CORELINE: REGULAR DINOSAUR PARK
(A WORK IN PROGRESS)
(Hopeful) STORY ONE: "STATE-OF-THE-ART BANG-BANG".
"Reptiles are abhorrent because of their cold body, pale color, cartilaginous skeleton, filthy skin, fierce aspect, calculating eye, offensive smell, harsh voice, squalid habitation, and terrible venom; wherefore their Creator has not exerted his powers to make many of them."
"Well, the world has changed so radically, and we're all running to catch up. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but look: Dinosaurs and man, two species separated by sixty-five million years of evolution, have just been suddenly thrown back into the mix together. How can we possibly have the *slightest* idea what to expect?"-Dr. Alan Grant, 1993.
+STARBUCKS CAFE, MAIN STREET.
+JURASSIC PARK, ISLA NUBLAR, COSTA RICA (120 MILES OFF WEST COAST).
+TUESDAY, 7:10 A.M.
The morning air was humid, hot, and carried a thick mist with it that reduced visibility but did little to stem the already-incessant sun. She knew for a fact that rains would pour in the afternoon, with the strength of a monsoon.
Typical winter in Costa Rica, really.
Sitting on one of the cafe's booths, she kept alternating between reading the book she had brought along and looking out the window at the awakening park, with the businesses moving their displays of rain gear into position to satisfy the upcoming demand and janitors performing a final sweep before the opening hour.
She sipped her latte, tasting it. It was pretty good stuff-some blend brought from Costa Rica and mixed with a couple of herbs local to the island, called the "Jurassic Delicacy". Expensive as hell, though-and not just because it was sold inside of a park. She made a mental note to remember the chemical composition and try to replicate it later.
She had nothing but admiration for the people running this park, being honest. Running parks was hard work, but something that had once been a bunch of words in a book and then.... what, four movies (as far as she knew) and a truck-load of other merchandise?.... all of which liked to harp on about how deadly and uncontrollable the place was, certainly was more worthy of respect. Five years running, with little incident.
Jurassic Park was real. The Muertes Archipielago was real (five islands then, six islands now counting Nublar). And very single island was packed full of dinosaurs. Same as the Savage Land, Skull Island, the Lost World down on the Amazon Basin... Kaiju Island over by Japan... pretty much all of Venus...
Dinosaurs aside, all of those places had one thing in common: they were astonishingly lethal to humans. There was no exception.
Over here, sure, they had advanced security measures, top-notch design and damn good trainers (both "old-school animal whisperer" good and "communicate with animals/psionically link with animals" good), but it was impossible to completely prevent a dinosaur rampage. And if an idiot pissing off a bronto... sorry, APATO-saurus... or trying to play matador with a Triceratops because of stupidity didn't do the trick; some asshole biding his time, wanting to celebrate the anniversaries of the "Nublar Incidents" by re-enacting the whole mess to make some kind of demented point, sure as shit did.
Chaos theory, entropy, Hanlon's Razor, call it whatever you wanted it-the writing was on the wall. Matter of time, really, and people like Malcolm had filled enough books with calculations explaining that it would happen to kill a forest.
It was a race-or maybe even a war, plain and simple. A war between the men who constantly upgraded security measures and the vile, stupid assholes who searched for ways to violate them (to not mention the monsters who wanted to destroy); with the lives of thousands of innocents on the line.
Thus the reason for her being here today. She had been contacted and given an assignment: provide weapons to Jurassic Park, lethals and non-lethals, for security purposes. Those who hired her had made it very specific that no expense would be spared on this endeavor.
She was pretty sure that the end results would be up to the satisfaction of her client.
It was 7:30, and she was on her third cup when she saw the woman.
Everything about her screamed "Corporate" (probably a higher-up, although she was not completely sure): The tailored white clothes with the cape-like shawl and the knee-length skirt, the Gucci high-heels, the Seiko watch that she knew included a holographic interface and made her wonder why the woman was staring into the Stark Industries tablet, before dismissing her as old-fashioned or maybe just unused to the watch's capabilities.
Red hair cut into a professional shoulder-length bob-cut, nice blue eyes, nice skin color, cosmetics about as expensive as the tablet. Focused face. Unmindful of whatever was around her.
/Yeah./, she thought./Typical Corporate./
She noticed the Corporate looking up from the tablet for a second as she passed the Starbucks... and skid to a complete stop, almost twisting her ankles on those shoes. She winced in response as the Corporate regained her balance, looked at her, looked at the tablet's display, then back at her. She forced down a desire to wave at the Corporate-guessing that it would probably look in bad taste.
A flash of anger (or exasperation, it was hard to tell) passed the Corporate's face for a second before she composed herself and walked into the Starbucks.
"Doctor Washu Hakubi?", said the red-head, extending her hand.
"I personally prefer 'Professor', but it's kind of a bad habit.", said Hakubi, shaking her hand. "And you are...?"
"Claire Dearing. I am Operations Manager for Jurassic Park."
Washu noted that Dearing had hesitated for a split-second there, almost said a "W" before going for "Park". Washu filed it away, just in case.
"I was told that you would arrive to the Park at eight-o'-clock sharp.", said Dearing.
"I got a little impulsive. Sorry about that-I wasn't sure how the visitors would react to someone teleporting in.", Washu took another sip of her latte before adding: "If you are interested, I could sell you some teleport blockers. It wouldn't be a good thing if some poacher gets smart and tries to beam the animals out of the park or, you know, beams in to steal stuff."
"I'll make a note of that.", said Dearing. "You are here to demonstrate your options for asset containment?"
Washu nodded. "As requested. You wanted state-of-the-art bang-bang, you *get* state-of-the-art bang-bang." She drank the last of her latte. "I guess that we'll have this meeting on your offices?"
"They're on our Operations Center.", Dearing said, handing Washu a clip-on ID badge with a bright red "VISITOR-VIP" stenciled on it. "If you could please clip this on? It'll grant you access to all of our areas within the Center."
Washu marked the page on her book and closed it, followed by clipping on the badge. She looked up from her act to notice that Dearing had a bit of a haunted look on her face, looking at the book's cover.
The cover showcased a pretty good drawing of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, not unlike the one on the logo of the Park, running after a man while surrounded by explosions and various other dinosaur skeletons on the rampage. The title, in large red stylized letters which included some claw mark damage, said:
"HOW TO SURVIVE A DINOSAUR ATTACK:
Tips On How To Defend Yourself Against Prehistoric Menaces.
-DR. ALAN GRANT."
"Oh. Just something to see while I was waiting.", said Washu. "I hope it wasn't in bad taste."
Dearing shook her head slightly. The haunted look was wearing off at a rapid pace.
"It's more of a suggestion book on what to do in case of emergencies, you know, like that book Wilson did on robots and Brooks' book on zombies. A lot of it is notes on dinosaur behavior, with a focus on how they react to humans."
Dearing blinked twice and finally composed herself. Washu had been around Live-Action fictions long enough to know a PTSD reaction when she saw one.
"Bad experience?", said Washu. She decided not to elaborate on it-best not to piss off her employers. Not THIS early and not THIS needlessly.
"I'm working on it.", said Dearing, and added: "Just one question: does he makes any disparaging remarks about the Park in that book?"
"Not really.", said Washu. "Either the Alternate that wrote this didn't went through that mess or he is seriously holding back."
Dearing nodded her approval. "You signed the non-disclosure agreements, of course?'
"And the Mutual Confidentiality Agreement, and the "Button Lip" Agreement, and the "Pinkie Promise" Agreement, and the Non-Liability Agreement for Loss of Life And Injury in case of Dinosaur Attack... that latter one was pretty iron-clad, by the way.", said Washu. "Signed, noted, dated and DNA-marked, as requested."
She handed Dearing the hefty bundle of documents, pulled out of the book bag lying on top of the table. The redhead took them and said:
"Follow me, please."
Dearing led Washu to an SUV parked just off Main Street: a new-model Mercedes Benz, painted silver, full extras package including touch-screen control panel, leather seats and night-vision FLIR.
Washu thought that it was cute, but it lacked something. It was a high-priced executive's toy, not a transport that could potentially have to deal with a dinosaur trying to crack it like a metallic peanut. In her mind, she envisioned plans for some concealed heavy armor, an engine overhaul and taser plating on the sides and top. Probably additional sensors to detect incoming threats and help driving in no-visibility situations...
Washu decided to file the ideas away to pitch to Dearing. Probably give her a nice discount, too, as a first-time customer. Or trade it for a couple of tickets, whatever sounded better at the time.
The drive towards the Operations Center took them through a small road concealed by ferns and trees, which went up the hills of the island. The tropical mist and the sun gave it all a "primeval" feeling. Washy mentally applauded the engineers who worked on the park's looks.
"So how many tourists come here?", asked Washu.
"On a slow day, we've had twenty thousand tourists arriving, with an average of ninety thousand on a high day. Our market is mostly eco-tourists and the "daredevil" group."
"That's a lot of people.", said Washu.
"Still a lot less that we'd like."
"Well, it's a park on an island on Central America, far away from the regular path, catering to a very distinct crowd...", said Washu, and wincing internally at how it was starting to sound, she added: "I have to say that I congratulate the high quality of what I've seen of the compound so far. I've seen my fair share of parks, and this one is superb."
"Well, thank you.", said Dearing. "We're pretty proud of our work, here."
'We're pretty proud of our (continuing?) work (on improving?) Jurassic Park'. Just a few words away from the typical Corporate party line, although Washu noted the true pride within the words. Washu knew that by heart-more than once she had been the one talking, saying a practiced spiel to keep the customers calm, sometimes feeling the words, sometimes not.
The Operations Center appeared on the top of the hill from amongst the fog, a two or three-story structure (Washu wasn't quite sure), drab gray with thick concrete walls, roughly looking like a forecastle. The Center had a nice view of the Park compound, and Washu entertained herself by imagining a brief snippet of the "Jurassic Park" theme.
"Nice place you have here.", said Washu as the Mercedes came to a stop on a reserved spot. "Good architecture."
"The inside is nicer.", said Dearing, leading Washu to the Center's entrance. "This way."
Both women showed heir badges to the security guard and went to the top floor. The elevator opened and Washu could see, beyond an automated glass door, what was most obviously the Park's control room-with gigantic monitors covering an entire wall, showing a map of the Park and shifting views of various cameras throughout the compound, while people moved to and from, working on stations and talking away on headsets.
Washu imagined improvements on the room that could pitch to her employers later: hyper-high-resolution holographic displays, upgrades to the computers, additional automation on non-essential functions, maybe total cyberlink integration. Man jacked to machine certainly would make for faster management reactions, Washu thought.
It was certainly worth TRYING to pitch, at least.
Dearing led Washu to a conference room, looked at her and said:
"The rest should arrive soon. We have been pretty busy lately, doing some renewals to the park. Mr. Masrani wanted to oversee the operation himself."
"Renewals?", asked Washu.
"We are moving the Hammond Innovation Laboratory and all of its equipment to the old Visitor Center.", said Dearing. "We've been working on updating the buildings on the northern side of the island for some time now."
Washu hummed affirmatively. "Ok... sounds interesting. New attractions?"
"Probably. For now, our aim is to increase the efficiency of the Lab and our dinosaur breeding programs. We will see about making it accessible to the public in the future, if things work right.", said Dearing.
It was silent for a while, with only the whisper-like hum of the air conditioned units someplace overhead to accompany them.
"Would you want some coffee, Professor Hakubi?", said Dearing, finally breaking the silence.
Being honest, the latte's buzz had a long way to go before it faded, but Washu decided it was best to humor her.
"Black, no sugar, please.", said Washu.
Dearing left the room, and Washu looked around, finally standing up from her seat and stretching her arms and then her fingers, like some experienced pianist about to play.
"OK, need to get ready..."
Dearing got out of the conference room and walked to the Operations Center's little break room, serving a pair of coffees in large porcelain mugs with the Jurassic World logo on them.
/"Park."/ thought Dearing. /It's back to "Park" now. Seven-point-five million votes on Internet polls, to not mention 65% of employees polled all over Masrani Global and 77% of our stockholders preferred "Park". Remember that, Claire./
She put extra cream and sweetener on her coffee and downed it in a single gulp, allowing the buzz of the caffeine to calm her a little. She knew that it was nothing more than a placebo effect, but it helped her nonetheless.
Five years on this job, after appearing on this planet, after being given a second chance at running this park after the fiasco that many people called "The Second Nublar Incident", and she still occasionally froze up.
Post-Traumatic Stress. It's all that it was. The therapy did wonders for her, although she still was struggling to find the bravery to go through something more advanced, like psychosurgery.
She was not sure she would be able to look Owen in the eye if he found out that she wanted to literally cut the trauma out of her brain, no matter how much information she had about the procedure being safe, especially at the hands of people like Doctor Clark Savage up in New York...
The rumble of approaching helicopter blades shook Dearing out of her stupor and she put Hakubi's cup on a carrier, where it would stay warm, before walking to the helicopter pad.
The helicopter pad was battered by the winds churned up by the propellers of the blue-and-white Eurocopter, I.D. number "JP001".
The helicopter settled down with a slightly shaky landing and the pilot shut down the engine. Both the pilot and the passenger's doors opened when the propeller fully stopped, and out came the two men within.
"Miss Dearing!", said the passenger, with a slight Scottish accent. "So nice to see you this morning!"
"Mr. Hammond.", said Dearing, as the little man limped towards her, his hand firmly grasping his amber-tipped cane. Dressed all in white, as was usual of him on the warm Costa Rican climate, hat fit snugly on the stud on the top of his head.
Hammond was a LEGO Fiction, a living mini-figure about the size of a child, reaching slightly over Dearing's waist. Aside from this, the Alternate of Doctor John Parker Hammond was a perfect replica of the Hammond that Dearing had known, a kind man up to the end. It had taken her the better part of her first two years to get used to him, but his friendliness helped a lot.
"Claire!" said the pilot, a large grin on his face. "Good morning!"
"Mr. Masrani." said Dearing, then corrected herself with: "Simon. How was the flight?"
"Amazing as usual. The work on the northern compounds is going faster that we expected."
Simon Masrani. CEO of Masrani Global, the Mega-Corporation running International Genetic Technologies, Incorporated and Jurassic Park, amongst other enterprises. An Indian man, middle-aged, dressed impeccably (yet casually), with a neatly-trimmed beard. The man oozed friendliness, just like Hammond.
(And the memory of his helicopter smashing through the dome of the Aviary and crashing into a fiery hell because of that THING kept haunting her dreams. She could recall the lessons on the concepts of alternate dimensions and Alternates of people, on the concept of being a so-called "Fiction", casually given to her by this guy Quill-Grady and yet still NOT Grady-as if it was yesterday. Lessons which had been mandatory after fainting once she saw Masrani (alive again? To her, yes, but to HIM....)).
"That is good to know, sir." said Dearing.
"So... has our guest arrived? Miss... Hakubi, was it?" asked Masrani.
"Yes, sir. She is in the conference room right now." said Dearing.
Hammond pulled out a watch from a breast pocket and looked at it. "Pretty timely arrival, I must say. Did she used a helicopter?"
"Well, that's the thing. She arrived BEFORE the park opened. I found her within our Starbucks, and she said she...." Dearing found herself disbelieving that she would have to say the following words seriously: "...teleported here."
Much to her internal annoyance (not that she would EVER say it), neither man looked more than a little surprised.
"Did she... made any comments about that?", asked Hammond.
"She mentioned that she could sell us some teleportation blockers, and made a couple of good points on how having them would prevent a security breach." said Dearing.
"Oh, good. Good!" said Masrani. "Let's not keep Miss Hakubi waiting, then."
Dearing thanked her lucky stars that the break room was between the helipad and the conference room, allowing her to fetch Hakubi's mug without breaking stride.
She went into the room first, noticing that the conference table had several long metallic cases on top of it, and Hakubi was working away on a laptop which was plugged to a tiny blue cylinder, a pair of headphones on her ears coming from the laptop.
It took Dearing about a second to note that Hakubi was using an absurdly old-looking laptop (a black clamshell-type) and the "blue cylinder" looked like a model of a Cray supercomputer (if she was even sure she was recalling the documentary she had seen on the Discovery Channel, oh so long ago, correctly).
It took her even less to remember that Hakubi had not carried more than a book bag with her when she had left her alone on the conference room.
Hakubi looked up from her work on the computer and said:
"Oh, hello! Didn't saw you there for a second, sorry. I get too absorbed on my work sometimes." She took off the headphones and stood up.
"It's not a problem, my dear." said Hammond. "We all know how it is at times. The vision tunnels when a discovery is near, don't you think?"
"True." said Hakubi.
"OK..." said Dearing. "Doctor Washu Hakubi, these are Doctor John Hammond, head of InGen, and Simon Masrani, CEO of Masrani Global."
"Oh, please, call me "Professor"! Or "Little Washu", if you want. Been a long time since someone called me that." said Hakubi, shaking their hands. "It's John *Parker* Hammond, right?"
"Well, yes." said Hammond. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, just that I've heard some bad things about John *Alfred* Hammond." said Washu. "Really, REALLY bad things. Hope you understand."
A dark look crossed Hammond's face as he said: "Yes... I've heard them, too. Such a despicable man, makes me sad when I'm confused with him."
"Yeah.", said Washu.
"Professor Hakubi." said Masrani. "I believe that you wanted to expose to us some new options for asset handling?"
"Oh, sure." said Washu.
She walked up to her laptop (a GRID Compass that she has salvaged and then upgraded to the point it only *looked* like a Compass) and pressed a few buttons. The peripheral that the laptop was linked to (a combination holo-computer and hyper-compressed portable hard drive) fired up, showcasing a holographic representation of the island about a foot over the table.
"Normally I would use my regular holo-computer." said Washu. "But I wanted to rest this baby. Bit of a weekend project."
She cleared her throat and continued: "Anycase, Jurassic Park. What *about* Jurassic Park? An island, a veritable stone's throw away from Costa Rica. Part of an island chain that the locals were pretty kind to call "The Six Deaths". Full of tourists-thanks to Miss Dearing here, I now know that you handle somewhere between twenty and ninety thousand souls per day, maybe more... that's a lot of civilians that could be caught on the crossfire, especially because your key market right now is the people crazy enough to willingly walk INTO said crossfire.
Then we have the environmental conditions: tropical island, rainforest, lots of rain during the winter and very hot during the summer-typical jungle warfare situation. The fog which gives the island its name comes and goes constantly throughout the year, and visibility is reduced at the drop of a hat when it forms. The buildings within the compound perimeter, the woods outside, the fog-all of this leads to high chances of close-quarters combat. Most of the buildings on locations like Main Street also have corporate sponsorship which may-MAY-dislike being exposed to unnecessary collateral damage." Washu took a sip of coffee, giving a thankful nod to Dearing.
"We have external threats to deal with: SCALE would gladly kill all of the humans on this island in order to let the "assets" roam free. Team Rocket, Team Magma, Team Aqua and Team Alpha have tried to poach on this island or infiltrate your companies. And there's been reports of Mon trainers trying to capture or battle "assets" because they think that it would be less risky for their asses to take from this island. And there has been no lack of people protesting the park, some of them pretty fanatical-and that way lies someone willing to take "extreme measures"..." Washu took another sip of coffee. "To summarize: Humans Are Bastards, when they are not being idiots."
"And finally, there's an important factor: the "assets", by which we mean the dinosaurs roaming this park. At their smallest, they are a pest. At their biggest, they are living tanks. They ALL can be lethal, especially if you underestimate them and/or piss them off. And Heaven help you if you are on the warpath of the ones who could eat you."
Washu took a moment before continuing: "So you have asked me to provide options for your security teams, for "Asset" containment and, if necessary, termination. You made it explicit that you would spare no expense, and you set no limitations. So with that in mind, I did some acquisitions and made a whole lot of modifications, and I hope the results will be to your satisfaction."
(WORK IN PROGRESS).