Leathery Wings

Yes, I wrote a Jurassic World fanfic (I mean, another) but I’m not the only one by far. There has been an absolute flood of JW fanfiction in the past couple of days, and nearly all of it is really, really great. I have my work cut out for me in the next Fanfics You Should Be Reading. In general news, Chris Pratt says he’s already signed on for the next movie, and Jurassic World had the third-biggest opening weekend of all time. So congratulations, guys– we made our mark on history. We threw our money at the movie and our voices were heard. 

This is the sequel to Gentle Giants Petting Zoo, and it was written for CJCroen1393, who’s having his birthday today (I was wrong and it wasn’t yesterday, oops). Hope you enjoy it!

Really, feeding a baby triceratops is like feeding any other baby. Which means that they both completely refuse to eat when they’re supposed to.

“Come on, don’t you want just one bite?” Ian Malcolm offers the carrot to the little baby trike, holding it right under the animal’s nose. The trike doesn’t even glance down, continuing to stare blankly into Ian’s eyes like an oversized terrier. He tries to encourage the animal—one of the khaki-clad Gentle Giants Petting Zoo handlers told him earlier that carrots are their favorite treats—by snapping the vegetable into smaller pieces, but the baby chooses to nuzzle the back of his hand with its beak instead. Ian gives in, rubbing behind its frill like the handler said they liked, and the creature grunts with satisfaction and steps closer. “Yeah, I know the drill,” Ian says good-naturedly as the leathery baby shakes its head to get more scratches on its frill and rubs its cheek against his leg. “You’ll eat anytime except when I, ah, want you to, right?”

From a few feet away, little kids and tiny orthiniscian babies milling around her, Ian sees Sarah look up and give him a knowing smile. He gives her a sardonic look and returns his attention to the baby, which has nearly crawled up on his lap. He keeps scratching behind its frill and allows a little grin as he mumbles, “You’re just a big baby, huh? Don’t wanna eat your carrots just like any other kid?” It gives a soft snort in response, and though Ian would admittedly like to have it stick around, one of its handlers whistles and it perks up immediately. The trike jumps to its feet and bounds across the dusty, fenced-in enclosure on its stubby little legs, and Ian’s left to sit on the ground alone. After a moment, he takes the effort to get to his feet, shaking off the twinges in his left leg. That’s when he gets the first sign that something is wrong.

The first clue Ian gets is the bird’s unusual wings.

He glances up at the sky for a second, and his eyes just happen to focus in on a single bird, about fifty yards away from them. He stares at it idly, and begins to turn away when he notices a sudden strange quality about the animal. There’s something about it that’s distinctly un-birdlike.

“Honey, look,” he turns and says to Sarah nervously. “Look at that bird up there. There’s—there’s somethin’ weird about it.” His kneeling girlfriend, engrossed in a squirming baby apatosaur whose neck bones she’s trying to inspect, gives no response. “It’s engineered, Sarah. What did I tell you about—ah—they probably wouldn’t just stop at dinosaurs. Didn’t I tell you that?” The only answer he gets is the bob of Sarah’s curly red ponytail as she shakes her head.

“Wouldn’t just stop at dinosaurs,” he mutters to himself, staring back at the odd bird and squinting in the bright island sun. “Trying to repopulate their entire island ecosystem with their—their own brand of animals, the—” He stops suddenly when he sees the bird’s wings. There’s a strange translucent quality to them, the sun shining through both wings and illuminating them like stained-glass windows. “Sarah, look, the—the wings don’t have any feathers. What the hell kind of bird is that?”

“Ian, sit down and help hold this thing still for me,” she calls back.

The second clue he gets is the bird’s call.

The noise definitely comes from the strange animal circling in the sky; it’s as audible as the average hawk’s call, except it isn’t emanating from any kind of hawk. Ian immediately jumps a little when he hears it. There’s a strange undertone to it, something different about it that touches a nerve deep down in his mind. It sounds a bit like a crow’s warble and an eagle’s screech, mixed with a visceral, angry scream. “I know you heard that,” he says, turning back to Sarah and gesturing at the sky. “What does that sound like to you?”

Her response is to get up, stand face-to-face with him and matter-of-factly plop a squirming baby Gallimimus in his leather-jacketed arms. “Just stay in the moment, Ian,” she says, reaching forward to help as he struggles to keep the tiny animal from leaping to the ground. “We came here for a reason, you know.”

“Yeah, I know,” he sighs as Sarah helps the baby find a stable footing on his arm. As she gently runs her fingers over its tiny scales, the little animal’s amber eyes meet Ian’s, and it gives a contented little chirp.

The third clue is the rest of the bird’s flock.

The baby galli starts to enjoy Sarah’s petting, bobbing its tiny head up and down and flapping its little arms like a young bird trying to fly. As he tries his best to be an unmoving perch, Ian glances back up at the sky and almost jumps. Where a minute ago the sky was clear and cloudless, now it’s half-covered in shadow. Tiny black dots have begun to fill the bright blue horizon, and the dark cloud they form begins to block out the sun and shadow the ground. Except it’s not so much a cloud as it is a swarm. And as they get closer, Ian sees that the dots are birds.

“Sarah.” Ian doesn’t bother to keep his other arm still as he points at the growing cloud. “Sarah. Look.”

Sarah takes one last look at the baby and sets it on the ground. It dashes away to join the herd of other little gallis, and Sarah rises again, brushes her hair out of her face and says in a distinct tone, “Remember what you said to your therapist about—”

“No, th-that’s not it. Look.” Sarah raises one eyebrow and turns her head to look where Ian’s pointing. The mass of flying animals has gotten much, much closer in the past few seconds and the weird calls are beginning to fill the air, along with distinctly leathery flapping sounds. Ian and Sarah see the birds’ faces about a second apart and react instantaneously.

“Oh God,” Sarah says before she begins to back up, waving her arms around and screaming, “Get out! Get out of the way!” Some of the kids follow her instructions and dash over to the protective arms of their parents, but others remain crouched on the ground and only give her quizzical looks.

“Everybody move!” Ian shouts at the top of his lungs, running around blindly and only thinking about getting these kids out of the way. A few little children stand still, petrified by his and Sarah’s screaming, but some of the older kids grab the younger kids’ wrists and drag them out of the petting zoo area. As more and more visitors look up to see what they’re running from, they let out piercing screams and practically trample one another to get to the exit. A few handlers try to usher the kids out of the area and keep them calm, some handlers almost run over the crowd trying to get out ahead of everyone else and a few stay behind, attempting to keep the dinosaurs under control. Their attempts are useless; the babies already know about the danger and have begun to run around in sheer terror, bleating and kicking up clouds of dust as they stampede around in their little herds and try to find an exit. In less than a minute, the entire area becomes a swirling, chaotic mess and only Ian and Sarah remain near the far end of the enclosure, making sure all of the kids are getting out and shouting that the crowd is blocking the exit. Everyone needs to get out, but they can’t pile up on each other, if they can wait just another second–

The fourth clue shows that the flock is most definitely not comprised of birds.

It happens all at once. One enormous pteranodon swoops in and reaches right for Sarah with its talons, and then every single one of them is right there in the petting zoo, flapping their gigantic wings and screeching in a big, leathery blur. There are larger ones and smaller ones, but Ian doesn’t think to look too close; there are just so many of them and they’re everywhere. A smaller one lands on his head in a burst of white-hot pain. He shouts and smacks it away when its claws start to dig into his scalp. He tries to turn around and make it back to the exit, but he can’t see a thing; he can’t even look two feet to the side and see where Sarah is, there are so many pteranodons around him that they seem to make up an undulating solid that fills every last bit of space. Blindly, little claws scratching everywhere and wings smacking his face with each second, Ian lunges forward and claws at the air with his hands, fighting to move forward.

It’s like running through an overgrown jungle that’s dense with elephant ears or trying to run underwater, but somehow Ian makes it through the swarm and feels a larger hand grabbing his. He gropes around a little more and when he feels shoulders and other people, he lets out a wordless yell and a couple of heads turn. He’s finally made it to the gate and there are other people here, although not many. All the children are gone, he notes with relief, but three or four adults are running around wildly, grabbing baby dinosaurs and shoving past him to get them out of the enclosure. A blonde woman in a khaki handler’s uniform bumps into him and, without warning, shoves him to the ground right before an enormous pteranodon swoops over them with its claws outstretched. “Get the babies!” the woman yells right into his ear.

“Kids okay?” he yells back.

“Kids are fine, but the babies don’t know where to go! Either help us or run!” She gets back up—she’s got a baby galli tight in her arms—and dashes off.

It doesn’t take long for Ian to get his priorities in order. “Sarah!” he roars, but she’s nowhere to be seen. “Sarah! Follow my voice! Sarah!” The pteranodon flock is partially dissipated but still there—they must have left when the little kids did. The reptiles seem to be focusing their attentions on the dinosaur babies now. Some of the bigger pteranodons are trying their damndest to grab up the baby apatosaurs; a few feet away, one pterosaur digs its claws into an apatosaur’s neck and tries to pull it up, but the little animal grunts and yanks itself away. Some, though, are more successful—a dimorphodon flies right in front of Ian’s face, carrying a screeching baby gallimimus. Without thinking, Ian smacks the reptile away and yanks the baby out of its grip, leaning over and dropping the little animal back on the ground before looking around wildly to find Sarah.

He hears her before he sees her. Around the middle of the enclosure, he can faintly hear Sarah yelling, “Hey!” above the still-persistent flapping of wings. She’s got something small tucked under her arm—probably another little galli—and she’s jogging over to where the biggest pteranodon in the whole flock is trying to lift something. Ian squints to see it better, and sure enough, the gigantic flying beast has a brown baby triceratops encased in its talons. The littler animal, a saddle still attached to its back, squirms and wails as the larger one strains to lift it. Sarah makes her way directly under the pteranodon’s long wingspan and pulls her free arm back.

“Sarah, no!” Ian yells when he sees what she’s about to do, but it’s too late. Dropping the baby galli under her arm, Sarah lets out an angry shout and punches one of the pterandon’s wings with every ounce of strength she has. Instead of letting go of its prey, the pteranodon screeches in surprise and attempts to bat her away, managing to whack her across the cheek and leave a bloody mark. She hisses and leans back to punch it again, but her form isn’t so good and her punch only has minimal impact. Ian swats another dimorphodon and decides, to hell with it. He runs with a slight limp over to the middle of the enclosure, where the pteranodon is still struggling with the baby and Sarah has begun trying to pull the trike out of the reptile’s grip. He’s just about to pull her out of the way when an earsplitting BANG rings through the air. Something dark clouds his vision and he nearly falls over; beside him, he’s vaguely aware of a high screech and something hitting the ground with a sickening thump.

He hears, “Over here, get outta there!” somewhere in the distance through the ringing in his ears. Sarah grabs his shoulder—he wipes his eyes with his sleeve and sees that she has something wriggly and scaly-looking in her arms—and insists, “Come on, Ian, come on.” She lets go and he blindly follows her through the pen, and when they head out of the gate he sees what they’re running to.

A sandy-haired man, wearing a leather vest and holding a still-smoking hunting rifle, is waiting for them on an ATV with the engine running; a red-haired woman in filthy white clothes clings to him. When she notices they’ve stopped, she shakes the man’s shoulder and says urgently, “Owen, why are we stopping?”

“I know these people,” Owen answers. “Claire, they can help us. That’s Ian Malcolm and Sarah, uh…”

“Sarah Harding?” The woman, Claire squints and looks at the both of them. “Are you Sarah Harding?”

“Yeah.” Sarah puts whatever she was carrying down and rushes Ian over to the ATV. “Thanks. You helping take care of this?”

“Yeah,” Owen answers. Looking around wildly to see where the rest of the pteranodon flock is headed, Ian notices a large, thin body lying where he was a minute ago and suddenly realizes what happened to the huge pterodactyl. The animal lies with dust swirling around it, blood oozing out of its chest, and Ian connects the sight with the gun in Owen’s hand.

“Look, you’ve done this before, right?” Claire asks. Her eyes are frenzied and she looks desperate. “Look, Owen’s helping ACU get these animals under control, but I have two of my nephews that I really, really need to find and if you could help him while I—”

“Whoa, you okay?” Owen cuts her off, staring at Ian.

“He’s fine,” Sarah answers for him, and Ian’s realization that blood from his claw-mark injuries must be the thick liquid getting into his eyes is immediately followed by a bewildering sheepishness. “What, are you just shooting all of them? Not trying to get them back in the aviary or anything?”

“We need to worry about fatalities first,” Claire says, her voice rising.

“I can help you,” Sarah insists. “Let me on, get me a tranquilizer gun or something. Do you have one? These animals don’t have to die.”

“Hop on,” Owen answers, moving forward on his seat. “Claire, give ‘em some room.” Claire moves closer to Owen, who digs around in a knapsack and produces a gray tranquilizer gun, thrusting it backward at Sarah. She climbs onto the seat behind Claire, grabbing the gun, and Ian instinctively follows, holding onto her waist. It takes them a few seconds to fit onto the limited amount of space, but they work it out, Ian and Sarah sitting sideways to fit better.

“Hang on, is that one all right?” Claire suddenly asks, looking to the ground beside Sarah’s feet.

Ian and Sarah see what she’s pointing out at the same time. Sarah lets out one of the sympathetic “Oh”s that usually indicate that they’ll soon be responsible for another animal if she gets her way, and she leans down and picks up, with great effort, the baby triceratops that she was just punching a giant pteranodon to save. The bulky creature wriggles its forelegs and squeals, and even Ian feels a pang in his heart when he notices the deep claw marks down its back and the obvious panic in its eyes.

Sarah cocks the tranquilizer gun and holds it up with one arm, and plunks the little trike across her and Ian’s lap with the other, protectively wrapping her arm over its back to hold it still. “Ready to go,” she says.

“Sarah—” Ian begins, moving the baby’s leg so it’s not so uncomfortable on his.

She looks up and gives him the raised-eyebrow look that simultaneously says that she’s thoroughly made up her mind and asks him if he really thinks it’s wise to question her judgment. “I’m not stopping at the animal hospital,” Owen says, looking back as he twists ATV’s handle and revs the engine.

“You don’t need to,” Sarah yells over the vehicle’s roar. “I’ll patch her up myself. Let’s go.” She grips the baby trike even harder, and it stills and nuzzles its little beak into her shirt. Ian notes this and sighs. At this rate, it’s distinctly possible that Sarah will want to take the little animal home with them.

“Ready?” Without waiting for an answer, Owen throttles the ATV forward and the four of them—well, five—speed off into Jurassic World.

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