Owen's InGen Security transport helicopter touched down on a grassy hill in one of the rare open areas in the Torteguero National Park. It could have carried ten soldiers in full combat armor, but just to be on the safe side, Owen had restricted it to only him, Barry, and Blue. The two humans sat on either side of Blue, there to reassure her with pats and murmured words of comfort. From nose to tail, she was securely locked with steel restraints to the floor of the helicopter. Owen and Barry agreed that this was the best way to transport her without placing her under heavy sedation, and they wanted her at full functioning capacity as soon as they set down in the jungle.
Blue handled the strange experience fairly well. She watched her handlers alertly but showed no sign of distress. She didn't fight the confinement or seem bothered by the sound of the rotors.
Owen wasn't about to face a pack of raptors without the most capable teammates available. Not many made it out of the Jurassic World catastrophe alive, but two very adept colleagues managed the task. Berenger "Barry" Dutertre was a highly capable velociraptor wrangler who worked alongside Owen in taking care of his pack. He was everything Owen could want in a human partner. And, of course, Blue was a highly capable velociraptor. When you wanted to ingratiate yourself with a bunch of unfamiliar raptors known to have killed at least six people, who better to smooth things over than a loyal raptor?
There was always the possibility that Blue's loyalty would, as it had on Jurassic World, meet its end. The dominant raptor of this foreign pack could steal Blue away from Owen as had the Indominus rex. If that happened, well, Owen would do what he had to. He'd try to win Blue over. If that failed, he'd take responsibility for taking a raptor off Isla Nublar and shoot her before she hurt anyone. He hoped it wouldn't come to that.
As the helicopter powered down, he and Barry got to work. They unlocked Blue from the floor and removed enough restraints so she could stand. They kept her muzzle and claw sheaths on and secured a hobble chain to keep her from moving faster than humans could reasonably handle. She growled her disapproval.
Owen's heart went out to her, but he knew the restraints were for the best. Wiesner's special forces operatives hadn't met her under the best of circumstances, with her mouth and claws bloody, and though he was glad they didn't view her as a tame dino pet, they were apt to incur injury the other direction by antagonizing her into conflict. They were skilled soldiers but trained only for dealing with humans, not animals, and certainly not raptors. They knew enough to respect her for her strength, but when it came to practical interaction with Jurassic World animals, they were as green as any new recruit in basic training. That was why Owen made sure that he'd be able to bring in people of his choosing to assist him in leading Wiesner's hired goons.
"She's a beautiful animal," Dr. Sarah Harding called out as she hurried over to meet with them. She kept a respectful distance away from Blue but didn't display the fearfulness of the soldiers and maintained calm, easygoing energy to keep Blue from getting too excited. With experience in dealing with both Jurassic Park raptors from Site B and large predators on the African savannah, Sarah had been Owen's second choice after Barry.
"She is," Barry agreed. He laughed and patted Blue's head. "Our Blue is an empress among raptors."
Blue turned her eye to study this new addition to the group. Sarah let Blue examine her without changing her position or behavior. The raptor tilted her head up, bobbing in birdlike acceptance of this newcomer.
"That's it, Blue," Owen said. "Sarah's a new handler." He pointed at her and repeated her name to get Blue familiar with it.
"How much do you think she understands?" Sarah questioned, tilting sideways to examine Blue back.
"She understands more than you would ever think," Barry opined. "Raptors are the smartest dinosaurs ever brought back to our world."
"Yeah, they're real Einsteins with a knack for disemboweling people," Owen said. "They're about as smart as chimpanzees. They can know maybe… twenty words. When you make an effort to build a relationship with them like we were doing in Jurassic World, they can learn to understand what you mean even if they don't understand every word."
"Like the conversation we're having now?" Barry said. "She understands that we are reassuring her and you as we introduce the two of you. Humans have levels of social protocol to distract us from the ultimate meaning of our interactions. Blue may not understand exactly what we're saying, but she understands the point."
"Can I touch her?" Sarah asked.
"If she lets you," Owen said. He trusted Sarah had the training of animal psychology to know how to read Blue's basic body language and know when to back off.
Watching Blue closely, Sarah crept closer. Blue watched back and let her approach. Sarah reached out a hand and touched Blue along her scaly neck. Blue let this go on for a few seconds and then pulled back. Sarah immediately dropped her hand and took a few steps back.
"She's amazing," she said. She kept her face carefully controlled, not grinning in order to make sure Blue didn't think she was baring her teeth aggressively, but the corners of her mouth pulled up, and Owen could see a grin in her eyes. It reminded him of when he first got to know his pack.
Barry gave him a knowing look. He saw it too. "She's a little angel. With teeth!"
"Your little angel's scaring the menfolk," Sarah observed. Indeed, the special forces soldiers were gathered alertly at the base of the hill, clutching their weapons and staring at Blue. None of them were watching the perimeter.
"What are they doing?" Owen sighed. He turned to Barry. "Take Blue and Sarah to the holding pen and get them settled. I'll take care of these idiots."
He trotted down the hill to the group of soldiers. "Hey, fellas, my order to not drop your guard around her didn't mean you should watch her to make sure she doesn't sprout wings and breathe fire. Barry and me have this handled. You should watch for other raptors. You know, the ones that won't be chained up?"
"I concur," Dr. Alan Grant said, stepping out from behind one of the many active construction projects there at the camp. He removed his dusty white fedora and wiped sweat from a brow darkened by years of labor under bright sun. Replacing the hat, he nodded in acknowledgement of Owen. "They'll undoubtedly be aware of us before we're aware of them. We should be ready to deal with them when they choose to make themselves known."
Alan was Owen's third choice. The two men shared a tense relationship. Alan was, of course, the one expert not affiliated with InGen who was most familiar with raptor behavior, directly interacting with them on both Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna. Even before observing living dinosaurs, he accurately predicted many of their behavior patterns. Before the Jurassic Park catastrophe, raptors were a favorite of his, and he'd written about them lovingly in his first book. His second book presented them as the spawn of Satan, but he was still an expert.
He and Owen met several times and talked over drinks as fellow raptor experts when Owen still worked at Jurassic World, and they maintained an ongoing correspondence. It was his profound pessimism and standoffishness that made Owen reluctant to take him on. Every time Alan looked at Owen, there was a layer of smug condemnation for Owen taking part in a business that would breed raptors. Nowadays, after finding out what Hammond did, Owen felt like he deserved part of that.
"Begging your pardon, sir, but it's hard to see the value in taking one of those wild monsters into our base camp," said one of the soldiers. He spoke in a polite, cultured tone, his accent characteristic of the Southern United States. With his boyish face and tanned white skin, Owen couldn't help but mentally compare him to the figure of Tom Sawyer. "You know how many people those things have killed. Good people with families of their own. The only reason that one survived Jay-Dub is because it was more cutthroat than anything around it, and you want to take this lethal predator into our midst?"
"That is not your decision, Private Citizen Donaldson. Owen Grady is the program manager of this mission, and you would do well to respect that." It was Dr. Lionel Barnett who spoke, a skinny bespectacled man acting as adjunct to Wiesner, there to observe the operation on his behalf. He was also an archeologist familiar with the, uh, artifact. Not that you needed a PHD to spot a shiny black statue shaped like a, uh, cone of water. No, Owen knew he was just Wiesner's lackey. As long as he stayed out of Owen's way, though, Owen was fine to let him observe.
"Thank you, doctor, but I've got this." Owen smiled courteously and turned to the unruly soldier. "Donaldson. Dr. Barnett is absolutely correct. This is my op. I don't know how things usually go on in these fake military outfits, but when I run a mission, it goes down like it does in the U.S. Navy. That means you DO NOT MOUTH OFF TO YOUR COMMANDING OFFICER. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
"Sir! Yes, Sir!" Donaldson snapped off a salute. His casual demeanor vanished, and he displayed the appropriate stiff tension of a military subordinate.
Owen let his anger fade. "Now, you just let me do the thinking, Private… Citizen. I know more about raptors than anyone here, including our friend Dr. Grant. If you can't trust Blue, then trust me. I've got everything under control. Now, go watch the perimeter, and do not fire without my express authorization! And don't let me catch you badmouthing my dinosaurs again."
Dr. Barnett applauded as the soldiers ran to their posts. "Excellent leadership skills, Mr. Grady. I'm sure we'll get this matter in hand in no time at all."
"Yeah, whatever." Owen ignored him as he walked over to join Alan.
The paleontologist studied the buildings being erected. Owen watched the construction as well. Most of them were going to be pens intended to contain raptors, which would have to happen eventually to protect the public, but they had a long way to go before they were at that stage. They still needed to locate the raptor nest and assess the pack before they could even think about moving them.
Owen looked out over the jungle. It was a dense concentration of moist trees and bushes similar to the topography of Isla Nublar, which he knew had been carefully designed to evoke the jungle environments that people associated with the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The Tortuguero jungle was a natural environment that was the spitting image of the background of a dinosaur illustration. It made perfect sense that a group of free raptors would come here.
He looked at the trees, trying to see if he could spot anything looking back at him. He knew their presence wouldn't go unnoticed by the indigenous wildlife. Even if raptors wouldn't notice them directly, the apex predators would be alerted by the changing behavior of their prey. Raptors were curious creatures, and Owen knew they would investigate sooner or later. He just hoped they would give enough of a window for Owen and Blue to make contact before the game of cat and mouse began.
"No fences," Alan stated in a grunt.
"No point," he replied. "It would have to be extreme to keep raptors out, and I don't want this to be Tortuguero Jurassic Park. I want to make it nice and open. That way, our welcome won't be a taunt."
Alan sighed. "You want to pretend you're one of them? Talk to them? I've been down that road."
"I know," he said. "According to the report of your Isla Sorna raptor encounter, you spoke to an alpha female and successfully negotiated with her."
Alan waved his hand dismissively. "I made some raptor sounds and successfully confused her long enough for the military rescue to arrive and scare her away. I make no claim of actual communication."
"Nonetheless, you got out of a confrontation through trying to talk to them." He waved in the general direction of Blue. "You were talking gibberish, but Blue can say things that mean stuff. She can understand her place in the pack, and she can tell them that. With Blue, we can actually talk to raptors."
Alan offered him a smug smile, full of contempt. "Well, I hope your plan works. I really do. If there's one thing I've learned about Jurassic Park, it's that we are never in control."