If you have not read the PREVIOUS CHAPTER, click here.
“Which brother?” River demanded, quickly exiting the incubation building and taking long strides across the soggy ground toward the farmhouse.
“I don't know, I was never formally introduced to any of them,” John replied, keeping pace with River easily thanks to his long legs.
“I'll figure it out then.”
“River,” John said in a warning tone. She ignored him.
“Don't you have work to do, John?”
John frowned, but he followed her to the farmhouse anyway. River stormed up the back steps and started shouting once she was inside. While hovering near the doorway, pretending to be preoccupied with petting all the dogs, John did some eavesdropping and primarily learned that the object of River's wrath was not at home. In fact, he had been one of the older brothers John had seen several weeks ago. They had taken a load of what he now knew to be processed dinosaur meat and eggs to sell and only one brother had returned from the trip. The other one was missing in action.
John suspected he was probably in hiding or police custody for protection. Based on all the shouting going on inside the house, police protection seemed like a good idea.
At that moment, Douglas yelled, “Enough! We can't prove anything until he comes back; So stop shouting about it, River. We have work to do. I'm trying to get ahold of your uncle; while I do that, I need you to hire extra security and burn all of our shipping and client information before those cops come back with a warrant.”
River abruptly changed topics. “You want to destroy evidence?”
“It isn't evidence until I'm charged with a crime and they can't charge me with anything—there is no legal field equipped to handle dinosaurs. We are simply protecting our clients' private information. Now get to work and take that John guy with you; he seems sturdy.”
River blew past John and huffed back across the fields. John hurried to catch up with her. “Are you really going to destroy all the evidence?”
“You heard him, it's not actually 'evidence,' it's just 'client information,'” River spat angrily.
“Yeah but the police will want to see it all and if they get a warrant, they will expect to find a paper trail and will probably not be thrilled to see it all destroyed,” John pointed out.
“Oh, who cares?! If they have a warrant, they will search the entire farm and find plenty to send us all to jail on questionable charges! Destroying a little bit of paper won't stop that.”
“Did you have a hand in the sales? This paperwork could be the evidence you need to keep yourself out of jail and on the farm to take care of the dinosaurs.”
“I'm not going to betray my family like my brother did, John. If one of us goes down, we all go down.”
But, despite her statement, River didn't get around to finding and destroying the paperwork that day. Instead, she called several firms to hire extra security, showed John how to take care of all the dinosaurs (he was not sure why she decided he needed a crash-course in dinosaur care but he scrambled to follow along and keep up with all the new information she was throwing at him), and then River got into a heated argument with a reporter she found sneaking around a back orchard. The man threatened to sue and take all his pictures to the biggest buyer in town (John suspected he only had pictures of the orchard since all the dinosaurs were clear across the farm) and River threatened to call the police and have the reporter charged with trespassing. After a lot of shouting and cussing, the reporter finally left and River told John he could knock off early after he fed the goat.
Driving to the farm the next morning was almost impossible. The last stretch of road was lined with reporters, media vans and protestors. PETA was in full force along with numerous local animal rights activist groups who all held signs that read Free The Dinosaurs and Save The Dinosaurs. A few read Eat Plants Not Animals and Dinosaurs Rule! John was not certain that all the protestors present knew exactly what they were protesting, but he did not stop to fill them in with any additional details.
River got into several more shouting matches with more sneaky reporters that day and John had to call the police when they found a small group of young college-age people trying to locate the dinosaurs with every intention of taking pictures and riding the ancient beasts. John was not thrilled about that.
“When is the extra security supposed to arrive?” He asked when the police finally left with the partying college kids.
“Sometime this afternoon; I'm going to have them work in shifts to monitor the fences. I'll have several stationed at the gate and keep a couple near the incubation building. We have shut down the meat and egg production until all of this blows over,” River explained.
“Probably a good call. Did your dad hear back from your uncle yet?”
“No, the idiot is in some country without the benefits of the modern age.”
“Oh fun,” John replied.
Together, they helped to move the peaceful protoceratops herd to a fresh field to graze. Despite the sudden focus of global attention, the farm still had work to be done and the animals all still needed the same routine attention. John set off to help shoe the horses and find the goat who had escaped his pen. He spotted River an hour or two later directing several burly armed men around the farm. The new security had arrived.
It stopped raining a few days later which left everything muddy but the sun was warm and bright. John was working inside the barn when he heard shouting. He had to blink rapidly as his eyes adjusted to the light before he could spot the source of the shouting.
It was Douglas, surrounded by various law enforcement representatives. “This is my farm and I don't care if you have a warrant; you are not searching anything and you most certainly are not taking pictures or samples of anything today or ever!” Douglas boomed. He was turning red.
“Sir, you need to calm down,” the local sheriff insisted. It didn't sound like the first time he had told Douglas that either.
John approached the group. “What is going on?”
A deputy approached him and guided him away from the larger group. “Sir, we have a warrant—several warrants in fact—allowing us to inspect the farm for animal cruelty, tax evasion, misappropriation of genetic material and several other items of interest.”
“Alright,” John replied suspiciously.
“We are requesting that all the family members and current employees of the farm remain here by the house for the duration of the search,” the deputy continued.
“You have a specialist coming in?” John guessed.
“You could say that.”
John gave the deputy his full attention. “Listen, if you are bringing your whistleblower here, that is a very bad idea.”
“I don't know what you are talking about, sir,” the deputy began but was cut off by the arrival of a dark SUV.
Simultaneously, in a very uncoordinated chain of events, River stomped around the farmhouse and took in the scene in the yard as the occupants of the SUV climbed out of a backdoor.
Catching sight of the new arrivals, River instantly figured out what was going on and charged rapidly at the men. John recognized the uniformed men as his former coworkers Todd and Carl, and one of River's older brothers John had still not been formally introduced to.
As River charged at her brother, John shouted, “River, no!” and lunged forward but the deputy threw his arms around John and forcibly stopped him.
Everyone else was just turning around to see what the new source of the commotion was about when River collided with her brother and both hit the ground with a wet thud. Then River began to repeatedly punch her brother.
Douglas and the law enforcement officers watched in stunned silence for several minutes before cautiously attempting to break up the fight. By then, River's brother was back on his feet and trading blows with his sister who was fueled by blind rage. Todd and Carl tried to intervene but ended up catching some of River's swings and causing more chaos as they stumbled into the various FBI, police and other agents rushing in to help. Eventually everyone was swinging wildly and no one had a grip on the situation.
Still firmly held back by the shocked deputy, John watched in frustration.
“Alright, that is enough!” A new player shouted and Mrs. Douglas stood on the porch of her farmhouse banging on a pan with a wooden spoon and looking about ready to rip some heads off.
The majority of the uniformed officers stopped slipping around in the mud to look at Mrs. Douglas which allowed a few hardy fellows to tackle River and her brother to the ground. Both were handcuffed and led to separate vehicles.
River shouted at her brother the entire time and tried to wiggle away from her arresting officers. “You bastard! You destroyed everything! I'll beat you into the ground, Keith!”
“I had to do it, River! They were innocent animals!” Keith shouted back, undaunted by her threat.
“Now wait just a minute, you can't take them away!” Mr. Douglas started shouting too and soon found himself handcuffed and in the back of an official vehicle.
Surrounded by her dogs and fewer volatile children, Mrs. Douglas patiently listened to the sheriff and when informed of the warrants and impending search, she instructed him to knock himself out looking around while she hustled down to the station to arrange bail for her family members. Then she disappeared back inside the farmhouse. John had his statement taken and then acted as a tour guide to the law enforcement officials.
Despite what the deputy had said, no tissues or other samples were taken. Only notes, photographs and the boxes of paperwork that River hadn't gotten around to destroying yet. When everything of interest had been confiscated, cataloged, photographed, counted and noted, the officials all left. John wasn't sure what to do with himself so he fed all the animals and went home.
Everyone involved in the altercation was still in jail the next day so John stopped by to see River. Her face was still swollen and purple but her eyes flashed when she saw him. “What do you want?”
“I came to check on you, have they posted bail yet for you?”
“I doubt it; my family can't afford to bail all of us out at once and the farm needs dad to run it.”
“So you plan to stay in here until this mess is sorted out and it either folds or goes to trial?” John frowned.
“Probably. I have charges pending against me that haven't been processed yet.”
“Assaulting an officer of the law, assaulting an unarmed civilian assisting in a police case, those sorts of things.”
“River, I told you not to go at this with your fists,” John said gently.
She tried to stick out her swollen lip, grimaced and looked away.
John sighed. “Well, what should I do while you wait?”
“Man the farm, keep everything running smoothly and don't let the cops take my dinosaurs.”
“You got it, boss.”
At the farm later that week John heard a loud whooping sound and threw down his wrench. “If it isn't one thing after another,” he muttered as he set out to find the source of the annoying sound.
It became louder as he approached it and the wind picked up. When he stepped out from the shelter of the trees, John finally realized the whooping sound and the huge clouds of wind were from the helicopter landing in the field in front of him. A tall man with short blonde hair and glasses hopped out and ran up to him.
“Hey, have you seen River?” The man asked cheerfully.
“She's a bit preoccupied at the moment, can I take a message?” John replied.
“Oh sure, just tell her that her uncle is here and needs to see her right away.”