A/N: To explain the thing that happened at the end of the last chapter. The red light that started blinking is automatic, and was registering the presence in the zoo of someone who ought not to be there. Will get this into a previous chapter at some point. Maybe right at the start when Patrick and Dexi go up to the crocodile enclosure.
When I was going through this to make little edits the last few sentences kind of took me by surprise and I'm thinking they may be a bit unnecessary?
Patrick threw himself out of the stool. He stumbled, almost went over on his ankle, but managed to grab the edge of the surveillance desk and squeeze it tight, keeping himself standing. The stool clattered to the ground as he swept it out the way and leaned forward to look as close as he could at the screen. Descending into the crocodile enclosure now was a long, black shiny helicopter.
He darted over to the ladder, his hands shaking as he forced himself through the motions of releasing the catch on the panel above. It took him precious minutes, but finally he emerged into the bracing wind of a Scottish October evening. He grimaced as a strong, piercingly bright beam of light immediately latched onto him from somewhere in the air. How many helicopters were there?
His bones creaked as he ran forward, leaning sideways as he powered around past the monkey cage. His feet slipped on the loosely gravelled path several times, but the raw, desperate need to protect Rita kept him always on his feet. Over the bridge, past the tropical birds, then finally scaling the hill up to the crocodile enclosure.
But he was too late. Rita glared at him, but didn't say anything. She couldn't say anything. There was a human standing next to her and her snout was taped tightly shut. Patrick gaped at her, at the accusation of betrayal burning behind her eyes.
"Patrick McAfferty?" the human, a brown-haired young man shouted. He wore a tight-fitting black jacket and black cotton trousers; Patrick could barely see him in the night. "Mr McAfferty, we are here to arrest you for breaching regulations in your research for the Neuromax company."
Patrick hadn't meant to say anything, but before he knew what he was doing, he shouted, "We?"
Suddenly he felt something cold and metal against his right hand, and then it was jerked around behind his back and bound to his left. Handcuffs. He twisted around, but whoever was behind him pushed his head forward. He wasn't sure his knees could take getting knocked to the ground, so he took a deep breath, and didn't struggle.
"Where am I going?" Patrick groaned, trying to stand as upright as he could so the handcuffs didn't cut too far into his wrists.
"Sorry," the voice behind him murmured, a gruff female voice. "That's above my paygrade."
Patrick stumbled sideways as his captor dragged him away from the crocodile enclosure. The last view he got of Rita her eyes were slitted as she stared straight at him. He could feel the searing pain of tears in his own and hoped, if nothing else, she had believed him in the end.
He was at first shoved back along the way he had come
"Patrick!" Treego screamed as he was marched across the bridge. Patrick tried to spot him in the darkness - there, a quick blur of blue - but his guard pushed him faster and soon he was at the other side. He could barely see past the policewoman as he twisted his head around, but he thought he saw Treego clambering onto the top of the bridge's railing. There would be no good in him following. It was true that he was the fastest up and down the ladders, but Patrick was sure he would soon be travelling in some sort of vehicle not even a cheetah could catch.
Helicopters descended upon only some of the cages, and after Patrick's head had stopped thumping so hard he realised that it was Rita, the rhinos, Cedric the lion, anything that could cause harm to an invading force if their snouts were not quickly sealed shut.
As Patrick was taken down the side of the pond towards the front of the zoo, he realised there was only one man posted outside the monkey cage, and he didn't seem to be securing anything. The corner of his mouth twitched, as if it was trying to smirk. He was sure that little Rosie could do some amount of damage if she wanted to. And speaking of Rosie, she was right there at the front of the cage, her head level with that one man. She stood on an older monkey's shoulders, and was talking to him.
"Andrew!" Patrick's guard barked.
The slim young man, Andrew, whirled round with wide, white eyes. "Sergeant! Listen to her!"
Patrick and the sergeant came to a stop. Patrick's was panting, even though they'd been moving at most at a brisk walk. He gaped at Rosie, who had one hand on her hip and an eyebrow raised at the sergeant, who stepped out from behind Patrick but kept a firm grip on his arm.
"What business could you possibly have with a monkey?" she snapped.
"She says it's not the man's fault, that it's the company, Neuromax! I told you!" Andrew exclaimed. "And boy, you should year her grammar, ma'am. Puts half our force to shame."
The sergeant sighed. "I know your opinions, officer. You don't have to tell me again how sure you are that the big evil Neuromax is to blame, that they're putting things in the water, or the air, pushing science too far. This man has been proven to have no connection to that company, none whatsoever. Now do your job, and get these animals into cages!"
Patrick spotted some cages just to the left of Andrew, which had up until then blended into the wires of the monkey cage itself. But these cages would barely have been head height on the adult monkey whose shoulders Rosie stood on. Andrew glared at his sergeant, who Patrick saw properly now was heavy set, with low, angry eyebrows.
"Fine," he muttered.
He walked around to the cage's door and stuck something small and thin into the lock, twisted it once, then was inside. The monkeys immediately scattered and scurried up the walls of the cage, just as they did every day. But today their audience was a man with a tranquiliser gun who, despite his reluctance, targeted each one of the monkeys one by one with pinpoint accuracy. He ran about, catching each one as softly as he could as they fell, then moved onto the next, shot, catched.
The sergeant didn't move Patrick on until they were done, whether to ensure Andrew actually did it or to make sure Patrick saw it he had no idea. But he could feel the blood in his arms grow hot and angry, and it took all his willpower to stop himself from trying to break out of the handcuffs.
Then Patrick was past the monkeys, past the tropical birds, past the gift shop. The front door was lying open, the lock smashed to pieces. How had he let himself miss all of this? All so he could get the animals not to hate him. They were doomed to lives of experiments and testing because of him.
He let the sergeant march him out of the zoo. He didn't deserve to be there.