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Monster’s Banquet

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Despite the fact that he had created them, Kita Shinsuke hasn’t seen a dinosaur in three years.

Kita had assumed that he would never see another dinosaur, but neither would anyone else. The age of dinosaurs has always been destined to die out almost as quickly as it had begun. The world will never see another hybrid, or any genetically modified creatures designed for war. Dinosaurs will roam Isla Nublar undisturbed until natural causes eventually destroy them. The world will bear witness to the extinction of the dinosaurs science had created, and they will once again become nothing but stories, along with the geneticists who had brought them to life.

Kita has been ready for that moment since the moment he’d completed the first dinosaur genome.

But with Miya Atsumu at the head of genetics for the fallen Jurassic World—stripped of his credentials or not—there is still a future for the Jurassic World dinosaurs, and the ones yet to hatch. Kita should have known better. As he stands in front of the juvenile Indoraptor, Kita doesn’t feel surprised or alarmed or anything other than mounting disappointment.

The hybrid pauses briefly in his pacing and snarls at Kita. Atsumu smirks as his creation shivers in anticipation and narrows his eyes, as if considering whether or not to throw himself at Kita. Kita tenses his muscles and tries not to imagine what the look on Atsumu’s face would look like if he flinches.

The last place Kita would have expected to see another dinosaur is a manor in Northern California, but this is where Atsumu has called him, after three years of silence.

“You’ve made a new one,” Kita states. Hands folded behind his back, he steps forward to take a closer look at the Indoraptor.The name had been enough to tell Kita exactly what Atsumu had been doing in his absence, and Kita has a sneaking suspicion that he knows what sort of hybrid Atsumu has designed. Atsumu has always had a fascination for the most terrifying beasts one’s mind can imagine. It seems that nothing has changed in three years.

Atsumu grins, catlike, showing his teeth. Kita half expects them to be as sharp as his Indoraptor’s. “Was I not supposed to?”

Kita considers walking away from him right then. If Atsumu isn’t ready to have a professional conversation with him, he can wait. He has no interest in conversing with Atsumu if Atsumu would rather make poorly phrased jabs at Kita for cutting ties with him three years ago. He doesn’t know why Atsumu has invited him to see the Indoraptor, and he can’t imagine that it’s for any reason other than to mock him.

Unless Atsumu has assumed that three years apart from his beloved dinosaurs is enough to change Kita’s mind on the creation of hybrids.

Kita had met Atsumu in college, their paths crossing briefly when Kita had been performing research for his doctoral thesis, but hadn’t really met him until Atsumu had published his own thesis and had, along with his twin brother, Osamu, caught Kita’s eye as having the potential to help him with his research.

Atsumu and Osamu had both been hotheaded, arrogant, and were unable to be reigned in by Kita. When Kita had made his discovery, neither of them had been willing to, as Kita had suggested, wait to take action until more DNA—potentially the entire genome of at least one species—had been found. Osamu had suggested cloning dinosaurs by completing fragments genomes with the genetic information of other species, and the twins had jumped on the idea regardless of Kita’s warnings.

Atsumu had never—and still hasn’t—slowed down. Not when the dinosaurs he cloned became something he could never have anticipated, not when they turned on him, not when Kita’s park was destroyed, not when his own twin was mauled by the Velociraptors he had hatched and raised. Atsumu’s obsession with altering genetic code has transformed him into something Kita hadn’t been able to recognize three years ago.

The man Kita stands before now is a complete stranger to him.

“I’m curious as to what your intentions,” Kita says. “If you wanted me here for advice, you knew what I was going to say. This hybrid—”

“The Indoraptor,” Atsumu interrupts.

“This Indoraptor is too dangerous,” Kita continues. “And clearly unfit to ever leave this cage. Do you really believe that a living organism should grow up in such an environment?”

According to Kita, Kita had voluntarily decided to leave Jurassic World before the Isla Nublar incident—he just hadn’t made it off the island before the Indominus rex had escaped from its habitat. According to Atsumu, Atsumu had fired Kita for misconduct during the incident. Kita is fully aware of which version of the story Atsumu tells his colleagues, because it’s taken Kita three years to find a stable job in the field of genetics since then.

Kita hadn’t been fired. If he hadn’t wanted to leave the park and cut off all ties with his dinosaurs, Atsumu never would have managed to tear away everything Kita had spent his life working for away from him. Kita hasn’t talked to Atsumu in three years, not since he’d been the one to inform him that the Indominus had killed several people and had only just begun its rampage. Kita had warned him. He’d told him to be careful when altering genomes.

But Atsumu hadn’t listened to a word he’d said back then, and hasn’t since his brother had died.

And Kita knows now that, no matter what he says, he won’t be able to prevent more people from dying at the claws of Atsumu’s genetic mutants, especially not now.

“This is only a prototype,” Atsumu explains. “I can assure you that I’ve created the Indoraptor with safety in mind. And, if possible, I would like to secure DNA samples from the Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor currently on Isla Nublar, just to confirm the genome. From then on, all remaining alterations are behavioral. The Indoraptor is already highly trainable.”

“Why?” Kita asks, ignoring Atsumu’s attack on his lack of authority. “You already have the data.”

Atsumu’s expression is impassive and masterfully practiced, but, for the briefest second, it flickers. “Not all of it,” he says.

Kita looks over to the Indoraptor. The dinosaur’s behavior is much like that of a regular Velociraptor, but he lacks the curiosity that Kita has witnessed Velociraptors demonstrate so keenly. But his motives—from what Kita can see—aren’t as exclusively carnal as a Tyrannosaurus rex’s.

Kita has only seen that kind of intelligence combined with such maliciousness once before.

“That’s not a Tyrannosaurus.”

“No,” Atsumu says. “But it is classified.”

“I don’t see why you can’t use the species nature gave you, for whatever purpose you’re trying to serve.”

“Nobody finds the originals interesting anymore. Have you ever experienced the thrill of playing with genetic code, Kita-san? You’d understand what I meant if you had.”

He’s too far gone.

“‘We don’t need things like memories,’” Kita murmurs. “Not when we can bring them to the present.” Atsumu looks up at him in surprise. His eyes narrow. “Isn’t that what you told me?”

Atsumu’s smile is cold. “We don’t need things like memories when we can bring them to the present and refine them.” He paces across the room to type something into a computer. “Not when we can make progress, Kita-san. As a geneticist, you should know that demand for progress is high.”

“With all due respect, Miya-san, do you count progress as creating weapons for war or attractions for tourists?”

“There is going to be an auction,” Atsumu says, his back still turned to Kita. “Buyers from all over the world will be present. I’d like it if you were in attendance, to see the product of our research. How bidders spend their money and what they do with the assets after purchasing them is none of my concern.”

The kind of monsters who strive for more day after day. We meet them, stand in the same lab as them, and deal with them, with scientific knowledge between us. I’m like a mortal who’s stumbled upon a monster’s banquet. Lucky me.

Your research,” Kita corrects. “I gave up my rights to the animals when I left Jurassic World. I’m afraid that I do not stand for the same principles as you.”

Atsumu’s expression hardens. “You were at the forefront of this science before me. You aren’t at all interested in what I’ve gleaned from your studies? You don’t wish to see how I’ve progressed with your research? Present or not, you were always contributing.”

Kita’s heart aches, but he knows that Atsumu is attempting to bait him into doing what he wants. He doesn’t want why. If Atsumu isn’t lying, then Kita has nothing left to offer him.

Kita should be able to turn him down without thinking. The ghosts of his past haven’t haunted him in years. Atsumu is only one of his horrors.

Kita shakes his head. “I apologize, Miya-san, but I cannot support what you’re doing here.”

For the briefest moment, there is complete silence. Atsumu can only stare at Kita, unable to control the slackness of his jaw. Atsumu’s pet, the Indoraptor, is also silent, watching Kita from where he’s balanced in a crouch, claws curled in front of his chest. He seems perfectly poised, perfectly in tune with Atsumu, willing to take his commands.

And when Atsumu speaks, his voice is fearsomely soft. “You aren’t interested, Kita-san?” he says, and Kita’s mind goes numb with the intensity of his words. “You don’t want to see what you’ve done? You don’t care where your field—the field you practically created, the era you engineered—goes next?”

Kita cares. He cares more than he could ever put into words. He cares more about his dinosaurs than anything else in the world—his career, his family, himself. He’s willing to die for them—and had, a few years ago, fully believed that he would. He’d sacrificed everything for the dinosaurs, and has suffered the consequences for his actions. His decayed relationship with his grandmother, his biggest supporter when he’d been in university, can testify for this. Atsumu’s life—and the end of Osamu’s—can account for this.

But Kita can’t live and research under and support the man Atsumu has become.

“I cannot attend the auction,” Kita says. He swallows hard. A bead of sweat slides down between his shoulder blades. Atsumu’s eyes shift rapidly between Kita and the computer and the Indoraptor. “I’m sorry, Miya-san.”

He almost winces at his own apology. Atsumu picks up on it, surely, Kira’s moment of weakness so blatant and in such a lapse of judgement Atsumu still has a chance to get his way. Atsumu’s expression is once again cold and steely and Kita tenses in anticipation for Atsumu to speak again, be he yelling or whispering or pretending as though he’s as calm as he appears, whatever he chooses being better than the silence that is rapidly choking Kita because Kita is so weak.

Kita does not expect Atsumu to draw a gun and point it at the Indoraptor’s head.

“Without you,” Atsumu says, “my progress is halted. It’s reversed. This creature… he needs you, Kita-san.”

Kita feels as though he’d been dunked in a pool of ice water. His palms are sweaty but his mouth is dry and when he opens his mouth to talk the words physically pain him. “No, you need me,” he says. “If you’ve done no work on this hybrid, it’s too late.”

“It’s trained,” Atsumu says. His eyes never leave Kita. The gun stays trained on the Indoraptor. “It’s trained as a predator.”

A dozen questions run through Kita’s mind, but he can’t ask them. It’s not only a matter of distancing himself from the Indoraptor. It’s making sure he doesn’t say something that could anger Atsumu and kill a precious dinosaur—because the grown asset is always worth more than the genetic code—in the process.

“But you’re right,” Atsumu continues, “without you, it’s not worth it. The Indoraptor will become too dangerous.”

“No!” Kita shouts, the protest torn from him without consent. “Put the gun down. Now.”

“Ah,” Atsumu says. His expression brightens. When he grins, there’s a flash of teeth. “So you’ll attend the auction?”

It won’t stop at the auction. It won’t stop when I join his team of researchers. It won’t stop until I’m his right hand man again, and even then, he’ll never let me go. He’ll only cling on to me tighter.

Kita bows his head and grits his teeth. “Yes.”

“Good,” Atsumu purrs. “I knew that your attachment to your dinosaurs would win you over. Now, while you’re in the area, would you be willing to aid me in a lab I am currently conducting? It involves the Indoraptor, of course. It’s a behavioral study. I’m sure you’d be interested in the results. After all, the Indoraptor is nothing we’ve ever dealt with before, although his behavior is similar to that of a Velociraptor’s. In fact, we’ve used similar training methods on him so far.”

Kita looks up at Atsumu, an agreement on his lips, just in time to see Atsumu turn the gun from the Indoraptor to point at Kita.

Atsumu’s grip on the gun is tight when he pulls the trigger.

No sound leaves Kita’s mouth, but he jumps, his heart in his throat, with no time to think of could-have-beens. Atsumu laughs maniacally when beam of red light hits Kita’s chest instead of the bullet Kita had been expecting. The Indoraptor swerves around and his gaze locks on to Kita. The corners of his mouth peel back in a snarl.

Kita is stunned into silence.

Atsumu grins, and the look on him is far from resembling sanity. “We’ve trained it with an audio cue,” he says. “The laser allows the Indoraptor to lock on to his target, and this noise—” his finger flicks to a button on the side of the gun “—tells him to attack.”

Atsumu pushes the button, and the Indoraptor launches himself at Kita without hesitation, crashing into the bars separating him from the rest of the world. The sound reverberates throughout the hall, and the Indoraptor slowly scrapes his claws along the bars. He begins to drool. Kita takes a few steps back, but Atsumu doesn’t even flinch.

“The Indoraptor may be the smartest species we’ve ever designed,” Atsumu says. “He’s powerful and fast. He’s biological perfection.”

Kita squints at the bars. He hadn’t realized before, but the bars are curved outward, as if something heavy has slammed into them many times. Kita averts his eyes and says, “How much does he weigh?”

“Over a ton,” Atsumu says.

“He can’t break out?” Kita says, looking again at the bars. “He never has?”

“Never,” Atsumu confirms. “Not in all the time he’s been kept here. It’s impossible. I’ve performed this same demonstration many times.”

“You think it was a good idea to put the same area under stress every time?” Kita says, pointing to the bent metal. The corner of Atsumu’s mouth twitches. “You think a few bars are going to stop it? You didn’t think to electrify—”

There’s a sickening crunch, and Kita cringes, expecting to see the Indoraptor hunched over in pain. But when he leans closer to inspect the dinosaur, he sees the Indoraptor shake his head and rise again, apparently unharmed. He sees Kita watching him and seems to become even more agitated, so Kita looks away to inspect the bars again.

One of the bars has cracked under the Indoraptor's weight. The Indoraptor seems to recognize this at the same time as Kita, and he snarls, before launching himself at the bars again.

“You have to stop him,” Kita says, turning to Atsumu. “Atsumu—”

“I can’t,” Atsumu says, and Kita hears, for the first time since Atsumu had watched his brother die, that his voice is laced with panic. He fumbles to turn the gun’s sound off, the laser now pointing at the floor, but the Indoraptor is still focused on Kita—maybe more now that he can feel the metal bars begin to give under his weight. “Once he knows his target, he won’t stop until it’s been killed. It takes hours for him to calm down if we don’t allow him to attack.” He smiles ruefully. “You’d never have approved.”

“Then we have to run,” Kita says. Behind them, there is another snap as the Indoraptor breaks another bar.

“Yes.” Atsumu gestures for Kita to follow him. “To the control room. I… I can block off the area.”

There is a series of successive snaps and the sound of metal grating on metal, and the Indoraptor's head appears in the gap made between the bars. With a great heave of effort, he forces the rest of his body through the hole.

The Indoraptor straightens up and roars. His tail flicks and smashes into Atsumu’s computer, shattering it. The Indoraptor then turns to Kita and Atsumu, nostrils flaring.

I came here on a business trip, and now I’m standing meters away from the most dangerous creature in the world.

Atsumu stumbles backwards. “Run!” he chokes out.

Atsumu is sprinting away before Kita can recognize what’s happening, and without thinking, he’s running after him. The stairs aren’t far away, not when they’re running on pure instinct. Kita takes the stairs three at a time, his heart in his throat, the burn in his legs forgotten at the sound of the Indoraptor's claws as he effortlessly scales the stairs not far behind them.

At the top of the stairs, Atsumu throws open a set of doors and continues running without sparing a second to look back at Kita. Kita trips, pushes one of the doors open so he can get through, and shoves it shut again. He doesn’t have time to catch his breath before the Indoraptor rams into the doors. He catches the edge of one of them in his teeth and rips it off its frame, and then jerks his head, sending the door flying. Kita is running, turning a corner, but he can hear the shattering of glass wall of the lab behind him over the sound of his own breathing, of his own heart pounding.

In front of him, Atsumu is hysterical. He’s always been freakishly fit despite his diet, and it shows now. The distance between him and Kita grows larger as the gap between Kita and the Indoraptor becomes smaller and when Kita loses more ground around a corner Atsumu looks over his shoulder—and Kita knows that he isn’t going to make it, but Atsumu is safe.

The Indoraptor isn’t chasing Atsumu. If I falter for the briefest second, and he attacks me, Atsumu will have time to get away.

There is an audible click from behind Kita, and Kita turns to see Atsumu pointing the gun at him again—the laser touching just above his heart. Atsumu’s hands are shaking. “I’m sorry,” he says, his eyes glistening. “I’m sorry, Shinsuke, I’m sorry.”

He slams his hand on the control pad on the wall, and the door to the control room, and every measure of security before it, slam shut, locking Kita and the Indoraptor on the other side. The Indoraptor roars—a truly magnificent creature, a perfect combination of the Indominus rex and Velociraptor with both finely honed instincts and the right amount of teeth. He’s Atsumu’s most genius work.

Kita pivots slowly, and looks into the eyes of a monster.