A world of scent and sensation opened up the moment the little one spilled from her egg, the comfortable home that she’d had for time immemorial. Instinct told her to cry out. Let the caretaker – Mother if she’d been human – know that she was here, that she was alive. She was hatched.
Blurry eyes just getting used to the light took in the sight of a large thing coming for her. A moment of fear swept the creature, but her vision cleared enough to see one face filling the world. A warm, meaty scent filled her tiny nostrils, and though she felt a moment of hunger, she could not associate this scent with food. The face, the scent, it was caretaker – it was Mother.
Sound cut through the loudness, the whoosh of machines and other voices that would never matter again. A voice that was pleasant, soothing to baby ears. Caretaker was crooning to her. “It’s alright, pretty baby. I gotcha.”
Another voice intruded. The timbre was different, maybe a bit deeper, but without the hint of gravel Caretaker’s had. “What are you going to name her?”
Sensation burst over her. Caretaker was stroking her side, starting at her head and working all the way down to the tip of her tail. Caretaker picked her up, gently cradling her body in his large hands. She loved the contact. It grounded her, soothed her in a world that was too bright, too new, too scary. “Look at this stripe. I think I’ll call her Blue.”
“I’ll put that in the records then. First hatchling of the brood is to be named Blue.”
The first night in the small paddock was the scariest. She wasn’t alone, but the hatchling’s siblings were acting strange. They weren’t active like Blue, hopping and popping everywhere. She was ready to chase insects, munching as she went, but the others were lethargic. The one known as Periwinkle had already died.
Blue nudged at her second eldest sibling, Azure, but the baby merely groaned. She was the next to die. By the time midnight rolled over Isla Nublar, Blue was all alone in her paddock. She began to cry.
Caretaker! Caretaker! Why aren’t you here?
After what seemed like forever to the baby, he came. He was gigantic, but he came for her all the same. “Dammit,” he muttered. “Her entire clutch died.”
The other one came too. The black and white one. “It would seem that the particular mix of genes we used was not optimal. We’ll have to experiment with a more viable mix.”
“How long? Raptors are social animals. She’s going to need a pack.”
“It will take at least two months to create a new clutch. It would be shorter if we used the same mix, but that probably won’t yield another live specimen.”
Caretaker sighed, picking her up as he did. “Guess until then, she stays with me.”
“Mr. Grady –“
The black and white one looked irritated. “Owen, you can’t think to keep this animal with you.”
“Blue is a social animal,” Caretaker said, his voice hard. “She needs someone with her if she’s going to grow up well adjusted. Isolating her will only make her vicious and prone to sociopathic behavior. You want to know why the raptors from the original park were such a damn mess? Because they didn’t have parents showing them how to be anything but killing machines. Masrani and the Navy wants to see if we can train raptors, right? Well the first step is making sure the animals have model behavior to work off of. I may not be a Velociraptor, but I can at least make sure that she at least has some socialization.”
The other one was silent for a moment, but finally moved out of Caretaker’s way. “Fine. But I will have to inform Mr. Masrani of this.”
“Do it.” Caretaker walked out of the paddock and strode over to a strange thing. It wasn’t like the other noisy things that rode around the paddock, but Blue found herself bundled up in Caretaker’s lap as he threw a leg over the thing.
“Mr. Grady? Owen?”
“Yeah Dr. Wu?”
“How do you know so much about animal behavior? I was under the impression that you were a former SEAL.”
“Dr. Wu, I have degrees in Zoology and Animal Behavior. As a SEAL I was part of their experiments in training dolphins to help the teams. Plus a few other things that are still classified. If I had not already decided to retire I would be here with a rank attached to my name. As it is, Mr. Masrani wouldn’t have gone near me if I had, but the Navy would’ve hoped. If that little question was to ask whether or not I’m qualified to handle these animals, then here is my answer: hell yes I am.” With that, Caretaker cranked the thing up and whizzed off.
Blue had not understood a thing about the conversation that had happened above her head, but this she understood. Speed. Wind in her face, scents washing over her like water. She stuck her head out of the jacket she was wrapped in, neck straight and eyes forward. Caretaker looked down, and he made a sound that she had never heard before, but liked.
“That’s it Baby Blue! Feel the wind on your face.”
They rode for a little while, and Blue enjoyed every minute of it. When they arrived at the new place, Caretaker parked the thing in front of a structure that Blue thought looked like the hatching place. Caretaker took her inside, and let her down. He gave her a few minutes to explore, before he went into one room and sat down. “Come here, Blue.”
It took a few tries, but finally she responded how Caretaker wanted and jumped up onto the soft thing. He laid down, and she followed suit, plopping down with her feet folded beneath her body and her head straight out. Her little arms were flailed out. Caretaker made the pleasant sound in his throat again, and then they were both asleep.
The hatchling learned quickly that her name was Blue. Caretaker worked with her daily, giving her treats of shredded meat, saying the word over and over as he fed her. After a week, he would call her from one end of her small paddock to the other, calling her name. He brought her back to the paddock every day, but at night would bring her back home to spend the night with him.
Once she had her name down, Blue began playing games with Caretaker. He’d hide things in the paddock, and she’d find them. He discouraged her from play fighting with him, but he liked when she wanted to play fetch.
She also learned quickly that Caretaker’s name was Owen. She even began to call his name: long honk, short honk. Her honks were higher pitched than she would have liked, but she was tiny. In time she would grow big and strong. In time her honks were be lower and strike fear into her prey. But for now she was still a baby, and her honks were more like shrieks. In time, he seemed to recognize that she was calling his name.
Owen looked from the napping raptor to his partner, Barry. “That is damn interesting.”
Barry blinked in confusion. “What is?”
He nodded to her. “I could swear she’s developed a name sound for me.”
The black man nodded. “You mean the ouuuuuht-ouht sound?” he said, trying his best to mimic the loud raptor honk.
“Yeah. I mean, we may need to go back over the recordings, but I swear she never makes that particular sound unless she’s trying to get my attention, or even greeting me. She does it in the morning to wake me up.” Owen narrowed his eyes. “But let’s not put that in the report.”
“Why not?” Barry replied, confusion written on his face.
“Hoskins.” That was the only answer Barry needed.
“We will not speak of it.”
Blue examined the three new playmates that Owen had brought. “Blue,” he said, “Meet Charlie, Delta, and Echo.”
Blue walked over to the smaller raptors. She recognized them as being like her, right down to their similar scents. They were like her ill-fated sisters. She sniffed the smaller ones cautiously, and they were equally cautious as well. After a few moments, Blue had decided that they were sisters now. She nipped them all once to remind them who was the boss, and then looked to Owen.
Owen gave her a pleased look. Recently he had introduced a clicker to their play time, so he clicked once and said, “Good girl, Blue.” She opened her mouth and munched on the piece of meat he tossed her.
Charlie shrieked and opened her mouth. Delta and Echo followed suit, and Owen only fed them after he clearly said their names. “Now, my lovely ladies, let’s play!”
That night was the first time in her life that Blue had not slept next to Owen, but she didn’t despair. In the paddock she was surrounded by her three new sisters, and that kept the worst of her loneliness at bay. But there was still a small part of her animal soul that missed Owen’s scent.
Years passed. Blue, Charlie, Delta, and Echo grew and grew. They went from rangy hatchlings to fine young raptors, but they soon began to chafe under Owen. When they reached waist height to him, he stopped coming into the paddock. He’d trained them to go into stalls, and it was only with muzzles on that he would pet them. He was still Alpha, Caretaker, everything, but Blue disliked the distance put between them.
She missed being able to butt heads, and hop around him when happy, and how she had loved riding the thing of his! He was Alpha? Why was he not in with them? He cared for them, treated them well, fed them, spoke to them. They would never hurt their Alpha.
They had even begun to except the dark one as well. He was more hesitant than Owen, but the one called Barry treated them with the same care as their Alpha. He was less preferred because he had no place in the pack, but he was tolerated just the same. None of their other handlers were given this level of trust. Most of them smelled like the little pink foods that sometimes ran through the paddock.
As they were trained, the raptor pack also began to learn some words. They could recognize “follow,” “yes,” “no,” “up,” “go,” “good,” and their names among others. They even knew which one of them was which and had assigned appropriate name sounds. Charlie was long shriek-long honk, Delta was short shriek-long honk, Echo was short honk-short honk, Blue was a really long honk, and Owen was long honk-short honk. They had no one to guide them on communication, so they developed their own raptor-tongue, patterning it somewhat off of Owen’s Alpha speak. They couldn’t imitate his sounds fully, which was one more reason that they began to chafe under his tutelage from afar, but they could imitate the patterns of the words themselves.
They also began to recognize that Owen was fundamentally different than they. He smelled different, made different sounds, and looked different. However, recognizing these things did nothing to dampen their allegiance to him. He was Alpha, and that was that.
It all came to a head one fateful day. One of the wranglers fell into the paddock, and Owen finally, finally came in. Blue was about to pounce when Owen got between her and food. Why was he getting between her and food?
Then she scented fear. Fear. From her Alpha.
Why was he afraid? She hissed at him, angry. Angry that he would not touch her like he used to, angry that he would not play like he used to, angry that her Alpha, her father, did not trust her.
“Easy, Blue.” He addressed the others in turn, but Blue didn’t pay attention. As the food slithered out of the cage, Owen met her eyes one last time. She hissed at him, still enraged at the very un-Alpha behavior. The last time she’d indulged in un-Beta behavior Echo had challenged her for dominance.
Then he leaped from the cage, instincts kicking into overdrive as Blue and her sisters went after fleeing prey. For Owen had labeled himself as such by running. The others left, but Blue’s eyes tracked Owen. He spoke with the handler, and didn’t look back after fully leaving the paddock. The whistle blew that told the raptors to go into their stalls, and then into the muzzles. Blue disliked the muzzle on good days, but today she was enraged. She balked, fought a bit, but finally got into the rig. When Owen came in, he was followed by a new meat bag.
Predatory instincts already simmering because of the first encounter with a new handler today flared even brighter when she scented this new threat. And a threat he was. Owen was tense, and even though she was angry with him, she could tell that he disliked this new handler. She growled at him, but Owen petted her, stroked her head and neck. Blue quieted, and some of her anger subsided. He no longer stank of fear, and she felt some of her former equilibrium returning.
Owen sighed. “I’ve got to leave you girl.” His mouth moved into the curved shape he often got around them. He scratched the spot right over her eye, the spot none of them could ever reach, and she purred with pleasure. “I wish you were as tame as Hoskins thinks,” he whispered to her. “I still remember you riding the bike with me, your head in the wind, shrieking like a kid laughing. You’re still my Baby Blue.”
The soft words further soothed Blue. She couldn’t open her mouth in the muzzle, but she did the best she could. A muffled oooooht-ooht came from her throat, and he smiled at her again.
That night was full of activity. Blue was agitated, all of them were, and they were near to breaking when strange things were being hooked to their heads. Blue didn’t like the thing, didn’t like having something else attached to her. Owen came around, and he quieted each of them, speaking to them softly. “It’s okay, Baby Blue,” he whispered, “We’re going to get the real monster. Okay?”
After that, they were loaded into their outer stalls. They only ever went there when their usual stalls were being cleaned, but all four were brought to the outside front when they caught a new scent. It dawned on Blue that they were going to play the find the scent game! Alpha was playing again! And they were going to go outside. The pack had never been outside, not together. Blue heard the familiar rumble of Owen’s thing, and anticipation zoomed through her system.
The moment the stall opened, she was out, running with the wind in her face, scents washing over her like rain. For the first time in her life she could run flat out, full speed, her legs pumping and lungs filling with fragrant jungle air. She followed the scent, but realized that the sound of Owen’s thing was following them, then pacing them. She glanced over at him, and gave him her impression of his curling-mouth-expression.
For a few moments, Blue’s life was perfect. She was free, and her Alpha/Father was running with her. She shrieked in pure joy. They were hunting together, and if there was anything this creature could have dreamed for, it was this moment. Her family. Together. Her sisters shrieked back to her, joy, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Owen grin.
Too bad the perfection wouldn’t last.
They chased the scent to its hiding place, and Blue knew a moment of apprehension. The thing that sort of smelled like her was in there, and she didn’t know how it would react. The new creature lumbered out of the vines and trees, and Blue called to it.
The creature cocked its head and sent a subvocal reply.
She sent her own subvocal reply. You like us?
A grunt, and then a head shake. Yes. A show of teeth and roll of eye towards the handlers behind them. Food?
The pack turned back to the handlers and Owen. It was that moment that the strange handlers in black began to fire. The raptors scattered, and Blue shrieked in protest. Kill the ones who hurt!
And the hunt began.
Sweet flesh that tasted like the pink food.
Owen riding down the path towards the noisy place.
Stalking up the strange row, heading towards the pyramid.
Blue stared down Owen, her Alpha looking her in the eye without fear. She growled, displeased with his behavior, but not ready to attack yet. His blue eyes stared into hers, and slowly his hand approached her face. His fingers ghosted along her jaw line, and he clicked off the thing that still stubbornly clung to her head.
He was touching her without the muzzle.
Blue’s anger and frustration fell away. She had always loved him. He was her Alpha, her caretaker, her father. He was pack.
Rumbling steps echoed through her bones, and Blue turned towards the new thing. It stopped before them, and the stink of fear ramped back up. She scented Owen’s fear, and her anger came back, but this time at the thing before her.
Grrrrrrowwr, means “fuck you” in dinosaur.
Then everything went black. Blue was out for a few minutes, but when she came to, it was to the sound of handler screaming. She scented death too – the death of her sisters. Burnt flesh singed her nostrils and one of the first things she saw was Echo’s mangled body. She checked the need to shriek and instead zeroed in on the battle before her. The new thing was fighting with another large sharp-toothed thing. It smelled kind of like the new thing, but it wasn’t.
It was also losing.
Her next move was suicidal, but Blue did it anyway. She ran full out, charging the white creature. She jumped on it, biting and clawing until the other big thing got back up and rejoined the battle. Blue and Rexie fought hard, pushing the Indominus to the Mosasaur pool. When the other creature was finally dead, Blue and Rexie shared a look of respect.
Then, Blue turned to Owen. He nodded to her, and Blue knew that he was setting her free. She turned and ran down the street to look for Charlie, the only one that was not accounted for.
Owen watched Blue running off, and whispered to himself, “Bye Baby Blue.”
“Baby Blue?” Gray asked, looking up from under his brother’s arm.
Owen smiled sadly. “I raised her from a hatchling. The rest of her clutch had died, so I even took her back to my bungalow. She’s always been my baby girl.”
Claire leaned into him, and gave him a smile. “She’ll be okay. She’s meant for this. She was always meant for this.”
He smiled, but his eyes were still searching the area around the pyramid.
Months pass. The public raises an out cry – resurrect Jurassic World.
Legal suits are filed, won and lost, and Masrani keeps its park with strings attached.
A raptor expert gets in touch with Owen, sending him a very special package.
Owen, Barry, and Claire lead a team to retake the island.
Blue stuck near the place that smelled the most like Owen. Charlie had been nowhere to be found, and she knew deep down that her last sister had to have died. She was still mourning, only just barely surviving.
Until the day she heard it.
Her head whipped up, and she jumped to her feet from complete repose. Sisters? She gave the calls for all of her sisters, but the only reply was her name sound over and over. Then she gave one last call. Ooooooooht-ooht.
Delight went zinging through her, and Blue ran to her Alpha. He stood just outside the tree line, him, and Barry, and the white female, and she didn’t care because he was pack! Wonderful, wonderful pack!
Claire and Barry tensed, but Owen knew that his grin had to be splitting his face. Blue was running full out, but her training took over at the last moment so that she didn’t bowl him over. Instead, she jumped around the three humans like a hatchling. Happy chirps and honks greeted their ears.
Owen reached out and said, “Steady girl. Calm.”
Blue calmed, and he patted the side of her neck. She was almost vibrating in joy. “Good girl.”
She butted him, and then turned to Barry and Claire. In his joy, Owen had forgotten the one thing someone who works with dangerous animals never should: that this was a wild animal. He tensed, ready to make the move he would hate, but would be necessary to protect his friend and the woman he –
Oh, the hell with it, I’ve loved Claire since she shot the Dimorphodon.
Blue snuffled Claire’s hair, and then nudged her gently. Claire tentatively stroked Blue’s snout, and Blue even nuzzled Claire’s hand looking for more attention. The redhead looked to him with confusion in her eyes, but Barry’s were twinkling. “She must smell Owen on you.”
A tentative smile touched Claire’s face, and she said, “Well, does that make me pack?”
Blue chirped in apparent agreement. Then, she licked Claire’s cheek. The woman’s look went a bit sour, but a small smile held on to her face after a moment. Barry and Owen were chuckling, but Owen was nice enough to point out, “She only ever did that with her sisters.”
“She must have been so lonely,” Claire said. She turned to Blue and began to scratch above her eye. The raptor purred in delight. “Weren’t you girl?”
“She’s a pack animal,” Barry pointed out.
“And for right now,” Owen added, “We’re pack.”
Blue wasn’t so enamored of the sleeping arrangements that night. She was back in her comfy paddock, but Owen and his mate were not with her. They’d spent a good portion of the day with her, but now that it was time to sleep, they’d left the paddock. She keened in protest, and a fear began to rise that they wouldn’t return.
A short time later, Owen appeared in the cage that separated her paddock from the outside. “Blue.”
She approached and keened again. Owen’s mate also appeared, and gave Blue a smile. “It’s okay, Blue. We’re not leaving you.”
The two handlers spent a moment soothing her nerves, and Blue felt herself being lulled into a sense of security, but they were still on the other side of the cage. She wanted them in here! With her!
“How long do you think it would take the lab to make a new batch of sisters for her?” Owen asked quietly.
“Well, according to the public the real problem was the pterosaur attack,” Claire confided softly. “In order for us to continue operations at the park we are to destroy all of the pterosaurs and never engineer them again. In addition, Masrani and Jurassic World admitted to the root cause of the conflict, and we’ve also been barred from creating dangerous hybrids. They’ll still allow for terrestrial predators such as the raptors and T. Rex, but we also have to fully document and report to the Costa Rican government all of our safety precautions.”
Owen whistled, and Blue’s head cocked. She nuzzled his arm through the gap in the cage wires, and he finally stuck his hand through and began to pet her. He kept his eyes on her as he replied to his mate. “I can’t imagine anyone would want to come back.”
“Don’t underestimate the lure of dinosaurs,” Claire said as she joined Owen in petting Blue. The raptor was in heaven as she continued to listen to the conversation around her. “Our lawyers didn’t have to do a lot of work. There are still little kids out there who want to come see the dinosaurs and adults who couldn’t stand the thought of these animals not surviving because of what amounts to a tragic accident. How do you think we got off the ground the first time? And to answer your original question, we already have viable eggs on the way.”
Blue almost startled at Owen’s whoop, but she realized after a moment that it was a sound of happiness. His eyes were sparkling as they met hers again. “Hear that girl?! Your sisters are on the way!”
One of the words she recognized was “sisters.” She hopped in joy, chirping and honking at the thought. Sisters! Pack! Hunting pack, not handler pack! She ran a circuit around her paddock, and then returned to the cage. Long honk-short honk. Owen! Short honk-long honk-short honk. Claire! Shrieking howl. I’m so happy!
She was even happier when Owen and Claire bedded down on the other side of the cage door. It wasn’t perfect, but it still comforted her to have them within scent distance. She plopped down on own side of the cage bars, and they on the other. Before she drifted off she heard Owen say, “Now ain’t this the life? I’ve got both my girls on either side of me.”
“I’m going to take the comparison to a raptor as a compliment.”
“You should, honey. I like raptors better than I do most humans.”
Two days later, Blue found herself staring at a clutch of eggs. Owen was there, and he was carefully adjusting them on the strange nest they were in. Blue thought it was strange how quickly Claire must have laid the clutch.
And then one began to shudder. Blue immediately went to it, and watching in animal awe and curiosity as the egg cracked and shattered. Out from the egg slid a small raptor. It squeaked in terror, and that sound flipped a switch inside of Blue. She quickly licked away the remnants of yolk and egg, cleaning her little one. Owen reached over to help dispose of the egg, and Blue looked to him. She honked his name and then bobbed her head down for him to look at the little one.
“Yeah, I see her Blue. She’s a pretty baby isn’t she? And I’m guessing that she’s yours now.”
Blue looked down at the hatchling that was standing on her feet, squeaking. Yes. This was her baby now. Her . . . daughter. As the other eggs began to rock and shatter, Blue helped her three other daughters into the world. She licked and cleaned them, and then herded them over towards her day time nest area. She had been sleeping next to the door of the cage, but during the day when Owen and Claire would either be in the paddock or up on the walkway, she’d created another area to rest. She took her new babies here, and then looked back at Owen.
He had followed, but hung back a little ways. She gestured with her head for him to look after the babies while she went looking for food, and he grinned as he sat down next to her nest area. The little ones were hesitant at first, but after Claire joined him sitting on the ground, they began to swarm the two, exploring these strange creatures that had joined them. “What do you think we should name them?” Owen asked her.
“You’re letting me?”
“Well, you are their Auntie.”
Blue ignored them in favor of finding food for her brood. As soon as she thought it, a pink food went running past. Using her great speed, she caught the creature and brought it back over to the next. She placed it in front of the little ones who scrambled from their perches on Owen and Claire to partake of their first meal. As she watched them eat, she felt a moment of satisfaction. She had food. She had offspring. She had her beloved Alpha in the paddock with her, and she did like his mate. She could accept Claire as Alpha’s mate.
Life was perfect.
Five years passed in a blur for Owen. He and Claire got married, had one child and another on the way, and enjoyed their lives helping Jurassic World run on Isla Nublar. Their little girl Anna was growing like a weed, and was turning into a little version of her father. She loved visiting the raptor pens, and she’d even been allowed to pet the girls. Big Mama Blue had taken to the little girl as if it were her own raptor baby.
Speaking of raptor babies, the Bouquet – as Owen called Blue’s daughters – had also grown big and strong. Ivy, Dahlia, Rose, and Daisy had all taken to training even easier than Blue and his sisters, and Owen thought it was because he had been right from the beginning – they needed a model in order to become properly socialized. He had also feared that they would start to be harder to train because they imprinted on Blue, but not him. That fear had turned out to be ungrounded since the exact opposite had apparently happened. They all followed Blue’s lead on how to treat him.
Owen still went into the cage sometimes, always with someone watching his back. He loved these animals, but he never forgot that they could one day decide to challenge him for dominance. However, until they did he would enjoy walking among them and even on special occasions, taking them to the raptor run.
Part attraction, part just plain fun for him and his girls, the raptor run was a race track-like space set aside for him and the pack to use to go running. A special viewing box let park visitors see the raptors in action. And also sometimes, when it felt like a good day to go to hell, Owen would ride with them, Blue to his right, the rest of the Bouquet surrounding them, chasing after a scent. He knew Claire and Anna would be up in the viewing box, Anna telling anyone who would listen that that was her Daddy riding with Blue, and Dahlia, and Rose, and Ivy, and Daisy, and that raptors were dangerous but pretty and smart, and did you know that they have a name for me? It’s (and she’d raise the replica of a raptor’s resonating chamber to her lips and blow a call) ooooooouuuuuht-ooooooouuuuuht. He’d think about this as he rode with the girls, and grin.
Life was perfect.