The Lost World Chapter 7

"Aw, that's a shame," Eddie said.

"Look," Levine said crossly. "It's not my problem if - "

Thorne said "You spent the night in the tree?"

Yes, and in the morning the raptors had gone. So I came down and started looking around. I found the lab, or whatever it is. Clearly, they abandoned it in a hurry, leaving some animals behind. I went through the building, and discovered that there is still power - some systems are still going, all these years later. And, most important, there is a network of security cameras. That's a very lucky break. So I decided to check on those cameras, and I was hard at work when you people barged in - "

"Wait a minute," Eddie said, "We came here to rescue you."

"I don't know why," Levine said. "I certainly never asked you to."

Thorne said, "it sounded like you did, over the phone."

"That is a misunderstanding," Levine said. "I was momentarily upset, because I couldn't work the phone. You've made that phone too complicated, Doc. That's the problem. So: shall we get started?"

Levine paused. He looked at the angry faces all around him. Malcolm turned to Thorne. "A great scientist," he said, "and a great human being."

"Look," Levine said, "I don't know what your problem is. The expedition was going to come to this island sooner or later. In this instance, sooner is better. Everything has turned out quite well, and, frankly, I don't see any reason to discuss it further. This is not the time for petty bickering. We have important things to do - and I think we should get started. Because this island is an extraordinary opportunity, and it isn't going to last forever.

Dodgson

Lewis Dodgson sat hunched in a dark corner of the Chesperito Cantina in Puerto Cortes, nursing a beer. Beside him, George Baselton, the Regis Professor of Biology at Stanford, was enthusiastically devouring a plate of huevos rancheros. The egg yolks ran yellow across green salsa. It made Dodgson sick just to look at it. He turned away, but he could still hear Baselton licking his lips, noisily.

There was no one else in the bar, except for some chickens clucking around the floor. Every so often, a young boy would come to the door, throw a handful of rocks at the chickens, and run away again, giggling. A scratchy stereo played an old Elvis Presley tape through corroded speakers above the bar. Dodgson hummed "Falling in Love With You," and tried to control his temper. He had been sitting in this dump for damn near an hour.

Baselton finished his eggs, and pushed the plate away. He brought out the small notebook he carried everywhere with him. "Now Lew," he said. "I've been thinking about how to handle this."

"Handle what?" Dodgson said irritably. "There's nothing to handle, unless we can get to that island." While he spoke, he tapped a small photograph of Richard Levine on the edge of the bar table. Turned it over. Looked at the image upside down. Then right side up.

He sighed. He looked at his watch.

"Lew," Baselton said patiently, "getting to the island is not the important part. The important part is how we present our discovery to the world."

Dodgson paused. "Our discovery," he repeated. "I like that, George. That's very good. Our discovery."

"Well, that's the truth, isn't it?" Baselton said, with a bland smile. "InGen is bankrupt, its technology lost to mankind. A tragic, tragic loss, as I have said many times on television. But under the circumstances, anyone who finds it again has made a discovery. I don't know what else you would call it. As Henri Poincare put it - "

"Okay," Dodgson said. "So we make a discovery. And then what? Hold a press conference?"

"Absolutely not," Baselton said, looking horrified. "A press conference would appear extremely crass. It would open us up to all sorts of criticism. No, no. A discovery of this magnitude must be treated with decorum. It must be reported, Lew."

"Reported?"

"In the literature: Nature, I imagine. Yes."

Dodgson squinted. "You want to announce this in an academic publication?"

"What better way to make it legitimate?" Baselton said. "It's entirely proper to present our findings to our scholarly peers. Of course it will start a debate - but what will that debate consist of? An academic squabble, professors sniping at professors, which will fill the science pages of the newspapers for three days, until it is pushed aside by the latest news on breast implants. And in those three days, we will have staked our claim."

"You'll write it?"

"Yes," Baselton said. "And later, I think, an article in American Scholar, or perhaps Natural History. A human-interest piece, what this discovery means for the future, what it tells us about the past, all that......"

Dodgson nodded. He could see that Baselton was correct, and he was reminded once again how much he needed him, and how wise he had been to add him to the team. Dodgson never thought about public reaction. And Baselton thought about nothing else.

"Well, that's fine," Dodgson said. "But none of it matters, unless we get to that island." He glanced at his watch again.

He heard a door open behind him, and Dodgson's assistant Howard King came in, pulling a heavyset Costa Rican man, with a mustache. The man had a weathered face and a sullen expression.

Dodgson turned on his stool. "Is this the guy?"

"Yes, Lew."

"What's his name?"

"Gandoca."

"Se?or Gandoca." Dodgson held up the photo of Levine. "You know this man?"

Gandoca hardly glanced at the photo. He nodded. "S¨ª. Se?or Levine."

"That's right. Se?or flicking Levine. When was he here?"

"A few days ago. He left with Dieguito, my cousin. They are not back yet."

"And where did they go?" Dodgson asked.

"Isla Sorna."

"Good." Dodgson drained his beer, pushed the bottle away. "You have a boat?" He turned to King. "Does he have a boat?"

King said, "He's a fisherman. He has a boat."

Gandoca nodded. "A fishing boat. S¨ª."

"Good. I want to go to Isla Sorna, too."

"Si, se?or, but today the weather - "

"I don't care about the weather," Dodgson said. "The weather will get better. I want to go now."

"Perhaps later - "

"Now."

Gandoca spread his hands. "I am very sorry, se?or - "

Dodgson said, "Show him the money, Howard."

King opened a briefcase. It was filled with five thousand colon notes. Gatidoca looked, picked up one of the bills, inspected it. He put it back carefully, shifted on his feet a little.

Dodgson said, "I want to go now."

"Si, se?or," Gandoca said. "We leave when you are ready."

"That's more like it," Dodgson said. "How long to get to the island?"

"Perhaps two hours, se?or."

"Fine," Dodgson said. "That'll be fine."

The High Hide

"Here we go!"

There was a click as Levine connected the flexible cable to the Explorer's power winch, and flicked it on. The cable turned slowly in the sunlight.

They had all moved down onto the broad grassy plain at the base of the cliff. The midday sun was high overhead, glaring off the rocky rim of the island. Below, the valley shimmered in midday heat.

There was a herd of hypsilophodons a short distance away; the green gazelle-like animals raised their heads occasionally above the grass to look toward them, every time they heard the clink of metal, as Eddie and the kids laid out the aluminum strut assembly which had been the subject of so much speculation back in California. That assembly now looked like a jumble of thin struts - an oversized version of pickup sticks - lying in the grass of the plain.

"Now we will see," Levine said, rubbing his hands together.

As the motor turned, the aluminum struts began to move, and slowly lifted into the air. The emerging structure appeared spidery and delicate, but Thorne knew that the cross-bracing would give it surprising strength. Struts unfolding, the structure rose ten feet, then fifteen feet, and finally it stopped. The little house at the top was now just beneath the lowest branches of the nearby trees, which almost concealed it from view. But the scaffolding itself gleamed bright and shiny in the sun.

"Is that it?" Arby said.

"That's it, yes." Thorne walked around the four sides, slipping in the locking pins, to hold it upright.

"But it's much too shiny," Levine said. "We should have made it matte black."

Thorne said, "Eddie, we need to hide this."

"Want to spray it, Doc? I think I brought some black paint."

Levine shook his head. "No, then it'll smell. How about those palms?

"Sure, we can do that." Eddie walked to a stand of nearby palms, and began to hack away big fronds with his machete.

Kelly stared up at the aluminum strut assembly. "It's great," she said. "But what is it?"

"It's a high hide," Levine said. "Come on." And he began to climb the scaffolding.

The structure at the top was a little house, its roof supported by aluminum bars spaced four feet apart. The floor of the house was also made of aluminum bars, but these were closer together, about six inches apart. Their feet threatened to slip through, so Levine took the first of the bundles of fronds that Eddie Carr was raising on a rope, and used them to make a more complete floor. The remaining fronds he tied to the outside of the house, concealing its structure.

Arby and Kelly stared out at the animals. From their vantage point, they could look across the whole valley. There was a distant herd of apatosaurs, on the other side of the river. A cluster of triceratops browsed to the north. Nearer the water, some duck-billed dinosaurs with long crests rising above their heads moved forward to drink. A low, trumpeting cry from the duckbills floated across the valley toward them: a deep, unearthly sound. A moment later, there was an answering cry, from the forest at the opposite side of the valley.

"What was that?" Kelly said.

"Parasaurolophus," Levine said. "It's trumpeting through its nuchal crest. Low-frequency sound carries a long distance."

To, the south, there was a herd of dark-green animals, with large curved protruding foreheads, and a rim of small knobby horns. They looked a little like buffalo. "What do you call those?" Kelly said.

"Good question," Levine said. "They are either Gravitholus albertae, or more likely Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis. But it's difficult to say for sure, because a full skeleton for these animals has never been recovered. Their foreheads are very thick bone, so we've found many domed cranial fragments. But this is the first time I've ever seen the whole animal."

"And those heads? What are they for?" Arby said.

"Nobody knows," Levine said. "Everyone has assumed they're used for butting, for intraspecies fighting among males. Competition for females, that sort of thing."

Malcolm climbed up into the hide. "Yes, butting heads, he said sourly. "Just as you see them now."

"All right," Levine said, "so they're not butting heads at the moment. Perhaps their breeding season is concluded."

"Or perhaps they don't do it at all," Malcolm said, staring at the green animals. "They look pretty peaceful to me."

"Yes," Levine said," but of course that doesn't mean a thing. African buffalo appear peaceful most of the time too - in fact, they usually just stand motonless. Yet they're unpredictable and dangerous animals. We have to presume those domes exist for a reason - even if we're not seeing it now."

Levine turned to the kids. "That's why we made this structure. We want to make round-the-clock observations on the animals," he said. "To the extent possible, we want a full record of their activities."

"Why?" Arby said.

"Because," Malcolm said, "this island presents a unique opportunity to study the greatest mystery in the history of our planet: extinction."

"You see," Malcolm said, "when InGen shut down their facility, they did it hastily, and they left some live animals behind. That was five or six years ago. Dinosaurs mature rapidly; most species attain adulthood in four or five years. By now, the first generation of InGen dinosaurs - bred in a laboratory - has attained maturity, and has begun to breed a new generation, entirely in the wild. There is now a complete ecological system on this island, with a dozen or so dinosaur species living in social groups, for the first time in sixty-five million years."

Arby said, "So why is that an opportunity?"

Malcolm pointed across the plain. "Well, think about it. Extinction is a very difficult research topic. There are dozens of competing theories. The fossil record is incomplete. And you can't perform experiments. Galileo could climb the tower of Pisa and drop balls to test his theory of gravity. He never actually did it, but he could have. Newton used prisms to test his theory of light. Astronomers observed eclipses to test Einstein's theory of relativity. Testing occurs throughout science. But how can you test a theory of extinction? You can't."

Arby said, "But here..."

"Yes," Malcolm said. "What we have here is a population of extinct animals artificially introduced into a closed environment, and allowed to evolve all over again. There's never been anything like it in all history. We already know these animals became extinct once. But nobody knows why."

"And you expect to find out? In a few days?"

"Yes," Malcolm said. "We do."

"How? You don't expect them to become extinct again, do you?"

"You mean, right before our eyes?" Malcolm laughed. "No, no. Nothing like that. But the point is, for the first time we aren't just studying bones. We're seeing live animals, and observing their behavior. I have a theory, and I think that even in a short time, we will see evidence for that theory."

"What evidence?" Kelly said.

"What theory?" Arby said.

Malcolm smiled at them. "Wait," he said.

The Red Queen

The apatosaurs had come down to the river in the heat of the day; their graceful curving necks were reflected in the water as they bent to drink. Their long, whip-like tails swung back and forth lazily. Several younger apatosaurs, much smaller than the adults, scampered about in the center of the herd.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Levine said. "The way it all fits together. Just beautiful." He leaned over the side and shouted to Thorne, "Where's my mount?"

"Coming up," Thorne said.

The rope now brought up a heavy wide-based tripod, and a circular mount on top. There were five video cameras atop the mount, and dangling wires leading to solar panels. Levine and Malcolm began to set it up.

"What happens to the video?" Arby said.

"The data gets multiplexed, and we uplink it back to California. By satellite. We'll also hook into the security network. So we'll have lots of observation points."

"And we don't have to be here?"

Right."

"And this is what you call a high hide?"

"Yes. At least, that's what scientists like Sarah Harding call it."

Thorne climbed up to join them. The little shelter was now quite crowded, but Levine didn't seem to notice. He was entirely focused on the dinosaurs; he turned a pair of binoculars on the animals spread across the plain. "Just as we thought," he said to Malcolm. "Spatial oranization. Infants and juveniles in the center of the herd, protective adults on the periphery. The apatosaurs use their tails as defense,"

"That's the way it looks."

"Oh, there's no question about it," Levine said. He sighed. "It's so agreeable to be proven right."

On the ground below, Eddie unpacked the circular aluminum cage, the same one they had seen in California. It was six feet tall and four feet in diameter, constructed of one-inch titanium bars. "What do you want me to do with this?" Eddie said.

"Leave it down there," Levine said. "That's where it belongs."

Eddie set the cage upright in the corner of the scaffolding. Levine climbed down.

"And what's that for?" Arby said, looking down. "Catching a dinosaur?"

In point of fact, just the opposite." Levine clipped the cage to the side of the scaffolding. He swung the door open and shut, testing it. There was a lock in the door. He checked the lock, too, leaving the key in place, with its dangling elastic loop. "It's a predator cage, like a shark " Levine said, "If you're down here walking around and anything happens, you can climb in here, and you'll be safe."

"In case what happens?" Arby said, with a worried look.

"Actually, I don't think anything will happen," Levine said. "Because I doubt the animals will pay any attention to us, or to this little house, once the structure's been concealed."

"You mean they won't see it?"

"Oh, they'll see it," Levine said, "but they'll ignore it."

"But if they smell us..."

Levine shook his head. "We sited the hide so the prevailing wind is toward us. And you may have noticed these ferns have a distinct smell." It was a mild, slightly tangy odor, almost like eucalyptus.

Arby fretted. "But suppose they decide to eat the ferns?"

"They won't," Levine said. "These are Dicranopterus cyatheoides. They're mildly toxic and cause a rash in the month. In point of fact, there's a theory that their toxicity first evolved back in the Jurassic, as a defense against dinosaur browsers."

"That's not a theory," Malcolm said. "It's just idle speculation."

"There's some logic behind it," Levine said. "Plant life in the Mesozoic must have been severely challenged by the arrival of very large dinosaurs. Herds of giant herbivores, each animal consuming hundreds of pounds of plant matter each day, would have wiped out any plants that didn't evolve some defense - a bad taste, or nettles, or thorns, or chemical toxicity. So perhaps cyatheoides evolved its toxicity back then. And it's very effective, because contemporary animals don't eat these ferns, anywhere on earth. That's why they're so abundant. You may have noticed."

"Plants have defenses?" Kelly said.

"Of course they do. Plants evolve like every other form of life, and they've come up with their own forms of aggression, defense, and so on. In the nineteenth century, most theories concerned animals - nature red in tooth and claw, all that. But now scientists are thinking about nature green in root and stem. We realize that plants, in their ceaseless struggle to survive, have evolved everything from complex symbiosis with other animals, to signaling mechanisms to warn other plants, to outright chemical warfare."

Kelly frowned. "Signaling? Like what?"

"Oh, there are many examples," Levine said. "In Africa acacia trees evolved very long, sharp thorns - three inches or so - but that only provoked animals like giraffes and antelope to evolve long tongues to get past the thorns. Thorns alone didn't work. So in the evolutionary arms race, the acacia trees next evolved toxicity. They started to produce large quantities of tannin in their leaves, which sets off a lethal metabolic reaction in the animals that eat them. Literally kills them. At the same time, the acacias also evolved a kind of chemical warning system among themselves. If an antelope begins to eat one tree in a grove, that tree releases the chemical ethylene into the air, which causes other trees in the grove to step up the production of leaf tannin. Within five or ten minutes, the other trees are producing more tannin, making themselves poisonous.

"And then what happens to the antelope? It dies?"

"Well, not any more," Levine said, "because the evolutionary arms race continued, Eventually, antelopes learned that they could only browse for a short time. Once the trees started to produce more tannin, they had to stop eating it. And the browsers developed new strategies. For example, when a giraffe eats an acacia tree, it then avoids all the trees downwind. Instead, it moves on to another tree that is some distance away. So the animals have adapted to this defense, too."

"In evolutionary theory, this is called the Red Queen phenomenon," Malcolm said. "Because in Alice in Wonderland the Red Queen tells Alice she has to run as fast as she can just to stay where she is. That's the way evolutionary spirals seem. All the organisms are evolving at a furious pace just to stay in the same balance. To stay where they are."

Arby said, "And this is common? Even with plants?"

"Oh yes," Levine said. "In their own way, plants are extremely active. Oak trees, for example, produce tannin and phenol as a defense when caterpillars attack them. A whole grove of trees is alerted as soon as one tree is infested. It's a way to protect the entire grove - a kind of cooperation among trees, you might say."

Arby nodded, and looked out from the high hide at the apatosaurs, still by the river below. "So," Arby said, "is that why the dinosaurs haven't eaten all the trees off this island? Because those big apatosaurs must eat a lot of plants. They have long necks to eat the high leaves. But the trees hardly look touched."

"Very good," Levine said, nodding, "I noticed that myself."

"Is that because of these plant defenses?"

"Well, it might be," Levine said. "But I think there is a very simple explanation for why the trees are preserved."

"What's that?"

"Just look," Levine said. "It's right before your eyes."

Arby picked up the binoculars and stared at the herds. "What's the simple explanation?"

"Among paleontologists," Levine said, "there's been an interminable debate about why sauropods have long necks. Those animals you see have necks twenty feet long. The traditional belief has been that sauropods evolved long necks to eat high foliage that could not be, reached by smaller animals."

"So?" Arby said. "What's the debate?"

"Most animals on this planet have short necks," Levine said, "because a long neck is, well, a pain in the neck. It causes all sorts of problems. Structural problems: how to arrange muscles and ligaments to support a long neck. Behavioral problems: nerve impulses must travel a long way from the brain to the body. Swallowing problems: food has to go a long way from the mouth to the stomach. Breathing problems: air has to be pulled down a long windpipe. Cardiac problems: blood has to be pumped way up to the head, or the animal faints, In evolutionary terms, all this is very difficult to do."

"But giraffes do it," Arby said.

"Yes, they do. Although giraffe necks are nowhere near this long. Giraffes have evolved large hearts, and very thick fascia around the neck. In effect, the neck of a giraffe is like a blood-pressure cuff, going all the way up."

"Do dinosaurs have the same cuff?"

"We don't know. We assume apatosaurs have huge hearts, perhaps three hundred pounds or more. But there is another possible solution to the problem of pumping blood in a long neck."

"Yes?"

"You're looking at it right now," Levine said.

Arby clapped his hands. "They don't raise their necks!"

"Correct," Levine said. "At least, not very often, or for long periods. Of course, right now the animals are drinking, so their necks are down, but my guess is that if we watch them for an extended period we'll find they don't spend much time with their necks raised high."

"And that's why they don't eat the leaves on the trees!"

"Right."

Kelly frowned. "But if their long necks aren't used for eating, then why did they evolve them in the first place?"

Levine smiled. "There must be a good reason," he said. "I believe it has to do with defense."

"Defense? Long necks?" Arby stared. "I don't get it."

"Keep looking," Levine said. "It's really rather obvious."

Arbv peered through binoculars. He said to Kelly, "I hate it when he tells us it's obvious."

"I know," she said, with a sigh.

Arby glanced over at Thorne, and caught his eye. Thorne made a V with his fingers, and then pushed one finger, tilting it over. The movement forced the second finger to shift, too. So the two fingers were connected....

If it was a clue, he didn't get it. He didn't get it. He frowned.

Thorne mouthed: "Bridge."

Arby looked, and watched the whip-like tails swing back and forth over the younger animals. "I get it!" Arby said. "They use their tails for defense. And they need long necks to counterbalance the long tails. It's like a suspension bridge!"

Levine squinted at Arby. "You did that very fast," he said.

Thorne turned away, hiding a smile.

"But I'm right..." Arby said.

"Yes," Levine said, "your view is essentially correct. Long necks exist because the long tails exist. It's a different Situation in theropods, which stand on two legs. But in quadrupeds, there needs to be a counterbalance for the long tail, or the animal would simply tip over."

Malcolm said, "Actually, there is something much more puzzling about this apatosaur herd."

Oh?" Levine said. "What's that?"

"There are no true adults," Malcolm said. "Those animals we see are very large by our standards. But in fact, none of them has attained full adult size. I find that perplexing."

"Do you? It doesn't trouble me in the least," Levine said. "Unquestionably, it is simply because they haven't had enough time to reach maturity. I'm sure apatosaurs grow more slowly than the other dinosaurs. After all, large mammals like elephants grow more slowly than small ones.

Malcolm shook his head. "That's not the explanation," he said.

"Oh? Then what?"

"Keep looking," Malcolm said, pointing out over the plain. "It's really rather obvious."

The kids giggled.

Levine gave a little shiver of displeasure. "What is obvious to me," he said, "is that none of the species appear to have attained full adulthood. The triceratops, the apatosaurs, even the parasaurs are a bit smaller than one would expect. This argues for a consistent factor: some element of diet, the effects of confinement on a small island, perhaps even the way they were engineered. But I don't consider it particularly remarkable or worrisome."

"Maybe you're right," Malcolm said. "And then again, maybe you're not."

Puerto Cortes

"No flights?" Sarah Harding said. "What do you mean, there are no flights?" It was eleven o'clock in the morning. Harding had been flying for the last fifteen hours, much of it spent on a U.S. military transport that she'd caught from Nairobi to Dallas. She was exhausted. Her skin felt grimy; she needed a shower and a change of clothes. Instead she found herself arguing with this very stubborn official in a ratty little town on the west coast of Costa Rica. Outside, the fain had stopped, but the sky was still gray, with low-hanging clouds over the deserted airfield.

"I am sorry," Rodr¨ªguez said. "No flights can be arranged."

"But what about the helicopter that took the men earlier?"

"There is a helicopter, yes."

"Where is it?"

"The helicopter is not here."

"I can see that. But where is it?"

Rodr¨ªguez spread his hands. "It has gone to San Crist¨®bal."

"When will it be back?"

"I do not know. I think tomorrow, or perhaps the day after."

"Se?or Rodr¨ªguez," she said firmly, "I must get to that island today."

"I understand your wish," Rodr¨ªguez said. "But I cannot do anything to help this."

"What do you suggest?"

Rodr¨ªguez shrugged. "I could not make a suggestion."

"Is there a boat that will take me?"

"I do not know of a boat."

"This is a harbor," Harding said. She pointed out the window. "I see all sorts of boats out there."

"I know. But I do not believe one will go to the islands. The weather is not so favorable."

"But if I were to go down to - "

"Yes, of course." Rodr¨ªguez sighed. "Of course you may ask."

Which was how she found herself, shortly after eleven o'clock on a rainy morning, walking down the rickety wooden dock, with her backpack on her shoulder. Four boats were tied up to the dock, which smelled strongly of fish. But all the boats seemed to be deserted. All the activity was at the far end of the dock, where a much larger boat was tied up. Beside the boat, a red Jeep Wrangler was being strapped for loading, along with several large steel drums and wooden crates of supplies. She admired the car in passing; it had been specially modified, enlarged to the size of the Land Rover Defender, the most desirable of all field vehicles. Changing this Jeep must have been an expensive alteration, she thought: only for researchers with lots of money.

Standing on the dock, a pair of Americans in wide-brimmed sun hats were shouting and pointing as the Jeep lifted lopsidedly into the air, and was swung onto the deck of the boat with an ancient crane. She heard one of the men shout "Careful! Careful!" as the Jeep thudded down hard on the wooden deck. "Damn it, be careful!" Several workmen began to carry the boxes onto the ship. The crane swung back to pick up the steel drums.

Harding went over to the nearest man and said politely, "Excuse me, but I wonder if you could help me."

The man glanced at her. He was medium height, with reddish skin and bland features; he looked awkward in new khaki safari clothes. His manner was preoccupied and tense. "I'm busy now," he said, and turned away. "Manuel! Watch it, that's sensitive equipment!"

"I'm sorry to bother you," she continued, "but my name is Sarah Harding, and I'm trying - "

"I don't care if you're Sarah Bernhardt, the - Manuel! Damn it!" The man waved his arms. "You there! Yes, you! Hold that box upright!"

"I'm trying to get to Isla Sorna," she said, finishing.

At this, the man's entire demeanor changed. He turned back to her slowly. "Isla Sorna?" he said. "You're not associated with Dr. Levine by any chance, are you?"

"Yes, I am."

"Well, I'll be damned," be said, suddenly breaking into a warm smile. "What do you know!" He extended his hand. "I'm Lew Dodgson, from the Biosyn Corporation, back in Cupertino. This is my associate, Howard King."

"Hi," the other man said, nodding. Howard King was younger and taller than Dodgson, and he was handsome in a clean-cut California way. Sarah recognized his type: a classic beta male animal, subservient to the core. And there was something odd about his behavior toward her: he moved a little away, and seemed as uncomfortable around her as Dodgson now seemed friendly.

"And up there," Dodgson continued, pointing onto the deck, "is our third, George Baselton."

Harding saw a heavyset man on the deck, bent over the boxes as they came on board. His shirtsleeves were soaked in sweat. She said, "Are you all friends of Richard?"

"We're on our way over to see him right now," Dodgson said, "to help him out." He hesitated, frowning at her. "But, uh, he didn't tell us about you...."

She was suddenly aware then of how she must appear to him: a short woman in her thirties, wearing a rumpled shirt, khaki shorts, and heavy boots. Her clothes dirty, her hair unkempt after all the flights.

She said, "I know Richard through Ian Malcolm. Ian and I are old friends."

I see..." He continued to stare at her, as if he was unsure of her in some way.

She felt compelled to explain. "I've been in Africa. I decided to come here at the last minute," she said. "Doc THorne called me."

"Oh, of course. Doc." The man nodded, and seemed to relax, as if everything now made sense to him.

She said, "Is Richard all right?"

"Well, I certainly hope so. Because we're taking all this equipment to him."

"You're going to Sorna now?"

"We are, if this weather holds," Dodgson said, glancing at the sky. "We should be ready to go in five or ten minutes. You know, you're welcome to join us, if you need a ride," he said cheerfully. "We could use the company. Where's your stuff?"

"I've only got this," she said, lifting her small backpack.

"Traveling light, eh? Well, good, Ms. Harding. Welcome to the party."

He seemed entirely open and friendly now. It was such a marked change from his earlier behavior. But she noticed that the handsome man, King, remained distinctly uneasy. King turned his back to her, and acted very busy, shouting at the workmen to be careful with the last of the wooden crates, which were marked "Biosyn Corporation" in stenciled lettering. She had the impression he was avoiding looking at her. And she still hadn't gotten a good look at the third man, on deck. It made her hesitate.

"You're sure it's all right...."

"Of course it's all right! We'd be delighted!" Dodgson said. "Besides, how else are you going to get there? There's no planes, the helicopter is gone.

"I know, I checked...."

"Well, then, you know. If you want to get to the island, you'd better go with us."

She looked at the jeep on the boat, and said, "I think Doc must already be there, with his equipment."

At the mention of that, the second man, King, snapped his head around in alarm. But Dodgson just nodded calmly and said, "Yes, I think so. He left last night, I believe."

"That's what he said to me."

"Right." Dodgson nodded. "So he's already there. At least, I hope he is."

From on deck, there were shouts in Spanish, and a captain in greasy overalls came and looked over the side. "Se?or Dodgson, we are ready."

"Good," Dodgson said. "Excellent. Climb aboard, Ms. Harding. Let's get going!"

King

Spewing black smoke, the fishing boat chugged out of the harbor, heading toward open sea. Howard King felt the rumble of the ship's engines beneath his feet, heard the creak of the wood. He listened to the shouts of the crewmen in Spanish. King looked back at the little town of Puerto Cortes, a jumble of little houses clustered around the water's edge. He hoped this damn boat was seaworthy - because they were out in the middle of nowhere.

And Dodgson was cutting corners. Taking chances again.

It was the situation King feared most.

Howard King had known Lewis Dodgson for almost ten years, ever since he had joined Biosyn as a young Berkeley Ph.D., a promising researcher with the energy to conquer the world. King had done his doctoral thesis on blood-coagulation factors. He had joined Biosyn at a time of intense interest in those factors, which seemed to hold the key to dissolving clots in patients with heart attacks. There was a race among biotech companies to develop a new drug that would save lives, and make a fortune as well.

Initially, King worked on a promising substance called Hemaggluttin V-5, or HGV-5. In early tests it dissolved platelet aggregation to an astonishing degree. King became the most promising young researcher at Biosyn. His picture was prominently featured in the annual report. He had his own lab, and an operating budget of nearly half a million dollars.

And then, without warning, the bottom fell out. In preliminary tests on human subjects, HGV-5 failed to dissolve clots in either myocardial infarctions or pulmonary embolisms. Worse, it produced severe side effects: gastrointestinal bleeding, skin rashes, neurological problems. After one patient died from convulsions, the company halted further testing. Within weeks, King lost his lab. A newly arrived Danish researcher took it over; he was developing an extract from the saliva of the Sumatran yellow leech, which showed more promise.

King moved to a smaller lab, decided he was tired of blood factors, and turned his attention to painkillers. He had an interesting compound, the L-isomer of a protein from the African horny toad, which seemed to have narcotic effects. But he had lost his former confidence, and when the company reviewed his work, they concluded that his research was insufficiently documented to warrant seeking FDA approvals for testing. His horny-toad project was summarily canceled.

King was then thirty-five, and twice a failure. His picture no longer graced the annual report. It was rumored that the company would probably let him go at the next review period. When he proposed a new research project, it was rejected at once. It was a dark time in his life.

Then Lewis Dodgson suggested they have lunch.

Dodgson had an unsavory reputation among the researchers; he was known as "The Undertaker," because of the way he took over the work of others, and prettied it up as his own. In earlier years, King never would have been seen with him. But now he allowed Dodgson to take him to an expensive seafood restaurant in San Francisco.

"Research is hard," Dodgson said, sympathetically.

"You can say that again," King said.

"Hard, and risky," Dodgson said. "The fact is, innovative research rarely pans out. But does management understand? No. If the research fails, you're the one who's blamed. It's not fair."

"Tell me," King said.

"But that's the name of the game." Dodgson shrugged, and speared a leg of soft-shell crab.

King said nothing.

"Personally, I don't like risk," Dodgson continued. "And original work is risky. Most new ideas are bad, and most original work fails. That's the reality. If you feel compelled to do original research, you can expect to fail. That's all right if you work in a university, where failure is praised and success leads to Ostracism. But in industry...no, no. Original work in industry is not a wise career choice. It's only going to get you into trouble. Which is where you are right now, my friend."

"What can I do? " King said.

"Well," Dodgson said. "I have my I own version of the scientific method. I call it focused research development. If only a few ideas are going to be good, why try to find them yourself? It's too hard. Let other people find them - let them take the risk - let them go for the so-called glory. I'd rather wait, and develop ideas that already show promise. Take what's good, and make it better. Or at least, make it different enough so that I can patent it. And then I own it. Then, it's mine."

King was amazed at the straightforward way that Dodgson admitted he was a thief. He didn't seem in the least embarrassed. King poked at his salad for a while. "Why are you telling me this?"

"Because I see something in you," Dodgson said. "I see ambition. Frustrated ambition. And I'm telling you, Howard, you don't have to be frustrated. You, don't even have to be fired from the company at the next performance review. Which is exactly what's going to happen. How old is your kid?"

"Four," King said.

"Terrible, to be out of work, with a young family. And it won't be easy to get another job. Who's going to give you a chance now? By thirty-five, a research scientist has already made his mark, or he's not likely to. I don't say that's right, but that's how they think."

King knew that's how they thought. At every biotechnology company in California.

"But Howard," Dodgson said, leaning across the table, lowering his voice, "a wonderful world awaits you, if you choose to look at things differently. There's a whole other way to live your life. I really think you should consider what I'm saying."

Two weeks later, King became Dodgson's personal assistant in the Department of Future Biogenic Trends, which was bow Biosyn referred to its efforts at industrial espionage. And in the years that followed, King had once again risen swiftly at Biosyn - this time because Dodgson liked him.

Now King had all the accoutrements of success: a Porsche, a mortgage, a divorce, a kid he saw on weekends. All because King had proven to be the perfect second in command, working long hours, handling the details, keeping his fast-talking boss out of trouble. And in the process, King had come to know all the sides of Dodgson - his charismatic side, his visionary side, and his dark, ruthless side. King told himself that he could handle the ruthless side, that he could keep it in check, that over the years he had learned how to do that.

But sometimes, he was not so sure.

Like now.

Because here they were, in some rickety stinking fishing boat, heading out into the ocean off some desolate village in Costa Rica, and in this tense moment Dodgson had suddenly decided to play some kind of game, meeting this woman and deciding to take her along.

King didn't know what Dodgson intended, but he could see the intense gleam in Dodgson's eyes that he had seen only a few times before, and it was a look that always alarmed him.

The woman Harding was now up on the foredeck, standing near the bow. She was looking off at the ocean. King saw Dodgson walking around the Jeep, and beckoned to him nervously.

"Listen," King said, "we have to talk."

"Sure," Dodgson said, easily. "What's on your mind?"

And he smiled. That charming smile.

Harding

Sarah Harding stared at the gray, menacing sky. The boat rolled in the heavy offshore swell. The deckhands scrambled to tie down the Jeep, which threatened repeatedly to break free. She stood in the bow, fighting seasickness. On the far horizon, dead ahead, she could just see the low black line that was their first glimpse of Isla Sorna.

She turned and looked back, and saw Dodgson and King were huddled by the railing amidships, in intense conversation. King seemed to be upset, gesticulating rapidly. Dodgson was listening, and shaking his head. After a moment, he put his arm on King's shoulder. He seemed to be trying to calm the younger man down. Both men ignored the activity around the jeep. Which was odd, she thought, considering how worried they had been earlier about the equipment. Now they didn't seem to care.

As for the third man, Baselton, she had of course recognized him, and she was surprised to find him here on this little fishing boat. Baselton had shaken her hand in a perfunctory way, and he had disappeared belowdecks as soon as the ship pulled away from the dock. He had not reappeared. But perhaps he was seasick, too.

As she continued to watch, she saw Dodgson break away from King, and hurry over to supervise the deckhands. Left alone, King went to check on the straps that lashed the boxes and barrels to the deck farther aft. The boxes marked "Biosyn."

Harding had never heard of the Biosyn Corporation. She wondered what connection Ian and Richard had with it. Whenever Ian was around her, he had always been critical, even contemptuous, of biotechnology companies. And these men seemed to be unlikely friends. They were too rigid, too...geeky.

But then, she reflected, Ian did have strange friends. They were always showing up unexpectedly at his apartment - the Japanese calligrapher, the Indonesian gamalan troupe, the Las Vegas juggler in a shiny bolero jacket, that weird French astrologer who thought the earth was hollow....And then there were his mathematician friends. They were really crazy. Or so they seemed to Sarah. They were so wild-eyed, so wrapped up in their proofs. Pages and pages of proofs, sometimes hundreds of pages. It was all too abstract for her. Sarah Harding liked to touch the dirt, to see the animals, to experience the sounds and the smells. That was real to her. Everything else was just a bunch of theories: possibly right, possibly wrong.

Waves began to crash over the bow, and she moved a little astern, to keep dry. She yawned; she hadn't slept much in the last twenty-four hours. Dodgson finished working on the Jeep, and came over to her.

She said, "Everything all right?"

"Oh yes," Dodgson said, smiling cheerfully.

"Your friend King seemed upset."

"He doesn't like boats," Dodgson said. He nodded to the waves. "But we're making better time. It'll only be an hour or so, until we land."

"Tell me," she said. "What is the Biosyn Corporation? I've never heard of it."

"It's a small company," Dodgson said. "We make what are called consumer biologicals. We specialize in recreational and sports organisms. For example, we engineered new kinds of trout, and other game fish. We're making new kinds of dogs-smaller pets for apartment dwellers. That sort of thing."

Exactly the sort of thing that Ian hated, she thought. "How do you know Ian?"

"Oh, we go way back," Dodgson said.

She noticed his vagueness. "How far?"

"Back to the days of the park."

"The park," she said.

He nodded. "Did he ever tell you how he hurt his leg?"

"No," she said. "He would never talk about it. He just said it happened on a consulting job that had...I don't know. Some sort of trouble. Was it a park?"

"Yes, in a way," Dodgson said, staring out at the ocean, After a moment, he shrugged. "And what about you? How do you know him?"

"He was one of my thesis readers. I'm an ethologist. I study large mammals in African grassland ecosystems. East Africa. Carnivores, in particular."

"Carnivores?"

"I've been studying hyenas," she said. "Before that, lions."

"For a long time?"

"Almost ten years, now. Six years continuously, since my doctorate."

"Interesting," Dodgson said, nodding, "And so did you come here all the way from Africa?"

"Yes, from Seronera. In Tanzania."

Dodgson nodded vaguely. He looked past her shoulder toward the island. "What do you know. Looks like the weather may clear, after all."

She turned and saw streaks of blue in the thinning clouds overhead. The sun was trying to break through. The sea was calmer. And she was surprised to see the island was much closer. She could clearly see the cliffs, rising above the seas. The cliffs were reddish-gray volcanic rock, very sheer.

"In Tanzania," Dodgson said. "You run a large research team?"

"No. I work alone."

"No students?" he said.

"I'm afraid not. It's because my work just isn't very glamorous. The big savannah carnivores in Africa are primarily nocturnal. So my research is mostly conducted at night."

"Must be hard on your husband."

"Oh, I'm not married," she said, with a little shrug.

"I'm surprised," he said. "After all, a beautiful woman like you..."

"I never had time," she said quickly. To change the subject, she said, "Where do you land on this island?"

Dodgson turned to look. They were now close enough to the island to see the waves crashing, high and white, against the base of the cliffs. They were only a mile or two away.

"It's an unusual island," Dodgson said. "This whole region of central America is volcanic. There are something like thirty active volcanoes between Mexico and Colombia. All these offshore islands were at one time active volcanoes, part of the central chain. But unlike the mainland, the islands are now dormant. Haven't erupted for a thousand years or so.

"So we're seeing the outside of the crater?"

"Exactly. The cliffs are all the result of erosion from rainfall, but the ocean erodes the base of the cliffs, too. Those flat sections on the cliff you see are where the ocean cut in at the bottom, and huge areas of the cliff face were undermined, and just cleaved, falling straight down into the sea. It's all soft volcanic rock."

"And so you land..."

"There are several places on the windward side where the ocean has cut caves into the cliff. And at two of those places, the caves meet rivers flowing out from the interior. So they're passable." He pointed ahead. "You see there, you can just now see one of the caves."

Sarah Harding saw a dark irregular opening cut into the base of the cliff. All around it, the waves crashed, plumes of white water rising fifty feet up into the air.

"You're going to take this boat into that cave there?"

"If the weather holds, yes." Dodgson turned away. "Don't worry, it's not as bad as it looks. Anyway, you were saying. About Africa. When did you leave Africa?"

"Right after Doc Thorne called. He said he was going with Ian to rescue Richard, and asked if I wanted to come."

"And what did you say?"

"I said I'd think about it."

Dodgson frowned. "You didn't tell him you were coming?"

"No. Because I wasn't sure I wanted to. I mean, I'm busy. I have my work. And it's a long way."

"For an old lover," Dodgson said, nodding sympathetically.

She sighed. "Well. You know. Ian."

"Yes, I know Ian," Dodgson said. "Quite a character."

"That's one way to put it," she said.

There was an awkward silence. Dodgson cleared his throat. "I'm confused," he said, "Who exactly did you tell you were coming here?"

"Nobody," she said. "I just jumped on the next plane and came."

"But what about your university, your colleagues..."

She shrugged. "There wasn't time. And as I said, I work alone." She looked again at the island. The cliffs rose high above the boat. They were only a few hundred yards away. The cave appeared much larger now, but the waves crashed high on either side. She shook her head. "It looks pretty rough."

"Don't worry," Dodgson said. "See? The captain's already making for it. We'll be perfectly safe, once we're passing through. And then...It should be very exciting."

The boat rolled and dipped in the sea, an uncertain motion. She gripped the railing. Beside her, Dodgson grinned. "See what I mean? Exciting, isn't it?" He seemed suddenly energized, almost agitated. His body became tense; he rubbed his hands together. "No need to worry, Ms. Harding, I can't allow anything to happen to - "

She didn't know what he was talking about, but before she could reply, the nose of the boat dipped again, kicking up spray, and she stumbled a little. Dodgson bent over quickly - apparently to steady her - but it seemed as if something went wrong - his body struck against her legs, then lifted - and then another wave crashed over them and she felt her body twist and she screamed and clutched at the railing. But it was all happening too fast, the world upended and swirled around her, her head clanged once on the railing and then she was tumbling, falling through space. She saw the peeling paint on the hull of the boat sliding past her, she saw the green ocean rush up toward her, and then she was shocked with the sudden stinging cold as she plunged into the rough, heaving sea, and sank beneath the waves, into darkness.

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