s items across a machine that scanned him and brought up the prices. He quickly slipped his hand over the conveyor belt and palmed the gum. Once a kleptomaniac always a kleptomaniac.


By some miracle Peter managed find that driver Claire was talking about and get all his purchases and himself to the little gray trailer that was assigned to him. His home away from home for the next two months. Peter didn’t realize how tired he was until he saw a bed. It looked so comfortable and warm. He promptly dropped his bags on the floor and began shuffling out of his clothes. Next thing Peter knew he was blinking awake to warm morning light. Somehow he’d managed to lose his shirt and shoes last night before he collapsed. He blinked at the red numbers on the primitive clock next to his bed. The numbers 8:52 am flashed at him.

“Oh shit!”


 

Claire was suspicious. She’d been fighting against the feeling all morning, but she couldn’t hold it off any longer. There was something off about Owen Grady, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. He looked normal enough, his records showed he had a commitment to the line of duty, but there was just something lurking under the surface that was wrong. That and his timing was far too convenient. Him showing up right by where the fences went down less than a week later. Yeah, she absolutely didn’t buy his ‘I’m a tourist’ lie. She wasn’t sure if his game was corporate espionage or terrorism, but whatever it was she needed to keep an eye on him or at the very least set-up a signal to warn her if he was acting suspicious.

She needed someone who wouldn’t suspect her intentions or report over her head to Masrani. She frowned thinking over the employee roster. Then like the rain lifting it came to her. What better way than through the head of security Vic Hoskins? The man was abrasive and brought out the worst in everyone he met. Yet, he was so focused and misogynistic, it would be a hundred years until he caught onto her games. It was perfect. Besides Mr. Masrani had wanted her to give him a call anyways.

She grabbed the phone off the nightstand and dialed, “Yes, is this Vic Hoskins?”

Chapter Text

The morning was a complete clusterfuck. The stupid Terran technology wasn’t voice activated, which Peter didn’t learn until after he’d woken up at 8:52 am to no alarm. That meant he had eight minutes to get dressed, scarf down some food and get over to that corporate building again. Yeah, that wasn’t happening —at least it wasn’t happening if he played by the Terran rules. Good thing he was a spaceman.

Peter turned on his tunes, pulled on some kind of blue button up and that vest he’d stolen. He hadn’t even read the stupid contract Claire had given him. He was less concerned about that anyways he was a Ravager at heart and every Ravager knew contracts were for smucks and the only thing that mattered was the code (steal everything from everybody).

With that thought Peter stuck on his propulsion rockets to his boots, grabbed the stack of papers, and stumbled out of the trailer. He flew just above the tree line, careful to watch the roads and skies for any Terran that might see him flying around. It took him six minutes exactly to land in the forest behind the corporate building, hide his rockets in the pocket on his vest, and stumble through the doors with the crumpled contract in his hands and windswept hair.

The clock read 9:01.

A brown-haired woman in a pantsuit was waiting for him in the reception hall. Her foot tapping impatiently against the beige tile as she checked her watch.

"Ah, you must be Owen Grady," The woman said giving him a calculated once over. Her eyes lingering on his unshaven face, "I'm Katie Ross, I'll be answering any questions you have about the job description or benefits as your point of contact. Why don't you follow me and we'll go to my office.”

Peter nodded and followed Katie up a set of stairs into a neat corner office. She took a seat behind the desk and gestured for him to sit in the small white chair across from her. He slid over from the door and plopped into the chair, he had to hunch over slightly to get his body all on the chair. People who had regular jobs must all be unusually tiny this chair would barely hold Rocket and he was a rodent of unusual size. He gently set the crumpled contract down onto the table between them.

"I see you've had a chance to look at it," Katie said diplomatically as she looked at the ruffled mess of papers. Peter shrugged, she was lucky all the pages were still there with his mode of transportation.

"Yeah, it looks fine." He replied, the woman raised her eyebrow at him. Apparently, that wasn't the way these things usually went on Terra. He didn't really care all that much one way or another, it was only a matter of time before he was out of this quadrant and far away from this planet for good.

"Do you have any questions for me?" Katie prompted, lacing her fingers together.

"Not really seems pretty clear to me." Or it probably would later if he read the thing.

"Alright," Katie said slowly as she reached into a drawer on her desk, "Usually these things take quite a bit longer, but because you seem so content we'll get right to it."

She pulled out an identical copy of the contract and flipped to the last few pages, "I'll need you to sign here, here and here," the woman pointed to a few lines, "This is a disclosure agreement and insurance release forms," She explained pointing to the last few blank lines, "I'm sure you understand that everything you encounter in your workspace is meant to remain confidential. We can't have our competitors getting any information on Ingen's projects," Peter nodded, "And if any information leaks are traced back to you be assured Masrani Corp. will bring the full force of its lawyers down on you." The woman finished, narrowing her eyes at him.

Peter felt like she was probably waiting for him to flinch or at least sweat a little, but honestly, he had no idea what a 'lawyer' was and given what the Guardians dealt with on a day to day basis, they didn't even register on his danger index.

"Sure, got it. You got a pen or something?" He asked, his fingers drumming on her desk. The woman gave him a startled glance then reached into her drawer and handed him a pen. He uncapped it and scrawled his fake name 'Owen Grady' across the lines Katie indicated.

"You can keep that for reference," Katie said waving her hand at the crumpled contract Peter brought with him.

Peter snorted quietly, folded the contract and shoved it in one of the vest's pockets. These people had no appreciation for his delicate handling.

"So," He started, finding a blue rubber ball on her desk and squishing it in his hands. She shot him a disapproving glance, "Is Claire gonna meet me here to give me the tour and stuff?"

"Ms. Dearing is a very busy woman," Katie explained, "As I understand it she's arranged a different guide to show you the lab and give you the basic introduction into the project you'll be working on. He should be along shortly."

Peter dropped the ball back on the desk and watched it roll slowly onto the floor. He gave her a sympathetic smile, Katie scowled at him and reached down, scoping the ball up and shoving it into her drawer.

So, the ginger lady had decided to wipe her hands of him, Peter thought, damn she was cold. Peter couldn't really say he blamed her though, if she was on his ship he'd probably do the same thing and drop her on Drax and Mantis. He snickered at the thought of the scandalized look on her face when Drax started describing how magnificently huge his turds are.

There was a knock on the door, "Ah, here we are," Katie commented rising from her seat and opening the door, "This is Doctor Henry Wu, one of the top geneticists in our lab. He's in charge of the Velociraptor Project, among others."

The man looked to be middle aged, his dark hair was just lightly dusted with silver. He wore a bleached white lab coat over a black turtleneck. The outfit was so freshly pressed Peter could practically smell the soap on it.  The man gave him an easy smile that didn’t reach his eyes and held out his hand.

"Glad to have you on board Mr. Grady," the Doc said. Peter stood slowly and approached the man taking his hand as the man began to shake it, weird Terran customs Peter thought as he waited for the man to relinquish his hand, “We’ve all heard good things about you."

That sounded like a lie if Peter had ever heard one. And he had, lots of them.

Peter didn’t have much experience with scientists, doctors sure, but something told Peter that this man wasn’t really in the business of helping people. Something seemed slimy about the man, the more he looked at him the more it seemed like he had a thin film of murk lying under the surface.

The man was staring at him, and Peter realized that he still hadn’t said anything, "Yeah, raptors!" Peter put out a faux laugh, willing his body to relax into a nonchalant posture, ”How could I say no to that?"

“How indeed,” Wu murmured, “Well Ms. Dearing did have me clear my schedule, but I’d like if we could hurry this along,” The man said motioning Peter to the door, “Always work to be done. I’m sure you understand.” Peter bobbed his head along and sauntered through the door.

The pair dropped four levels until they reached a set of doors marked staff only. Wu swiped a card on a panel by the door, a light flashed green and there was an audible click as the door swung open.

“This is the asset development lab,” Wu explained as they entered, “We do genetic encoding and fill in gaps to the genes for the new species. Everything from nucleotide sequencing to cloning and hatching happens in this section of the building. My team,” Wu said gesturing to the various white coats hunched over the tables, “Has the most important behind the scenes job in the park. Everything the park is, is because of us.” There was a note of arrogant pride in the man’s voice as he pointed out different pieces of technology and explained their uses.

Peter was only half listening, focusing was never his strong suit and the man’s technobabble really wasn’t all that interesting. He nodded along at the appropriate points and in the meantime let his hands and eyes wander. There wasn’t really anything he wanted to steal in this place, but it was as natural as breathing for him to case it. The tech was probably cutting edge he thought as he stared at the monitors, projectors and synthesizers the scientists were using for biological augmentation. It wasn’t really anything special in space though, maybe 20 units a piece to some retro collector off planet. The info on the computers was worth more if the Katie lady’s threats were anything to go off of. But, Terra didn’t use credits or units, so even if he stole it for funsies he wouldn’t be worth his time.

“Mr. Grady,” Wu said, snapping his fingers in front of Peter’s face.

“Sorry, I wasn’t listening. What were you saying?” Peter asked focusing back in on the man’s face.

Wu sighed, “I can tell this is not your area of interest. It is a blessing for all of us that you won’t be in this area very long. I said,” Wu pointed at group of eggs under a heat lamp, “That these are the velociraptor eggs.”

Peter was a bit taken aback. He’d been so lost on autopilot that he hadn’t noticed them entering the incubation room he’d seen last night. There was a robotic arm that carefully rolled the four eggs every few minutes, “Making sure they have the perfect climate,” Wu answered Peter’s unasked question.

“Why don’t you let the mothers take care of them?” Peter asked as he crouched down to get a closer look. The eggs were oval shaped and fairly small, or at least smaller than he’d imagined dinosaur eggs to be. There was a faint blue speckling that was spotted over the eggshells.

Wu snorted, “How did you even get this job?” Peter ignored him in lieu of getting closer to his future job. Arrogant people had a tendency to die before him anyways, “There are no other raptors in the park. There haven’t been since the days of the original park. Naturally we went with a different breed for this park. The military is trying for something more controllable and since they are assisting with funding… well who are we to not try to meet the challenge?”

Peter hummed, letting the words wash over him, “As to why none of the other dinosaurs’ care for young it’s because they’re created sterile. Population control and all that after the first park,” Peter whipped his head around to stare at the man.

“Sterile?” He asked, “They can’t have kids?” That couldn’t be right. They were sentient, suddenly the conversation he’d had with Elo was taking on context and he wasn't sure he liked what it meant. The white rooms and the lack of any babies in her herd it was far to reminiscent of the drunken horror stories Rocket had whispered about half-world. 

“That is what sterile means Mr. Grady,” Wu answered dryly as he flipped through a clipboard next to the eggs. Before Peter could open his mouth to ask another question. Wu was talking again, “According to our calculations the raptors should be hatching in about three days. Though I recommend you play it safe and spend the next two nights here just in case. If they don’t imprint right away I imagine your job will be quite difficult.”

What was an imprint? Peter wondered was this some Terran thing that all babies did or maybe it was just a dinosaur thing. Hmm, he’d have to do a scan through those books he’d got. He nodded his head along in the meantime.

“I’ll tell my staff that you and any of the other trainers Masrani has hired will have access here until the eggs hatch.”

“I appreciate that.” Peter really needed to know what his job as a trainer actually entailed, other than watching these eggs hatch.

“Now, if you don’t have any other questions I’ll be headed back to my lab. You can stay here if you want or I’m sure you can return to Ms. Ross for further instruction. I’ll have someone prepare a temporary keycard for you and leave it at the front desk.”

“Uh, sure.” Peter stuttered out and with a flutter of his lab coat Wu turned on his heels and left the incubation room.  

Peter decided to stay for a bit longer. It was strangely peaceful in the lab and no one seemed all that keen to bother him. That was one of the most overwhelming things about the island since he got here. There were too many people around. In space they hardly met anyone new for months at a time and when they did they tended to shoot at them. Peter ran his hand over his face and moved closer to the eggs again. Baby dinos huh? Should be easy enough to deal with Peter reassured himself after all he’d help to raise Groot up from his pot. They really couldn’t be much worse.

“Hey you guys be good and wait till I’m here to hatch,” He said resting the palm of his hand on the glass, “Don’t you imprint on anybody else.” With that thought, and one last look at the four pale eggs Peter left the lab to go find some trouble of his own.


 

Peter was leaving the building after grabbing his keycard when he ran into Barry. The man saw him and greeted him with a smile and a wave, “Ah, my crazy American friend, I see you survived Ms. Dearing.”

He let out a small chuckle, “Yeah, she hasn’t fed me to any of the dinosaurs yet, she did dump me on some other people today to show me the ropes. Can’t say they did a great job. Not sure about all those white coats down there.” Peter said jabbing his thumb behind him.

“Ah, you met Wu then, he is a bit full of himself. Thinks he made all this,” Barry said spreading his arms to indicate the park, “I suppose it’s possible and he’s been on Ingen’s payroll since the 90s. I don’t know if this is true but rumors have it his yearly salary is over seven figures.” Barry lowered his voice to a whisper for the last part.

Seven figures huh? Seemed like the rich type alright. Peter shoved the info away for later, “Well B-Man I’m glad to see you, maybe you can give me a straight answer on what my job is actually supposed to be here.”

Barry gave him a look of confusion, “Ms. Dearing must have truly left you for the sharks if they didn’t even explain that properly. I’d be willing to, but I’m afraid it will have to wait. I have to return to the pen of the Tyrannosaurus that attacked us two nights ago. She’s finally ready to go back to the pen and they need all experienced trainers on deck.”

This was a perfect way to figure out how all the humies with jobs were supposed to act. Peter knew he needed to get Barry to take him.

“Well,” Peter started, “Since I’m a trainer now too. I could just tag along,” Barry gave him a puzzled look, “I mean it’s just dinosaurs and the park man. I have no idea where everything is and its’ kind of overwhelming…” Peter tried, laying on the sympathetic spacebumpkin charm.

A look of understanding passed Barry’s face, yup he’d taken the bait hook-line-and-sinker, “My friend I think you must have an unhealthy addiction to the dangerous. If this was anyone else I’d think they were crazy to think starting with a Tyrannosaurus was a good idea for first day on the job training. But then again, I already know you are crazy and I probably owe you my life,” Peter grinned at that. At least he had one friend on this crazy island, “Sure you can tag along. We’re gonna be working together anyways. We can stop by the other pens on the way back and introduce you to some dinosaurs that don’t want to eat you.” Barry teased, clapping him on the back.

Chapter Text

“Dude is that a motorcycle?” Peter asked in awe as he stared at Barry’s silver ride.

 

He had always wanted a motorcycle, just like David Hasselhoff they were the epitome of coolness. In space he’d had the Milano and that was awesome, but not quite the same. He’d tried to have Rocket build him a space bike once, because how badass would that be? He’d imagined riding up on it with his mask on and a bounty knocked out over his side and dropping him in front of the Nova Corps while the corpsman watched on with awe. Then he’d nod at the pretty girls and ride off into the sunset. Well, it was needless to say that dream had never happened and not from lack of trying. But after the fifth bike had exploded because Rocket had put the ‘last-ditch explosion button’ right next to the start button Peter had given up on that dream. But, now that he was back on Terra… well maybe dreams did come true.

 

“Yup,” Barry nodded as he ran an appreciative hand along the body of the bike, “One of the most practical rides for getting around the island on, especially with the potholes on the roads during wet season.”

 

“Is this what we’re taking to get there?!” Peter asked as he threw his leg over the bike and grasped the handlebars, “Please tell me yes man. I will blow you right here if you let me drive!”

 

Barry’s face squished up in disgust,  “Well I was considering it but for that image I think I’ll leave you to walk.”

 

Peter pouted his cheeks puffing up as he crossed his arms over his chest, “Aww, come on.”

 

Barry laughed, “You are like one big manchild. You should not know about sex and I don’t know if the world would survive if you procreated.” He then reached into a leather side saddle and pulled out a helmet and tossed it to Peter. Peter caught it and Barry reached down and grabbed one of his own. A sleek black thing that he put on as he gestured for Peter to slide back as he took the front.

 

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Peter muttered as he slid the helmet over his head, “Seriously though man, you have to teach me how to drive one of these!”

 

“Hang on!” Barry yelled as they kicked off and Peter wrapped his hands firmly around Barry’s waist as the gravel flew behind them.

 


 

 

“I have got to get me one of these,” Peter commented as they pulled up in front of a long metal trailer and got off the bike, “So the dinos in here?”  

 

“Yes, she’s heavily tranquilized, but she should be waking up in a bit and we need to make sure that she returns to her pen and doesn’t injure herself or others.”

 

“So she’s the one that tried to eat us and broke the fence the yesterday?”

 

“The same.” Barry said dipping his head as he waved to the guards and pulled open a door on the side of the trailer. The pair climbed in only to come face to face to with an unconscious Tyrannosaurus. The T-Rex was breathing slowly. Every exhale made the space rumble.

 

“What are her Tranq levels?” Barry asked, calling to a man outside the trailer.

 

“Steady. We injected her again half an hour ago.” An even voice responded.

 

Barry nodded to Peter, “It should be safe to approach. We just need to check her over then we move her back to her pen.”  

 

“Hi there Rexy,” Peter said as he stepped closer to her and patted her flank, running his hand along her grey scales, ”Did you miss me?”

 

Her eyelid fluttered open and a large reptilian eye rolled over to look at him. The eye was glazed and the pupil was blown wide as it tried to focus.  The T-Rex let out a low moan as it seemed to lock on to his form.

 

Not you again

 

Peter blinked. Huh, well that was odd. None of the other dinosaurs he’d met so far had given him full sentences with the translator, not even this T-Rex the other night. He’d gotten the basics from the tech, that the T-Rex couldn’t stand his singing but that had been emotions not words. Did that mean that this one was smarter than the others or that his translator was just adjusting better? Either way it was interesting. Not for the first time he wished Gamora was here to call him an idiot while she explained the intricacies of how the tech worked. Hell he’d take anyone of his team right now, even Drax. He hadn’t been on his own since stealing the orb on Morag and it’d only taken him two days of this so called ‘vacation’ to realize he really wasn’t cut out to be alone anymore.

 

Peter shook his head, clearing it of thoughts of the Guardians. It wouldn’t be too much longer —at least that was what he was telling himself— before they picked them up and they could go find some interstellar trouble. Until then he’d just have to make the most of it and have a little fun. All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy after all.

 

Peter glanced over his shoulder and found Barry crouched down taking notes on the stats. He seemed to be lost in his work so Peter crept closer to look the dinosaur in the eye.

 

“You’re pretty smart. I take it you remember me?” He asked. His hand slid along her side, feeling the warmth radiating from her scales as he approached her head.  

 

Go away smell bad  don’t want to eat you anymore came out in rapid succession from a light series of squeaks.

 

Peter snorted, “They finally fed you enough then.”

 

The dinosaurs nostrils flared. It seemed like she kind of took offense at that.

 

Bad food

 

“Bad food?” Peter repeated, his eyebrows raising in question.  Before he could ask the scaley lizard anymore questions a light cough came from behind.

 

“Did you eat something bad?” Barry asked. The man was giving him a confused look at the one sided conversation. Right, Peter reminded himself, normal Terrans didn’t have translators and only crazies talked to themselves. Peter cleared his throat, “I mean I think I smell something weird with her. I think we should go look and see what they’re feeding her.”

 

Peter didn’t know where that lie had come from. But Barry shrugged and waved him off, “If you think so. It will take about 20 minutes more to finish this.  If you’re worried you can check. I think Jared and Sam usually handle the food in these pens.”

 

Peter nodded and cast one more look at the high T-Rex before ducking out of the trailer and back into the humid air. His shirt immediately went back to clinging to his skin as sweat soaked through everylayer. He sighed. Tropical islands really weren’t all they were cracked up to be.

 

Peter took in the white coats and armed guards. He really wasn’t all that interested in seeing what T-Rexes ate, probably something big and meaty, but he really didn’t have anything better to do. Besides he was kind of curious what huge reptiles considered to be bad food.

 

“Jared and Sam,” Peter muttered to himself. Well that was real helpful there were probably twenty people near the trailer and he had no idea what either of the food guys looked like, “Okay, if I were a Jared or a Sam where would I be?”

 

He scanned around until his eyes fell on a man with curly brown hair and a babyface leaning against the trailer and staring at some piece of tech. He’d start there that man looked enough like a Jared.

 

“Hey,” Peter said walking over. The man looked up and gave him a disinterested once over before looking back down and running his thumbs rapidly across his screen in a series of touches. Peter cleared his throat again.

 

The man sighed in irritation, before looking up again, “Can I help you?”

 

His voice had way less nasal than Peter was expecting, but looking at him closer he wasn’t so young. He looked closer in age to Peter, without all the charm and swashbuckling good looks obviously.  

 

“You sure can!” Peter replied, making his voice as chipper as possible and taking no small amount of glee from the disdainful frown that spread across the other man’s face. God he loved being an asshole sometimes, “I need to know who’s been feeding Rexy in there.” Peter explained jabbing his thumb back at the trailer.

 

“That would be me and Sam.” The man gestured at a guard in the cab of the vehicle, “The trained nutritionists.”

 

Ding, ding, ding we have a winner! Peter grinned internally patting himself on the back for his profiling skills. Seriously that was a 5% guess. He’d have to find out if this island had a gambling house because he had a feeling he was lucky tonight.

 

Peter kept his outward expression serious, people on Terra so far had seemed to respond better to that, “Uh-huh. Well I’m gonna need to know exactly what you’ve been giving her and how much.”

 

“I don’t think so… newbie.” The man said looking up from his device and sending him a cocky smile, “Look you obviously haven’t figured out how it works here, but you showed up with Barry which means your what a dino-trainer?” Peter wasn’t sure where this was going, but he nodded anyways, “That’s hardly better than a janitor here. You’re the bottom of the barrel. There’s no way I’m taking orders from you.” With that final sentiment the man went back to looking at the little screen.

 

Peter felt his ears flush as the irritation bristled under his skin. He’d never taken being dismissed well, not when he was a ventboy on Yondu’s crew and certainly not since he’d gotten his own ship. He took a quick breath. It’d been a while since he’d been on the lowest rung in the social ladder, but it wasn’t the first time in his life. Besides Peter thought looking on the bright side no one ever suspects the janitor and this guy had no idea who he was dealing with. He was Star-lord the legendary outlaw and two time galaxy saver.

 

He let out a snort and then reached out and snatched the man’s tech from his hands.

 

“Hey!” The man spluttered his brows furrowing in anger, “What do you think you’re doing?”

 

“Well if you’re not gonna introduce me to your friend Sam over there I figured I’d need his call number!” Peter said as he looked down at the little screen. These little gadgets seemed to be some kind of low tech communication devices, similar enough to holoprojectors that he was sure he could figure them out.

 

“Gave that back!” Jared said reaching for it. Peter raised the device over his head, “What are you five?” The other man demanded, “If you want to talk to Sam so bad go over and bother him, but give me back my phone!”

 

“Tell you what. I’ll give this little baby back,” Peter said dangling the phone just out of reach, “If you introduce me and tell me what you’ve been feeding Rexy.”

 

The man growled and lunged for the device and Peter danced away, amused. There was no way this guy was getting his tech back like this, not with all his training from his epic keep away games with Rocket. Seriously they’d once played a game that had lasted for two weeks on Contraxia after Peter ‘borrowed’ one of his prototypes. It’d only ended when Gamora caught both of them by their ears and reamed them about stupid antics and setting a bad example for Groot.

 

“This is so unprofessional,” The man said through gritted teeth, as he turned and walked towards a man sitting in the cab of an armored vehicle. That must be Sam then  Peter concluded, “I should report you to HR.” Jared yelled angrily over his shoulder

 

Peter couldn’t keep the mocking smile off his face, “Don’t be such a pansy, man.”

 

The man glared at him, “Sam he called. Help this dick out so he’ll leave me alone.”

 

The man was dressed in a lab coat and had short cropped black hair. Peter really needed to figure out what was up with all these white coats. Was there a secret order of scientists or something? And why did they all seem to be dicks so far? Was that a job requirement?

 

“What’s the problem Jared?” The other man said glancing between his fuming friend and Peter.

 

Peter put on a smile, “My friend Jared,” Peter clapped the man on the shoulder and he growled. Peter ignored him, “Was just telling me how you handle all of Rexy’s food. I was just hoping you could show me what you’ve been feeding her?”

 

Instantly Sam’s eyes narrowed, “I’m afraid that’s on a need to know basis and I don’t see how it’s any of your business.”

 

“It’s just a little food dude. What’s the big deal?” Peter’s eyebrows drew together. Barry hadn’t seemed particularly bothered by him asking about food so it couldn’t be all that secret. Unless, Peter skimmed over the two men, noticing the thin layer of sweat that was forming on Jared’s forehead and the way Sam fidgeted.  They had the look of guilty men. Peter had no idea what they were doing or if it even involved food, but something rotten was happening with these two, “You’ve been doing something that’s not above board.” He concluded.

 

The two mens’ faces closed off and Peter had his answer. Yup, he could sniff out underhanded dirty plans from miles away and this just stank of something not quite on the up and up. If it was the men should have had no problems talking about it. And Peter was had a couple guesses as to what they might be hiding.  

 

“We have nothing more to say to you,” Jared sneered, “Give me your name I’m going to report you to HR for harassment and intimidation.”

 

“Is there a problem?” Barry asked, materializing behind the group like some kind of wizard.

 

“No, no problem at all Barry-o,” Peter sang out, unlike his crew Barry had some flipping awesome timing, “These two nutritionist were just about to tell me why they’ve been messing with the tranqed T-Rex’s food.”

 

Barry frowned, “Sam, Jared what is Peter talking about?”

 

“We have no idea. The guy’s crazy he stole my phone and acts like we’re morons that don’t know what we’re doing. Who is this guy Barry?”

 

“Hey,” Peter interjected before Barry could get a word in edgewise, “I don’t have a problem with morons some of my best friends are morons. I just have a problem with a-holes that think they can skim a little extra cash by serving spoiled food.”

 

The two men’s mouths dropped open. That’s jeopardy Peter thought. That’s two for two in one afternoon, he was on a roll.

 

Silence fell across the group as Jared opened and closed his mouth like a fish. Sam clenched his jaw, “I have no idea what this idiot is talking about. Barry I don’t know who hired him, but you ought to take him right back and get him fired. He’s only going to be a liability to this park.”

 

Barry looked rather calm about the whole thing. His eyes roamed around the faces on the group, before they finally settled on Peter.

 

“Jared, Sam, take me to the meat locker,” Barry ordered.

 

The two men glanced  at each other in befuddlement.

 

“Barry,” Curly haired Jared seemed to have found his words, “We’ve worked together for two years. I really don’t think it’s necessary. This is just some newbie who wants to get a look at what dinosaurs eat. It’s a hassle if he wants to see it so bad he should go to one of the feeding shows.”

 

“Jared,” Barry said evenly, “I don’t believe you’ve met my friend properly,” He pulled Peter next to him, “This is Owen Grady. He was hired personally by Mr. Masrani,” Peter watched the color drain out of the two nutritionists faces. If it was from his fake title or name dropping the bossman he couldn’t say, what he could say was he could get used to having a friend like Barry around. “And I wasn’t requesting you to take me to the meat locker as a colleague, I was ordering you as a managing director of all predator training and affairs.”

 

The two men traded nervous glances before they trudged slowly across the outpost to a concrete building that was humming with electricity.

 

“Unlock it,” Barry said. Sam reached out touched his keycard to the door and punched in a four digit passcode. The light flashed green and the door beeped three times before cracking open. A wave of heat washed over the group followed by a putrid smell. It smelled as if something had died in there, been eaten and thrown up by a glarxian blob and then been washed with Drax’s socks. Peter gagged and rushed to cover his nose and mouth before he vomited all over.

 

“The refrigeration system must be down.” Jared said from behind Barry, “That’s unfortunate.”

 

Barry took a moment longer to gather his bearings and cover his mouth and nose with his sleeve before he reached his hand into the building and flipped the lights on. Dozens of medium to large animal corpses hung on meat hooks. They were spotted an array of blue, green and white as mold and bacteria feasted. All that was missing was the maggots Peter thought as he looked at the fuzzy white fungus that grew on the spoiled meat.

 

Barry cast a sparing glance to the meat hooks as he looked over the thermostat on the wall.

He whirled around to the two nutritionists, “This is set to off. One of you two bastards turned this thing off!”

 

“It wasn’t-” Sam started.

 

“You sons of bitches,” Barry cut him off as the two men shared a look of befuddlement, “You sons of bitches,” Barry spat again. A look of comprehension passed there faces. Jared’s face drained of color, “You two are the only two food handlers that have access to this location on the island. This meat is gone off clearly. But based on the fact that the thermostat isn’t even on I’d say it probably was off before you even bought it off the mainland!”

 

“But… but we didn’t know!” Sam tried weakly, “It must have been the outage from a few days ago!”

 

“Like hell it was.” Peter muttered darkly, Rocket’s not-bomb had taken down the grid, but the driver from last night had told them that it was only the fences that had been down for a week.  Even if that was true he could smell the rotten food from several feet outside the meat locker. He’d been around enough rotting space garbage to know this meet had been bad for more than a couple of days. There was no way the two ‘nutritionists’ didn’t know.

 

When Peter was twelve they’d had a new cook on the Elector that had tried the same schtick. He’d gotten away with it for the first week since they’d just been to port and half the crew was too hammered to notice the difference. Then the whole crew had gotten sick from the food and Yondu had come down to the mess for a meal. Peter still had nightmares of how Yondu had made the cook eat all of the rotten food, shoved half a ton of food down the man’s throat till he was puking his guts out all over the floor. Then Yondu had made him clean it up, clean the whole kitchen of decades worth of grime before whistling him through with an arrow and throwing him out the airlock.  In his opinion the man clearly wasn’t cut out to be a Ravager if he couldn’t even figure out the code. Anyone stupid enough to try to steal from Ravagers in their own ship and mess with their food in the process was too stupid to even be a space pirate. You didn’t mess with food rations in space, that was just common sense. Unfortunately, the crew had still had to suffer through partially spoiled food until they made it to the next port. Peter still couldn’t smell zarxian soup without puking in his mouth a little bit. But, this this was just as bad and the dinosaurs like Rexy that had to eat this yeah… they couldn’t even complain to the captain or kill the cooks. Peter felt a lightbulb in his head go off. Rexy couldn’t kill the cooks but she could damn well try to eat someone that looked like the people leaving her food. It was a win-win for her get some decent food and knock out the perceived pest. He couldn’t even blame her.

 

“Didn’t know that you were feeding her rotten meat?! Like the two of you couldn’t smell it!” Barry’s calm demeanor was no more, “Don’t give me that bullshit. All the larger predators are supposed to be fed live animals anyways. The fact that you came to the meatlocker to begin with was enough evidence against you.” Barry leaned in close to Jared’s face, “How many other dinosaurs have you given this shit to?!”

 

Jared visibly gulped.

 

“We were just trying to save the company some money! Do you have any idea how expensive live animal handling is? The meat from the mainland is much cheaper and it’s just going to be wasted on these dumb beasts? It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars!” Sam tried to defend.  

 

“I’d shut up now if I were you,” Peter advised quietly from his position leaning against the doorframe.

 

“So what if we got to put a little extra cash in our pockets? Don’t act like you wouldn’t do the same thing if you were smart enough to think of it!” Jared accused.

 

“I’d really shut up now.” Peter said again louder.

 

“Actually I wouldn’t,” Barry snarled, “Because I have principles and basic respect for living things. I’m also not an idiot, unlike you two, and I recognize that if any of the dinosaurs get sick under my watch or die not only will it trace back to my practices, but cost the company millions!”

 

The two men were backing away from Barry who looked like he was ready to hand out a beating. Peter debated his options, on one hand it would be highly amusing to watch the two idiots get the shit beat out of them, on the other hand given how everyone on the island seemed to have a stick up their butts. There was a very good chance that Barry might get kicked off the island for that and Peter hadn’t even managed to get the other guy drunk yet. A small voice in his head couldn’t help but add he might never learn to ride a motorcycle if Barry left. Okay, that settled it.

 

Peter squared his shoulders and stepped between the idiots and his friend, “Barry, don’t do anything stupid!” He hissed into his ears as he turned towards the two nutritionists.

 

Barry let out a disgusted snort and snarled, “You two fuckheads can go sit and wait for the company police to come pick you up. If I have it my way you’ll both be fired and off the island within the day.” With one more murderous look at the pair he turned and stormed back to the trailer.

 

The two probably former nutritionists and food handlers cast a wary gaze at Barry’s fleeing figure and then tentatively made to walk after them.

 

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Peter asked holding up the device he’d snatched from Jared earlier.

 

“Right,” The brown haired man say holding out his hand expectantly.

Peter met his eyes as he slowly reached out with the tech. Just as it was about to reach his hand Peter let go.

“Opps,” he said as the device dropped into the jungle mud with a little plop, “My bad.”

 

Jared stared between Peter and the forest floor before he crouched down to pick up his tech. Peter chose that moment to step forward. The glass screen made a satisfying crunch as he walked over it and back to the trailer, making sure to throw a shit-eating grin at the disbelieving look on Jared’s face as he walked away.

 

When Peter got back to the trailer Barry was making furious gestures at the meat locker and issuing a series of very loud and angry orders to the other employees. Peter took that as his cue to go visit his new favorite carnivorous giant.

 

“Hey girl,” Peter said sliding back through the trailer door and into the T-Rex’s line of sight. Her eyes were noticeably clearer now. The drugs were almost out of her system it seemed as her pupils zeroed in on him.

 

You smell Peter watched amused as nostrils the size of his fist flared in repulsion as she sniffed in his direction.

 

“Yeah well, you don’t smell so hot yourself. Besides I was sorting out your food situation. Don’t worry no more bad food for you. With what they had you eating I don’t blame you for wanting to eat me.”

 

In response the dinosaur opened her mouth and let out a wave of putrid smelling air.

 

Peter wrinkled his nose, “You really need to brush your teeth.”

 

The dinosaur huffed —or at least Peter though she huffed it was hard to tell with how big her head was— and closed her eyes.

 

“Well whatever. Not like I expected a thank you from a huge lizard.” He muttered to himself, “Just  do me a favor and don’t bite anyone when they let you out of here now.”

 

As he left the trailer Peter could swear he heard a quiet this time only smelly pink fleshed feeder.

 

Chapter Text

Everyone was surprised at how easy and docile the female Tyrannosaurus was as she was led out of the trailer and closed into the pen. A few minutes later and the dinosaur had lumbered back into the forest and was no longer visible. There was an audible sigh from all the workers as they lost sight of her in the underbrush.

 

Barry tried to ignore Peter as he carried the tranquilizing kit over to the armored jeep. The manchild had been making incessant noise ever since Barry had asked him to ride back with the others. That in combination with the two corrupt nutritionists he now had to deal with was putting him in a foul mood indeed. To top it all off today was meant to be a good day, Jamie one of the girls from accounting had finally agreed to a date. He’d been flirting with her for six months and now he was in such a bad mood he wasn’t sure if he even wanted to go.

 

“Come on man give me a ride back,” Peter whined trailing after him.

 

Barry let out a heavy sigh, “I’m sorry my friend. Originally I intended too but now I need to make sure Jared and Sam report and go talk to HR about firing them. After that I need to rush home and get changed I have a date and that might be the only good thing that’s happened to me today.”

 

“A date huh?” Peter chewed on the inside of his cheek. Finally, Barry thought he seemed to be getting through to this stubborn man. Barry truly was grateful to him for finding out about the rotten food, who knew how long that debacle was going on for. And so far Owen Grady had done nothing if not live up to the hype surrounding his name, but Barry wanted a break from the man.

 

“My date is very beautiful,” Barry murmured, “And I’ve been waiting for her to say yes since I began working here.”

 

“Where are you taking her then? I happen to know a couple of things about where not to take girls. Learned that the hard way got stabbed a couple times for my troubles.” Peter added thoughtfully.

 

“Stabbed?” Barry echoed as he placed the box of tranquilizers in the back of the jeep and waved the driver off.

 

Peter’s eyes lit up at the prospect of storytelling, “Yeah it was this Askavarian chick she stabbed me with a fork because she thought I was making eyes at the bartender, which there was no way. I mean first of all he was a ripped guy, not that I’m opposed to dudes you know, but the guy was an arx- I mean the guy was in the army and you know what they say about different branches of the military,” Peter finished slightly awkwardly. Barry had a feeling that wasn’t the full story, but there was so much in his statement that he didn’t even know where to begin, “Anyways where are you taking your lover?” Peter wriggled his eyes seductively.

 

“She’s not my lover,” Barry said sourly pushing past the other man as he carried the last of the mobile tracking unit pieces over to the trailer and locked them into the cubby holes underneath, “And there’s not many places to go on this island. We’re just going to meet up at the local bar and then if it goes well, I’ll see from there.”

 

“That’s perfect!” Peter said breaking out into a wide grin, “Then just take me to the bar. You can do your date thing and I’ll go drink and find my own way home. Cross my heart and toss me out of the airlock I won’t bother you after we get there.”

 

This american was so strange with his sayings. Barry sighed again, he could already tell there was going to be no winning with this man. “Fine, but you have to come back and give the report to HR with me as well.”

 

“Sure thing!” Peter said flicking his fingers in a mock salute.

 


 

 

Peter dragged his feet following along after Barry as he found himself in the same place he started this morning, Katie Ross’s office.

 

“Ah Mr. Grady, is there something we missed earlier?” The woman inclined her head in question, “I wasn’t expecting you back so soon.”

 

Before Peter could even open his mouth Barry was cutting in, “Actually Ms. Ross I’m here acting as manager I need two men fired, today. Peter witnessed the incident.”

 

“Today?” She asked her eyebrows furrowing, “Mr. Lafayette that takes time. I can’t just-”

 

“I’m sure if I explain you’ll find yourself in agreement with me.” Barry interrupted. Peter lifted his hand over his mouth to hide a faint smile.

 

“Yes, well come in then have a seat.” Katie said gesturing with her arm two plastic chairs. She rummaged in her desk then pulled out a folder, “Now what was this incident?”

 


 

 

Three very long hours later Katie Ross seemed to be satisfied as she showed the pair to the door. A couple of armed guards passed Peter and Barry with Sam and Jared sandwiched between them. Both looked pale and shaky. Peter flashed them a sparkling grin and ran his index finger along his neck as they walked by.    

 

“Thank god that’s over.” Peter sighed as they left the building. He stretched out his arms. God he was gonna get fat if all he did in this job was sit down and make reports.

 

“I need a drink,” Barry said pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

Peter grinned and slapped his back, “That sounds like the best idea you’ve had all day. Didn’t you say something about a date and a local bar?”

 

Barry grumbled but allowed Peter to follow him over to his silver bike and climb on the motorcycle behind him, “Remember you said you would leave me be at the bar.”


 

 

Barry pulled up along a line of other bikes, kicked out his kickstand, and pulled off his helmet. He shook his head once taking a deep breathe of fresh air. Peter did the same rubbing his fingers along the squished bugs dotting the visor. He wondered how his mask would fare against the bugs. He’d have to ask rocket about designing a laser shield for his helmet when they got back. He had enough gear to keep clean and operational without having to scrape bugs off of a motorcycle helmet.

 

When he refocused Barry was off the bike and pulling the key out of the ignition. Peter scrambled to shove the helmet into the saddle bag and get off the cycle.

 

“Welcome my friend to Paradise Lost,” Barry said tiredly as he started towards the door. Peter followed closely behind.

 

From the outside the bar didn’t look like much. There were a couple palm trees planted out in front and a sloped roof  that looked like it had seen better days covered the building. A sign saying open was pinned on the double doors. Peter grinned as he pushed open both doors to make an entrance. This was going to be fun.

 

The bar itself was humid and smelled of slightly of sweat, spilled booze, with an overly floral fragrance painted over the place trying to conceal the bad smell. A scattering of tables were spread out on the edges of the room with a handful of patron sipping on drinks. Peter wrinkled his nose, not bad, he thought. It was one of the nicer bars he’d been in over the last year. He hadn’t really been in a nice bar since he’d saved Xandar.

 

His eyes skimmed across the room and caught Barry making his way towards a smiling dark haired woman in the corner. The woman waved at Barry and Peter took a step towards her, only to have Barry grabbing his arm and yanking him towards him.

 

“Remember you promised to let me be.” He whispered in Peter’s ear.

 

Peter shrugged in surrender,“You got it buddy. I’ll just be over there at the bar. Now go get her tiger!” Peter said jovially as he gave Barry two thumbs up. Barry rolled his eyes and flashed a smile at the girl sitting by the edge of the room.

 

Ah, love was in the air.

 

Peter wasn’t sure he really got the point of dating. No one really dated in space, or at least not in the parts of space he regularly hung out in, it was more like a series of one-night stands and long term booty calls. Even this unspoken dance him and Gamora were doing wasn’t dating. He slide into a bar stool and stared at the couple. He wondered what it was like for things to be that simple that he could just go out and have a good time with someone he liked without it being a liability. Maybe someday… someday when the universe wasn’t constantly at stake him and Gamora could try something like this. Find some quiet place in the middle of nowhere and just talk. Yeah right who was he kidding? Like that would-

 

“Excuse me, you planning on ordering something anytime today kid?” The bartender said slamming a glass down in front of him.

 

Peter jumped. Damn. He’d been so far into wistful thinking, he hadn’t even noticed the man. He frowned he bet he was making what Groot called his gogo eyes right then too.

 

“Yes-ss, of course I was give me a bottle of-” Peter skimmed the shelves before he found a bottle the looked drinkable, “That please.” He pointed.

 

The grizzled old bar keep followed his finger, “Tequila’s your poison huh?” The man pulled down the bottle and flipped a glass filling it to the brim. He slid it down the bar and Peter caught it, sniffed the liquid and then took a long pull.

 

When he set the glass down the bartender let out a low whistle, “You downed that like water.”

 

He shrugged. Drinking was part of the job with thieving and with Ravaging, people tended to be more loose lipped after a few rounds,  and only a shitty thief got more plastered than the target. He originally thought it was just his high tolerance to alcohol and general awesomeness that kept him sober, but after his run in with Ego he began to question how much of it was actually his Celestial genes. He grimaced and shook Ego out of his head. That was the last thing he wanted to think about on what might turn out to be a pleasant evening.

 

He sipped down the last of the drink. There was a clank as the bartender set the bottle down in front of him and grabbed a rag, “I’ll just leave this here.” Peter nodded his head, “Must be some hell of a day for a whole bottle on a Monday night.”  

 

“Oh trust me, I’m just getting started. By the end of the night I might be your new best customer.”

 

The man grunted as he scrubbed the counter, “As long as you don’t throw up on anyone’s shoes.”

 

Peter smiled his agreement and poured another glass, “So what do people do for fun around here?”

 


 

 

Claire’s day was going  relatively well the past week considered. With the fences back up and repairs made the closed zones of the park should be open in no time. She had a meeting all lined up for investor interested in the new dinosaur R & D was working on and to top it all off she’d gotten over eight hours of sleep the previous night. After the whole debacle with the Tyrannosaurus she felt it was well within her rights to take a load off and have a drink. It was with that thought in mind she asked Zara to clear her evening schedule and she headed for Paradise Lost.

 

She strolled in and headed straight for the bar. It looked like Mac was working tonight, “A Manhattan, please.” She requested as she climbed up on the bar stool and set down her purse.

 

Mac nodded and got to work on the drink. Most people tended to peg her for more of mimosa girl, if it was because she was female or because of her age she wasn’t sure, but Mac had been around long enough to know she had a soft spot for whiskey. Thankfully, she’d been around the bar enough that he knew better than to sell her the cheap stuff other workers came to get drunk on.

 

She watched him pour in the bitters, add a maraschino cherry and then gently set the cocktail glass in front of her.

 

“Seems we’re getting lots of familiar faces in her tonight,” Mac commented as he set the bottles back on the shelf, “And  a few new ones.” The man cast his eyes to the end of the bar where a blonde man in a dirty blue shirt was getting friendly with a few of the resident bikers.

 

The man let out a boisterous laugh and Claire froze. She quickly turned her head back to the front and raised a hand to shield her face. Oh god this is not what she needed tonight. She could only hope that the man hadn’t noticed and she could finish her drink and slip out. One interaction with Owen Grady was enough to last her a lifetime, thank you very much.

 

She heard the group at the end of the bar roar in a new round of laughter and she felt herself relax as she sipped at her drink.   

 

“Well if isn’t the queen of suits,” Claire jumped, spilling some of the amber alcohol onto the bar.  She turned her head to see Owen Grady grinning beside her. Damn that man, how had he even said flopping on the bar stool next to her, “Can I offer you a drink?” The man rested a half empty bottle of tequila on the bar. Claire stifled the urge to roll her eyes. Well there goes her evening.

 

“I don’t think so.”

 

“Why not?” Grady pouted, “There’s no problem a good glass of whatever this is won’t solve.” He raised his glass and  Claire watched as the clear liquid tipped towards her.

 

“No thank you,” Claire dismissed with an irritated shake of her head, “I’m on a diet.”

 

“A diet?” He mouthed at her in disbelief. Claire grabbed her manhattan and finished it in one large swallow. She needed to get out of here, fast.

 

Before she could come up with a better way to brush her newest irritation off a ringtone sounded. Thank god. Claire followed the noise and dug around her purse for her phone.

 

“Sorry, that’s mine.” She observed before she grabbed the iphone and flicked her fingure across the screen to answer.

 

“Goodbye Mr. Grady.” Claire mouthed at him as she gathered up her purse, set a twenty down on the bar, and made her way to the exit.

 

“Hi Karen,” She said softly, when she was out the double doors.

 

“Claire? Is that you? Why are you whispering?” Echoed back across the receiver.

 

“You could not have called at a better time,” Claire said, relief filling her voice, “Honestly, you have the best timing.”

 

“Why what’s going on?”

 

“Oh, nothing you just saved me from a very unpleasant drinking buddy who could not take a hint.” She sighed into the speaker as she climbed into her car and started it.

 

“Glad to have helped!” Karen’s peppy tone called into her ear, “Now I know this is a little ways out, but I was wondering if you could take the boys over the winter holidays? You know show them the island, spend some time with them. Gray is absolutely crazy about dinosaurs I’m sure he’d love it. And you know Zach he’s well… he’s a teenager.”

 

Claire chewed her lip, “I’m really not sure. I mean it’s just been so busy here you would no believe the week I just had-”

 

“Pleeassse,” Karen begged over the phone, “I just need some time. Me and Scott are finalizing the divorce and I really don’t want the kids to be her to see that.” Claire sighed.

 

“You know you’re going to have to tell them eventually.”

 

“I know,” Karen said softly, “Just not yet.”

 

Silence reigned in the car as Claire sped around the islands tight curves back to her floor at one of the island’s nicer employee residences, “Alright,” She answered, “Yes I’ll do it.” What kind of aunt would she be if she made her nephews sit through divorce proceedings on Christmas? She shivered she remembered well enough her own parents shouting matches when they seperated.

 

“Thank you Claire. Thank you so much.”

 

“Yeah,” Claire said smiling bitterly into her phone, “Just tell them to be ready to see some dinosaurs up close.”

 


 

 

Well that could have gone better Peter thought as he watched the red head walk out the door. He shrugged and poured himself another glass of the clear alcohol. It wasn’t the worst reception he’d ever gotten in a bar. Could it really even be counted as bad if he didn’t get run out of the bar or stabbed by one of his exes?

 

Whatever, Peter thought as he grabbed his bottle and headed back to the group of guys at the end of the table. They were more his speed anyways. They looked a little rough around the edges, talked mostly in curses, and drank like sailors. Plus they seemed to dig the music he picked out from the jukebox in the corner. They were alright in his book. Now he just need to figure out a way home.

“See the stick up her ass lady didn’t give you the time of day,” commented one of the bikers as Peter slunk back into his barstool.

 

“Yeah, I don’t think she likes me much,” Peter grinned, “It doesn’t matter to me I’ve already got my eye on a girl anyways.”

 

“Is that so?” One of the other bikers asked, leaning in, “Well do tell. I love a good romance isn’t that right guys?” There was a round of cheers and stomps of approval.

 

“Well if you guys insist. It’s a bit of an unspoken thing right now, but before I got to the island she did give me a kiss.” Peter said proudly.

 

“Aww come on from the beginning!” The woman in the bandanna called.

 

“Alright but we’re gonna need more drinks.” Peter gestured to the bartender, “Rounds for all of my friends!” This was greeted by a loud cheer and glares from several tables over the noise.

 

Peter ignored them and laid the black card Claire gave him on the table. She had said to use if  for anything he needed and his friends really needed more drinks. So did he if he was gonna tell a Terra friendly version of this story. It wasn’t his fault she had been more specific. Really what had she expected?

 

A sly grin slipped onto his face, “Now I don’t suppose one of you fellas would mind giving me a ride home?” Peter asked confidently, “After the story of course.”

 

“No problem mate. You’re practically one of us. I can tell you’re a kindred soul. Anything you need we got you.” Echoed from around the end of the bar.

 

“Great! Well in that case,” Peter tilted his head, “Think you could help me get a bike?”

 


 

It was with one slightly inebriated and very loud motorcycle envoy that Peter found himself back at his trailer. He waved the gang off as they rode into the night. They promised they’d meet him back at the bar later this week and see what they could do about getting him a good bike.

 

He shook his head and unlocked the trailer door, slipping off his muddy boots and cracking his neck. Honestly, his first day of this job hadn’t been bad at all. Beyond the suits and the whitecoats there seemed to be some genuinely good people on the island and Peter could see himself paling around and riding a motorbike until Gamora dropped by to pick him up in a couple weeks.

 

Peter dug around in his backpack and pulled out his zune, sliding the earbuds in a pressing play as the Jackson 5 washed over him. He flopped down face first onto his bed. This was pretty good.

 

He listened to the rhythm and felt himself floating off.

 

He wasn’t sure how long he’d nodded off for, but he was suddenly very much awake. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was watching him.

 

Peter paused his still running zune and tugged the headphones off. There, under the table. There was a faint scratching sound. He stood slowly reaching for his blasters on the nightstand.

 

He crept closer, ducked his head under the table and aimed his blaster only to find —nothing.

There was nothing there. Peter whirled around checking over his shoulder.

 

“Okay I know you’re in here,” Peter called out quietly as he turned around his eyes tracing the room for any sign of movement. There was a faint scritch sound by the door and then it stopped, “Whoever you are, you better say something!”

 

Peter moved placing his hand on the door handle. He pressed himself into the wall as he readied his blaster, flipping it to stun mode. Then he twisted the door knob and gave it a little shove. The door of the trailer flew open and Peter jumped into the doorway stunners raised high, prepared to deal with whatever this was.

 

He found open air. There was nothing there.

 

What the hell was going on?

 

He reached out with his right hand to grab the door and close it.  Something flashed in his peripheral vision, a blur of blue and grey. Then he was falling on his butt, his blaster skidding out of his hand. A face full of scales and feathers blocked his view.  

 

Peter struggled trying to shove whatever it was off. Something sharp was driving through his clothes into his skin. He rolled around trying to get the thing off of him. The weight shifted and he sat up quickly taking in his attacker.

 

A little squeak met him and he blinked as a very familiar little dinosaur cocked her head at him.

 

“Goddammit Cat!” Peter yelled as her little claws dug lightly into his chest while she rubbed her head against his face. Then Peter was laughing, full throaty laughs that shook his abdomen. He hadn’t laughed this hard in ages, “You’re smarter than I gave you credit for. I thought for sure I was gonna have to steal you to get you out of there. Looks like you picked up some skills from me.”

Peter said smugly raising his hand to stroke the little feather nubs on Cat’s neck. The dinosaur was practically purring and the translator picked up a general pleased air that translated as an image of a nap in the sun.   

 

The little dinosaur elected to ignore Peter as she focused on tearing into a box of cheerios Peter knocked to the floor. O’s of whole wheat cereal went flying in every direction as she shredded the packaging with her claws.

 

“You dinosaurs are really bad for my wardrobe you know that?” Peter said to himself as he stared down at his only slightly terrorized blue shirt.  

 

She chirped at him and Peter took that as a maybe apology.

 

“Okay let’s put on some music and celebrate!” Today had been a really good day, getting to be a dick to douchebags and a trusted compatriot back.  What more could he ask for? With that Peter grabbed his Zune and plugged it into the small mobile speakers Rocket had given him as a sort of apology for the whole batteries thing. Not that he had ever said that was the reason in so many words. But, still it was the thought that counted. Though if Peter ever did get an apology out of Rocket for anything he planned on recording it and replaying it at the most embarrassing moments possible for the raccoon.

 

Peter hit the play button and was met by the familiar twang of his boogie music. “Hand me down my walking cane.  Hand me down my hat’ Peter sang as Cat chirped along with him. It was good to have a familiar face to groove with again. Nothing like singing the night away.

 

“When the Guardians get back to pick me up you are so going with us.” Peter promised the little dinosaur.

Chapter Text

Peter woke up that morning feeling right as rain. The sun was shining, there was no crick in his neck, and no one robbed him blind while he slept. The feeling lasted all of five minutes. Cat was cuddled up on his chest small rumbles shook her little body. He glanced over at the red numbers on the alarm clock that read 7:03 am. He groaned and rolled over. Cat screeched and woke up in a flurry of teeth and claws that had Peter yelping and tumbling off the bed.

 

“Ow,” He moaned from the floor as Cat sat chirping at him from up on his bed.

 

Peter flailed a bit more, trying to pull the blanket that had wrapped itself around him like a damn strangler. When that failed to get him out of his blankets and off the floor he relaxed into a sulk and then managed to squirm his way out, glaring at the sheets as he inched to freedom.

 

A few minutes later he deposited the tangled mess of blankets on the bed and stretched. He yawned and rubbed his hand down his face. He noted the prickling of his unshaved face and sighed, he needed a shave, if this kept up his scruffy look might be too much for even him. He didn’t want a beard when the guardians got back, lord knows what kind of questions Drax would ask about that.

 

Peter dressed quickly pulling on some of his newly purchased clothes. He ripped the tags off as he went. His nose wrinkled at the oddly chemically smell that wafted off of them. The pants were jeans, they were tighter in fit than he remembered from his childhood but comfy enough. He pulled a green button up over his white bed shirt and got about halfway up the buttons before he gave up. He tugged the tan multi-pocketed vest he’d nabbed on the first day from some dude’s locker over the whole thing. He checked himself in the mirror.

 

He looked practical. It wasn’t nearly as noticeable as his usual Ravager red, but compared to some clothes he owned, he practically felt like he was in a tux. He gave himself one more flirty smile and then went to find breakfast.

 

The kitchen in the trailer was sparse. It had a table with bench seats built into the wall, kind of like the booths Peter remembered from restaurants. The stove had old-fashioned burners that he had no idea how to operate and an oven with way too many knobs. All in all, the only contraption that didn’t look like it came from the stone age was the refrigerator. A sleek black piece of equipment that hummed faintly, next to his Zune and blasters this was probably the best tech in the place.

 

Peter gave up on trying to figure out how to use the stove and pulled the remains of the mutilated cheerio box from the cupboard.

 

Something brushed against his leg. Peter’s eyes looked down and saw Cat up and sneaky as usual, stalking around. She was probably hungry too, Peter thought as he poured the cereal into a plastic blue bowl, he’d found in the cupboard. Peter grabbed another bowl and cracked open the fridge. She was a meat-eating little thing, wasn’t she? He scoured his fridge before finally pulling out a package of some sort of meat he bought. He dumped the ground meat raw into the bowl and set it on the floor. Cat wasted no time in shoving her snout in.

 

Peter poured his milk in his cheerios, grabbed a spoon, and slid onto the benches at the kitchen table. He took a bite and then another. Strange, these seemed a lot plainer than when he was a kid. They weren’t bad, they could just use some sugar. Peter finished the bowl and pushed it aside.

 

The trailer was still a bit of a scattered mess from last night, no worse than the Milano, it felt sort of homey. It’d feel even homier after he didn’t do the dishes for a week, Peter thought wryly. Besides his now empty cereal bowl stood the stack of four books he’d bought for information gathering purposes.  He glanced at the clock again, 7:34. Yup, he still had over an hour before he wandered back over to HQ to find Barry. That Kate lady really should have done a better job on-boarding him because he still had no idea what this ‘job’ entitled. Or hell, beyond the little black card Claire gave him how they were even planning to pay him for it. Being an adult on Terra sucked. He was ready to go back to space, space was nice, space didn’t make him have regular hours or wake up to a blinding sun.

 

Peter poked one of the texts curiously -you could never be too careful- then grabbed the book and cracked it open.

 

He sighed. Reading wasn’t his forte. Hell, he’d never finished elementary school let alone a standard education. He could read- really, he could Gamora! He just didn’t like it. Looking at the towering stack of books in front of him made him slightly nauseous even thinking about doing that much reading.

 

Cat made a noise and Peter turned his head following the noise. His eyes got there in time to see the little dinosaur headbutt her bowl across the floor. The plastic hit the trailer wall with a resounding thump of force. He glared at Cat only to see her staring innocently at him. His eyes found what was left of the blue dish in tatters on the floor. He swore, loudly. He only had four -three now- bowls in his damn cupboard!

 

Cat chewed the damn thing to hell. The bowl was in mangled pieces. If it had guts Peter was sure she would have torn the guts out of the thing. How did a bowl even end up as a condensed slobbered ball in less than five minutes anyway? This was ridiculous. The only good thing is she’d eaten all the raw meat first, so at least that mess wasn’t all over the floor.

 

He jumped up from the trailer table, “Bad dinosaur!” Peter yelled.

 

He may not know how to train a dinosaur but If the little reptile was going to act like a dog, Peter was going to treat her like one and if Lassie had taught him anything it was that… wait- Lassie was the one where the dog died at the end? Maybe the comparison wasn’t so good.

 

The little dinosaur looked at him curiously her head tilted to the side, not chastised in the least. Peter sighed. She didn’t understand what the problem was. It was probably instincts anyways, with her little gang they seemed like scavengers and opportunists, he could respect that, he was a thief, after all, no point in being a damned hypocrite. He couldn’t blame her for doing what came naturally. That didn’t change the fact that he needed to find something to do with her. If she stayed in his trailer all day he’d come home to find holes in all his underwear. He’d have to find something better to do with her. Where was a dino daycare when you needed one?

 

He squatted down and began picking up the pieces of the mangled dish. The plastic was still wet from being chewed on. He dropped the pieces in his hand, grimacing as the slobber stuck to his skin. He stood and dropped them in a metal receptacle that he thought was meant to be a trash bin. Then he wiped his hand down his pant leg.

 

What was she supposed to eat anyway? He wondered. She wasn’t dead yet, so he assumed he was doing something right, but still, Peter remembered a time or two that he ended up in the Elector’s Med bay because it turned out Terran stomachs weren’t meant for some material. Eating safely was a dangerous thing when species mixed, and he didn’t want to accidentally poison Cat. He frowned then picked up anything else she could nibble on off the floor, placing it where he hoped she wouldn’t be clever enough to get to.

 

Cat growled at him as he pulled the boot she was chewing on away from her, “Don’t give me that attitude. I need these,” He said, crouching down and shoving his brown boots up close to her face, “They’re the only pair I brought that I can hook up my repulsors to. No chewing.” He emphasized, then for good measure he flicked her on the nose.

 

She let out a high-pitched screech in surprise, then dipped her head submissively. He set the boot back on the ground and Cat shied away from it, keeping eye contact with him. Good, it seemed like they’d come to an understanding. He still didn’t understand all the dinosaur’s mannerisms and only some of her noises came across as recognizable motives or feelings. But, this was a start and he could work with that.

 

He stood up and went over to his speaker. This morning wasn’t turning out so hot and he needed tunes if he was going to make it through the day. He hit the button on the Zune turning it to shuffle. The sudden music distracted the little dinosaur who first darted under the table as the guitar riffs of Alice Cooper filled the air. Then her head peeked around the leg of the corner and she cooed.

 

Peter smiled. It was impossible to stay angry at a creature that loved music so much. He’d tried and failed with Groot, god knows how many times. With Cat sufficiently distracted he slid back over to the table and eyed the pile of books. This was going to be gross, but dammit if Yondu didn’t teach him that sometimes you have to dig through the shit to find gold.

 

He pulled the first book in the stack towards him and cracked it open. The title page read: Practical Dinosaur Encyclopedia: From the Mesozoic to the Cretaceous. It was kind of fat for his tastes, but you had to start somewhere. He skipped past the table of contents and introduction and was pleased to find someone had alphabetized the whole thing. He skipped through the pages trying to find a dinosaur that sounded familiar. Most of the entries included pictures of skeletons and some even had actual colored photographs. He glanced down at the captions. “Photos courtesy of John Hammond and Ingen.” Interesting, seemed the original park from back in the day had some surviving relics.

 

He flipped aimlessly through the book and glanced over at Cat who was thoroughly preoccupied with the cool air coming out of the vent. An idea struck him. What had Barry called Cat again? A Coelophysis?  Peter flipped through the dinosaur encyclopedia Millie saddled him with.

 

Coelophysis: A theropod from the late Triassic located on the North American Continent. Original remains found in New Mexico most prominent dig site Ghost Ranch.  The teeth of Coelophysis are typical of predatory dinosaurs, blade-like, recurved, sharp and jagged with fine serrations on both the anterior and posterior edges. Its dentition shows that it is carnivorous, preying on the small, lizard-like animals. Larger remains found in some specimens’ rib cages originally led to the theory that they give birth to live young. This theory was later revised when observations conducted on Isla Sorna found that the creatures were in fact cannibalistic.

 

Yikes, Peter thought, another reason Cat didn’t need to go back to her pack. He made a note to himself that she was a carnivore and meat was probably fine to feed her. He’d lay off feeding her his protein bars in the future though. 

 

The dinosaur in the hand-drawn image next to the entry was greyer and tan than Cat was, slightly less feathery too, but that was probably just artistic interpretation.

 

The rest of the page on Coelophysis wasn’t particularly useful so Peter skipped through it and onto the next dinosaur with a cool looking picture.

 

Eventually, he reached the T section and found the chapter on Tyrannosaurus.

 

Tyrannosaurus Rex: A dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous native to the North American Continent, part of the Tyrannosaurid family. Fossils found indicate that fully grown the dinosaur was over 40 feet (12 meters) long and one of the largest predators. Although other theropods rivaled or exceeded Tyrannosaurus rex in size, it is still among the largest known land predators and is estimated to have exerted the largest bite force among all terrestrial animals. This was later confirmed by the Tyrannosaurus revival project funded by Ingen. Specimens were found to be as large as 45 feet and under observation by Dr. Sarah Harding found they were monogamous, territorial, and protected their young for at least the first six months of life. 

 

The information was followed by an image of a red-headed woman kneeling beside five-foot baby T-Rex. Peter had to admit the woman was pretty, she had her hand resting on the animal’s stomach, her mouth was opened like she was in the middle of explaining something to someone off camera.  The little dinosaur’s right leg was wrapped in gauze. The caption read: Dr. Harding and an injured Tyrannosaurus infant, approximately six months.

 

Huh, the little thing was cute. It must be a universal law that all babies were cute. Even out in space there were only a handful of species Peter could think of that had hideous offspring, though, if you asked Drax that list expanded exponentially.

 

Velociraptor: A dromaeosaurid from the late Cretaceous native to modern-day Mongolia. Fossils range in length from 2 – 8 feet.   The second digit, for which Velociraptor is most famous, was highly modified and held retracted off the ground. It bore a relatively large, sickle-shaped claw, typical of dromaeosaurid and troodontid dinosaurs. This enlarged claw, which could grow to over 6.5 cm (2.6 in) long around its outer edge, was most likely a predatory device used to tear into or restrain struggling prey.  This suggests Velociraptor may have used its sickle claw to pierce vital organs of the throat, such as the jugular vein, carotid artery, or trachea (windpipe), rather than slashing the abdomen. This was proposed by Dr. Alan Grant, a paleontologist, who after visiting the original Jurassic Park wrote his famous article comparing the scleral rings of Velociraptor and modern birds and reptiles indicates that Velociraptor may have been nocturnal.  An alternative theory of predation was proposed by Denver Fowler. This model, known as the "raptor prey restraint" (RPR) model of predation, it proposed they killed their prey in a manner very similar to extant accipitrid birds of prey: by leaping onto their quarry, pinning it under their body weight, and gripping it tightly with the large, sickle-shaped claws. These researchers proposed that, like accipitrids, the dromaeosaur would then begin to feed on the animal while it was still alive and prey death eventually came from blood loss and organ failure. 

 

Peter shivered. This, those people in the lab were looking at making a meat-eating lizard like this and worse they wanted him to train them. He found his hand rubbing his belly slowly, grateful that all his organs were still safely inside. Yeah, this sounded like a nightmare waiting to happen.

 

He could hear Yondu calling him an idjit from his fluffy cloud in heaven from here. Maybe he should have done more research before taking the job. The metal links of his tracker bracelet clinked together, drawing Peter’s attention. Well, there was always that. If things went too sideways he could always call the Guardians. He knew his makeshift family would drop everything to come pick him up. He’d just wait and see for now and keep that in his back pocket or more literally on his wrist.

 

He glanced at the clock, 8:42. Peter snapped the encyclopedia closed. That was enough reading for one day.

 

“Please, don’t wreck the place while I’m out,” He begged Cat as he slid on his shoes on. She chirped at him nuzzled his leg, then went and found a sunny spot to curl up in, lazy reptile. Well this could very well turn out to be a disaster, he thought as he closed the door of his trailer, but at least for once he didn’t have to worry about misplaced bombs being involved.

 

Chapter Text

 

Peter showed up in the parking lot five minutes to 9 o'clock. He was rather proud of himself for that, usually, he was one to run fashionably late at the best of times. Hell, who knew by the end of this vacation he might be on time. Maybe. Okay, probably not. Still, a man could aspire.

"Figured you didn't know where to go," Barry said, tossing Peter his second motorcycle helmet, "Come on. I'll show you our stomping grounds." The man said with a smile as he flipped his visor down and kickstarted the bike. Peter grinned as he heard the engine rev, today might turn into a good day after all.

Barry drove a thousand times better than the drunk bikers from the bar. Peter felt comfortable enough to slide his earbuds out of his vest pocket and slip it up through his helmet and into his ear.

The sound of ELO reverberated around his ears: You got me runnin' goin' out of my mind You got me thinkin' that I'm wastin' my time

Barry leaned as he tore his way around a tight corner. Peter couldn't help thinking that for all the nastiness with fences and bugs the jungle did have a primal beauty to it.

(Don't bring me down, no no no no no)

The road grew less maintained as they went on, holes opened up in the pavement. Barry did his best to swerve around them. Eventually, the poorly preserved two-lane road gave way to a gravel path. About ten minutes farther in and Barry slowed, bringing the bike to a complete stop in an open gravel parking lot. Peter released his one-armed grip on Barry and slid off the bike.

I'll tell you once more before I get off the floor (Don't bring me down)

Peter reached down and paused his Zune. He gently tugged on his headphones and they came tumbling out from under his helmet. He carefully wrapped them around his music player and stowed them safely back in his vest pocket. Next, he unbuckled the belt under his chin and pulled his helmet off. He shook his head and ruffled a hand through his hair spiking it back to its usual level of disorder. He handed Barry the helmet as he assessed the new area.

From what he could tell they were near the center of the island, deep in the jungle. There were two other black jeeps parked in the lot, their owners were nowhere to be seen. The most notable thing by far though was the rise of grey concrete peeking out from the jungle on the far side of the gravel-filled clearing.

"So where exactly are we?" Peter asked, casting his curious gaze towards Barry.

Barry finished packing away the helmets before answering, "We are on the edge of Zone 9. This is where we will be working as soon as the eggs in the lab hatch. Welcome my friend to the Raptor Research Arena!" Barry said grandly, opening his arms wide like a showman.

"Huh."

The thought that it looked more like a prison than anything else flashed across Peter's mind, but he let Barry lead him to the doors, introduce him to the guards, and give him a keycard.

"I'm not surprised Ms. Ross didn't give you many details, outside of Mr. Masrani, Dr. Wu and few of the higher-ups most people outside of the project have no idea what we were funded for. Come I'll fill you in as we walk."

They started down a wide concrete hallway. Barry waved when they passed people and introduced them to Peter. The building was rather plain on the inside, a few rooms for various purposes and storage: a med-bay, a small cafeteria, empty feeding rooms for the dinosaurs. The paused briefly in a room full of technology, computers stretched across the far wall, there was one man fiddling with wires who gave them a greeting smile before turning back to his work.

"This is the control room for the project, the dinosaurs' health, containment, feeding schedules, and progress will all be measured from here. The cameras around the compound and the electric fences are all run from here. If for any reason something goes drastically wrong this room is one of the only reinforced ones in the building, so try to get here. There's a direct line to HQ's control as well, someone will be here 24/7 once the raptors move in as a safety precaution." Barry turned to face him as they exited the room, "Oh before I forget there's no internet in the building and the only cell service that reaches out this far are on satellite phones. I'll get you one before we leave."

Peter nodded and pretended that series of words meant something to him. If Peter had to guess he'd say they'd been at this about thirty minutes and Barry showed no signs of slowing down on his whirlwind tour of the compound. He seemed to have a lot to say, him playing tour guide brought out his more serious side, or maybe that was just his work persona, either way, Peter took note of what he was saying and stashed it away for later.

"Project IBRIS started about two years ago when the U. S. Department of Defense allotted five million to InGen. They wanted dinosaurs they could use in combat situations. Dr. Wu and the lab saw it as the perfect chance to try and improve the original velociraptor gene mix. And here we are two years later about to get our first batch of raptors for training. Most of what I just told you is classified, everyone on this project has a military background, it was a requirement in their hiring and, apart from you, everyone has worked here for a minimum of three years before they were moved to this project."

Peter hummed in thought. His naturally good luck seemed to have struck again with him getting slotted here of all places, or maybe it was bad luck he thought shivering as he remembered the detailed hunting habits that were outlined in the books.

"Here let me show you something cool," Barry said, a grin breaking out on his face, "This is my favorite part of the building. Here, try your keycard."

Peter fumbled as he slipped the little plastic card out of his pocket. It was primitive technology, but he got the gist of it. There was an encoded magnetic strip in the code that had preprogrammed access to the doors based on clearance, or something like that. The Elector used to have a more technical version the crew dubbed 'the babysitter' that was supposedly set up to keep Peter out of the more dangerous parts of the ship. In reality, it was to keep Peter away from valuables and potential escape routes that as a knuckle-headed kid he would have tried –they probably would have killed him. When he was eight he cracked the system and stolen all Kraglin's pants. Later that cycle he was called to Yondu's cabin later. He expected to be questioned at arrow point for his prank, instead, Yondu had laughed, thrown him an advanced systems lock-picking kit and told him he was coming on their next mission.

Peter slid the card against the reader. The tech flashed green and the door clicked open. Barry led them up two flights of stairs and out into an open, bridge-like observation deck that overlooked the compound. Below there was greenery: shortcut grass covered the center of the field and smaller shrubs and trees lingered around the far walls. On the north side was a narrow-barred door, way too small for any of the larger dinosaur species to fit through, Cat probably could but she was tiny. On the south side were five gated pens with larger doors. For the first time, Peter could see the real architecture of the building, four massive concrete walls enclosing a taste of nature. It really was a prison; this was the prison yard.

The pen was roughly fifty feet in each direction and on edge stood four concrete walls over twenty feet high. On the inside of the walls was another set of fences Barry had told him were electrically charged like the ones out in the predator pens. All Peter could think was it looked like a prison and if anyone would know what that looked like it would be him. The walls were so thick he'd probably need the lasers on a Spartax drone to cut through the damn thing. What in the galaxy did these dinosaurs do to deserve this? Hell, the Klyn had more space than this place.

"Doesn't this seem a little small?" Peter questioned, keeping his voice even as he looked down over the area. He gripped the upper handrail so hard his knuckles turned white. Thank Sputnik Rocket wasn't here, he would already be blowing the walls sky high. To be honest, Peter didn't like what he was seeing any better.

"I was told that due to incidents in the old park the velociraptors were to be kept in close containment for monitoring and training."

Peter tore his eyes away from this abomination and headed for the door on the far side. Barry looked confused as Peter practically slammed the door behind them. Count to ten he heard a voice in his head prompt. The voice sounded suspiciously like Gamora. He did that twice burying his anger down. He'd think about it later, hopefully with some alcohol. Okay, he was good at this he was a master thief, he told himself, finally getting his emotions under control, time to redirect the situation before Barry got even more wary of his odd silent behavior.

"How'd your date go last night?" Peter asked. Barry looked taken aback at the sudden change of topic, but he smiled. Peter swore his cheeks darkened a bit. Peter patted himself on the back for thinking of this vein of conversation, "That good huh?" He smiled lecherously, "Give me all the details."

Barry held a finger up to his lips, "A true gentleman never kisses and tells. If you do it's no wonder all of your past girlfriends have tried to stab you."

Peter laughed and puffed up his chest, "I'm doing the galaxy a service no one should have to go through a bad lay and the good ones deserve to be sung about from the top of mountains!"

Barry laughed and patted his shoulder sadly, "You, my friend, are despicable."

Peter's face stretched into a grin, but below his mask, he was simmering.

The tour concluded shortly after that with them back in the lobby where they started. Barry was still talking, and Jesus Peter thought he was a chatterbox, "Of course this facility will only come fully online after the eggs hatch and they reach full maturity without mortality. They tried a nest six months ago, but none of the eggs made it past a week, half a dozen never even hatched. So, we still have plenty of times to talk to Hoskin about what they want in their training regimen."

"Hoskins?"

Barry made a face halfway between a grimace and constipation, "Yes, Victor Hoskins. He's technically supervising Project IBRIS and our liaison between InGen and the Department of Defense." Barry lowered his voice, "Count yourself lucky you haven't met him yet, he's a bit of an ass." Peter nodded his head, "If I could offer you a bit of advice my friend, you may not like him –very few people do— just don't antagonize him. He isn't like those two nutritionists you got fired, he's powerful and a bit like gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe. He's here to stay and if you stir up trouble you'll be the one leaving."

Peter dipped his head in acknowledgment and muttered out a, "Okay don't mess with him got it." In his mind, he couldn't help but gleefully think 'I'll see about that.'

Barry sighed and stretched his arms out, "Well that concludes the tour. There really isn't much more to do here until the raptors come. So, what do you say about getting some more field experience? Maybe this time with something that doesn't want to eat you. I hear the herbivores need their weekly stool samples to be taken." Peter pulled a face and Barry laughed, "Come now you have to start somewhere Mister danger-is-my-middle-name Grady."

They headed for the door. Peter was sulking as they passed the ACU guard stationed there. He'd cleaned Ravager toilets, he did not need to add collecting dinosaur poop to the list of his life's actions, thank you very much. Asgardians have mercy on him what had he done to deserve this?

"Oh, before I forget, here." Barry tossed him a small rectangular box about six inches long and four inches wide, "A satellite phone. This is the best StarkTech on the market all the numbers you'll need on the island are preprogrammed. If you have any questions just ask it Stark –that man's a genius— has the best AI and voice recognition on the planet."

Peter looked with interest with the device that was slightly larger than his Zune. He'd have to play with this thing later. It looked sleek with its silver and black design. Maybe Terra had made something worthwhile since he'd been gone.

With that thought, he pulled on one of Barry's helmets and slid behind him on the motorcycle.


Scat sampling, Peter decided, was exactly as disgusting as it sounded. For starters, it turned out they couldn't even take dinosaurs out into the herbivore zones. It was 'too loud and unpredictable' apparently so they'd take out a company jeep. They stopped at a storehouse and Peter was dragged from the back of a beautiful piece of machinery to go inside and pick up a sampling kit and their uniforms.

The uniform consisted of a hideous pair of yellow gloves, a plastic poncho that was to put over their clothes, a small white hospital mask to cover their nose and mouth, and a pair of knee-high rubber boots. It instantly made Peter think of the over-sanitized hospital room his mom wasted away in.

He remembered wearing the flimsy little white mask — 'germ protectors' his Grandpa always told him— religiously when the doctor had first asked him. 'It'll make me better baby,' His Mom said. He remembered her kissing the top of his head and telling him he'd make such a handsome doctor one day. Then she died and the mask and the gloves and all the other shit the doctors told him to wear to keep his mother's compromised immune system healthy hadn't done a damn thing. The doctors hadn't even let Peter touch her without gloves until it was apparent whatever they were doing wasn't helping and she was going to die anyway.

Yeah, he'd rather walk barefoot over hot coals than put that shit on. He took one look grabbed the rubber boots from the rack and then marched out to the car to wait for Barry to get changed.

Barry came out a few minutes later looking like a 1960s alien, but didn't say anything about it other than, 'You'll probably regret it."

Half an hour later they were on site trying to identify dinosaur droppings and rubbing little q-tips Barry called swabs across them.

"This is disgusting, man," Peter hissed out, his fingers pinching his nose closed and giving him a nasal voice.

"It wouldn't be so bad, if you didn't completely ignore safety protocols and insist you were fine with what you were wearing," Barry huffed from his crouch. He was nearer the dinosaur poop he identified as from a triceratops herd.

"Touché dude, but to be fair I didn't know we were going to be sticking our hands in literal mountains of shit."

Barry shrugged and handed him another sample to bag. It was obvious the man held no sympathy for his predicament.

"Okay," Barry said standing, "I think that about covers this area. We have twenty more species to finish— Look," Peter lifted his gaze from the steaming pile of dinosaur shit to find a herd of long-necked dinosaurs gracefully meandering towards them and nibbling at trees, "You don't see that every day," Barry was smiling.

Peter squinted his eyes for a clear look as the dinosaurs marched ever nearer. No, that couldn't be… there was no way—

"ELO!" Peter cupped his hands and called.

Barry cast him an odd look, "I didn't know you practiced dinosaur calls."

Peter shrugged that probably was what it sounded like to him. Some of the fancy-schmancy translators Xandarian diplomats wore could translate multiple languages from one syllable for all the species present. Peter, unfortunately, had never managed to get his hands on one of those babies. Instead, he had a slightly upgraded model from the one he'd had as a kid. It could do more languages and had better range but could never do more than the directed language unless the other person also had a translator.

Friend! Elo bellowed dipping her neck down to look at him, Silly Squirmy don't play in decay. She rumbled nudging Peter away from the large pile of feces.

"Peter," Barry called in warning as he scrambled away and back towards the jeep. His hand went to his back where Peter knew he carried a tranquilizer rifle.

"It's fine," Peter said patting Elo's nose, "She's just showing her affection and being a mother hen." Barry stared at him open-mouthed.

"How you doing girl?" Peter asked as he rubbed the bumpy scales around her snout.

Herd Good, Babies growing, lots of food Elo imparted to him. He was sure if she could smile she would have a broad smile that stretched from here to New York painted on her face. He caught Barry's gaze. The man was looking at him like he'd grown a second head. Okay right, he probably was making lizard noises right now. Time to reign the situation in and do damage control.

"Sounds like a good time to me." Peter mused, careful to switch back to English, before echoing the sentiment back to Elo in a lower voice. Elo let out a happy noise, nibbled on his hair a bit and then stretched her neck back up to the overhead trees.

Barry was muttering something to himself. Something that sounded vaguely like "Fucking crazy Americans. Fuck I forgot how insane this man is."

Peter ignored him as he gazed around the rest of the herd. What Elo said earlier was true the little ones Peter saw two weeks ago now towered over him and were trying their best to stand on their back legs and reach the lower branches to feed. One little one Peter decided to dub Blondie was a tad too short and she lost her balance and toppled over backward making the ground rumble as she fell.

She let out a bellow that the translator picked up as Damn and Peter heard himself laugh. So young and already so filthy mouthed. One of the older females took pity on the young one and snapped off a large branch, slowly lowering it down to the young one to munch on.

Peter felt something wet drip on his hair. He tentatively reached up to feel the wet patch only to be met with a glob of something sticking to his fingers. Gross, he thought as he shook his hand trying to fling as much off as possible. A larger splat fell covering the left side of his face. Okay, that was enough, he pulled his vest off and furiously scrubbed it over his head trying to get whatever it was off his face. When it was finally off and he flung the disgusting makeshift towel on the ground. He dared to look up.

Okay, that was not cool. He found Elo standing over him with a large, leaf-filled branch clenched between her teeth. It was high enough that Peter would have to stand on his tip toes to reach it. She was also drooling on him. Peter sighed. It was still less gross than the dinosaur poop.

Peter glanced immediately back to the small dinosaur and then back to Elo. Oh- she thought. Well, this was a bit embarrassing, he wasn't exactly a baby. Regardless, he reached up, grasped the branch as hard as he could and pulled.

He managed to yank off a few thin leaves and scrap his hands on the brittle bark. The branch barely dropped an inch.

Elo snorted hopefully, and it came across as Food eat.

Yup, that's what he figured. Like any good Mother Hen now she was trying to feed him.

" Thanks, girl but I actually already ate I'm not that hungry."

Elo stomped her foot and lowered the branch further. Message received eat all your greens before you leave the table. The only problem was, besides the obvious of Peter not eating leaves, was it would take him all day to pull the leaves off a branch so big.

Peter slapped himself lightly on the check. Time to put your game face on, "You are a smooth son-of-a-bitch," He muttered, "Time to act like it."

He reached up and yanked one of the smaller side branches off and held it where Elo could see him. He then very slowly held the branch to his mouth and made a very big show of pulling one of the leaves off with his teeth and chewing it.

Elo made a noise of approval and Peter chewed another leaf. Jesus, they were disgusting. The leaves were bitter and fibrous. He was sure he was going to be picking splinters out of his teeth for the next week. Oh, well he could safely say this was not the most embarrassing thing he had ever done, and this didn't even rank on the 'most disgusting things I've ever put in my mouth' list. Still, he was careful in his chewing not to swallow anything.

Peter's mouth was nearly brimming over with chewed green leafy material, his cheeks bulged as he sloshed the leaves around his mouth trying to keep them as far from his taste buds as possible. Elo made him take another handful of leaves before she was satisfied. Then she raised her long neck back to its proper height and wandered over to the herd's younglings feeding them the rest of the branch.

As soon as Elo was no longer making eye-contact Peter ducked his head and spat. The half-chewed foliage splattered across the ground. Peter gagged trying to get the taste out of his mouth. A bottle of something clinked across his hand. Peter finally remembered Barry was with him. He was with him and gobsmacked. Peter glanced up to see him holding out a water bottle and looking like he'd seen a ghost. He grabbed it, pulled off the top and poured as much as he could in his mouth, sloshing it around as it made contact.

He rinsed and repeated three more times before he was satisfied with a leaf-free mouth. Then he wiped the moisture away from his lips.

"Thanks, man," He murmured to Barry, trying to push the water bottle back into his hand.

Barry shook his head, "I've never seen a herd matriarch do that before," Barry said in wonder, "It's like she perceived you as a visiting packmate or one of her clutch."

Peter shrugged, "What can I say? The ladies love me." His sass seemed to bring Barry back to his senses.

"You mad bastard!" Barry yelled, suddenly looking furious with his finger waving wildly in front of Peter's face. Peter tried to keep up but got dizzy with all the sudden changes of direction. "I had half a mind to tranq her and then to tranq you! The only reason I didn't is that by some insane stroke of luck you seemed like you knew what to do. What on earth were you thinking? She could have bit you or-or accidentally dropped a branch on you. Why didn't you back off?! And for fuck's sake why did you put those in your mouth, those things could be poisonous." Barry said, snatching what was left of the branch out of Peter's hands to examine it more closely.

"Don't worry I didn't swallow any. I'm not much of a fan of vegetables." In fact, the only time he ever ate them was when Gamora threatened him at knifepoint.

"That's not the point! When is it ever a logical decision when a Brachiosaurus matriarch has a branch hanging over your head -that could fall and kill you," Barry emphasized, "to think hey she wants me to eat this and then proceed to do so!"

Peter shrugged, "Come on it was pretty obvious. That one over there," Peter pointed to the baby dinosaur across the field, "its mother did the same thing to it right in front of us. What else could she want?"

Barry threw his hands up in exasperation, grabbed to sampling kit off the ground and stomped back to the jeep.


Later when they were driving the winding roads that laced across the jungle like veins, Barry shot him a serious look, before the clenching the steering wheel and asking: "What are you?"

Peter leaned across the front seats until his mouth was inches away from Barry's ear, as he lowered his voice like he was telling a secret, "A dinosaur whisperer."

The look of outrage on Barry's face had him laughing all the way back to his trailer. They didn't even finish their scat samples and Peter couldn't say he minded one bit.


Peter came back to his trailer smelling of dinosaur drool and shit. He was exhausted as he slid his key into the lock and the door swung open. All he wanted was a shower and an escape from the humid air outside.

Peter looked in his living space and blinked. All he could think was: well it could be worse.

Cat had scratched everything in sight to hell. The cabinets, the legs of the table, the shiny surface of the fridge. She'd left his bed alone and curiously enough everything he'd told her not to chew was untouched. Much to his relief, his speaker was also in one piece, though it did have one bite mark in the corner. Cat was curled up on the remains of what Peter assumed was his cheerio box from this morning. Cat's tail twitched but past that she continued her deep sleep.

Peter sighed. Yeah, he wasn't getting out of bed tomorrow and he wasn't dealing with this mess tonight.

He kicked off his shoes as he headed for the bed. He pulled his Zune and the StarkPhone they'd given him out of his pockets before stripping down to his underwear and climbing under the covers.

"Hello," A robotic female voice intoned.

Peter jumped out of his skin. The hairs on the back of his neck standing up as he looked to see where the voice was coming from, "What the hell? Where are you!?" Peter yelled grabbing for one of his blasters.

"My program suggests you are a new user. Would you like an overview of my applications?"

"No, I don't want an overview of your applications! I want to know where the fuck you are and what rights you have being in a half-naked man's trailer without introducing yourself!"

"You brought me in," A light flashed on his nightstand. The StarkPhone. It had to be.

Peter slowly reached out and in one fluid motion grabbed the piece of technology and had his blaster pointed at it.

"Who's your maker? Who sent you here?" Peter hissed. He didn't believe for one second this was Terran tech. They didn't have robots let alone AIs. It must have either been following him from space or attached itself to one of his gadgets. Peter looked wearily at his drawer of explosives, all of those were digital if it managed to jump into their software it could detonate them.

"Oh my, there's no need for violence," The robotic voice came across in a clipped fashion, "Instating hundred-year senile old man protocol."

Peter froze when nothing happened he slowly began to relax and lowered his weapon.

"I am a program designed by Tony Stark of Stark industry for broad-spectrum use in all industries. I am a beta-testing model of mobile satellite phones made especially for researchers in extreme locations for a range of uses. I assure you I mean you no harm. I am also not a demon."

Peter set his blaster back under his pillow, still within in reach, but at least out of view.

"So, you're an AI and everyone on the island has a thing like you?" Peter asked warily.

"I suppose I am an AI. You do not seem very proficient with new technology, hundred-year senile old man protocol" Peter snorted at the name, "Will help get you up to date with all the latest advancements and current events. Only those in specific research projects were granted phones of my design by Stark Industries, as I said I am a test model."

"Uh, sure," Peter said, taken slightly off guard by just how proficient this AI seemed to be at reading the circumstance. There were AI's, robots, cyborgs, androids all sorts of things in space and for the most part they were all assholes. Sure, they could be helpful and useful, but only for a price and depending on who wrote the program more often than not they developed into psychopathic killer bots because they didn't understand their purpose, or their growing intelligence drove them crazy.

"What should I call you?" Peter asked because he didn't know how smart this AI was yet and his Mama taught him to be polite. That and there was a drawer of potentially explosive, digitally activated bombs across the room.

There was a pause, "What would you like to call me?"

"Uh…" Peter said awkwardly, fishing around his head for something that seemed mildly appropriate, "Jefferson Starship?"

The AI paused and analyzed him, "Not acceptable." It decided.

Okay, maybe this wouldn't be so easy. Peter had only named a handful of things in his life, the Milano being the one he was most proud of. But he'd never named something that he couldn't see before.

"How about Madonna then?" Maybe the AI was looking for something slightly more feminine.

"Madonna really?" The robotic voice deadpanned. Was that sarcasm? Is this supposed to be how Terran AIs work?

"She was the original Material Girl." Peter tried to argue, "Plus she was a total babe." The AI said nothing.

"Madonna is acceptable."

"Good, you can call me Star-lord."

"Program initiating. Set owner's name to Star-lord." Peter beamed. This thing was so cool. He felt like a kid on Christmas.

"What else can you do?"

"As premiere Stark Technology I am entirely voice activated. My functions include: internet searches on any topic including urban dictionary, arranging meetings and calendars, making phone calls from anywhere including underwater, uniting all the devices in your home for easy access and I can make latest Vine references. The last thing is a new feature with my model." The voice finished smugly.

"Uhhhh…" Peter really wasn't sure he wanted this AI playing with his space tech, let alone 'uniting all his devices' that either sounded like an orgy or communism.

Apparently, that wasn't the response the AI was looking for because it continued, "I can also change ringtones." The voice tried again, though Peter noticed it said it with less vigor and a more resigned attitude.

"Okay, yeah let's do the last thing you just said. Those are for phone calls and messages, right?" He said thinking back to Claire in the bar, where her little phone went off and she ducked out to avoid him.

"Yes. What would you like your newest ringtone to be?"

"Something cool." The AI said nothing, waiting, "I've got it!" Peter said tapping his knuckles lightly against his bedframe in success, "Something by David Hasselhoff." Peter ordered.

The AI flashed a frowny face –Was that normal? — and then complied.

"Completed. Did you need something else Star-lord?"

"No. I'm good." With that, the StarkPhone turned off its screen. Okay, it was decided this thing was awesome, suspicious but still awesome. If it turned out not to go crazy he was going to integrate it into the Milano's controls when he got back, that way at least one thing in his ship would respect him enough to call him by his outlaw name. With that thought, he set the phone back on the nightstand, pulled the covers over him and went to sleep.


At ass o'clock, in the morning something rang, loudly.

Girl, we need some, girl we need some action

If we're gonna make it like a true survivor

We need some action

Action (action)

The lyrics boomed around the trailer, echoing off the walls. Cat jumped to her feet and promptly started screeching at the top of her lungs right next to Peter's ear. She then scrambled off the bed and darted under the table to hide. Peter scrambled fighting against his sheets and knocking a pillow on the floor as he struggled to find where the noise was coming from against the ringing in his ears.

"Would you like me to answer?" Madonna's robotic voice cut through the noise as Peter covered his ears against Cat's shrieking and the music.

Shit, that's what this noise was from the StarkPhone.

Peter let out a moan which the AI seemed to take that as an affirmation, an excited man's voice flowed from the other line, "Good morning Mr. Grady," Peter half cried half grumbled into the receiver of the phone. Damn Barry, Peter's sleep-muddled mind decided this was all his fault.

"Sorry to have to wake you so early, but the eggs have just shown their first signs of hatching. I know this is a bit earlier than expected but we need you to come down to the labs immediately. The baby velociraptors will need to imprint on all the members of the training squad of Project IBRIS," The man rambled as Peter's sluggish mind tried to put the pieces of what he was saying together.

The word hatching kept echoing over and over in his head, but it didn't have any meaning.

"-Grady, Mr. Grady," The voice said trying to draw his attention back, "We need you down here ASAP. I know it's early and our hatching schedule was slightly off, but you'll be paid overtime."

"Fine," Peter groaned into the phone. Then he pressed the red button on the screen and the call disconnected.

Peter struggled out of bed and fumbled around until he found the clothes he'd dropped on the floor earlier that evening. The glowing numbers of the alarm clock said it was 2:13 AM. Peter tugged his pants back on and shoved the stupid StarkPhone in his pocket, "Madonna turn off the shitty ringtone."

"The Phone has now been set to vibrate only." Thank Fuck Peter thought. He hoped a morning like this never happened again. He needed something with caffeine in it. He wrestled Ca out from under the kitchen table. The poor thing was shaking like a leaf. Peter cooed apologies at her and deposited her back on the bed. Then he tugged on his boots and attached his repulsors to them. He ran a hand down his unshaved face. He really needed to get some Terran way of transportation before someone noticed him and he ceased blending in. He tabled that thought for now. It was dark enough outside that no one should notice him.

Peter stepped out the door carefully making sure it was locked so no one would bother Cat. Then he lightly touched behind his ear and his mask folded out and covered his face automatically activating night vision.

He took off into the clear night sky.

Chapter Text

Peter retracted his mask while he was still in the air. He hit the ground running, throwing himself through the glass doors and past the startled secretary. He gave her a hand wave and a cocky grin as he sped down the main hallway towards the lab. Two lefts and a right later and he let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding, as he saw the words hatching facility emboldened on the glass walls.

He stepped into the lab his hair a rat’s nest sticking up in every direction. Barry, Wu and two people that Peter didn’t recognize stood peering through the glass nesting box with laser-like focus. They stood watching as the robotic arm slowly rotated the trembling eggs. Besides the gentle shaking of the eggs, the only other noise in the room was the soft beeping of sensors.

A bleary-eyed Barry glanced up when Peter approached, panting. Barry nodded and moved aside so Peter could slide beside him. Peter cast him a smile as he got closer to the box. Inside, resting on a hay mixture, were four pale gray eggs. The eggs every so often shook slightly before once again becoming deathly still. When he leaned in closer to the glass, he could hear a muffled scritching coming from inside the shells. Peter wasn’t sure how much time passed like that, just staring at the barely shifting eggs.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, Peter’s ears perked at the soft clink of a shell falling. The egg nearest the front fractured, a spiderweb of cracks laced out from a central chip. The missing fragment was too small to see much of what was moving in the egg. Peter held his breath expecting more movement at any second. Nothing came, the eggs continued to shake slightly, but no more pieces fell away.

“How long does this usually take?” Peter asked, the question rushing out and breaking the silence.

One of the people Peter hadn’t recognized turned to look at him for the first time, she seemed surprised to notice someone else had entered the room.  Peter blinked in shock taking in a round face, warm brown eyes and the unmistakable curves of a female. 

The woman’s soft brown curls shifted over her lab coat as she answered, her voice coming out in a low lilting murmur.

“It depends, hatching can take anywhere from three hours to two days. The longest recorded time on park record is three days and twelve hours, that was for the first brachiosaurus ever hatched in the original park. Some may never even make it fully out of the eggs. It’s their first test, evolutionarily speaking, so only the healthy young survive.”

Peter raised an eyebrow at the flood of information.

“Oh, right— sorry.”

The woman apologized, flustered as she stretched out her right hand, Peter took it giving it a  slow shake.

“I’m Rachel, Dr. Rachel Cole, Paleo-Veterinarian,” she chuckled, “In case you couldn’t tell social graces aren’t my strong suit.”

“Peter,” he introduced, giving Rachel a small smile, “I’m new to the whole raptor thing, hopefully, you can help me out.”

Rachel nodded, returning his smile.

“I’d be happy to, large predators are my specialty. I couldn’t say no when they asked me to work on this project. There haven’t been raptors on the island in thirty years!”

Peter’s eyes glazed over as Rachel continued to talk, nodding and letting out an ‘interesting’ when necessary. He felt his mind wander and found his eyes drawn back to the case as one of the eggs in the middle gave a particularly violent shake. Rachel gasped excitedly and leaned in trying to get closer to observe the eggs. 

“The first cracked, the others should follow soon.”

“So imprinting, is that instant?” Peter asked, following Rachel’s example and leaning in close. The cracks in the eggs looked slightly bigger, Peter thought, squinting down at the flaky egg shells that littered the hay covered floor of the case. 

Rachel’s eyes didn’t leave the delicately shaking eggs.

“Usually it’s the first mobile stimulus they see, just like ducklings.”

That pulled a scoff out of the last unknown man in the room, “Well, these suckers are gonna be a hell of a lot more impressive than ducklings once they get moving.”

The man had greying brown hair and a bulky frame. He probably had muscles too under his layer of flab and carefully manicured military uniform.  He stood to the right of Wu and cast a hungry look at the eggs.

Peter glanced at Barry and raised his eyebrow cocking his head at the man. Barry shook his head subtly and murmured ‘Vic Hoskins’ under his breath.

Huh, for the big bad asshole Barry made him out to be in person he wasn’t nearly as impressive. Peter gave Hoskins an appraising once-over. He reminded him of the Nova officers that ran the Kyln. He was a bit pudgy around the middle, not nearly as fit, and not even the same species, but he still managed to have a general air of assholery.

Peter didn’t get much further into his analysis when noise from the cage pulled him away. A consistent tat-tat sound drifted around the room followed by a distinctive crunch. A chunk of shell was pushed aside by a tiny set of claws. A high pitched cry echoed around the room.

Peter blinked, his adrenaline picking up as he pushed his face closer to the glass. His head was as close as he could get it without shoving his face into the case. Inside he could see something moving slightly and then a small yellow eye opened for the first time. The thin sliver of pupil retracted against the bright lab lights trying to focus.

This, this was amazing. Peter had traveled to twelve galaxies, been on forty-two different planets, he’d flown through goddamn supernovas, but none of that compared to the miracle of life. He could live a thousand more years and still not be able to explain it.

A barely audible chirp filled the air. Peter let out a puff of air he didn’t know he was holding as his eyes met the dinosaur’s for the first time. The yellow eye blinked, and Peter could swear she was staring right at him.

The little three-fingered claw trembled moving lethargically as it scraped against its remaining prison. The shaking intensified and the egg fell to its side, rolling as the baby raptor inside tried to free herself.

“Can’t we help the little guys out?” Peter asked as he watched them pathetically trying to escape.

“No,” Wu said tonelessly, “It’s an important development process and if the things are strong enough to hatch successfully, they’ve survived the first stage of life.”

“Well, why don’t you plan them a freakin’ party while you’re at it, Wu?” Peter muttered to himself, rolling his eyes.

The man was a robot. How could these cute little buggers do nothing for him? He must be dead on the inside.

The remaining three eggs clinked together, as the hatching dinosaurs shuffled into each other.  Cracks appeared on two other eggs before the first one finally broke into enough pieces for the baby raptor to nose her way out. Peter finally got a good look at the things skinny gray body. There was a stripe of blue that stretched from her nose to the tip of her tail. She wasn’t any bigger than a kitten, covered in a thin veil of slime and embryonic fluid, she looked more like a drowned rat than the terrifying predators the books made them out to be. She let out a low chirp that was returned by the rest of the nest. The unhatched eggs rocked more vigorously as the creatures tried to get out to their sister.

“My God, she’s gorgeous,” Barry whispered next to him, clasping his hands together and murmuring out a prayer.

Peter couldn’t agree more.

 


 

 It took another hour before all the eggs hatched.  When the shaking finally finished and there were four trembling babies wriggling around in nesting material.

Rachel carefully used a pipette to drop a thick red liquid into the baby raptor’s mouth.

“It’s a vitamin and protein mixture,” she explained, “Meant to emulate the first feeding in the wild.”

When she finished feeding them individually, Rachel excused herself to get coffee, promising to bring enough back for all of them. Barry thanked her and insisted he give her some cash, requesting a double espresso, whatever that was. She rushed out the door in a hurry, yelling at Wu to record everything and page her if there were any problems.

Peter felt the adrenaline dying down and his brain coming back online. He inspected his new charges closely.  The smallest raptor was a dusty grey color, and about three inches shorter than the rest of the nest. In fact, as Peter shook off the wonder of seeing new life come into the world, he realized all of the raptors looked slightly different. They were varying shades of earthy colors with diverging sizes and shapes. Some had longer claws, some had shorter tails. The variation wasn’t extensive but it was there and it was enough to make Peter wonder if they were even truly siblings.

“Why don’t they all look the same?”

He directed his question to the uncharacteristically quiet Wu.

Wu looked up from the computer he was tapping away on, “In this cycle, we were trying to different gene batches, the last nest didn’t survive the hatch, we didn’t want a repeat of that this time. Additionally, our funders,” Wu’s eyes slid across the room to Hoskin, who was collapsed in a chair waiting on his coffee, “Also requested we try and establish different traits given their range of needs.”

Hoskins grunted in reply.

Peter shivered at the indifferent way Wu talked about playing with life. The guy was a regular old Dr. Frankenstein.

The night turned to day and Rachel came back with four cups of bitter smelling liquid, which she passed out with little ceremony. Peter took his and gave it a tentative sip, scrunching his face as the unsweetened coffee hit his tongue. Yech, it was as bad as he remembered it, so much for the assurances when he was a child that he would like it when he got older. As the others nursed their coffee and debated computer readings, Peter slunk over to the glass case and squatted down to eye level with the little creatures. Two of the raptors were curled into each other asleep, the one with the blue stripe looked up at him, her eyes following him, her sister was next to her, and ducked behind her when Peter got close.

“Hey little gals,” He cooed, “Aren’t you precious.”

The little one stuck her head from behind the blue one and tried to get closer only for the blue one to snap her teeth. The little one squeaked and backed up quickly.

“Hey!” He said, and suddenly the babies attention was focused solely on him, “That’s no way to act, you’re a mean one aren’t you?”

Peter’s voice snapped the two sleeping raptors awake as they unfurled from their ball and on shaky legs stepped up to the glass to inspect Peter. The little blue raptor cocked her head to the side but didn’t look the least bit apologetic. The look strangely reminded him of Yondu, when Peter said something he found to be particularly stupid.

Then a thought struck him- they needed names! The others had been so worried about science or whatever they hadn’t even named them. His face tugged upwards, besides they really needed names, this was getting too confusing enough with four of them.

“Okay, let’s start with you, meanie,” Peter said, sticking his finger against the glass where the blue one’s nose was, “You’re blue just like your Grandaddy—”

His voice cracked as a memory came to mind unbidden. Yondu loomed over him his arms crossed, he’d just bailed him out of jail for pickpocketing. The sentry men had confiscated everything, including his walkman. He remembered them sneering and shaking it at him as Yondu marched him out of the jail and back to the ship.

“What’re you thinking boy! I didn’t teach ya to get caught.”

“You didn’t teach me anything! This is all your fault, you big blue Smurf!” Peter yelled, clenching his fists.

“What’d you say to me boy? Don’tcha talk to your Captain like that.” Yondu said, his eyes narrowing.

“I never would have got caught if Taserface hadn’t—” Yondu smacked the back of his head.

Tears pricked at the edges of Peter’s eyes. This day sucked. He just wanted it to be over, to curl up in his rack and cry. He lost his walkman, Yondu would probably have him scrubbing the toilets for months. He sniffed trying to hold in his emotions before Yondu made fun of him for being a baby too.

“Quit yer whining,” Yondu threw his walkman at him.

Peter looked at his walkman and then at Yondu, but Yondu was already walking away. He clutched his walkman to his chest.

“And next time boy you best not get caught!”

Peter came back to himself slowly, shaking off the memory and the fresh tightness in his throat. His memories always came back to haunt him at the worst times. The raptors were still staring up at him, chittering in confusion. The blue one chirping louder than the rest.

“Huh, Blue. Guess you like that, girl?”

She warbled and moved her head to stare at him. It was adorable. Her noises weren’t making words really or even thoughts for his translator, she was far too young for that probably. But she seemed to be pleased with the word blue. 

“Sure, we can name you Blue.”

She chirped again.

“Blue it is,” Peter could practically feel Yondu looking down from the stars and rolling his eyes, muttering something about him being soft. The eye roll was just to cover his internal cooing at how cute his new grand dinos were.

Peter moved his finger along to the next raptor, humming to himself as he went. This one was a teal color with a dirt-brown underbelly and lower jaw. She kind of reminded Peter of the swamp planets he’d visited. She looked like when all the sediment built in the water and was left on the shores, as the rivers cut through the terrain like veins. That classification of planets had a specific name, he vaguely remembered it from Groot’s lessons with Gamora, they were called Delta planets or something like that.

Yeah, Delta, he liked the sound of that. 

“Okay, you’re Delta.”

Delta blinked at him and tilted her head, that was good enough as acceptance for him, at least until they were old enough to talk like Elo and Rexy. Then he moved his finger to press it against the glass near the grey and green striped raptor.

Peter laughed as the one with green stripes tripped over her sisters tail in her hurry to get away from his finger.

“You’re a bit of a klutz.”

He snapped his fingers making the raptors flinch away.

“I’ve got it, Charlie, like Charlie Brown! He was a total klutz too!”

Satisfied with his choice, his finger moved to the last of the pack.  She looked a lot like Blue, except she was a grey-brown color with blue stripes around her eyes that made it look like she was wearing makeup. He paused to think, leaning back to stare at her.  The little dinosaur copied him doing the same, her back arched as she pulled her head back. She looked like a snake about to strike. Peter blinked, the little dinosaur blinked. He tapped his finger against the glass in thought, he heard a little scratch and looked down to see a set of claws running against the glass. 

“Wait, are you copying me?”

The dinosaur warbled. Peter snorted, yeah she definitely was.

“Okay, how about we call you Echo?”

Echo chirped at him, Peter grinned, the name was definitely fitting. Peter moved his finger away from the glass, not sure what to do next as the pack continued to stare at him.

They were babies, way smarter than most species’ babies, but still scaly little babies. When Groot was this age all he did was sleep, grow, and dance, he couldn’t even talk yet.  Rachel fed them some sort of red sludge earlier so they probably weren’t hungry. That left— Peter watched a contagious yawn spread through the pack, as the little dinosaurs opened their mouths showing off their tiny pointy teeth. Yup definitely sleepy. This was an area Peter was familiar with, all it took was a song and Groot was out like a light when he was younger.

“Oooohhh child, things are gonna get easier,” Peter sang softly, “Ooh-ooh child, things are gonna get brighter.”

The baby dinosaurs blinked up at him one of them began to chirp after every word he hummed out. He didn’t think their little yellow eyes were tracking yet and he couldn't be certain they actually saw him or if they were seeing blurred light and responding.  They didn’t settle down, but they did seem to be transfixed by his voice.

He really wanted to pick them up and rock them to sleep, he didn’t even register his hands removing the lid until Rachel came up behind him and tugged it back.  

“Peter what are you doing?! You can’t lift them out of the incubator yet!”

She fluttered nervously behind him as he tentatively tried to lift the lid again.

“But look, they want me,” Peter said pointing to his pack, their tiny faces and claws pressed up against the glass of their pen. Rachel stopped tugging on his arms in surprise.

The little dinosaurs cooed at him and Peter was man enough to admit that he cooed back loudly.

Peter’s back itched as he realized he had three new sets of eyes staring at him. He blinked in confusion.

“He—  uh, practices dinosaur calls,” Barry explained, lamely, giving Peter the side-eye.

Peter nodded along dumbly. Shit, he hadn’t even realized his translator was picking up, no wonder the Raptors were so transfixed on him. Thank Asgard, Barry was a pro at covering his ass.  

Hoskins laughed standing and walking towards Peter as he slurped his coffee. 

“I must admit at first I thought he was a little slow,” Hoskins said patting Peter on the back. Peter glared and shoved his hand off. “But, now I can see why you hired Grady on, Wu.”

Wu cocked his head to the side, staring at Peter like he was an unsolved puzzle, “Indeed, Mr. Masrani must have seen something in him.”

Peter rolled his eyes. These two were definitely assholes; nobody else would discuss someone like they weren’t there.  

Hoskins slapped him one more time on the back, “Catch you later Grady, maybe you can teach me how you make those noises.

Peter’s lip curled into a snarl, he wanted to shoot this guy, bad.

“Well, I’ll be headed out now. Wu, I’ll be back in a couple weeks to check on how our little experiment is progressing.”  

With that Hoskins slipped out of the room, his boots clopping down the hall.

“Good riddance,” Peter muttered under his breath and then promptly threw himself into the chair on the edge of the room. He deserved a nap.


 

A few days passed and Peter fell into an easy rhythm, spending the mornings with the pack, the afternoon with Barry, and the evenings with Cat. The raptors had been moved to a larger pen out of the incubation room on the third day, if everything was good by the end of next week they’d be moving them to the training dome. Peter still wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but he’d mostly been ignoring his unease and spending time with the pack.

Peter stomped down the stairs and into a room marked lab four. Since the move, more white-coats visited checking in on the raptors and asking Wu all kinds of questions Peter didn’t follow. He tended to ignore them and they did the same to him.

He marched over to where his girls were chewing on something meaty.

"Hey Blue, what are you doing girl?"

He whispered softly to her.

The other white coats walked out of the room leaving them alone. The lab felt like a hospital with all the personnel moving in and out, constantly checking the computer over for stats on the babies. Occasionally they would murmur something under their breath and jot it down on paper and stick it in a manila folder. Peter left them to do their thing, but he tensed up every time Wu came in to draw blood. They'd been doing it once a day for the last week and it made him nervous every time. He'd asked Wu the first time he'd done it why he felt the need to stab tiny reptiles with needles. The Asian man merely rolled his eyes.

“Everyone needs a doctor Mr. Grady and these creatures more than most. You never know what kind of genetic abnormalities will pop up in clones and after the mishap, with the Raptors in the first park I'm sure you can see why we are being extra careful this time around."

Peter grunted as Rachel’s bubbly presence walked into the room. She waved at him and Wu.

“Ah, Mr. Grady, this is Rachel Cole she’s a paleo-veterinarian specializing in large predators. She’s been hired as the Raptors primary physician and medical researcher.”

Peter smiled at Rachel.

“Yeah, we’ve met. The hatching. You sure you don’t need to get your memory checked there Doc, you were there too.”

Wu’s eyes narrowed and he sniffed, “As head of development and genetic research, I have more important things to do Mr. Grady than pay attention to every conversation my subordinates have.”

Dick, Peter thought, as Wu stepped away from the glass case housing the raptors, he didn't take his eyes of Wu until the man left the room with his blood samples. He clenched his fist until his knuckles were white. He never liked doctors, while this proximity with scientists was new he could see why Rocket would sooner explode a man that claimed to be a scientist than talk to him. Something about the man had the 'I'm an evil psychopath' written just below the surface.

He sighed and rolled his shoulders back. They cracked as he stood up from his chair for the first time in an hour.

“So Rachel what can you tell me about the little biters down there?”

Rachel lifted one of her perfectly curved eyebrows, “What do you want to know?”

Peter shrugged and drifted closer to the cage to look at his new charges,

“How fast are they gonna grow?”

“Well, I don’t have exact clearance into their genetic code, but my best guess is three weeks until they’re out of their juvenile stage and another four until they’re fully grown.”

“Is that normal? Seems a little fast.”

“I suppose,” Rachel said, checking over the numbers on the screen, “But all first batch species clones are engineered with growth genes. Helps them grow at double the rate that partnered with whatever is used to fill in the missing genetic code. Well sometimes they have explosive growth spurts, kind of like teenagers,” she smiled at her own joke, before her features dipped into a frown, “Unfortunately sometimes the mix of is volatile and fatality is normal. Last time we lost the whole nest of eggs.”

Peter shivered, thinking of the raptors delicate little bodies sleeping in the nest. How he might come in one morning and find them dead because these scientists couldn’t wait a couple years and let them grow up slow. What the hell were these people thinking?! Why would they do that? They clearly had subpar cloning and editing technology, but it was enough to reanimate species so what were they doing here? The pace, the growth acceleration that was a choice. Fuck , what was wrong with his Mother’s species?

“I wouldn’t get too attached yet, Mr. Grady.”

Peter jumped and spun to see Wu standing at the door a creepy smile painted on his face.

“So what you breed them, let them hatch and then watch them die because they weren’t what you wanted them to be? They didn’t jump when you said how high?” Peter spat at Wu, his hands twitching to where his blasters usually hung. 

“Peter calm down,” Rachel said, shooting him a nervous frown as she approached him.

“It’s a precaution after the other incidents regarding velociraptors on the island,” Wu drawled, “Increased growth ensures shorter lifespans and dependence. Really it’s a win-win for Mr. Masrani and Ingen. The park gets its newest attractions sooner and we get more time to study and learn from past mistakes for next time. They’re the first batch they can’t be expected to last forever.”

This was something Ego would do.

It hit Peter like a punch in the stomach. His thoughts froze and his blood turned to ice in his veins. Suddenly he wasn’t in the incubation room anymore. He was there, back on that planet his Father’s face smiling down at him as he looked Peter in the eye and told him he’d murdered his Mother. His bored expression as he mentioned the pile of carefully stacked bones, his siblings' bones, piled high near his core. Killed because their genes were wrong because they weren’t the next step in Ego’s imagined evolutionary chain. The images cut away all of the galaxies were suddenly spinning in his eyes. His breathing picked up.  He needed to be out of here now.

“—ter, Peter!” A voice echoed around him, he couldn’t tell where it was coming from.

Peter blinked and the starlight disappeared. He was back in the white lab room, the smell of antiseptic and hay crisp in the air.

“Peter? Peter are you alright?” Rachel’s concerned voice rolled over him, “Was it a panic attack? PTSD? Do I need to call—”

He didn’t hear the rest of her tirade. The door slammed behind him on his way out.

 


 

He spent the first day with his earbuds in stroking Cat and fiddling with the tracking beacon Rocket left him. He considered pressing it a time or two, having his real family come pick him up and take him home. This planet was just too painful, too many memories, too few distractions. That’s when he decided to get drunk. He spent all of the second day with the nice biking fellows at the bar. They didn’t ask any questions and Peter didn’t answer any. It was on the third day that Barry came to see him.

“I heard what happened,” he said, sliding into the barstool next to Peter’s.

Peter grunted.

“I understand if you do not want to talk about it.” Barry motioned for the bartender to bring them a round, “I have heard many stories about men that go to war and don’t come back whole.”

Peter snorted, that wasn’t war, he’d never been in a war. This man thought he was some War Vet like the real Owen Grady. Some kid that was probably all patriotism and good ol’ American sweetness. Yeah, that wasn’t him. He was Peter Quill, a liar, a guardian, and the son of an angel and a space pirate. He’s pretty sure the real Owen Grady didn’t have a  sperm donor that turned out to be a psychotic world killing asshole. Lucky him.

“Peter, I do not know your past, but you saved my life that night we met and I want you to know I am here for you if you need me.”

Peter looked Barry up and down, trying to spot the lie in his body language. There was nothing. The man was an honest to god cinnamon roll. Peter looked away, focusing on the amber alcohol the bartender had just set down in front of them. He grabbed his and drank it down in one gulp.

“Yeah, well I don’t know what to tell you, Barry. Except if I have to look at Wu again. I can’t guarantee I won’t murder him.”

Barry frowned at him like he was expecting Peter to laugh and tell him it was a joke. It wasn’t. If he’d had his blasters on him the other day he would have shot him. Wu reminded him too much of Ego now for him to shake the shoot on sight association.

“Noted, I will try to keep Wu away for the next couple of days. After that, we will be moving to the training facility and you should not have to see him.”

Peter nodded, rolling the empty glass in his hand. It’d been two days and he could still barely stomach the idea of setting foot in the lab.

“I think the girls are missing you,” Barry continued, “They keep looking around whenever someone enters the lab. I think they’re looking for you.”

Well wasn’t that just a stab in the heart. Barry sure knew where to hit, cute baby lizards. The man took no prisoners.

“They had their first live hunt yesterday, a mouse. You should have seen how excited they were.”

“Okay. Enough!” Peter said, slamming his glass on the bar counter, “I’ll be back in tomorrow you asshole.”

Barry’s mouth quirked up into a smile, “Good. I’m not sure where this team would be without our resident dinosaur whisperer.”

Peter shook his head in disgust and ordered another round.  

 


 

Peter came in bright and early the next day. Barry had assured him Wu wasn’t scheduled to come in. Besides the raptors reminded him too much of how helpless Groot was back in his toddler days, his parenting instincts were on overdrive. Even with his dark attitude over the past couple of days he couldn’t stop his brain from thinking about them.

When he entered the lab Blue, Charlie, Delta, and Echo were all curled into one ball of scaly limbs on the hay in their pen. They were still adorable. They had grown a lot since they'd hatched, they were nearly double their size since Peter had last seen them, but they still weren't much bigger than his forearm from nose to tail. Their chests rose and fell as they breathed, they just looked so frail and delicate. He almost couldn't believe that these creatures would grow up to be terrifying beasts like Rexy, well maybe not her size according to the books, but they'd be twice as smart and twice as fierce. He had no idea how long it would take them to get out of their infant stage. Apparently, Wu didn't know either if all the blood he was taking was any indicator.

A chirp came from the pile and he glanced down to see Blue wriggling out from under her sisters.  Peter crouched down so he was eye level with her. She blinked lazily her blue eyes opening and closing as her pupils narrowed adjusting to the light. She tentatively trotted over, until her head bumped into the glass. She reeled back, letting out a high pitched shriek of surprise. Peter chuckled.

"Hey, hey it's alright girl," Peter said, trying to soothe her before the other three dinosaurs awoke.

She settled down letting out a series of low clicks.

"Yeah, don't worry it's just see-through wall," Peter explained, reaching over to tap lightly on the glass.

Blue cocked her head in surprise and stepped back before her curiosity got the better of her and she wandered closer again.

Momma?

Peter froze.

Momma?

Peter didn't know what to say. He certainly wasn't their mother. Hell, he didn't know the first thing about mothering. He couldn't say if he was more surprised by the fact that at less than a week old the animals were smart enough for his translator to be picking meaning out of their words or the fact that the little creature had associated him with a parent.

Blue's clicking increased in speed and her chest moved up and down rapidly.

Momma Mommamomma came out in quick succession.

Crap she was panicking.

"Hey, hey," Peter tried to soothe.

This did nothing and one of the monitors in the room started beeping frantically. Rachel dove back into the room, rushing over to read the computers.

"What happened?"  she demanded.

"Nothing. She ran into the glass and started freaking out."

"This isn't good," She murmured, "Her heart rate is 80! It's not good for her organs to have that kind of strain right now. I'm going to have to give her a sedative."  

The doctor pulled a drawer out and came up with a syringe filled with clear liquid. Rachel pulled the plastic covering off, lifted the syringe up and tapped her finger against the glass. She pressed slightly against the plunger and a small portion of the liquid squirted out,

"Grady, help me get a hold on her."

"Uh- can't we just—" Peter started as Rachel rushed past him in a storm of curls, flipping the lid of the pen off as she went.

"We don't have time!"  

Peter swallowed, hard.

"Here just let me try one thing!"

Peter stepped past her and crouched back down to look at Blue. 

"Don't worry pretty girl,"

Blue blinked back rapidly, then let out a distressed high-pitched whine.

Why wasn't it working?

"Either help me Grady or get out of my way!" Rachel snarled as she reached down for the frightened Blue. Blue evaded her hand like the plague, darting around it while screeching out at Peter. Her eyes imploring him to help her. The rest of the pack awoke to the noise in a flurry of motion. Scampering in every direction to avoid Rachel’s hand.

He kept his eye contact with Blue. She was just a baby she didn't need whatever was in that syringe in her body. Not when her own genetics were working against her enough as it was.  

" Momma "

Peter blurted out. The whole pack froze and turned to look at him. Blue met his eyes a low warble rumbling in her throat. She chirped something to the others and then ran to the other side of the pen away from Rachel’s hand.  

"What—?" Rachel asked surprised, glancing at the monitor, "Her heart rates going down. What did you do Grady? Was that—  have you been practicing raptor calls?"

Peter didn't hesitate or break his eye contact with Blue.  

" Yup ."

"That was- that was very fast. You must have quite an ear-"

Rachel lowered the syringe letting out a sigh. Peter ignored her in favor of looking after his pack.

Momma Blue tired again.

Momma the rest of the pack echoed.

Momma Peter said firmly. 

It must be her development she couldn't understand complex grammar. He needed to keep it simple for her. Cat barely got emotions off of his translator, Blue was even younger and she might be a genius dinosaur someday, but now it seems there was a limit to how much she could actually understand.

He was glad Rocket and Drax weren’t here. He’s not sure he could live down them calling him Mom at every available opportunity.

 

Chapter Text

Two days later Peter showed up at Paradise Lost on foot. It was three o'clock Terran time and the bar wasn't opened yet. The motorcycle gang lounged outside the bar, perched atop their bikes. He was drooling as he checked out their various bikes. Some had shiny chrome from their handlebars to their fenders. Some were sleek looking beasts with narrow frames and high windshields. Others were some weird customized monsters of bright colors and intricate detail work.

Peter let out a whistle.

"Pretty aren't they?" A man with flyaway white hair and a grizzled beard asked.

Peter nodded.

"So, what's a guy gotta do to get a bike like that around here?"

The man gave him an appraising once-over before he slid his leg off his bike and stood up.

"You're in the market for a bike?"

Peter nodded again.

"Good because I've been looking to offload mine before I get back to the mainland."

Peter blinked. Ok, that wasn't exactly where he thought this conversation was going. The man rubbed the back of his neck.

"My daughter keeps telling me motorcycles aren't acceptable in the Pittsburgh suburbs."

"Well lucky you found me then," Peter couldn’t keep the hint of glee out of his voice. He could smell a deal coming.  

"Now hold on a moment son, I can't go giving my Lucy to anyone. Especially not some little upstart who hasn't even introduced himself yet."

The rest of the bikers sat on their rides watching the scene like it was some damn Shakespeare performance.

"Names, Grady, Owen Grady. I go by Peter though."

He stuck out his hand. The other man latched onto it with a crushing handshake.

"Name's Dennis. Now some of my boys came crying to me earlier this week. Something about needing a bike. Now just cuz you came highly recommended don't mean shit. If you want this bike you're gonna have to prove yourself to me."

"Prove myself?" Peter asked cocking his head to the side and giving Dennis an appraising look.

Despite being an elderly man, Peter couldn't help but feel a wave of intimidation wash over him. It prickled the back of his neck and made him want to hunch down and look at his boots. Something in his tone reminded him of the Ravager deck officers. Dennis had experience and if nothing else you had to respect that.

"Yeah, I may be retiring and shipping out to the mainland later this month. But Lucy here," He tapped the metallic body of the motorcycle,

"She's my legacy and I won't part with her for just anyone."

Peter eyed the back. It was a lovely black and green frame. The design was simple, clean cut, mid-height handlebars, an older style single headlight rested front and center, and a short windshield rose just high enough to protect the rider. The seat was well worn, and clearly well-loved leather. All and all the bike was a beauty, not as pretty as the Milano, but out of everything he'd seen on Terra since he'd returned this was the only vehicle he'd thought might give his ship a run for her money.

“What do I have to do?”

Dennis flashed a toothy grin at one of the other bikers.

“I’m glad you asked son.”

Peter gulped.


 

The bikers blindfolded Peter and drove him up a mountain to a winding patch of empty road. At the top, they tugged his blindfold off and he found himself staring down one of the shoddiest piece of equipment he’d ever seen in his life. It was a ramshackle ‘bike’ with two weather-worn tires, an exposed engine, and more rust than Peter cared to think about. It looked like it was held together by a wire and a couple of strings of twine. In theory the thing could move, in reality he wasn’t too sure.

“If you want a bike son, first you gotta show us you’ve got the guts to ride!” Dennis said as he clapped him on the back,

“All you gotta do if you want Lucy is hit 90 mph before you reach the bottom of the mountain. The gang’ll be sitting around various places watching you for when you do open ‘er up.”

Peter groaned. This was such a bad idea, Gamora was going to kill him if this is how he died.

Dennis gave him a cheeky grin and a clap on the back, “Well, welcome to the jungle brother, hope you enjoy the ride.” With that last look, he kick-started his own bike and headed down the mountain, leaving Peter alone with the bucket of bolts.

Peter stepped closer to the scrap heap, running his hand over what might have at one point in time been the ignition. He turned the key and with a terrible dying wheeze, the bike sputtered to life.

This was such a bad idea, but when had that ever stopped him before?

Never that’s when. He’d always had a bit of a stupid streak when it came to plans, but he was so glad his team wasn’t there to see it reach new heights.

Peter took one last long hard look at the bike before he stepped closer and swung his leg over the rusty frame.  He slid onto the duck-taped covered seat, his hands finding the worn grips of the handlebars. The bike creaked in protest but remained in one piece.

Peter slowly lifted his hand behind his ear and activated his helmet. If he was going to die at least he’d do it with style.  With that final thought, he revved the engine and knocked the kickstand back.


 

Riding was a rush; insects pinged across the windshield and splattered onto his mask. The noise of the jungle faded into the background next to the unholy howling of the motorcycle. Peter tried to take the first few corners slowly, but the bike only seemed to have one speed, deadly.

The wind tore at his clothing as the mountain road continued to drop into a harsh ninety-degree decline. The first time the front tire wobbled Peter thought he hit something, then the road dropped out from under him and he realized that he was in open air. His stomach tried to crawl its way up his throat and his heart nearly stopped as the bike clanked back down onto the asphalt.

Holy shit! Peter thought as he leaned to the right, a whoosh of air swept past him as he took a corner. This was even better than he imagined. If he made it down this mountain alive he needed to get one of these for Rocket. The raccoon would shit a brick for a chance to ride something this dangerous.

He didn’t dare take his eyes off the road for anything, not even for a quick glance at the speedometer.

Soon enough the jungle was receding, and the road flattened out. Peter noticed the bike slowing down slightly. In front of him, he could make out the distant figures of the other bikers parked alongside the road. He eased off the throttle and pressed into the questionable brakes. The bike rolled into a stop, smoke pouring out of the remaining engine. A sound like a gunshot echoed across the jungle and the engine dropped out of the rusty frame of the motorcycle with a crash.

Peter jolted as he stepped off what remained of the bike, waving his hand to clear the smoke away from him. Honestly, he’d known the bike was a piece of crap but to think that he’d literally been on the bike’s last ride was a bit unnerving. When the smoke cleared enough for him to breathe regularly he reached up and deactivated his helmet. The smell of burning rubber hit his nose and it crinkled.

“So, did I make it?” Peter asked turning to the bikers.

The bikers stared at Peter and Peter stared back. No one said anything over the crackles of the smoldering bike frame.

A low impressed whistle came from Dennis followed by a slow clap, “Well shit kid, I didn’t expect you to do it. Let alone put my own speed record to shame on the first try!”

“So, I made it?”

“Kid you did more than make it. You broke 130 mph on a road I wouldn’t even go 100 on. You’re one crazy S. O. B. Grady.” Dennis clapped him on the back and slid a pair of keys into his hand, “Take good care of Lucy for me.”

Peter couldn’t keep the grin off his face as he rode into work the next morning on a gleaming green motorcycle.


 

The lab was as quiet as ever as Peter stepped in for the late-night shift. His raptors immediately scented the air and perked up from inside their corner pen. The pack was growing at an astounding speed, they’d more than tripled in size and were almost up to knees now. They’d outgrown their incubator a week and a half ago. Barry and Rachel had been discussing moving them to the training arena and Peter was all for it. The further they were from Wu all the better in his opinion, but for now, they’d been moved into a pen that took up about a quarter of the room.

If all went well by the end of the next week they’d be in a bigger space, well a relatively bigger space. Until then Peter was letting them roam about the lab when he was on babysitting duty by himself.

What could he say he was a sucker for baby dino eyes?

“Hey, how are my favorite gals doing?” He cooed as he stepped over to their pen and swung the gate open.

He was greeted with a series of high-pitched chirps of Momma! As the four raptors mobbed him, jumping up on his legs and their sharp claws digging into the fabric of his pants.

“Hey! Hey!” Peter yelped as he tripped backward on the dinosaurs underfoot, “I just got here!”  He was immediately swarmed with their tiny bodies crawling over him to get closer to his warmth.

“Missed Momma!” Charlie chirped, her green striped tail lashing out playfully as she nuzzled under his chin. Echo came up behind her and took a quick nip as she pushed her to the side. Charlie squeaked and slid onto the floor in an uncoordinated mess of limbs. Her tail twitched next to her snout as she fumbled to turn back over. Charlie still was more than a little clumsy despite her growth, that mixed with her natural curiosity had led to her getting stuck behind filing cabinets not just once but multiple times.

“Okay, okay. That’s enough now you guys. Echo don’t pick on your sister.”

Peter helped Charlie roll over and get back on her feet. Then he picked Echo up to stare sternly into her eyes. The little reptile lowered her head and let out an assenting chirp.

“Good girl.”

“Play Momma?” Charlie asked tentatively from her place on the floor. Peter grinned and set down Echo.

The girls’ language was steadily improving, it was still only at about a toddler’s level but considering they’d been born less than four weeks ago it was remarkable by any standard.

Blue stood off to the side watching all her sisters’ antics with her head cocked to the side. Blue was… well, she was a little different than the rest of the pack. She was quieter and more cautious than her sisters. She liked to look before she leaped, but man, when she was ready, was she wicked clever. Peter hadn’t fully sealed their pen once and Blue had the gate opened before he even left the room.

Delta though was the usual suspect and, as always, she was up to trouble. She was crouched low to the floor, her tail twitching behind her as she tried to stay balanced, that was her typical pouncing stance.  For some reason, Delta had developed a fascination with his laces. He’d walked in with them untied one day and since then she wouldn’t leave them alone. She had a bad habit of trying to jump on his boot in an attempt to get at the laces on his boots.

He had nightmares just thinking about what she’d do if she saw him without his shoes on. The suckers had sharp little baby claws.

“Okay Charlie, what do you want to play?” Peter asked crouching down next to her.

“Sniffy sing!” She warbled at him excitedly. Peter snorted off course that’s what she wanted to play. Charlie always picked the same thing. At this point, the question was more of a formality than anything else.

When the girls were just starting to move around more frequently he’d created a handful of games for them to play based on his own memories of his childhood: hide ’n’ seek, tag, etc. The names though hadn’t stuck very well. Instead, the pack each had their own names for various games. Peekaboo became jumpy scare, tag, prey, and somehow sardines had become sniffy sing. Now that he thought about it that one was probably been on him. Mostly because despite being decent at tracking now, a few weeks ago they’d been abysmal. Peter had hidden on top of one of the counters in the room and the girls had absolutely freaked when they couldn’t find him. Since then whenever he hid, he made sure to burst into song periodically just to reassure the girls he was still nearby.

Echo cocked her head in interest, “I goes first.” She decided, puffing her chest out to make herself appear bigger.

“No, I!” Charlie knocked her head against her sister’s shoulder. Then the two raptors were squabbling again. The broke out into a series of high-pitched growls before they were tussling on the floor.

Peter sighed. Thank Asgard Groot was an only child. He let it continue for a few minutes longer hoping the two youngsters of the pack would sort it out themselves. It quickly became obvious neither side was giving an inch when Charlie tried to bite Echo’s tail. Peter decided he probably needed to step in.

“Okay, that’s enough you SHIT!”

Peter felt a stabbing pain radiating from his leg. Alarmed, he looked down to see Delta with her teeth sunk into his calf a loose shoestring caught in her mouth.

“Delta!” Peter hissed. That really fucking hurt! The little shit’s teeth were damn sharp. He let out an impressive litany of swears as he reached down to yank the reptile off him.

Before he got that far though Blue was there. She rushed in and nipped at Delta, shouldering her off and away from Peter as she hissed. Her tail lashed angrily behind her. Blue planted herself firmly between Peter and Delta. Echo and Charlie watched frozen in place as they waited for the outcome.

Peter reached down and pulled his pant leg up to get a better look at his calf. The injury was a four-inch oval of puncture wounds. Each one of Delta’s serrated teeth left its mark, thankfully it wasn’t bleeding too heavily, and she hadn’t torn a chunk out of his leg. He grimaced that would have been less than ideal.

At least this happened when he was on babysitting duty, who knows what would have happened if they hurt one of the humans around here. Nothing good he was sure. Hell, if the lab procedures he’d seen were normal they’d probably be put down. Peter shivered, yeah that wasn’t happening on his watch.

Sighing he rolled his pant leg back down. He’d find a medkit patch himself up and then deal with the riled-up babies.  There was a tang of iron in the air from the blood and he could tell by the way the pack’s nostrils twitched they were picking it up too. They rocked side to side, and Blue was growling louder now.

“It’s fine everyone. I’m fine.” Peter said, trying to dispel the tension.

“Momma?” Delta warbled in confusion her head drooping.

“Come here Delta.” Delta started to step forward only for Blue to snap at her neck. She startled backwards at the aggression and then whined.

“Blue let her through.” He ordered. Blue cocked her head at him as if she didn’t understand why, before she skittered next to his uninjured leg still growling at Delta.

Delta cautiously crept forward her tan underbelly low to the ground. She stopped just in front of Peter, her head was lowered, and she wasn’t meeting his eyes.

“Do you know what you did wrong?” Peter asked, gently. He’d learned in all his time of raising Groot that yelling really didn’t get the point across.

“Hurt Momma.” Delta murmured, her clicking voice was almost unrecognizable in the translator. She twitched her nose towards his injured leg.

“That’s right. What have I told you about the shoelaces?”

“Not bad.”

“That’s right they aren’t hurting you and you should leave them alone. But more importantly, you can’t bite people.”

Peter reached out and grasped Delta by the back of her neck, pulling her towards him so he can meet her tiny grey eyes.

“Annoy me though Momma. The prey keeps moving!” Delta growled.

Peter sighed, so it was an instinct thing. He had no idea what to do with that, even in space it was well known you couldn’t overwrite instinct the best you could do was avoid triggers. He made a note to remove his shoelaces later. They were little predators, after all, Peter mused, they were going to be real trouble when they got to full size, especially if they’re maturity didn’t grow as fast as their bodies.

“I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, Del. It was an accident and I forgive you. But what if you hurt someone else like Uncle Barry. They might hurt you in return.”

The girls didn’t really remember much of the other staff, except him and Barry. They recognized their scents, Peter had asked them about that one, but they didn’t pay them much attention. They didn’t like Rachel, with all the shots she gave them Peter didn’t blame them. After him, Barry seemed to be the one they had the most interest in.

“I bite Uncle Barry again then!” Delta said in defiance.

Peter groaned. Why was parenting so hard?

“That’s not what I Look no biting anything that isn’t food.” Peter flicked her nose for emphasis, “Not even if they’re annoying. That goes for all of you.” He looked around at the rest of the pack.

Charlie and Echo had crept closer when and were watching the interaction with interest.

“I want to hear it from all of you. There are bad people close by and if you bite them I might not be able to protect you.” Peter explained. The pack stared at him with blank eyes. Great, this discussion was over their heads. “I’m the Momma so that means that I get to bite them, okay?”

“Ok, you bite,” Delta said dipping her head in agreement. Her chirp of affirmation was echoed by her sisters.

Blue was last she stayed characteristically quiet. She cocked her head to the left and asked, “What if Momma not here? Then I bite them.” She said her chest puffing out as she tried to look bigger.

Peter groaned internally. He could tell that he’d probably be having this conversation with them a lot in the future.

“Blue, trust me if the bad guys come for you I’ll be here. Remember the song?”

Charlie enthusiastically perked up, her foot tapped against the floor as she sang, her words came across with a slight lisp, “Just call my name I'll be there in a hurry. You don't have to worry.”

Peter smiled, “That’s right. So, if I’m not there your job is to take care of your sisters. You’re the oldest after all Blue and big sisters look after the younger ones.”

Blue nods at him once.

“Let me fix my leg up and then who's ready for a game of sniffy sing?”