CHAPTER 3: part 2: NOWHERE (NEVADA)
By sunrise the next morning, they had driven down an empty road with the baby Nasutoceratops peacefully sleeping in the back of their van. Claire Dearing Grady had gotten out of the vehicle to get some fresh air. After a few minutes, the leader of the Dinosaur Protection Group/DPC walked back to her companions with more plans on her minds.
"Okay," she said. "So I think we should get this young male to the safety of DFW and then hit that facility again. Yeah, you saw that breeding ground, right?"
"Whoa, whoa," Franklin Webb said, shaking his head. "Look, we'll get this one to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and make sure she's safe. But after that..."
The man sighed before continuing, "I'm sorry, Claire. We're done."
Zia Rodriguez nodded, sitting beside him and bandaging his injuries.
"Yes, Claire, we can't do this anymore." She said to her shocked friend.
"I got a call last week, that is offering me a REAL job, something I can do to effectively change things. I've got to take it." said Franklin. "And Zia is going to take her paleoveterinarian career somewhere else."
Claire, still in surprise, stood for a few seconds with her feet rooted to spot.
"What? You...you're quitting?" She asked feeling disappointed, unable to believe it. Franklin and Zia had both been her trusted friends and partners for a long few years.
Franklin scoffed, very annoyed.
"Quitting what?" He asked, exasperated. "This isn't an actual organization anymore."
Claire ignored her friend's answer and said, "A lot of people want these animals dead."
"Yeah," Franklin agreed sarcastically. "And if people like us are in jail, they win.
Zia, who had finished treating to her companion's wounds, sighed and got up looking at Claire who had hung her head with sadness.
"Claire," Zia said gently. "I know you want to do right by your past. You're responsible for something that hurt a lot of people. You want to fix it, but this isn't about you anymore."
"But they need us," Claire pleaded.
"Are you saving these dinosaurs because they need us?" Franklin challenged her accusingly. "Or are you saving them to absolve yourself?"
Those words stung Claire in the heart and she walked away a short distance, frustrated and angry.
Franklin immediately regretted what he said and tried to apologize, "Claire, wait! I did not mean to-"
"Franklin!" Zia hissed angrily.
"No, it's alright, Zia." Claire replied. "He's not wrong."
Claire still felt terrible about her role in the disaster at Jurassic World. People died in jaws of the T-Rex, Indominus Rex, Mosasaurus, and other predators. Trying to save the dinosaurs that had escaped into North America and the world was the only way she knew how to make up for that.
Both Franklin and Zia got up from the back seat of the van, leaving the still unconscious baby Nasutoceratops alone, and followed her.
"Claire, I mean this is crazy!" Franklin told her pleadingly.
Zia understood how Claire felt and said, "Claire, you are doing the right thing! But this is not the way to go about it anymore." She gestured back to the sleeping dinosaur still lying still in the van. The juvenile Nasutoceratops moaned in his sleep.
Claire slowly nodded.
Zia turned back to her friend and said, "I mean, there are other people that can help you with all of this."
Franklin agreed, saying, "Yeah, honestly you need someone who's good at being shot at. I mean, aren't you and OWEN still a little, weird thing?"
Owen Dearing Grady is Claire's wife. They got married in 2021 privately and Franklin, Zia and Claire's family were at their wedding. The two were a happy couple.
"It's not that weird!" Claire protested, laughing and smiling.
Zia glared at Franklin saying, "He didn't mean weird. He meant like, surprising."
"Yeah. Surprising." He said.
Zia turned back to Claire and asked her, "How is your husband anyway?
"He's at home this week." Claire answered. "Owen is looking after HER."
Zia knew who HER was, and she didn't ask Claire about the subject again. Instead, she held out her hand towards her partner.
"You take care of yourself, Claire." She said, shaking her hand. "We'll keep in touch. I promise."
Claire tried to smile but failed as she said, "Thank you. Good luck with your career."
Zia nodded and walked away back to the van.
Franklin walked over as well and shook hands with Claire.
"It was a pleasure working with you." He said, before walking back to vehicle after Zia.
Zia turned back to Claire one last time and told her, "We'll be waiting in the van for you."
Claire nodded and said, "Yeah, I'll be right there. I just want to be alone for a bit."
Her friends nodded respectfully and climbed back into the van with the sleeping baby dinosaur.
Claire turned away from her ex-team and watched the sun rise over the horizon. She knew that her friends were right, but that didn't make things any easier. And she did wonder what her husband Owen would be doing the next week when she would be watching over HER.