Series: Three Years, part 7
Title: Old Friends
Characters/pairing: Ryan/Connor, Cutter, Stephen, Helen, Abby, OMCs
Warnings: AU, occasional language, violence.
Spoilers: Anything through to episode 1.6
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 5800
Summary: Out of the Jurassic frying pan, into the fire…
Links to previous chapters in the Five Days/Three Years series can be found here.
“Connor, sometimes you scare me.”
“Why?” Connor wasn’t really paying attention, and they both knew it.
“Why? Because we’re in the middle of nowhere, with nothing more threatening than a handgun and a cutting retort between us, looking at an armoured, spiky dinosaur the size of a tank.” Ryan paused for effect. “And you’re grinning like a maniac.”
If possible, Connor felt his grin get bigger.
“Look at it,” he said, waving an arm at said armoured, spiky, tank-sized dinosaur. “It’s brilliant.”
Ryan gave a rather long suffering sigh. “Admittedly this probably won’t help me, but what is it?”
“Styracosaurus.” That one was easy, even without his laptop. “It has to be styracosaurus, no other ceratopsian species has that many spikes on its frill. Late Cretaceous herbivore, kind of like triceratops but with more spikes and a lot smaller.”
“I think some of that sentence was even in English,” Ryan said with a very slight quirk of a smile. Connor knew the word ‘herbivore’ was usually a good start where Ryan was concerned. Although he was still keeping a tight hold on his pistol, for all the good such a small weapon might do against an animal that size.
The creature in question was very similar to its more famous relative, triceratops, with a build and body shape roughly like a large rhino. It had one long horn in the centre of its face, and a vaguely alarming array of spikes projecting backwards from the edge of its neck frill. And was indeed about the size of a small tank.
“They’re thought to travel in herds, although if there was a herd of them around here we’d probably know about it already,” Connor commented helpfully.
“Thanks, I feel so much better knowing that,” Ryan replied in a dry voice.
Connor shivered, despite his excitement. It was a little before dawn, but the sky was still dark, the light in the east hidden behind a thick fog that had descended overnight. Actually it seemed more likely that it was very low cloud on the hilltop rather than fog, but the end result was the same. This sort of environment wasn’t exactly the natural habitat for a styracosaurus, although it did seem to be relatively happy as it munched its way through a patch of shrubbery that still bore autumn leaves. Connor wondered idly if the unfamiliar vegetation would disagree with the dinosaur later.
“I suppose we should go looking for the anomaly,” Connor said, wrapping his arms around himself against the cold, damp air.
Ryan sighed again. “Somehow I knew you were going to say that.”
“There’s bound to be one. And we should make sure nothing else has come through.”
“Fine. You keep an eye on spikysaurus, I’ll sort out the tent and stuff.”
“Because I’m not bloody going anywhere until we’ve erased the evidence that we were here.”
Connor opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again. He knew from experience that there was no point arguing with Ryan when he used that tone of voice. It just led to a lot of wasted breath, and Ryan getting his own way in the end anyway.
Besides, it gave him time to study the styracosaurus for a bit longer. No matter how many of these creatures Connor saw, he never got tired of them. Although standing there, watching it munching on the shrubs, it occurred to Connor that he might never see any of these prehistoric creatures again. It was only a chance fluke that they had been in the right place for this one, and now he was no longer a part of the anomaly project, with apparently no prospect of that situation changing, experiences like this were going to be a thing of the past. No pun intended.
Ryan had taken the tent down and packed their rucksacks in under ten minutes, and somewhat reluctantly Connor dragged his gaze away from the styracosaurus. The place where they had camped wasn’t large or dense enough to be called a forest, but it was significantly bigger than the woods, some barely more than copses, that they had been forced to use for the last few days. The fog was adding more than a slightly creepy air to the whole scene, and Connor started having visions of dinosaurs looming out of the darkness every time he heard a noise.
It didn’t take long to find the anomaly. The wild spinning of the compass led them to a clearing, and Connor couldn’t help stopping to stare in awe. The glittering light of the anomaly appeared as more of a muted glow, its shattered edges softened by the fog. It was oddly beautiful and Connor briefly wished he had a companion who would share his appreciation of such things.
“Well, it’s here,” Ryan said. “What exactly were you planning on doing next?”
“We need to call Cutter and tell them it’s here.”
“They need to know.”
“Connor, you’re talking about giving our exact location to the very people who want to arrest us.” Incredulity was quickly turning to anger in the soldier’s voice.
“They don’t need to know it’s us. That’s why they call it an anonymous tip off.” Connor was starting to feel a little angry himself.
“Fine,” Connor snapped. “What do you want to do then Ryan? Just walk away? There’s a village not more than three miles down the hill. What if one of these creatures gets down there and there’s no-one here to contain the threat?”
“It’s not our responsibility any more.”
“Yes it is,” Connor said. “We know what this is, we know the threat it poses. It is our responsibility to deal with it, whether we’re part of the team or not.”
Connor saw the doubt on Ryan’s face, and knew that the soldier already agreed with him on that score. But, as ever, he was almost certainly weighing the risk it posed to their survival.
“Ryan, you were the one who was talking about still wanting to protect the public. Please.” Connor chose his words carefully. Being antagonistic was not going to win him this argument.
The way Ryan was glaring at the anomaly suggested it had offended him on some deep personal level. Eventually, though, he nodded.
“Okay. Fine. We call them. Then we get the hell out of here as fast as possible.”
“There’s probably a phone box in the village,” Connor said. “Now, before you start shouting, hear me out. You need to go to the phone, I’ll stay here and watch the anomaly.”
Ryan looked like he was about to start shouting. Connor continued quickly.
“It’s three miles at least. We both know you can cover that distance way faster than I can. If I stay here I can keep track of anything coming in or out of the anomaly, so they’ll know what they’re dealing with when they get here.”
“Were you planning on hanging around to tell them?” Ryan said sarcastically.
“No. I was planning on leaving them a message.” He had no idea how he was going to leave them a message yet, but he was thinking fast on this one. “Once we know that they know, then we can leave. Ryan, I don’t want to get caught any more than you do. It’ll take them at least a couple of hours to get here from London anyway, probably longer, so we’ll have time to get away.”
“So you’re expecting me to go all the way to the village and back again? No way, Connor. Fine if you want to keep track of what creatures come through, but you’re going to have to meet me halfway.”
“Literally or metaphorically?” Connor didn’t want to leave the anomaly, and any associated creatures, unattended any longer than necessary, but Ryan did have a point.
“Give me an hour, then head north-west down the hill. That car park we saw signposted on the way in? Meet me there, and stay out of sight until I get there.” There was no mistaking the order in his voice, and Connor decided not to argue. He suspected he’d been lucky to get that much compromise out of the man. He also knew it wasn’t wise to provoke Ryan when he was so obviously tense.
“Okay, no problem.”
Ryan eyed the anomaly warily. “Keep a distance from the creature, and anything else that comes out. If it looks threatening, don’t take any risks, just run.”
“Ryan, I’m not an idiot.”
“No, but you are a scientist. The two are disturbingly similar whenever we find one of these things.”
“Are you going or what?” Connor was starting to get a little pissed off with Ryan’s attitude.
“One hour, Connor.”
Ryan turned and headed off into the fog. Connor diverted his attention to the anomaly, and after another few minutes of standing around he found a place to sit down where he could lean against a tree and remain largely concealed behind a thick patch of brambles. Just in case. Because, scientist or not, he wasn’t an idiot.
Nothing much happened for the next half hour or so. The fog didn’t show any sign of dissipating, although it did get lighter as the sun struggled through. He occasionally heard noises of the styracosaurus browsing, ripping foliage off and chewing.
The anomaly rippled and a dark shape came through it. Connor tensed. Even through the fog he could see it wasn’t a large creature, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t dangerous. A moment later there was the sound of a cracking branch, a scuffle of stumbling, and a muffled, “Ow!”
Connor couldn’t help grinning.
“Not your most stealthy entrance,” he commented out loud.
For the first time since he had known her, Helen Cutter looked surprised. Somehow, it felt oddly satisfying.
He stood up as she came over towards him. He noticed she was walking with a slight limp.
“You’re alive,” she said simply.
“So are you. We heard you’d been shot.” Three years, or however long it had really been for her, had added a few more lines to her face. If anything she seemed even harder, more distant.
“We? Ryan still around as well, then?”
“He’s around.” Connor was being deliberately vague. As far as he was concerned, it was only a week earlier that this woman had left him to die in the Jurassic. While he was glad that she hadn’t been killed, this reunion certainly wasn’t going to involve any hugging. “No thanks to you.”
“I told you where the anomaly was, what more did you want?”
“You didn’t mention there were three of them. Or that it was going to take us back three years too late. I know you don’t like Ryan, or me for that matter, but that was pretty low, even for you.”
Helen’s eyebrows quirked upwards. “It wasn’t deliberate, if that’s what you think. When you didn’t show up again I assumed you’d died in the Jurassic. And for the record, there should have only been one anomaly. If you got there in time, of course. It’s not my fault if you went through the wrong one.”
Connor wasn’t sure whether he believed her or not. He wanted to believe that even she wasn’t that callous, but after what Abby had told him, he couldn’t look at her now without seeing a woman who had an affair with her husband’s best friend.
She looked around the clearing. “Nick isn’t here yet, then?”
Connor wondered if she could read his thoughts. “No. We’re calling them in, they should be on their way soon.” He hesitated, and then realised that he couldn’t not warn her. “Listen Helen, me and Ryan didn’t exactly get welcomed back with open arms. I’m guessing you’ve been around for the last three years, you know what’s been going on. We… we sort of ended up on the run, and I guess Captain Thomson and his men are going to be even twitchier than usual. I just thought you should know, after what happened last time you were seen.”
Helen’s expression was suddenly a lot more… interested. “I’ll bear it in mind.” She looked around at the forest. “In the spirit of sharing, I’ll tell you that there is a really nasty predator on the other side of the anomaly. That’s why I’m here, I’ve come to warn Nick.”
“What predator?” His heart rate quickened. He was alone in the forest with no weapons and potentially a dangerous creature. And Ryan was out there somewhere as well, on his own.
“It’s the late Cretaceous, Connor, what do you think it is?”
She gave him an amused smile. “Not quite. Think a little smaller and you’re in the right area.”
Not a tyrannosaurus was a relief, but Connor knew it still left a multitude of options, all of them bad, because ‘smaller than T-Rex’ still encompassed a hell of a lot of large, nasty tyrannosaur type options.
“Okay. Thanks. I haven’t seen any predators on this side already. But there is a styracosaurus.” He pointed back in the direction of the creature.
“You know as well as I do, if there’s a predator already on this side, you won’t see it until it’s already ambushed you.” Helen looked around at the forest, and then turned to leave. “See you around, Connor.”
He watched her walk away into the fog. When Helen Cutter decided that she was bored with a conversation, there really was nothing that he could do to stop her.
Connor glanced at his watch. There was only about ten minutes left before he was supposed to go and meet Ryan. On the one hand he didn’t want to leave the anomaly, but now there was a potential threat of predators he had to admit he wasn’t keen on hanging around by himself. Still, ten minutes wasn’t that long. Besides, Helen had said she was going to warn Cutter anyway. Yep, it was going to turn out okay, he thought. He settled back into his hiding place and watched the anomaly for another uneventful ten minutes. Now it really was time to leave.
With one last look back at the styracosaurus, Connor wondered which way led in the direction of the car park. The compass was useless this close to the anomaly, and he decided that simply heading downhill was close enough for now. He found a footpath not far away and followed it. There was no sign of Helen, but then if she didn’t want to be found Connor knew he had little chance of spotting her again.
He didn’t hear the voices until the last moment. He dived into the undergrowth beside the path and ploughed through it under cover as the muted conversation drifted out of the swirling fog.
“Did you hear that?”
Connor froze crouched in a patch of dense bushes, hoping to god that it was good enough. His heart was racing and he cursed himself for walking on the path instead of staying in cover.
Cutter? The second voice was unmistakable. And now he thought about it…
“I just thought I heard something moving in the bushes,” Stephen said.
“Well there’s nothing now.” Cutter sounded as impatient as ever.
After another pause, he heard footsteps resume crunching on the path, and the two figures emerged from the drifting white curtains of fog. For a second it was as if nothing had changed and this whole three years business hadn’t happened. Stephen with his rucksack full of gear, folding a map up as he walked, Cutter’s sharp eyes scanning the path ahead. Cutter was even still wearing the same green jacket. Connor had an almost overwhelming urge to stand up and shout out to them. He so badly wanted to talk to his friends again, to tell them about the styracosaurus and the anomaly, to show them what he’d found.
Cutter tripped on the path and in a second the illusion was broken. Stephen’s hand shot out to grab Cutter and steady him, and Cutter jerked his arm away from Stephen’s touch. A look that was part apology, part accusation passed between them for a split second, and suddenly the unfamiliar physical distance between them was glaringly obvious.
Abby hadn’t been kidding about the two of them.
“Professor.” A voice from further down the path called out of the fog. Connor was torn between trying to see who it was, and getting even further into cover. He didn’t think anyone had seen him, but he didn’t recognise the new voice.
An armed Special Forces soldier jogged up the path to meet the two scientists. Connor thought he looked vaguely familiar, but couldn’t put a name to him.
“The lads haven’t seen anything yet. Do you really think it’s here?”
“I don’t know, Lieutenant.” Cutter looked frustrated. “You know as well as I do that it’s just a theory. This bloody low cloud isn’t helping.”
“How long do you want to keep looking? Could take all day if it doesn’t lift.”
Connor saw the unfocussed shapes of more people following the lieutenant. Abby emerged from the fog talking quietly with a young soldier who was wearing the red cross armband of a medic. Behind them were at least half a dozen Special Forces men. If he was seen…
“Cutter,” Stephen said loudly. He’d moved away from Cutter and the lieutenant, and Connor risked glancing in that direction. Stephen was holding a compass. “Looks like you were right. There’s an anomaly here somewhere.”
“Look around. Find it,” Cutter ordered.
Connor cringed lower into the bushes. He was going to get seen, he was sure of it. The Special Forces men started to spread out from the path. Most of them seemed to be heading in the direction that Connor had just come from, and went past without seeing him. But as the shapes moved off into the fog further along the path two soldiers still remained close by. Too close for him to risk moving.
He started to shiver. The air was cold and damp, and everything in the woods, including Connor, was covered in a fine sheen of water droplets. His jeans were starting to cling, especially where he was kneeling on the sodden ground. Connor hated wearing jeans, but Ryan had said something about looking inconspicuous and that had been the end of the matter. An errant strand of damp hair hung in front of his face, but he wasn’t sure he dared move enough to tuck it behind his ear.
“Lieutenant. Professor. There’s a creature.” The shout came from the direction of the anomaly, and suddenly everyone was running that way.
This was it. This was his chance to get away. But Connor could still hear them all moving around, and if he could hear them, then it was a good bet that they would hear him as soon as he made a break for it. He didn’t dare try to run. Not yet.
“It’s a herbivore, it’s safe.” Connor wondered if Cutter ever got tired of trying to explain that to the Special Forces guys.
“Keep it covered lads, just don’t get too close. No threatening moves.”
Connor wished he could see what was going on. It was just a lot of dark blurs moving around, and the worryingly familiar clicking of gun safety switches being flicked.
“I’ll have to call it in.”
“Wait, Lieutenant, can’t you just give us a bit longer?”
“No. You know the deal, Cutter. If Thomson thinks we delayed calling it in he’ll go ballistic.” There was a pause, and then Connor heard one side of what was presumably a phone conversation. “Captain Thomson?... Yes, Sir, there’s an anomaly… Yes, Sir, right where Cutter predicted it would be… And a creature, yes, Sir… We’ve got it covered, Sir… Yes, we’re holding this position until you arrive, Sir.” Another pause, then, “He’s on his way with the rest of the team.”
“Great.” Cutter sounded pissed off. “Let’s see if we can get it back to the anomaly before the trigger happy squad show up.”
Connor considered his chances of sneaking away while they were all focussed on the styracosaurus.
“Tait, Wilkinson, make sure there’s nothing else around here that looks prehistoric. Rest of you, keep that thing covered.” The Lieutenant sounded about as unhappy as Cutter had been.
Two soldiers, presumably Tait and Wilkinson, started patrolling around the area watching the undergrowth with suspicious expressions. They didn’t come near Connor, but they were too close for comfort, and he slithered even lower into the bushes and tried to stay motionless whenever they passed near to him.
It took Connor a few minutes of this to realise that he had left it too late. There was no way he could move from this position without being seen or heard.
He was trapped.
I’m going to kill him, Ryan thought. If he’s still up there with that bloody dinosaur I’m going to kill him.
But the presence of what were unmistakably Cutter’s jeep and a Special Forces van in the car park suggested a far worse alternative for why Connor wasn’t here.
Ryan had got almost all the way to the village when he had seen the familiar convoy heading along the road towards the woods. He had ducked out of sight and watched it go past, and then he turned around and started back towards the car park.
What the hell were they doing here already? He hadn’t even made the call yet. Maybe there was another creature on the loose that had been spotted by a member of the public? Either way, he didn’t like this situation in the slightest. The only reason he had even agreed to Connor’s idiot suggestion was because he had been right about it taking a few hours to get here from London, and the two of them would have ample time to get away and lose themselves somewhere in the countryside again.
Ryan waited at the car park long enough to allow for Connor getting lost in the woods, or setting off late because he was distracted by the dinosaur. But it was now well past the time that he should have been here.
Ryan swore and started heading back up the hill towards the place where he had last seen Connor.
Instinctively he picked a route that maximised both cover and speed of movement. It was noticeable how much of a difference it made now that he was alone. He’d spent quite a lot of time the last few days trying to teach Connor the principles of stealthy travel, but Ryan was rapidly coming to the conclusion that while Connor was very good at a number of things, stealth and covert activity were not on the list.
Visibility was clearer in the valley below, but low cloud was still clinging to the hilltop. As he got closer to the area where they had seen the anomaly, he slowed down and started to rely on hearing rather than sight to tell him if there was anything nearby. The cloud was beginning to lift, but it was still thick enough to make life difficult if he was going to stand a chance of finding Connor. Unless he had already been caught, in which case it was probably going to be bloody obvious.
A trumpeting bellow somewhere ahead of him abruptly announced where the action was.
Careful,” he heard Abby yell. “You’re meant to be herding it, not scaring it half to death.”
God, some things didn’t change.
“Lewis, get round the other side.” That was Dan Robinson’s voice in the fog. For a moment Ryan wished he could sit down and talk with his old friend, like Connor had with Abby the day before. Even as the thought crossed his mind he pushed it away. There was no way he would risk that. Not that he thought for a second that Robinson would give him up, but more that if Thomson really was the bastard that everyone made him out to be, then Ryan wasn’t willing to put his friend in the position of lying to his CO.
Other voices told the story of what was going on somewhere in the white out. Cutter, Stephen, a couple of the other lads that he recognised from his squad. They all seemed to be preoccupied with the dinosaur, which at least suggested that Connor hadn’t been seen so far. So where the hell was he?
Ryan edged closer, staying low in the undergrowth. He finally made out a couple of figures patrolling round the area where he thought the dinosaur and the anomaly were. He recognised one of the men – Scott Tait, the new medic who replaced Gregson after he was killed by the flying creatures at the golf course. Ryan had only met Tait a couple of times. He was a young man, fresh out of medical school, or rather he had been three years earlier. The day that Ryan and Connor had disappeared into the Jurassic had been Tait’s first anomaly.
It occurred to Ryan that he hadn’t seen or heard Thomson, and from what he had heard Robinson was taking charge in there. Now he thought of it, there was only one Special Forces vehicle, only enough room for about a half dozen men. And most of the men here used to be members of his squad. What the hell was going on?
Ryan slowly circled round the anomaly area. Tait and the other guy were good, but they were only two men, and they couldn’t look everywhere at once. He crept ever closer to the anomaly. If Connor had somehow got himself caught up in this latest creature debacle then statistical probability suggested this was where he would be. He didn’t like this in the slightest, though. Ryan knew he was good, but he also knew that his men were pretty good as well, and the closer he got, the more chance there was that this was all going to go horribly wrong.
Eventually he got close enough to see what was going on. They appeared to be trying to herd the dinosaur back to the anomaly. They had succeeded, up to a point, since it was a lot closer than it had been when Ryan had last seen it, but now it appeared to be stubbornly refusing to go any nearer, and he could have sworn he heard Robinson saying something about using a tranquiliser gun and just dragging it the rest of the way. There was still no sign of Connor, though, and Ryan carefully worked his way around the edge of the clearing, staying in all the cover he could find. Maybe he’d been wrong. Maybe Connor had just been held up somehow, and even now he could be standing in the car park getting worried. Either way, staying here was just going to be too risky, and Ryan decided he had pushed his luck too far already. Also, the fog was really dissipating now, and that decided it for him. He started to back off into the forest away from the clearing and work his way back round to the direction of the car park. He glanced at his watch and realised it had been over two hours since he had left the car park to look for Connor.
He hadn’t got very far when he heard Stephen say, “What the hell are you doing here?”
Ryan froze behind a tree, for a moment believing the words were directed at him. Then he heard a second voice, speaking more quietly so he couldn’t hear the words, but that didn’t stop him recognising it.
The bitch is back, Ryan thought as he edged round the tree far enough to see Stephen and Helen standing close together behind another tree not far away.
Stephen’s voice dropped as well, and Ryan had no idea what they were talking about. There was no mistaking the body language, however, the suggestive expression on Helen’s face, the one that said she knew she could manipulate this man to whatever personal goals she had at that time, and Stephen’s rather more guarded, wary look.
Suddenly a gunshot ripped apart the quiet, and Helen Cutter went down.
What the fuck?
Ryan ducked even further into cover as he heard the sound of people running up the path. Stephen was trying to drag Helen to her feet, and there was yelling from Robinson and the others. Ryan counted around ten more Special Forces guys incoming. At their lead were Thomson and the lieutenant called Harper who had been there the day that Ryan escaped. Harper had his gun trained on Helen.
“What a nice surprise, Mrs Cutter,” Thomson said, looking altogether too pleased with the fact that there was a spreading patch of blood on her shoulder.
“What the hell do you think you were doing?” Stephen yelled, trying to put himself between the officers and Helen.
“I could ask you the same thing,” Thomson snarled. “Aiding and abetting a wanted fugitive? That alone might be enough to get you arrested. At the very least taken off the project.”
Cutter, Robinson, and two of his men ran in from the direction of the anomaly. Cutter saw what was going on and stopped, staring with an unreadable expression.
“Tait!” Robinson yelled. “We need a medic.”
Two of Thomson’s men had already grabbed Helen and were dragging her rucksack and knives off her. Despite being woefully outnumbered, Stephen still seemed to be trying to get in Thomson’s way.
“I can fight my own battles, Stephen,” Helen said with that annoying quirk of a smile she always seemed to have. The look that Ryan saw pass between them spoke volumes. There was worry beneath the bravado, and Helen was apparently trying to protect Stephen as much as he was trying to protect her. Stephen didn’t move, though.
“Take him as well,” Thomson said with a look of supreme satisfaction.
“No,” Cutter interrupted as another two soldiers moved in, one of them with a gun trained on Stephen. “There’s a creature back there, we need him.”
Stephen glanced between Cutter and Helen, and seemed to finally decide that this was something he couldn’t win. He backed down, away from Thomson, but one of the soldiers grabbed him anyway, the other still keeping the gun levelled at Stephen.
Tait ran in, glanced round at the scene, and moved towards Helen. The patch of blood on her shoulder was getting bigger, and even under her usually tough demeanour, Ryan could see that she was starting to waver.
“Deal with it in the car, Tait,” Thomson said in an offhand voice. “I want her taken back to London, now.”
“Sir, that’s a lot of blood loss. I’d like to stabilise he-”
“I said deal with it in the fucking car,” Thomson yelled at him. “Get her out of here.”
Three soldiers ‘escorted’ Helen none too gently back down the path, Tait trailing after them. The soldier who was holding Stephen started to push him in that direction as well.
“Wait, “Cutter said. “I’m sure it was just a misunderstanding.” The forced diplomacy in his voice was all too clear.
The bellow of the dinosaur cut through everything, and suddenly there was the sound of yelling and crashing undergrowth. Most of the Special Forces men ran towards the commotion. Stephen went for his tranquiliser rifle that was leaning against the tree next to him, but the soldier stopped him and snatched the rifle away.
Ryan saw a sudden movement out of the corner of his eye, and looked round. Connor! The younger man broke cover a little way further back down the slope, and for a moment Ryan was impressed. Maybe he’d underestimated Connor’s stealth abilities after all. With one backward glance to make sure the soldiers were occupied, Ryan ran after Connor, staying low and hoping the distraction of the dinosaur would buy them enough time. Connor saw him, and his eyes widened and he paused to wait.
There was another bellow from behind Ryan and he looked round as the dinosaur charged out of the trees onto the path. There were two people on the path, and Robinson shoved Cutter out of the way of the charging creature. In doing so he left himself flatfooted and Ryan saw that he couldn’t move in time. Stephen was going for his rifle again, but the soldier guarding Stephen wasn’t reacting fast enough to the new threat, and they were both going to be too slow.
Ryan didn’t think. He stood up, levelled his pistol at the dinosaur and fired right into its face. He instinctively knew one shot wasn’t going to do it and he fired four rounds in quick succession, all but one of them landing somewhere near the creature’s eyes. It bellowed again and reared round, turning at the last moment and Robinson dived out of the way. Suddenly there was gunfire going off everywhere. In the mayhem Robinson looked up and saw Ryan, still holding the pistol. Robinson stared for a moment, and then gave a tiny smile and a nod. Ryan returned the nod, and then Robinson abruptly broke eye contact and scrambled to his feet, yelling an order for everyone to bring the creature down.
Ryan didn’t wait to see what happened. He turned and raced after Connor.
“That guy saw you,” Connor panted as they ran down the slope of the hill.
“Yeah. It’s fine. He’s an old friend.”
“They shot Helen.” Connor sounded far more shocked by that than Ryan would have expected.
“Keep quiet and keep moving,” Ryan countered. “Not that way.”
He steered Connor further away from the path so they were heading in a direction well away from the car park. Their first priority had to be getting the hell away from here. Ryan was seriously contemplating stealing the first car he saw to put as much distance as possible between themselves and Thomson and his men.
Connor tripped and went sprawling on the ground. Ryan skidded to a halt and grabbed his arm to help him up, but suddenly Connor wasn’t moving.
“Come on,” Ryan urged.
Ryan knew what that tone of voice meant. Connor was shit scared. He followed what Connor was staring at and saw why.
There was a large, three toed footprint in the dirt. Even to Ryan, it looked horribly familiar. And he was damn sure that it hadn’t come from the spiky thing.
“Ryan,” Connor’s voice was shaking ever so slightly. “There’s a late Cretaceous tyrannosaur type predator somewhere in these woods.”