Firstly, Dr Jason Thomas has not managed to successfully extract dinosaur DNA from amber, let alone grow dinosaur clones from it. The real genius behind Dino Park is one Samuel Agostino, a 32 year old MIT physics graduate. He began a Ph.D. in an obscure branch of general relativity before quitting under the pressure of rejection of his theories. Those theories concerned the development of a practical device capable of travelling through time.
Unbeknownst to the public, Agostino managed to build a working time machine 6 years ago. His first trip back through time terrified him and he was ready to drop all further research when he met Dr Jason Thomas at a party in Boston. After hitting it off despite their age difference, Agostino let slip some details of his work while his tongue was loosened by alcohol.
Two days later, Thomas showed up at Agostino's apartment asking for a demonstration of the time machine. Agostino explained his fears in using it again; on his first trip he had nearly been crushed by a dinosaur! He also explained the limitations of the device. It could only reach times more than 65 million years before the present. After some serious thinking, Thomas presented Agostino with a business proposition.
The proposal was to build a bigger version of Agostino’s time machine, collect young dinosaurs in the past, and bring them back for display in a sort of zoo. Agostino agreed and the two began recruiting suitable physicists (mostly acquaintances of Agostino's from MIT) and wild animal handlers for the jobs.
With the help of the scientists, Agostino and Thomas built a time machine capable of carrying a hunting party, which they then used to travel back to the Mesozoic era to retrieve young dinosaurs. They located the machine in the desolate foothills of Montana, where fossil evidence for the existence of dinosaurs is plentiful.
By this time, Thomas had well and truly taken control of the operation, though with the full cooperation of Agostino, who recognised Thomas’ superior business acumen. Thomas decided that revealing the existence of a working time machine was too dangerous, and concocted a possibly more believable story, as well as one that would make sure they retained legal rights to their animals. With the successful return of a few young dinosaurs, Thomas announced to the world the success of his DNA recovery and cloning procedures. Financial backing followed quickly and Dino Park was up and running.
Ryan Dale was lost on a hunting expedition in the Cretaceous period. A hunting party of five was intercepted by a pack of Utahraptors about 120 million years ago. Dale was downed by the creatures and the rest of the party fled. Thomas ordered Dale’s car disposed of, and all employees to deny that he had shown up for work that morning. Nobody actually saw Dale die, but he is presumed dead by his fellow hunters.
Vicki Johnson is definitely dead, and her body is being stored in a freezer in the Dino Park labs. She contracted a strange disease after handling a sick young Ornitholestes. The animal died within 10 hours, but Vicki hung on for 5 days after first showing symptoms. Again, Jason Thomas ordered the loss covered up, and concocted the disappearance scenario with her car left by the road.
Carlos Lopez contracted the same mysterious disease during the day of his disappearance. With a second occurrence, some concern began to spread amongst those Dino Park staff who know of Vicki's death. Lopez’ car has been moved to a remote spot in the park and covered with camouflage, and the story that he left work as normal that day passed around. Lopez is still alive in the care of Dr Louise Jones, but will die 5 days and 6 hours after the PC briefing unless cured.
Only a handful of Dino Park staff know the details of these events. In fact, only the science R&D staff, the animal capturers, and six of the veterinary staff (including Dr Michael Penrose) know of the time travelling at all. These people, plus the medical staff, the remainder of the veterinary staff, and Dan Beck know about the illness.
Vicki Johnson was too ill on the day of her disappearance to phone her husband saying that she would be late home from work. Arnold Johnson did, however, receive a call from Jason Thomas at about 7pm saying that Vicki was working back and was too busy to with a sick dinosaur to come to the phone herself. This is not recorded in the police report.
Since both Vicki Johnson and Carlos Lopez were incubating the mysterious disease on the night before they vanished, they exhibited early symptoms. Most notable of these was a ravenous appetite at dinner that night, and breakfast the next morning. If questioned about unusual behaviour, their spouses might reveal this information.
Investigation of Dino Park's financial holdings will reveal that Jason Thomas purchased a block of land of about 5 square kilometres in the hills of central Montana soon after receiving financial backing for his work. Air traffic records will show an unusual number of flights between Orlando and Bozeman, Montana, made by a private plane registered to Anderson & Stuart Inc., Dino Park’s largest financial backer. Passenger manifests are not available but, if anyone cares to think, matches can be made between flights to and from Montana and when Ryan Dale was on "business trips".
Any reasonably thorough background checking on the scientists employed by Dino Park will reveal that hardly any of them have experience in genetics or biochemistry. Most have higher degrees in theoretical physics, with a preponderance of general relativists. Samuel Agostino and his colleagues form the core of this group.
A paleontologist will notice on a successful Paleontology roll that all the dinosaurs in Dino Park were native to North America. In fact, almost all the previously known species have been identified in remains found in Montana. Additionally, there are no species dating from earlier than the late Jurassic period. These facts are significant, since they represent limitations on the operation of the time machine, described below.
The characters may think to have aerial and/or high resolution satellite photos taken of Dino Park. Aerial photos will be available 3 hours after they are requested, and satellite photos will take 5 hours. Any character studying the photos may make a Vision–2, Planetology (Earthlike) (in lieu of a Geography skill), or Ecology roll to see and interpret the swathe of crushed vegetation leading from a road within Dino Park to Carlos Lopez' car. If the satellite images are false colour, anyone can plainly see the swathe, but a Planetology, Ecology or Botany roll will be needed to interpret it.
Richard Saxon is a red herring. The PCs may decide to interview him, but he knows nothing about what is really going on. He may send the PCs on some wild goose chases with outrageous theories of his own, however.
Next file: Dino Park, Orlando, Florida.