The men Lester called had arrived. Six of the ten men had guns with them. "We have to treat this as a hostage situation," Matt was explaining. "Neither Jess nor Becker are armed. We have to be aware of their positions, as well as the intruders. There are six of them in all, including Todd Harper. You are to assume he is the enemy, unless is it proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is otherwise. We want to get through this without any bloodshed, but, that being said, I'd rather it be them than you."
"Matt," Abby gasped. The team leader moved quickly to her side. They watched in horror as the Gorgonopsid lunged for Becker.
"We need to get in there, fast," Matt said. "Connor, don't worry about the video loops. Just make sure we can get in the front door. You five men are with me. Abby, you lead the rest of them. We'll go get Becker. I need you to get to the armory as quickly as possible, then go to Ops to protect Jess. Connor, keep an eye on everything and let me know what's going on."
Matt waited for a response, but Connor was too engrossed with his computer to notice. Abby nudged him with her foot. "What?" he said, looking around. "Yes, will do." His gaze returned to the screen.
The team leader sighed and turned back to his team. "Let's go."
Becker was thrown backward by the force of the creature's leap. He quickly put his left arm up, between the dinosaur's teeth and his own neck. It was all that saved his life. The Gorgonopsid bit down hard and Becker let out a howl of pain. He kicked upward, connecting just under the beast's ribcage. The dinosaur released its grip, probably more out of surprise that its prey was fighting back than from actual pain. Becker pressed his advantage and punched the creature in the face. It backed off and turned to look for easier prey.
Beanstalk had been frozen up until this point, but when the dinosaur faced him, he brought his weapon up and shot at it. Unfortunately, the Gorgonopsid's skin was so thick that it would take several direct hits from the EMD to do any damage. "Shoot it again!" Becker yelled, not concerned anymore if it would attract the creature's attention. The EMD was the only weapon either man had at their disposal, and if Beanstalk went down, there was no guarantee Becker could get to it before the dinosaur was on him.
Beanstalk shot again, but the Gorgonopsid was too fast. With one leap, it jumped to the left to avoid the blast, and with another it pounced on the mercenary's chest. Becker dragged himself to his feet just as the dinosaur took a bite out of the other man's neck. He held his left arm close to his body, making a note to stop the bleeding as soon as the danger of being eaten had passed. Keeping one eye on the creature, Becker tried to get to the EMD as quickly as he could without drawing the creature's attention. There was no way he would be able to outrun it even if he had been uninjured.
The force of the dinosaur's attack caused the mercenary's gun to go skittering across the floor. Becker reached it just as the carnivore looked up at him. Becker fired, over and over without pausing. The first blast made the creature growl, the second angered him enough to move towards this new threat, but by the fifth blast, the Gorgonopsid changed its mind and dashed out of the room.
Becker looked over at the body. Beanstalk was definitely dead. The captain went over to the first aid kit on the wall. He was proud of his idea to put one of these at various points in the ARC, and this wasn't the first time it had been useful. Slipping the strap of the EMD over his head and shoulder, he reached for the kit and withdrew a roll of cloth. He held the end of it in the palm of his left hand and used his right hand to wrap it tightly around his injured forearm. Then he tucked the edges under the wrappings. It wasn't his best work, but one handed and running out of time, it would have to do. As soon as he had finished, the blood was already starting to seep through.
Becker's next concern was Jess's safety. He paused briefly at another first aid kit to grab another roll of gauze, and then continued to Operations. He had his EMD drawn, partially for the Gorgonopsid, but also in anticipation of the leader of the intruders. When the boss saw him, he drew a gun as well. Jess looked up and gasped. Becker kept advancing. The boss finally realized Jess would be better leverage and pointed the gun at her instead.
Becker stopped, but didn't lower his gun. "One of your men is dead. A carnivorous creature is stalking the hallways looking for its next kill. Your men haven't faced a dinosaur in a hostile environment. I have. You want to point that gun somewhere else."
The boss considered it. "You lower your gun and so will I."
The captain lowered his weapon a hair. The boss followed suit. "At this pace, the dinosaur will be here before we're done with our standoff."
The boss sighed, but his gun arm dropped to his side. "What's your plan?"
Becker let the EMD hang on the strap and went to Jess's side. "You're hurt!" she exclaimed.
"Not too bad," he said, trying to downplay his injury so she wouldn't worry.
Jess saw the gauze. "Let me wrap that for you," she offered.
Becker handed her the roll of gauze. "Don't get any blood on you," he said. "The Gorgonopsid can smell the blood from pretty far away." Jess nodded and started wrapping the wound carefully.
"So it will be tracking you back here," the boss said angrily.
Becker fixed him with his glare. "You came into our work and stole dinosaurs, your men ignored my advice on how they should be sedated and transported, and when it came down to a life-or-death situation, your man froze and it cost him his life. Don't tell me how this is my fault."
The boss had to break eye contact under the intensity of Becker's glare, but then he looked back a second later. "Your plan?" he asked again.
Becker looked at the computer screen. The Gorgonopsid had apparently gone back to the Menagerie. He could see a body lying motionless on the ground. He didn't know where the other three men were.
"I'm going to the armory to get some guns. The Gorgonopsid's skin is too thick for EMD's to be any good. It's going to take real bullets to bring it down." Becker looked down at his arm as Jess finished patching it up. So far it hadn't bled through, but Becker would believe the dinosaur would still be able to track him.
"I don't like the idea of you having a gun."
"And I don't like the idea of you having a gun," Becker retorted. "You can stay here and monitor the cameras. Jess and I are going."
"There's a problem with your plan," the boss said calmly.
"And what's that?" Becker asked impatiently.
"I had Miss Parker lock the armory so you wouldn't be able to get in there, even with your ID. I'll need her to unlock it if you want access."
"Go ahead, Jess. I'll wait," Becker told her.
"I think you should head to the armory. By the time you get there, she should have it unlocked. If you wait here, the dinosaur could be blocking your way, or worse, be here. As you said, your weapon won't be very effective against it."
"I'm not leaving Jess here with you and a dinosaur on the loose," Becker said. His tone implied there was no further discussion on the matter.
The two men glared at each other until Jess spoke up. "Um, can I have a say in this?" she asked. Becker and the boss turned to look at her in union. Jess flinched under the power of their combined glare. "Becker, I hate to agree with the bad guy here, but we need to take down the dinosaur and fast. If you take a comms unit, we'll be in contact. I'll feel safer if you have a gun in your hands. I mean, a real gun, not a..."
"Toy gun," Becker said with a smile.
"So it's settled?" the boss asked.
"I take your gun with me. Actually, since it's my gun, I'm taking my gun back."
"And if the Gorgonopsid comes in here? How will I defend myself?"
"I really don't care," Becker said.
"Who will protect Miss Parker?" the boss said, knowing that he struck a nerve.
Becker let out a frustrated sigh. He grabbed the man and dragged him a few feet away. For a moment, the boss was afraid he had misjudged the situation and he started to draw the gun. Becker leaned in close and hissed, "She is not to be hurt in any way. You will protect her, with your life if you have to. If you survive and she is injured, I will take great pleasure in hurting you."
"Understood," the boss said weakly. He was taken aback by the captain's fervor.
Becker looked back at Jess. "I won't be gone long. I'll get to the armory and come right back. We'll be able to track it on the cameras, so we'll see it coming in time to prepare an ambush for it."
Jess walked over to him. "Be careful," she told him.
"You too. Keep an eye on him," he said.
"I think the dinosaur has made us temporary allies," she said. "It'll be fine."
Becker grabbed one of the comms and headed out the door. "Constant communication," he said. "If I don't hear from you for sixty seconds, I'm coming back."
Since the rescue teams didn't have comms, Matt called Abby on her mobile and they left the call connected. Connor hacked into the call so he, Lester, and Emily could hear it from outside. It wasn't the best solution, but it was all they had.
"I'm in the loading bay," Matt said. "No sign of Becker or the dinosaur. There is a body though. One of our intruders. There's also blood that didn't come from him. I think Becker's been injured. There are a dozen dinosaurs in cages in the semi."
"We're still in the corridor," Abby said. "I'll let you know when we've reached the armory." Suddenly the door slammed shut in front of her. She waaved her ID and pulled on the door, but it wouldn't open. "Matt, there's a problem. The door shut on its own, and it won't open."
Matt and his team had just walked out of the loading bay. He raced to the door leading back into the bay. He tugged on the door but it was also locked. "The same thing happened here. We'll check out the Menagerie."
"I'll backtrack and see if I can find another way to the armory or Ops." Abby felt exposed without a weapon. She would feel better when they reached the armory.
"Keep in contact," Matt said.
As soon as Becker left the room, the boss turned off the comms unit and pointed his gun at Jess. "Will you stop pointing that thing at me!" she exclaimed. "We're trying to save your life and you're making it more difficult."
"You're going to do what I say, and when I turn back on the comms, you are going to act normal. Because if your friend comes back here, I have a real gun and he has, as he said, a toy gun."
"That's not what he meant by toy-" she started. Todd entered the room, out of breath. He dropped a duffle bag on the ground.
"Boss, there's a dinosaur loose-"
The boss interrupted them both. "Don't say a word until I tell you, if you value your life," he warned Todd. "Comms coming back on. "
"Jess, are you okay?" Becker said.
"I'm fine, just trying to concentrate," she said. She worried that he would be able to hear the nerves in her voice.
"And I just want to make sure you're safe."
"Totally fine. Keep heading to the armory," she told him. The boss turned off the comms again.
"Open the outer loading bay doors. Lock all the doors and disable the ID's for everyone except Todd."
She did, but asked, "Why am I doing this?"
"Because I have a gun and you don't. Hurry." As soon as she was finished, the boss forced Jess from her seat.
"Where are we going?"
"I'm cutting my losses." He looked at the screen. "We've got a clear path. Come on, Todd. And bring the duffle bag."
Matt's team reached the Menagerie without having to adjust their course. There weren't any doors in the corridor blocking their path. It was slow going however. Matt knew that Becker needed backup, but he didn't want to run into an ambush and sacrifice the men with him. It was hard balancing those two objectives, but the team leader comforted himself with the fact that Becker could usually take care of himself.
Someone had propped open the door with a crate. Matt could hear the noises clearly from the corridor. It seemed that all the animals were awake and cawing, screeching, and howling. Matt stepped in the room first, grateful he had his own gun. After the business with Ethan, he wasn't going to be caught unarmed.
Several cage doors were open, but Matt reasoned that they belonged to the dinosaurs already in the semi. He really hoped there was only one of the creatures loose. The Gorgonopsid was a formidable enough foe, he really didn't want his men to have to deal with something else, especially as ill-prepared as they were weapon-wise.
On the ground was another body, a man with red hair. Matt only looked long enough to confirm that he was deceased before continuing on. The security feeds had shown six opponents, including the boss and Todd. Two of the mercenaries were dead, leaving four intruders with guns.
His men swept the area, making sure to check up high. The team leader decided the twice a week lectures Connor gave about a particular dinosaur's strengths, weaknesses, and behaviors were handy, although he hadn't thought it at the time.
"Sir, there's blood over here that doesn't seem to belong to him," one of the soldiers said, indicating the dead mercenary.
"One more pass around the Menagerie, and then we try to find a way to the Armory," Matt said. Although if they managed to get to the room, he doubted very much they'd be able to unlock the door.
The boss dragged Jess down the corridor as quickly as she could go in heels. Her shoes made a click-click sound as they went, but the boss was so focused on where they were going that he didn't try to quiet her. He had Todd unlock one of the doors with his ID. The door opened, revealing a storage closet that was the size of a small room.
"In," the boss said tersely, and pushed Jess in before she could comply. "Now, I'm going to give you the comms back, and you're going to tell Captain Becker where you are and for him to come get you."
"It's a trap," she gasped. "I'm not doing it."
"I really think you are. Because either he hears your voice, or he hears you screaming. Either way, he'll come."
Jess was scared at the look in his eyes. "What do you want me to say?" she asked tremulously.
"Say it however you want, but get him here." He handed her the comms. She took a breath and put it in her ear.
"Jess! Jess, I'm coming back. Just stay where you are, I'm coming!" said Becker. It was apparent by his desperation that he had been calling for her for the last few minutes.
"Becker, it's me. I'm not in Operations anymore. He took me to a storage closet off the main corridor." She paused and then added quickly, "And it's a trap!"
The boss grabbed the comms from her and dropped it to the floor. He smashed it with his foot. "That was foolish," he said with a cold anger.
"You said I could tell him however I wanted."
The boss backhanded her. "You're going to regret that."
Becker went cold when he heard that the mercenaries' boss had taken Jess somewhere else. He hadn't trusted that the Gorgonopsid had turned them into allies, and this just confirmed his fears. Becker's priority was keeping Jess safe, while the boss's agenda had to do with making money. Those goals were not going to complement each other.
He ran down the hallway, not bothering to check for either the mercenaries or the dinosaur. There was only one door open, so he knew it was that one. The captain forced himself to slow down. Walking into a trap wasn't going to help Jess. He needed to stay focused.
Keeping his EMD raised, he peered into the room before stepping in. The boss stood against the back wall, his gun pressed to Jess's head. Becker was getting really sick of the man holding her hostage. "Let her go," he said, taking a few small steps into the room before stopping.
"Drop your weapon," the boss countered.
"We've done this before," Becker said.
"Becker, watch-" Jess started as Todd came up behind the captain. She let out a cry as the traitor hit Becker in the head with the butt of his gun. Becker fell to his knees.
"Get him over here," the boss said. Todd kicked the EMD into the hallway and then dragged a dazed Becker to the wall where his boss and Jess stood. Todd and the boss released their hold on the prisoners. Jess dropped to her knees to check on Becker.
"You two will stay here," the boss said, as Todd removed something from his bag. "The dinosaur will be attracted to his blood. We're setting up a bomb just outside the door. If you try to leave, it will go off. If you stay, the dinosaur will set it off when he comes for him. Either way, I'll be gone with my cargo."
"You can't just leave us to die," Jess said.
"I've killed before. When this is over, I won't give your deaths another thought. Besides, the sizable amount of money coming to me will help me sleep soundly," the boss said. Todd finished his work on the bomb. "Good luck with the dinosaur." The boss pulled the door shut.
"Becker! Becker, can you hear me?" Jess looked at his pupils, trying to see if he had a concussion.
"Still here," he said.
"We're going to die, aren't we?" Jess asked softly.
"Now what would give you that idea?" Becker said casually, leaning back against the wall. He winced when he accidentally jostled his arm. Blood was seeping through the second layer of bandages.
"Well, for starters, you're bleeding out pretty fast, and we don't have any medical equipment in here. Besides that, there's the bomb outside the door keeping us from leaving. Oh, and don't forget the carnivorous dinosaur that's attracted to your blood."
"You may have a point," Becker conceded. Jess moved closer to him, and he put his uninjured arm around her.
"It's too bad the bomb isn't on this side. You could help me disable it."
"You disarm one bomb, and you think you're a professional," Becker told her.
"Sorry about the thing with the knife to the neck," Jess said, changing subjects so suddenly it confused Becker.
"Hmm?" he asked.
"When that one man threatened you? I needed a distraction to contact Lester." She sighed. "I guess it didn't work."
With effort, Becker focused his mind on the conversation. Now was not the time to slip into unconsciousness, no matter how much his tired and hurting body wanted it. Jess needed him. "Jess, I believe it did work."
"But I kept watch on the security cameras. I didn't see anyone coming," she protested.
"Jessica, you are brilliant. You can make that machine do anything you want. If you sent out a distress signal, then I have complete faith that it brought help." He took a breath. "Connor is also brilliant, although I'll never tell him that. I'm sure he's outside now, reconfiguring the whatsit on the gizmo that will muck up the... thing."
The young woman giggled despite herself. "The whatsit and the gizmo?"
"And the thing," Becker said, catching Jess's infectious grin. When their mirth had faded, he said, "Jess, if we don't make it out of here..."
"I thought we were thinking positively."
"I know, but if we don't... Jess, there's something I want to tell you."
"Yes?" she said, her blue eyes shining with unshed tears.
"I- I like you."
"I like you too."
"No, I mean. I really- Jess, I love you."
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah. Really." She leaned forward suddenly and kissed him, in the process making his head connect with the wall behind them. He broke away and cried out.
"Sorry, sorry!" she exclaimed.
"No, I'm good. Try it again, but gently?"
"Okay," Jess said, leaning forward slowly. They were still kissing when the door opened.
"Leave you two alone, and look what happens," Matt said. "And may I add, finally."
"Connor, how're you doing on unlocking the doors?" Matt asked.
"Almost...got it!" Connor cried with triumph. "Your ID's will work now. Becker and Jess are in a storage room up to the left. There's no sign of the intruders around them. Abby, you should head to the armory. The Gorgonopsid is back in the Menagerie. Oh, and the leader and Todd are in the loading bay. It looks like they're leaving."
"You focus on them, Connor. Can you shut down the semi remotely?" Matt asked.
Connor shook his head, not realizing Matt couldn't see him. "It's not one of ours. I'll shut down the outer bay doors and lock them in until you can get to them."
Matt found the door. He didn't have to ask Connor which one. The bomb in front of it was a pretty good sign they were in the right place. "Roberts, go get the bomb kit from Operations. Keep your eyes open. You don't want an intruder or the dinosaur to sneak up on you."
Roberts was back in two minutes. He handed Matt the kit. Matt handed his gun off to one of his men and concentrated on the bomb. It didn't look too complex. It wasn't on a timer. Instead, it was set to detonate if there were vibrations on the door, like if someone tried to open it. Matt cut the wires gently, then moved it away from the door. When nothing happened, he breathed a sigh of relief. He opened the door to find Jess and Becker kissing.
He made a joke about it, and the couple pulled away, embarrassed. "Come on, you two. There's still a dinosaur loose, haven't you heard?"
Now we're making progress, Abby thought as she unlocked the armory. "Grab whatever you can carry," she ordered. "If we meet up with Matt's team, we'll want them armed too. We're not playing around with the Gorgonopsid. If you see it, fire and keep firing until it's on the ground."
Connor was surprised at the ferocity in her voice. "Abby, you sure about that?" he asked hesitantly. He didn't want to question Abby, knowing her team could hear him, but that didn't sound like his fiancée.
"Connor, while I'd love to bring it in alive, we have too many unarmed people in here, and there's still armed intruders to worry about. I may not like it, but this is the call I'm making."
The young man knew that Abby wasn't mad at him, she was just frustrated with the situation. "Okay, I'm not disagreeing. Just be careful. I love you."
Lester muttered to Connor, "It took me ten years to realize saying "I love you" could stop a fight. It's good that you've learned it early. "
Emily had been quiet as Matt disarmed the bomb, breathing a simultaneous breath of relief with him. Now she turned an annoyed look at the two men. "Compare tips on women later. We have an incursion going on here."
"Excuse me, I happen to be your boss," Lester said crossly. When she didn't respond he mumbled to himself about lack of respect.
The three of them watched the screen carefully. Connor had split the screen so they could keep an eye on the Gorgonopsid and Matt's team, now accompanied by Becker and Jess. The young genius wished he had all the screens of the ADD so he could watch Abby and the loading bay as well, but he had to make do with what he had. He toggled between the other cameras to try to get a complete view of the ARC. Connor hoped that he would catch any possible problems before they grew deadly.
The Gorgonopsid was currently in the Menagerie. There was plenty of prey there. It hadn't yet realized that the bars of the cages made that food inaccessible to it. "Abby, Matt's team isn't too far from you. I'll lead you to them, and then you can corner the dinosaur in the Menagerie."
Jess was now close enough to hear Connor over Matt's mobile. "Connor, you're doing my job," she said indignantly.
"Sorry, Jess," Connor said contritely.
"It's okay. You're doing a good job," she admitted.
"Abby, keep going around that corner. They're just ahead, to the right." Connor's screens now showed the two teams. As soon as they met up and started distributing weapons, he switched one screen to the loading bay. "Our visitors in the loading bay are still sitting tight, but they don't look happy." He switched the feed again. "You'd better hurry to the Menagerie. I don't think the Gorgonopsid is going to wait there much longer. He's getting restless."
"Then let's bring the fight to him," Becker said.
"You're injured," Matt pointed out. "You should rest somewhere safe."
"He'll be attracted to my blood. If I go after him, I can be a diversion while you come up from behind," Becker argued. "If I stay, it will find me while you are playing hide and seek with it."
"Fine," Matt said, exasperated. "Just don't get yourself killed after I saved your life."
"Yes, sir," Becker answered with a cheeky grin.
"Guys, the dinosaur is sniffing around a closet door in the Menagerie. I think someone's in there," Connor said.
"We're on our way," Abby said.
Jess grabbed another roll of gauze from a first aid kit on the wall. Becker made a note to see that the kits were restocked soon. He gave himself a shot of adrenaline when no one was looking. He wanted to keep up with the others, but he didn't want them to see how much the effort was costing him.
Everyone paused just outside the Menagerie. Jess used the break to rewrap Becker's arm. "There's blood in your hair," she told him.
Becker reached up and touched the wound. "It's stopped bleeding. I'll clean it up later."
Matt looked at the people behind him. "We'll go in and fan out. Remember, it has really thick skin, so try to aim for the underbelly. Some of you have EMD's, and some of you have traditional guns. I figure we stand a better chance with both of them. Be aware of ricochets. We don't want any accidents due to friendly fire."
Thankfully, through the door was the part of the Menagerie that touched the back of the animals' cages. The backs were made out of concrete instead of the metal bars that were on the front of the cages. Abby wouldn't have to worry about any of the other dinosaurs getting hurt in the fight, as long as they could contain the Gorgonopsid in this area.
"Jess, I want you to stay in one of these side rooms. I can't guarantee that the dinosaur won't make it past us, and you don't have a weapon," Matt said.
Jess nodded. "Be careful," she whispered to Becker, then scanned her ID to open a door beside them. Matt waited until the door behind her shut, then used his own ID to open the door in front of him. He motioned his team to fan out to the left, and Abby's team took the right. Together, they made a semicircle that lined the wall and blocked the corridor.
The Gorgonopsid had been focused solely on getting into the supply closet in front of him. There were large gashes in the wood that suggested the creature had been at it for some time. Becker noticed blood on the floor just outside the supply closet. When Becker entered the room, the dinosaur's attention shifted. The creature's cold eyes fixed on his new target. Becker paused in the doorway, then stepped into the room to allow the door to swing shut behind him.
"On my mark," Matt said quietly. "One..."
The creature leaped towards Becker with a growl and he dove to the side. He could hear gunfire as he brought his own gun up. The dinosaur moved fast, seeming to avoid all the bullets. Becker knew that the animal's thick skin was protecting it from injury. He had to find a way to get at the soft underbelly if he had any hope of taking down the creature.
The Gorgonopsid roared in anger at the attacks. One of the bullets managed to hit its eye. He blindly picked a spot and rushed forward. The soldiers standing there scattered. Some of them recovered quickly and turned to fire again.
Becker saw one of the soldiers, Henderson, had a gash in his thigh. He headed towards him, knowing that the dinosaur would be attracted to the smell of blood, and both men together would be an enticing target. "Hold your fire!" he commanded, but most of the men had stopped already. Their formation had broken and with everyone spread out as they were, there was too great of a chance of shooting at an ally.
The sudden silence made everyone, including the dinosaur, stop in their tracks. "Matt," Becker said, not needing to speak up to be heard. "I need to get a shot from down low. Can you give me a distraction if this doesn't work?"
The team leader almost questioned him, but changed his mind and nodded once. Becker stood side by side with Henderson with their backs a foot from the wall. "It's going to come right at us," Becker told him. "Get ready to move left and I'll move right. We'll have a good angle for a shot."
The other man answered, "Yes, sir."
The dinosaur had been turning his head back and forth, almost as though it was following the conversation. It growled at them. The dozen men plus Abby waited with their breaths held to see if the plan would work. For a few moments, the Gorgonopsid just stood there. Then it sniffed the air and stalked towards Becker and Henderson."Wait for it," Becker murmured. The two men stayed still for several agonizingly long seconds, only jumping to the side at the very last moment. Becker's shoulder protested at catching the weight of his body, but he let off three rapid shots at the dinosaur's relatively vulnerable underside. The Gorgonopsid let out another roar, and then it fell to the side.
Becker tried to force himself to stand quickly in case the creature was not really dead, but the others had moved forward to cover him. Becker's whole body ached, and he was grateful when Matt extended a hand to help him up. The head of security took his time walking the few feet to the supply closet. It didn't require an ID to open, so he didn't wonder how Brick got in there. The mercenary's eyes were glassy, but Becker checked for a pulse anyway. The man was dead, probably from a combination of his wounds and the fear from the giant carnivore stalking him.
Matt had followed him. "How many others are there, then?"
"This is the second body I've found. The other one was in the loading bay," Becker answered.
"I found a ginger man in another section of the Menagerie," Matt said. "Also dead."
"That leaves the boss and Todd-" Becker started.
"They're locked in the loading bay, courtesy of Connor."
"And Grumpy," Becker said. When Matt gave him a look, he said, "What? I didn't give them the code names."
Grumpy was found soon enough, thanks to Connor checking the surveillance. Matt and a few of his men took him into custody, along with the boss and Todd. Lester, Connor, and Emily came inside once they had received word that the dinosaur was dead. Jess was also told that the coast was clear.
Lester forced Becker and Henderson to allow someone to look at their injuries. Becker's arm had stopped bleeding. The medic who tended to him removed the other bandages so he could apply medicine. Becker bit the inside of his lip as the gauze pulled on his wound as it was being unwrapped. The man also checked his pupils and asked him questions to make sure he didn't have a concussion. The head of security was glad when the medic declared him good to go.
At last Lester was happy things were settled. "All right, everyone clear out and go home. I want to see you all here at 8 AM."
Connor looked at his watch. "But it's after one now."
"That's why I'm sending you home so you can get some sleep."
"Couldn't we come in a little later?"
"Fine. Nine o'clock," Lester said.
Everyone looked at Connor to see if he would press the matter. He did. "How 'bout noon?"
"Don't push it, Temple."
"Sir, I almost died tonight. Can I get the day off?" Becker asked with a straight face.
"If we all took days off when we had a near-death experience, nothing would ever get done around here. Nine o'clock," Lester repeated.
As the others drifted towards the front door, Jess went over to Becker. "So I'm thinking seven," she said.
Becker stared at her, trying to comprehend what she was talking about. "You want to get to work earlier?"
"No, 7 PM. For our date," Jess said.
"Sorry, what date?" Becker asked. Maybe it really was a concussion. He was having a hard time keeping up with this conversation.
"You said that you love me. Abby told me that Connor first told her that during a dangerous situation where they both could have died, and then later pretended it didn't happen. It took them another year before they started dating. It's already been over a year for us. I don't want to wait another. You're picking me up tonight at 7." Jess waited expectantly. When Becker didn't immediately answer, she got nervous. "I mean, you don't have to. Go on a date with me, that is. Maybe you did just say it because we were about to die and you didn't really mean it. This is so embarrassing. Just forget what I said. It doesn't-"
"Jessica Parker," he interrupted. "I will pick you up at seven."
She searched his eyes, trying to see if he was saying that out of guilt or because she was pressuring him. "You don't have to," she said again.
"I want to. I will see you at seven."
"Then it's a date," Jess said happily.
"It's a date," Becker repeated.