Spoilers: Sequel to "Saving Stephen" in which Connor's timely intervention saves Stephen from getting eaten. Occurs just as ep3.01 begins. Lester appoints Captain Becker to the ARC team. This is also where I REALLY start to play with the plot.
"Gentlemen," the young lean military captain greeted the two lieutenants politely. He sat opposite them, and the three men simply spent a quiet moment assessing one another. The captain was a young man, a graduate from Sandhurst with honors. The two men facing him were older, experienced men with ample time at this post under their belts. The captain had been brought in over them. Any resentment or issues had to be sorted immediately.
"Here's how I see it," the captain began. "My brief is to protect the core ARC team. You will maintain command of your respective units. I will call in one or the other as needed. Otherwise you'll act as secondary units or perimeter patrol. Any successes are due to your own skills and initiative. Any mistakes are due to my orders. Understood?"
The lieutenants exchanged glances. The young hot shot had just given them the opening to destroy his career at the outset. But then, he'd also demonstrated trust and respect in their integrity by doing it. In a few short sentences, he'd proven himself to be fair, respectful of their experience, understanding of the awkward situation, and damned clever.
"Yes Sir," Lieutenant Smythe said, acknowledging Captain Becker's slick handling of the situation.
"Good. Alright, let's get down to brass tacks here," Becker produced a number of folders. "From the bottom up? Maitland, Abigail – Twenty-four, single, animal behavior specialist. Rated on small arms." He gave the two men a questioning look. "Dirt?"
Smythe grinned. "Kickboxing and karate. Good in hand to hand. She sometimes works out with the men. She's also liable to chew your head off if you shoot a creature without specific orders or eminent threat."
"Even if there is eminent threat," Wilson added. "Abby usually sticks to tranquillizer guns, not firearms."
"Oh, yeah – and it's Abby. Call her Abigail at your peril."
"Good to know." Becker made a note in the file, and moved on. "Temple, Connor. Twenty-six, single, paleontologist and technical ops. I'm guessing…. first rate geek?"
The others grinned. "Yeah. The dinosaur expert. Also rated on small arms, if that's not in there," said Smythe. "That's new. Trust me, the kid was a regular disaster waiting to happen until recently."
"Ah… also sleeping with Maitland, Abigail. We think." Now Wilson was beginning to gossip. "They share a flat, but lately… well, there's a betting pool down in the armory, if you want to join in. But right now we're mainly waiting for confirmation."
Becker frowned. "So, should Maitland be threatened, I should expect Temple to do something ridiculously brave and stupid?"
Smythe winced. "Actually, you can count on Temple for brave and stupid pretty much all the time."
"Pull the reports on Oliver Leek and the Bunker Incident."
Becker made more notes. "Hart, Stephen. Thirty-two, zoologist. Rated on all weapons."
"Hart's a good man." Wilson announced. "Ladies man, as well."
Smythe nodded. "But he's got a good head on his shoulders. In the field, he's cautious, smart, and a damned fine shot. He could probably pull down a sniper qualification if he wanted."
"He handles most of the firepower for the core team. He and Maitland maintain the tranq' arsenal. Tracker, hunter, and scientist. He's also Cutter's right hand."
"Yes, that brings us to Cutter, Nicholas, forty, evolutionary zoologist, whatever that means." Becker's expression invited comment.
The lieutenants both hesitated.
"Come now, he's the team leader, you must have some insight?" Becker inquired.
"Convinced of his own righteousness."
"Unfortunately, he IS right most of the time."
"True, but he doesn't need to rub everyone's faces in it, does he?"
"No, I guess not."
Becker watched the volley with disbelief.
"Also… what's the word? Changeable?" Smythe asked.
"Mercurial," Wilson offered.
"Of the team?" Becker interrupted.
"Everything – the team, the creatures, the anomalies. You name it. Everything having to do with this… mess."
"One last question. Cutter, Helen, thirty-nine, paleontologist?"
Wilson and Smythe both went very still. "Detain if possible," Wilson said grimly.
"With any luck, Lester will upgrade that to shoot on sight," riposted Smythe.
Becker nodded. "Alright. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate the information."
Both lieutenants snapped off salutes as they left the captain sitting in the spare office.
Captain Becker frowned at the folders in front of him. This posting was not looking like the cushy domestic stationing he had expected it to be. Earlier, he'd been given a brisk tour by the operations manager, a very dry senior government official named Sir James Lester.
"Your job is to tighten up security in every area of the ARC," Lester had told him. "As you may know, we've had a number of unfortunate lapses recently. You're aware of the work we do here?"
Becker confirmed he'd been properly briefed, though he hardly believed it. When Lester called him on his blasé attitude, Becker tried a small joke. It went over like a lead balloon. "I have extensive experience in dinosaur handling, sir. I assumed that was why I was picked for the job."
Lester had not been amused. "I take it that's some sort of joke? A lot of people are skeptical when they join us, Captain. They don't stay that way for long." Lester's lip curled into a tiny sneer. "And in the future, I'll do the jokes."
Lester had gone on lecturing. "You'll be with a highly strung and temperamental team of rank amateurs who just happen to be brilliant at what they do. Your job's to stop them getting themselves killed. No matter what they say, what excuses they use, you and your men will stick to them like glue. We can't afford to lose any of them, a risk that has happened all too frequently in the past. Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal clear, Sir."
Lester had nodded and turned to leave, before bestowing one last parting shot. "Oh, by the way. Professor Cutter won't like you, and he'll go out of his way to make your job impossible. Try not to take it personally."
Two hours later, having gone through the personnel files, the key incident reports, and heard the input of the two veteran senior military officers at the posting, Captain Becker wasn't at all sure he should be happy with the new patch on his b.d.u.s.
To Be Continued