Kayla Watts is an African-American pilot and smuggler. She was formerly a member of the U.S. Air Force before leaving to do freelance work, much of it illegal. Sometime after 2018, she was contracted by BioSyn Genetics to ferry de-extinct animals from various locations to BioSyn facilities such as the BioSyn Genetics Sanctuary. She is also known for operations in Mombasa and the Amber Clave market in Malta, and until the spring of 2022 frequently took jobs with the feared black-market broker Soyona Santos.
Until its final crash-landing in 2022 during the Biosyn Valley incident, she was known for her signature Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, the Midnight Oiler. After this she became the pilot of that airplane’s successor the Midnight Oiler 2.
The name Kayla may be traced back to two different and unrelated origins, Gaelic and Arabic. It may come from the Irish surname Ó Caollaidhe (and by extension the word “caol”), and can be translated to mean “descendant of Caollaidhe” or simply “slender,” “narrow,” or “graceful.” Caollaidhe became a given name during the 1200s in Ireland. Kayla is often assumed to be a shortened form of the Irish name Mikayla, itself derived from Michaella, which translates to “who is like God.” Its Arabic origins, tied to Hebrew and Yiddish, derives from the name Kelila (related to the name Kay) and roughly means “a crown of laurels” or, more simply, “pure.” The name Kayla became popular in the United States in the 1950s and remains fairly common.
Watts is a variant of the surname Watt, which has English origins and began as a nickname for the male name Walter. It first became common in 8th-century England and later throughout the British Isles. This given name, now evolved into a surname, translates to “ruler of the army.” This is not reflective of Kayla Watts, who dropped out of the U.S. Air Force and was never a member of any army.
Watts grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Her exact date of birth is not known, though the junior novelization for Jurassic World: Dominion describes her as in her late twenties as of 2022; the actress who portrays her, DeWanda Wise, was born in 1984. If the junior novelization is correct, then Kayla Watts was born around ten years later than this, in the mid-1990s. She was preceded by two generations of Air Force women; her mother and maternal grandmother both served. At some point, probably in her adolescence, Watts discovered that she was bisexual. The United States has a heteronormative culture, so people who are not heterosexual must usually learn this fact after some degree of introspection and self-discovery.
She was still young when the world learned that de-extinction, the practice of using genetic engineering to restore extinct organisms to life, had been accomplished by International Genetic Technologies. Depending on exactly when she was born, Watts may have been too young to remember when this dramatic accomplishment was first made public. Instead, Watts’s youth was directed toward her family legacy: to become an Air Force pilot.
Air Force and pilot career
When she was old enough, probably as soon as she was eighteen, Watts enrolled in the U.S. Air Force. She learned to fly after passing her training, but did not remain in the Air Force for long. Breaking a three-generations-long family tradition, Watts dropped out, using her funds to purchase a plane of her own: a Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar decades older than herself, christened the Midnight Oiler.
Over the years she made this relic of an aircraft into her own home, decorating the cockpit with memorabilia commemorating her travels. During this time, she worked as an independent contract pilot for hire under the name K.W. Cargo Charters, transporting cargo across the world and sending her profits home to support her family. Fuel and airplane maintenance, especially for an aircraft almost as old as the Second World War, consumed a large amount of her income. As time went on, it became clear that Watts was not bringing in enough money to support herself and her family members as well as she wanted.
She began accepting jobs that promised greater rewards in exchange for greater risk. These jobs were under the table and off the record; most of them involved smuggling various goods across international borders away from the prying eyes of the authorities. Watts began to spend more of her time in black markets and back alleys, tangling with dangerous customers and learning to fend for herself in the cutthroat underground. Operating under the name “talespin” as well as her old title to receive pay, she spent much of her time in Mombasa, Kenya when not engaged with work. While she had an account set up for payment in the Crichcoin cryptocurrency, she preferred payment in less volatile forms, mostly straightforward cash transfers.
Around this same time, the theme park Jurassic World—run by InGen, the first company to resurrect extinct life—closed after a security incident caused a major scandal. The animals were abandoned, with political debate in the United States and beyond raging as to whether the creatures deserved endangered species protections. Watts probably never visited the park before its closure in late 2015, nor was she in any position to engage with the extinct animal rights debate in the ensuing years. However, her fate and that of the animals were to become unexpectedly intertwined.
The Amber Clave
In June of 2018, dozens of de-extinct animals (along with their DNA samples, and the technology needed to engineer them) were introduced to the wider world. The animals had been brought to an estate in northern California where many were auctioned off and the remainder escaped into the wild. Those that were sold entered into the black market: they were used for a wide range of purposes, ranging from biomedical research to exotic food. Governments struggled to crack down on a blossoming underground trade as powerful people scrambled to get their hands on these rare assets. Laws and regulations were put in place surrounding the animals, but they lagged behind reality, as the world’s criminal elite already held not just the original animals but the means and technology to breed more.
With the black market saturated with de-extinction products, it became inevitable that Watts would cross paths with them. She became well-acquainted with many a prehistoric species, using the Midnight Oiler to transport her genetically-engineered cargoes from one end of the world to another. Her exploits eventually brought her to Soyona Santos, a mysterious but frightfully powerful woman who operated out of the Amber Clave night market in Malta. Santos was a broker in the Amber Clave and commanded the respect of the black market’s most devious patrons, and loyalty to her was richly rewarded. Watts became a reliable subordinate, taking many a job from Santos.
She learned to turn the other way when faced with the unethical practices of the underground. Questioning Santos was unwise in many ways, and Watts was by now finely attuned to survival in her world. Splitting her time between the Amber Clave and Mombasa when not on a job, she carved a name for herself in the black market, managing to avoid the authorities and gain the respect of other smugglers and traffickers. Watts had a station of her own in the Amber Clave overseeing all the illegal goods it had to offer: blood sports in the fighting pits, choice cuts of meat, and dubious elixirs made from dinosaur bone powder. She even obtained a pet, a small Lystrosaurus she named Leonard. Like Watts, Leonard was mostly a calm and collected creature, but if backed into a corner he could use his powerful beak to slice cleanly through a threat.
Watts’s competence and the size of her plane’s cargo hold meant that Santos trusted her with jobs for her most valuable customers. Among these was Lewis Dodgson, the CEO of Biosyn Genetics. After the dinosaurs were released into the world, the United States Congress awarded Biosyn sole collection rights to prehistoric creatures within American borders, and other countries similarly entrusted the biotech giant with taking in captured animals. Of course, Dodgson was ensuring that behind the scenes his company’s sanctuary in the Dolomites was acquiring creatures from less than legal sources as well, and he paid handsomely for this. By 2021, Watts was making regular flights to Biosyn Valley, delivering new animals under the authorities’ radar. In a typical example of service, she delivered a group of twelve Compsognathus, three adult and one juvenile Gallimimus, two female and one male Nasutoceratops, and three male and one female Velociraptor to the valley; she flew a total of seventy hours that week, for a total of 63,400 air miles. On February 28, 2021, she made a payment request to Biosyn; this was logged as request #9, meaning either this was her ninth job for the company or she needed to remind Biosyn multiple times to make the payment. Santos also reported Dodgson lagging on his payments.
During flights into the valley, she coordinated with Biosyn for safe passage: they housed flying reptiles in the valley too, and like the land-bound dinosaurs, they were microchipped to regulate their behavior. The valley’s perimeter Aerial Deterrent System kept the reptiles below an altitude of five hundred feet to avoid collisions with aircraft and prevent them from crossing the high mountains. Still, the largest of these reptiles concerned her. A giant called Quetzalcoatlus dominated the sky over the forested valley floor. Other fearsome creatures lived in the forest below, including Biosyn’s apex predator, a colossal Giganotosaurus.
Biosyn came to impact her personal life as well. She quietly had a relationship with Biosyn air traffic controller Denise Roberts, which Dodgson was not made aware of. Watts and Roberts once traveled together to Dubrovnik for a romantic getaway. However, their relationship ended after this, apparently on bad terms.
Flying between the corruption at Biosyn and the perversions for sale in the Amber Clave exposed Watts to both sides of the underground. On one end was the grime and blood, on the other a polished image of corporate efficiency, but both fully aware of the immorality they relied upon to accomplish their goals. The world at large grew more unstable too. Political unrest had been brewing for quite a few years, but all manner of new crises sprung up in the 2020s. Even the Amber Clave showed signs of it; among the dinosaurs and other creatures that were trafficked through its hidden marketplaces, Watts would surely have seen a new species of huge locust shipped in from North America. Soon, the insects began to appear in the Eastern Hemisphere too, probably due to the illegal trade. Although she was well aware of the danger and injustice infesting the world, Watts did not believe it within her power to change the course of history, and so she accepted uneasy contentment.
In the spring of 2022, Watts was given a job by Santos: travel to California and retrieve a juvenile Velociraptor from the Sierra Nevada, then head to Valletta to transfer the animal to Santos’s crew at a disused airfield where she commonly parked the Midnight Oiler. The reward for this job was €50,000 (approximately US$55,217 at that time), and Watts took the offer. She landed at a remote location and met with an American poacher named Rainn Delacourt to pick up the young animal. He and his crew had gone through some trouble to get this creature, which was apparently quite important to Santos, but as usual Watts knew better than to go prying for information. Coincidentally, Delacourt would also be heading to Valletta tomorrow, though their jobs were separate from here on out.
She arrived at Malta the following morning, having flown through the night to get there. At the abandoned airfield, she unloaded the raptor’s cage to a Maltese gangster working for Santos, who paid Watts in cash and remarked on how strange it was to receive such a hefty reward for such a small creature. Santos herself was present at the airfield, accompanied by her usual entourage of underlings and a fleet of black vehicles. Strangely, Santos was there not just to oversee the transportation of the valuable raptor, but to receive a young girl who had been flown in on a smaller plane at the same time. Watts immediately had misgivings about the girl’s presence; there were few reasons a child would end up in the black market and none of them good. But, as the gangster delivering Watts’s payment reminded her, the girl was none of her business. The payment was made, the job was done, and they would never speak about it again.
Still uneasy about what she had seen on the airstrip, Watts entered the Amber Clave and took her usual spot, Leonard by her side. It was a busy market day and Watts kept an inquisitive eye on everyone she saw, including an attractive redheaded woman who passed by alongside a muscular man. She did not engage with either of them; instead she was approached by a more familiar figure, an Italian smuggler called Wigi, who had heard of Watts still taking jobs from Santos and surmised that Watts was in need of money. He had an offer for her; a thousand kilograms of dinosaur to ship to Palermo, Italy just a couple hours’ flight from Malta. However, upon spotting Leonard, Wigi recognized a rare creature and instead offered to buy him for €2,000. Watts haggled up to €8,000 instead, asserting that while Leonard was not so handsome, he was tough. Wigi was doubtful, but accepted the offer; Watts asked what his intentions were with the Lystrosaurus, but Wigi remarked it was no longer her concern. She had some reservations about the sale, but trusted Leonard would be able to take care of himself.
Wigi’s designs for Leonard were soon obvious, despite how cagey he had been about his intentions. He had been looking for a creature to enter into a cockfight, and Leonard’s opponent was an Oviraptor, an omnivorous theropod dinosaur with a beak designed to crack through the toughest of foods. True to Watts’s predictions, though, Leonard earned a swift victory without taking any harm by seizing his enemy’s neck and severing the head. After the fight, Watts headed into the restroom to wash up (according to the junior novelization, she was washing blood off her hands after getting into an altercation with the Oviraptor‘s owner, Wigi having told the man that Watts was still Leonard’s owner). In the restroom she once again saw the attractive redheaded woman, who she noticed seemed very out of place in the Amber Clave. Recognizing a woman who had clearly gotten in well over her head, Watts advised her to leave before she got herself into trouble; the woman, identifying herself as Claire Dearing, attempted to enlist Watts’s help. Watts rebuffed Dearing’s efforts, though she learned that Dearing was searching for her missing daughter—the same girl Watts had seen Santos collect at the airfield. Still resisting her moral compass in an act of self-preservation, Watts said she could not get involved, and left Dearing in the market. She had firm evidence now, as if she had ever needed it, that something nefarious was going on involving the girl, but she knew better than to cross Soyona Santos.
Watts took a walk through the streets of Valletta, taking a rare moment among ordinary people going about their daily lives. As fate would have it, and Watts seems almost to have expected it, this peace was broken some time later by none other than Claire Dearing, who Watts spotted dangling from an apartment balcony. Within the apartment was an Atrociraptor, a fierce carnivorous dinosaur trained by Santos to kill on command. Clearly it was not in Watts’s destiny to be a bystander any longer, and despite knowing that it would mean she could never return to the Amber Clave, Watts made her decision. Dearing was about to fall, and below her was the raggedy canopy of a Honda Acty owned by the local Tramutola Construction Company. Watts, knowing the key was left in the truck, quickly took to the driver’s seat as Dearing landed painfully in the truck bed. With Dearing in the back, Watts took them down the road at a breakneck pace, the Atrociraptor—an animal called Tiger—in hot pursuit. They fled toward the airfield, and Watts offered to drop Dearing at whatever location she needed after they made their escape. Dearing, to Watts’s dismay, hoped to end up at Biosyn’s headquarters. Still, Watts agreed to do it, and Dearing used her earpiece to call her partner, a man called Owen Grady, to meet at the Midnight Oiler.
Before they could safely escape, they needed to lose Tiger. This was far easier said than done, as the raptor was genetically modified to optimize its senses and amp up its already impressive speed and endurance. With many of the city’s streetside buildings under construction, Watts attempted to use scaffolding and other obstacles to slow the animal down, dodging traffic all the while. Dearing made use of the tools and supplies in the truck bed to fend the creature off. As they drove down a narrower street, Dearing used a steel bar to clothesline Tiger by letting the bar catch in the rear sides of two parked cars before the raptor had time to adjust its trajectory. With their pursuer stunned, Watts now had a brief window of time to get to the Midnight Oiler and flee Malta before Tiger or any of Santos’s other minions caught up—or worse, they faced Santos herself.
Arriving at the airfield, Watts and Dearing found the place mercifully deserted, and they abandoned the stolen truck to board the Flying Boxcar and get it hastily prepared for departure. Dearing was insistent that Grady would arrive, not wanting to leave him behind, but Watts was doubtful the man could make their rendezvous alive. Already they had stalled too long, and she began their takeoff sequence. As she did, Dearing spotted a motorcycle cresting the hill closely pursued by two more Atrociraptors, Ghost and Panthera. Though Grady was within sight, Watts could not stop the plane; even if she could, doing so would allow the raptors on board. Dearing concocted another plan and had Watts open the cargo doors on the back of the Midnight Oiler. Watts complied, and took off with the doors open. Miraculously, Grady managed to get on board just before the door lifted away from the ground, with the raptor Ghost making a determined leap into the cargo bay a second later; however, the motorcycle Grady had used to make the desperate jump fell out of the hold as the Boxcar angled skyward, knocking Ghost out of the plane and into the Mediterranean.
Now that they had made their impossible escape from Santos, they were able to breathe and collect themselves. Watts formally introduced herself to her passengers, learning a little more about the strange sequence of events that had brought the two of them here. Dearing and Grady had once worked at Jurassic World; Dearing had been in administration before taking up a new life as an animal rights activist, and Grady had trained animals at the park. In fact, the young raptor Watts had smuggled to Santos was the offspring of a raptor Grady had worked with. During the chaos in Valletta, numerous dinosaurs had gotten loose in the Amber Clave, one of which killed Delacourt after he met with Santos about trafficking the Atrociraptors. Santos had lived, but was arrested by a French intelligence operative during a sting.
Watts warned her passengers that trespassing in Biosyn Valley would be dangerous, but the two of them were fully committed to any risk necessary to rescue their adopted daughter. Watts, for her part, was ready to help them through the perils ahead. She was done being a passive bystander, even if it meant cutting ties with Biosyn as well as the Amber Clave. The three of them settled in for a long flight into the Dolomites.
Upon arrival to the valley’s mountain border, Watts prepared them for a quick snatch-and-run mission. The plan was to have Maisie and be in the air before Biosyn noticed anything was amiss. Watts contacted the Biosyn control room to request clearance for landing, pretending to have a perishable freight delivery in need of immediate unloading, but despite Santos’s defeat she had still managed to be one step ahead of them. Biosyn had been contacted already and knew that Watts was carrying unauthorized passengers. On the other end of the radio was Denise Roberts, Watts’s ex-girlfriend, who did not budge even when Watts threatened to reveal salacious details regarding their trip to Dubrovnik to Biosyn management. Roberts advised Watts that Biosyn would deactivate the ADS to force her plane to the ground, and this was no empty threat: an alarm in Watts’s cockpit alerted them to the system being turned off, and it did not take long for the valley’s pterosaurs to take notice.
A huge Quetzalcoatlus soared thousands of feet up to confront the Midnight Oiler, striking it from the front and damaging the cockpit when Watts attempted to shake it off. The animal damaged both engines, and as they burst into flames this scared the creature away. Unfortunately the damage had already been done: the veteran plane would not recover from such damage. It careened south across the valley, and with less than a minute before it crashed at full speed, they had only moments to prepare. Watts normally traveled alone, and so had only one ejector seat, the one Dearing was sitting in. Grady quickly briefed Dearing on how the seat worked, affirming that she was Maisie’s best chance at rescue. Dearing was ejected out from the plane and parachuted toward the forest, and Watts helped Grady brace for impact. They were barrelling toward the hydroelectric dam in the southeastern part of the valley, and despite the plane’s damage, it stayed airborne enough to clear the dam itself and crash into the icy reservoir.
Thanks to their expertise and quick thinking, both Watts and Grady survived the watery crash. Escaping the flooded Midnight Oiler through the emergency hatch on top, they descended onto the thin ice. Watts mourned the loss of her plane, but there was not much time for sadness; they needed to get off the reservoir and find Dearing. There was a beacon in the ejector seat that would help them locate her. As they carefully made their way across the ice, she and Grady got to know each other; Grady was also ex-military, having served in the U.S. Navy. Watts explained her history with smuggling, and how she had seen Maisie at the airstrip near Valletta and regretted not doing anything then. Grady held nothing against Watts for her checkered past, genuinely thankful for her decision to help them at such great personal cost.
They were not alone on the ice for long. The first creature they encountered was not a Biosyn staff member but one of the animals, a carnivorous Pyroraptor investigating the crash. Watts and Grady stood their ground against the territorial animal with weapons brandished, and as the Midnight Oiler‘s bulk settled in the reservoir, it cracked open the ice between humans and dinosaur. The raptor backed away at first, but then saw an opportunity: it dove beneath the ice, out of reach from their weapons and able to wait until one of them fell through. Not about to give the predator that chance, Watts and Grady ran for the dam. As they leapt over a pile of displaced ice, Grady landed too hard on the other side and fell through, the raptor circling and preparing to attack. He swam for the surface and Watts helped to haul him out of the frigid lake before the animal could get its jaws on him. Seconds later, the angry creature burst out of the water after Grady, and they fled onto the dam and toward a cargo elevator. With moments to spare, they shut the grate, Watts finally landing a hit on the Pyroraptor with her taser. They descended into the facility, beginning to use the tracking beacon to locate the ejector seat.
No Biosyn staff appeared to be on the side of the valley with the hydroelectric dam, so they were not accosted as they found relief from the alpine cold and exited the facility onto the forested valley floor. Tunnels connected the facilities, but Dearing was more likely stranded on the surface. The beacon indicated that Dearing had landed a few miles away to the north, about in the valley’s center, so they began the trek. While they made it across the forest without much incident, they had to be on their guard; the valley was full of animals and two of them had already established that humans were not welcome in this place.
When they located the ejector seat, it was suspended partway up a conifer tree, the primary chute torn apart and the backup deployed. Dearing was not in the seat, and there was blood on the ground; fortunately they quickly saw that the blood was not from a human, but instead from a red deer carcass nearby. The body was gouged by enormous claws, but there was no sign that anything else had been slain. They briefly had to hide as a huge predator, an old Tyrannosaurus, approached to claim the carcass. Before the battle-scarred animal could eat, it was approached by another creature. Grady identified the longer theropod as an Allosaurus, but Watts corrected him: this was Biosyn’s Giganotosaurus, the largest carnivore in the valley and possibly even the biggest to ever walk the earth. The larger and younger dinosaur drove off the veteran tyrannosaur, and Watts darkly considered that these two huge predators could not coexist in such a small ecosystem. Sooner or later, one would die.
The sun set over the valley, Watts and Grady heading northwest toward Biosyn’s headquarters. Dearing would likely have headed this way, as it would provide safety from the valley’s wildlife and was most likely where Biosyn was holding Maisie. Finally they found her near Outpost 04, one of the Biosyn research buildings scattered throughout the valley. When they found Dearing she was being accosted by a couple Dilophosaurus, venomous carnivores Grady knew from Jurassic World’s restricted area. He wrangled the alpha to protect Dearing, and Watts applied her taser to the carnivore to send it scampering away. Her left glove was ruined by the animal’s viscous venom, but the taser successfully downed the dilophosaur. Their leader cowed, the rest of the dinosaurs scattered as well. Now reunited, they sought about breaking into the outpost in order to access Biosyn headquarters by a safer route.
As they searched for a way to gain access, Watts took notice of something strange in the night sky. What appeared to be a vast burning cloud was spreading south across the valley from the headquarters, and moments later, it began to rain fire. As the ground was pelted, they could see what the debris was: locusts, the huge ones that had been plaguing farms in North America for months and were now spreading into new parts of the world. A swarm this size suddenly appearing in Biosyn Valley, heading south from the headquarters, certainly presented one possibility as to the strange insects’ origin. But a more immediate problem faced Watts and her companions; as the burning insects died, they plummeted into the forest and sparked wildfires. Traveling overland went from unfavorable to downright impossible. If they could not break into the outpost, they would be trapped among the flames.
Evidently they were not the only people facing this threat. As they tried to break into the outpost they heard the sounds of a vehicle crashing through the undergrowth, and a Biosyn Jeep tumbled to the bottom of a hill nearby. They cautiously inspected it, but soon heard a young girl’s voice screaming from the overturned vehicle. Dearing immediately recognized Maisie’s voice, and they rushed to her aid. Upon seeing Watts, Maisie recognized her, thankful that this total stranger had found the courage to do the right thing. Maisie had not escaped the headquarters on her own; she had been helped, strangely enough, by three famous scientists. At the wheel was Dr. Ian Malcolm, a renowned mathematician who had been the first to publicly claim de-extinction was real; the other two were Dr. Ellie Sattler, a paleobotanist, and Dr. Alan Grant, a dinosaur paleontologist. Watts found Malcolm in particular fairly handsome.
Together, they planned to access the outpost, but before they could, the Giganotosaurus found them, entering the clearing while chasing after the fluttering locusts. The animal approached slowly, curious about these new creatures; Watts managed to slowly remove a crowbar from the overturned Jeep Gladiator to break into the outpost. Once they had an opportunity, she led the charge to the outpost’s ladder, clambering up to the observation deck. Maisie was next, urged on by her parents, but the huge theropod now turned on her. Maisie managed to reach the protective cage near the top of the ladder, but the dinosaur clamped its jaws down, its enormous teeth inches from the girl. Watts tried to urge Maisie up the ladder, but Maisie was too terrified to move. The cage deformed but did not give, and instead the dinosaur’s strength broke it away from the ladder. Safe for the moment but without the cage’s protection, Maisie snapped out of her terror-induced freeze and scrambled to the observation deck with Watts. She was followed by the others while the Giganotosaurus struggled to get its teeth free of the detached cage.
Everyone but Malcolm, who was hiding in the Jeep wreck, was on the deck of the observation post with Watts leading the way to the entrance, but the dinosaur had now gotten free and focused on them once again. Watts, with little at her disposal to fight the animal off, opted to protect Maisie alongside Dearing. Meanwhile, though, Dr. Malcolm emerged from the wreck and impaled a dead but still-burning locust carcass as a makeshift torch, drawing the dinosaur’s attention. As it opened its jaws to consume both him and the insect, Malcolm threw the torch into the dinosaur’s mouth. Flames licked the creature’s throat and Malcolm joined the others atop the observation deck. By now Watts had gotten the door open and everyone piled inside, Grady and Dr. Sattler narrowly avoiding the animal’s bite as it recovered from Malcolm’s attack. It made one final attempt at their lives, breaking through the observation window and snagging a cable that Dearing’s leg was entangled with. To save Dearing once again, Watts armed herself with a heavier weapon, this one a custom tranquilizer rifle kept in the outpost. She fired upon the dinosaur’s head as Grady attacked with his hunting knife, freeing Dearing; Maisie passed Dearing Watts’s taser and Dearing joined the fight. Their combined efforts frustrated the dinosaur’s attack, and it abandoned the outpost, stalking off in search of easier prey and shelter from the flames.
The group recovered from the attack in the outpost, finally safe from the animals outside. They exchanged stories: the three scientists had been investigating Biosyn’s culpability in the locust plague, the insects having been part of an agricultural bioengineering project gone wrong. Maisie had been cured of a genetic disease by her mother, who succumbed to the same disease when Maisie was an infant, and Biosyn had hoped to use this breakthrough to destroy the locust swarms before their guilt came to light. The young raptor had been intended as a control group. Escaping from the valley was now their top priority. Watts could use a Biosyn helicopter to fly them all out from the main compound, so long as they could get there; unfortunately it was impossible to call for help as the forest fire had taxed the valley’s power grid to its limits. To reach the main compound, they traveled underground through the hyperloop tunnels, hoping that the transit system was shut down too. Fortunately they reached the headquarters without any trouble, making good time now that they were no longer traveling over unfriendly terrain.
At the main compound’s control room, they were able to see just how bad the situation was. The forest fire had blazed into an inferno and the compound had been evacuated, so there was no one there to help or hinder them. To make matters worse, the phones and hyperloop were not the only systems shut down by the disaster; with the main computer system seizing all available power because of the breakdown, the ADS was shut off, and with the fire still raging outside every animal that could fly would be in the air already. Ramsay Cole, a Biosyn Communications employee, arrived in the abandoned compound to aid them; evidently he had turned against Dodgson after learning about his CEO’s corruption. They all took radios and split four ways: Cole and Dr. Malcolm remained in the control room to coordinate the others, Grady led Maisie and Dr. Grant into the water treatment center to collect the young raptor, Beta, from where she had hidden herself, and Dearing and Dr. Sattler went into the server room to reroute power to the ADS. Watts made for the helipad by herself, assuring the others she would have the helicopter ready in ten minutes. She would signal them when it was time to board.
Upon reaching the helipad, she found a modified Eurocopter EC635 untouched and ready to go. She radioed Dearing, who confirmed the ADS was once again active and everyone (including Beta) was prepared. Watts took to the controls and lifted off into the ash-choked night. Upon reaching the center of the compound, she signaled to the others to meet her in the courtyard for evacuation, but Cole warned her not to land there; the headquarters had been evacuated because Biosyn was bringing the valley’s animals into their emergency shelter to protect them from the blaze, and the frightened dinosaurs were now passing through the courtyard on their way into the mountain bunker. Watts narrowly avoided a distressed Dreadnoughtus as she brought the helicopter in. Most of the animals had already taken shelter, and the last few stragglers were making their way inside; this was fortunate, since she could not land in the valley. The dinosaurs might be threatening, but the fire was merciless.
All the other evacuees, now including the disgraced geneticist Henry Wu, entered the courtyard and made for the helicopter as the last couple dinosaurs made their way to shelter. Before they could reach Watts, they were stopped in their tracks by one of the stragglers, the old Tyrannosaurus. No one dared move, lest they draw the venerable carnivore’s attention. Moments later, the Giganotosaurus entered the courtyard too. Neither predator was interested in the humans, though: their rivalry had now been forced into a bottleneck, and there was finally only room for one to make it out. Everyone fled as the theropods clashed. The older scientists, including Wu, made it to the helicopter alive; Cole and Maisie’s family ended up trapped beneath a toppled copper sculpture when the Giganotosaurus threw its rival down onto it. If they ran, the victorious theropod would see them and might attack; Sattler tried to help, but the giant carnivore now noticed her. To distract the creature and get everyone on board, Watts fired a flare gun across the courtyard. The predator’s attention now fell on another latecomer to the evacuation: a Therizinosaurus, an herbivorous theropod with menacing claws. As it stalked away after this new target, the remaining human evacuees escaped and boarded the helicopter. Watts wasted no time in lifting off as a thunderstorm rolled over the valley, but she did turn a spotlight on the fallen tyrannosaur. For a moment it seemed lifeless, but the creature regained consciousness and recovered enough to make one final attack against its rival.
Aftermath of the incident
They landed at the airstrip just outside of Biosyn Valley proper. By sunrise, the storm had passed, rainfall extinguishing the blaze. The animals were let back into what remained of their habitat; the tyrannosaur had survived despite its wounds. Watts was not just a hero to her newfound friends, but to the world. It turned out that while Biosyn had indeed been responsible for the plague of giant locusts, Henry Wu had been working on a way to end the catastrophe using a novel genetic engineering technique. Beta and Maisie’s DNA held data he needed to study, and Maisie voluntarily helped Wu gain that information. Had it not been for Watts, Biosyn’s executives would have not only kept this secret but gotten away with their crimes, and Ramsay Cole might never have escaped to reveal the truth. The survivors’ stories were recounted to Italian authorities that arrived to deal with the situation. Watts recounted the plane crash to an attractive rescue helicopter pilot, remarking that Biosyn ought to cover the cost of a new plane.
Thanks to her participation in the rescue and exposing Biosyn’s crimes, Watts suffered no legal consequences for her own infractions. Maisie, whose existence had been kept secret for her entire life, was now free to return home; she and her family members were allowed freely back into the United States by the government. Beta, too, was brought back to the Sierra Nevada (whether this was done legally is unknown; if not, one can imagine Watts aided Grady in reuniting the raptors in the wild). Cole and his allies testified before Congress about the incident, while Wu gave himself over to the authorities in order to complete his work and destroy the locust swarms. Dodgson had disappeared during the fire, but his mostly-eaten remains were probably found in the hyperloop pod where he died after being attacked by errant dinosaurs. The valley remained a sanctuary for de-extinct life, though Biosyn no longer had exclusive access; the United Nations began monitoring the sanctuary to protect its inhabitants.
As for Watts herself, she was indeed compensated by Biosyn for her troubles. She was paid in cash, suggesting that this may have been an off-the-books transaction; nevertheless, the wreck of the Midnight Oiler was also pulled from the reservoir and returned to Watts’s possession. With the money Biosyn paid her, she hired mechanics to perform repairs and restore the Flying Boxcar to working condition. It was not quite the same plane, the broken parts having been replaced, but then neither was Watts still the same person she had been before the incident. She gave this rebuilt plane a new name, the Midnight Oiler 2.
The world was still changing, with the future uncertain. There was no going back to the way things were before the dinosaurs were set loose into the world, and no doubt troubles would beset human and animal alike as the years went on. But Kayla Watts had her wings back, and with that, the world was open to her.
Kayla Watts learned to fly in the United States Air Force, and is the third generation of her family to do so. She may have learned some tips and tricks from her mother and grandmother as well as her military instructors. However, she broke her family tradition by dropping out of the Air Force, using the skills she had learned to strike out on her own as a freelance cargo delivery pilot rather than serving governmental authorities. In her independent career she came by a Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, a veritable museum piece of an airplane, which was christened the Midnight Oiler. This aircraft was her most constant companion for years and she knew it nearly as well as she knew herself; when it crashed in 2022, she had it restored (and renamed the Midnight Oiler 2) rather than purchase a new airplane. She probably acquired a pilot’s license before her criminal career, rather than during it, but since U.S. pilot’s licenses do not expire, her only concern would be having her license revoked by the FAA.
She is no stranger to long hours hauling cargo, even making overnight intercontinental trips to ensure punctual delivery of valuable goods. The age of her plane means she must also be continuously monitoring it for any potential issues; maintenance is likely one of her highest costs. The Flying Boxcar is not a maneuverable plane, so Watts needs to ensure the way is safe beforehand and plan around any dangers. Should the worst come to pass, she is well-versed on emergency survival practices and equips her plane with an ejector seat including a backup parachute and GPS tracking beacon. Even without this, she has the skills necessary for surviving dangerous crashes.
While Watts has valuable military training, much of her skill comes from experience out in the world on her own. It is worth noting that many of the jobs she takes are explicitly illegal, so not only does she perform all these aerial feats alone, she does so while avoiding the authorities of several countries around the world.
In addition to her trademark Flying Boxcar, Watts is also able to pilot helicopters. She showed great skill with a Biosyn Eurocopter EC635 with ducted traction propellers, a highly non-standard aircraft, and was able to pilot it even with eight passengers (nine, including a juvenile dinosaur) through turbulent atmospheric conditions. The standard EC635 is only designed to carry eight people including the pilot, and Biosyn’s modified version does not appear to have an increased carrying capacity.
Watts seldom uses firearms, though being trained in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces means that she would certainly have learned how to properly maintain and utilize such weapons. In her line of work she encounters dangerous animals and even more dangerous people, so skill with weapons can certainly come in handy. She commonly carries an animal taser meant for deterring dinosaurs, demonstrating experience with hitting the animals’ weak points. Watts tends more to drive animals away rather than incapacitate them.
She also can confidently wield custom tranquilizer rifles of the sort commonly used in de-extinction facilities. These differ significantly from standard tranquilizer guns, but work similarly to a conventional rifle.
Another trait necessary for lasting any amount of time in the Air Force is physical ability, and Watts is quite strong even years after dropping out of the military. This helps her protect herself against threats, whether they be animal or human, even when she does not have a weapon handy (the junior novelization of Dominion depicts her as easily able to win a fistfight against a grown man). Since she does much of her own maintenance on her Flying Boxcar, physical skills such as climbing and heavy tool use are also important. During dangerous situations she is also able to lend a hand to others; for example during the 2022 incident in Biosyn Valley, she used her upper-body strength to haul Owen Grady out of a frozen lake when he was imperiled.
Skill with animals
Once de-extinction hit the global black market, it became a part of Watts’s business to be knowledgeable on the subject, especially as she became a trusted asset of the broker Soyona Santos and a supplier to Biosyn Valley. Watts can identify many types of ancient animal on sight, especially those that could pose a threat, and can generally give any noteworthy pieces of information about them. Her knowledge goes beyond just what she needs in order to safely transport the creatures, suggesting she is also curious about them. She has successfully transported a variety of challenging species by air, including those as large as Nasutoceratops and notorious escape artists like Compsognathus and Velociraptor. The latter is known to be especially difficult to transport in groups, with InGen opting to move them one at a time to avoid coordinated escape attempts.
Watts has kept at least one species as a pet, a male Lystrosaurus named Leonard. She came to own him sometime prior to early 2022, and during that time he seems to have been in good health. He was kept in a cage with enough room to walk around, bedded with hay, and provided with chew toys that could withstand his powerful beak. Watts did care for this creature and was affectionate toward him, but in the spring of 2022 sold him to another smuggler when she was in need of funds. Leonard was used as a gamecock in the fighting pits of the Amber Clave, though Watts knew him to be a tough and resilient creature capable of defending himself and she showed only brief concern.
A loner by nature, Watts has a sarcastic and deadpan sense of humor that tends to come out especially when she is stressed or frustrated. She prefers to rely on herself, having grown accustomed to solitude and tending to spend a lot of time around untrustworthy peers. All of these traits can make her seem abrasive at first, but once one makes it past her defense mechanisms, she is a genuinely caring individual with a strong sense of justice. Her smuggling career rewarded her suppressing her moral compass, but this could only last so long; when she began to suspect that her employer was engaging in human trafficking in 2022, she took a stand to right this wrong. Watts quickly bonded with Claire Dearing and Owen Grady after deciding to help them rescue their kidnapped daughter, putting her own life on the line and causing irreparable damage to her career to do so.
Watts is loyal to a fault toward those she considers friends, but can be spiteful toward people who get on her bad side. Her ex-girlfriend, Denise Roberts, is one such person; details of their relationship are not known, but when Watts attempted an unscheduled landing in Biosyn Valley during the 2022 incident, Roberts refused, and Watts threatened to expose compromising details about their time together in Dubrovnik to Roberts’s employers. This confrontation ended with the valley’s Aerial Deterrent System being deactivated and a pterosaur causing Watts’s plane to crash, so it seems unlikely that their relationship will mend anytime soon.
Generally, though, Watts does not go around looking to make enemies. Although she enjoys the freedom found by living alone, she simultaneously desires human connection and will strike up conversation with most people. She is particularly flirtatious toward anyone she finds attractive.
Kayla Watts is as good a driver as she is a pilot. During the 2022 incident in Valletta, she commandeered a 1985 Honda Acty as a getaway vehicle, demonstrating an ability to drive manual transmission as well as European-style vehicles with the driver’s seat on the right (she is American, and in North America right-side driver’s seats are standard). Despite this particular vehicle being unfamiliar to her, she showed expert control of it under high stress, driving it down narrow streets and over uneven terrain while being pursued. At one point she lifted the vehicle’s right tires completely off the ground at high speed in order to dodge oncoming traffic yet never lost control of the Acty. Notably, Watts was not just protecting herself in this chase, but also her passenger Claire Dearing who was in the bed of the truck.
Although she is skilled behind the wheel it is unknown whether she possesses a valid U.S. driver’s license. Since she had been a wanted smuggler in the United States and abroad as of early 2022, entering a Department of Motor Vehicles building would likely have been inadvisable.
With her career spanning numerous countries from the United States to Kenya, Malta, and Italy, it is only natural that Kayla Watts is multilingual. She is known to speak both English and Italian, and probably at least some degree of other languages as well to aid her in her travels.
Since her career as a smuggler rewarded an apolitical stance, Watts is not in the habit of discussing politics, though the signs of her beliefs still show through. Among the decals in her airplane’s cockpit is a LGBTQ+ Pride sticker, indicating support for human rights for sexuality and gender minorities (Watts herself is bisexual). She also has a clear distaste for authority, be it corporate or governmental, and appreciates those who fight against injustice of any sort. Whether this has anything to do with why she dropped out of the U.S. Air Force is not known at this time, but the United States Armed Forces are commonly viewed as the backbone of American imperialism, so it is quite possible that Watts became disillusioned with the military’s purpose on the world stage.
For years, having become desensitized to violence and the like through her smuggling career, Watts allowed herself to be a passive participant in the world when not at work. However, as time went on, this became less and less of a viable option to people who believed in anything at all, and Watts reached her breaking point in 2022. When she suspected Soyona Santos of trafficking a young girl, Watts finally abandoned her status in the black market to help the rescue effort after meeting the girl’s parents. She expressed regret for not stopping the crime sooner, remarking that it was “not enough to do nothing.” This sentiment became widespread in the 2020s among left-leaning circles owing to the mounting number of humanitarian crises piling up during those years, with more and more people choosing to take risks in order to address the world’s problems.
Although she has an account for receiving Crichcoin cryptocurrency payments, Watts does not prefer cryptocurrency, favoring cold hard cash. Although cryptocurrency became wildly popular among libertarians during the 2010s and 2020s for its lack of regulation, this also made it notoriously unstable, prone to losing value at an astronomical pace without any warning. Producing cryptocurrency is also environmentally destructive due to the sheer amount of computing power it requires.
Watts’s view on the practice of de-extinction is, like that of many people, mixed. A significant portion of her career is reliant on these once-dead animals; until she gave up her status in the underground dinosaur trade in early 2022, she profited from shipping creatures all over the world under the noses of the authorities. The purposes these animals would serve to their owners were varied; some were seemingly noble, such as pharmaceutical research, while others were far more selfish, such as exotic pet ownership or even food. There were also some animals being forced to fight for the entertainment of viewers, and even some trained to kill on command.
Watts herself participated in some of these trades; she was well-known at the Amber Clave market in Valletta, where de-extinct animals were routinely cooked up, made into handbags, and sold as pets. She owned a Lystrosaurus named Leonard, though when she was low on funds in 2022 she sold him to a fellow smuggler who entered him into cockfights in the Amber Clave.
There are some species, such as Quetzalcoatlus, which Watts believes are too dangerous to be introduced into the modern world. This animal in particular is of concern to Watts because it is an enormous winged creature capable of damaging even large aircraft; in fact, one of them caused her to crash over the Dolomites in 2022. She has also expressed concern about the welfare of de-extinct animals in captivity. In Biosyn Valley, she remarked negatively on Biosyn’s introduction of two different apex predator species, Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus, to the ecosystem, predicting that the valley was not large enough to support both.
Watts is bisexual, and seems to have different preferences based on her partner’s sex. She has explicitly stated that she is attracted to redheaded women, but hair color in men does not seem to matter. In addition, Watts often expresses interest in women in her own age range, but has been seen eyeing men considerably older than herself. Naturally these are not strict rules, and Watts probably deviates from these patterns often enough.
For three generations, women in the Watts family have enlisted and served in the U.S. Air Force, beginning with Kayla Watts’s maternal grandmother. She herself followed in her family’s footsteps, but ultimately decided to break with tradition by dropping out of the Air Force to become an independent cargo charter pilot. Despite this, she does seem to have a good relationship with her parents, keeping a photo from their wedding on the control yoke of the Midnight Oiler. During her time as a smuggler it was likely difficult for her to stay in touch with her family, but she has remarked that part of the reason she took up smuggling was to give more financial support to her family at home.
When she was younger, Kayla Watts enrolled in the United States Air Force, learning there how to fly aircraft. However, this was not to be her life; she dropped out in order to become a contract pilot. Authority, it turned out, did not suit her. She eventually turned to smuggling illegal goods. Now living on the lam, Watts faced criminal charges if she were ever caught by the authorities in any of the countries where she operated. During that time, Watts is known to have flown to and from the United States, Kenya, Malta, Croatia, England, and Italy, and likely many others as well. Her anti-establishment attitudes probably were always a fact of her personality, but now they became necessary to her job too.
After de-extinction saturated the black market with animals, DNA samples, and genetics technology, Watts also became involved in the trade of these valued and highly restricted items. New governmental bodies were created on both the national and international scale, such as the intergovernmental Department of Prehistoric Wildlife and the Dangerous Species Division of the American CIA, to combat the underground market. These organizations became even more obstacles that Watts needed to avoid.
In the end, through a bizarre series of circumstances, Watts was able to avoid consequences for her smuggling by becoming a key witness in an incident of corporate corruption. She helped Claire Dearing and Owen Grady escape from Soyona Santos and the Amber Clave, becoming entangled with the Maisie Lockwood kidnapping case. Dearing and Grady had been working with the Central Intelligence Agency on a sting operation against Santos, but their flight out of Valletta was unknown to the authorities, as was Watts’s involvement. By the time the Italian government reached Biosyn Valley, Watts had aided in rescuing Maisie and witnessed Lewis Dodgson’s disastrous attempt to cover up his culpability in the hybrid locust plague. She also had insider knowledge regarding many of Biosyn’s crimes, making her a useful asset in the investigation. Because of this, she seems to have been granted amnesty, exempt from legal consequences for everything she did in the Amber Clave. Watts still holds strong anti-authority views, mainly collaborating with investigators to help bring Biosyn administrators to justice rather than because of any change of heart regarding governments.
During her smuggling career, Watts did a number of jobs for the global biotech corporation Biosyn Genetics, headed at that time by CEO Lewis Dodgson. Between 2016 and 2022 Biosyn built up a sanctuary in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy where their new headquarters was constructed atop a series of old amber mines, and while they initially stocked the valley with dinosaurs illegally acquired from Isla Sorna, the poaching of de-extinct animals gave them a new way to acquire assets. Many animals were sold on the black market in 2018, as were DNA samples and the technology needed to breed new creatures. Other animals escaped into the wild, exposing them to more traditional poachers. Dodgson, through his contact Soyona Santos, kept a close eye on the underground trade for anything that could be of use to him.
Watts was contracted somewhat regularly to fly animals into the valley from surrounding locations, owing to her rapport with Santos and her airplane’s sizeable cargo hold. She was well-known to Biosyn’s control room staff. When Biosyn requested the juvenile Velociraptor Beta delivered, Watts was chosen to pick the animal up from the Sierra Nevada, dropping it off to Santos’s underlings in Valletta. This was supposed to be the end of her involvement, but she happened to spot Maisie Lockwood being escorted to Santos as well, and when Maisie’s adoptive parents arrived in Valletta looking for her, Watts gave in to her moral compass and decided to help. This led to her making an unscheduled flight to Biosyn Valley after escaping Santos; Biosyn’s chief of security Jeffrey had already been alerted to the fact that she was carrying Dearing and Grady by the time they arrived.
To prevent further interference, Dodgson ordered the facility’s Aerial Deterrent System deactivated, allowing pterosaurs to rise above acceptable altitude and damage the Midnight Oiler. Watts spent the next several hours trekking through Biosyn Valley in the effort to rescue Maisie and Beta. During the escape efforts, she was aided by Ramsay Cole, an employee of Biosyn Communications who was working to expose Dodgson’s crimes. Much like Watts, Cole was knowingly sacrificing his career to do the right thing, and she respected him for this. Watts became a witness to Biosyn’s corruption, helping the other key witnesses escape to give their testimony. This also resulted in Biosyn trade secrets being given to the wider scientific community, and ended Biosyn’s exclusive access to the valley sanctuary.
Aside from Dodgson, perhaps the most important Biosyn employee to Kayla Watts was the air traffic controller Denise Roberts. Watts most likely met her during flights to and from Biosyn Valley delivering cargoes, as Roberts would clear her for landing and ensure that the Aerial Deterrent System beacon on the Midnight Oiler was properly communicating with the rest of the system in the valley.
At some point, Watts and Roberts had a romantic (or at least sexual) relationship. They traveled together to Dubrovnik without Dodgson’s knowledge; Roberts was nervous about her employer learning about this, though what exactly happened there remains undisclosed. Eventually, their relationship ended, and they seem to have parted on bad terms.
Their most recent interaction was in 2022, when Watts attempted to smuggle Maisie Lockwood’s parents into the valley unnoticed. Roberts was at the control desk, declining Watts’s request to land as advised by Dodgson. She made it clear that if Watts did not turn around, Biosyn would take the Midnight Oiler out of the sky; upon hearing this, Watts threatened to tell the rest of Biosyn about Dubrovnik. True to her warning, the ADS was deactivated, allowing a pterosaur to damage the Midnight Oiler and force a crash-landing in the valley; Watts survived and ended up becoming a key part of exposing the corruption in Biosyn’s executive ranks. Whether Roberts even still works at Biosyn is unknown. With this sort of conflict now in between them, it is rather unlikely that Watts and Roberts will mend things.
For most of her smuggling career Watts’s most reliable source of work was the broker Soyona Santos, who was respected and feared in the Amber Clave market in Malta. Santos’s trust is hard to earn, but Watts proved her usefulness over the course of many a mission; eventually Santos entrusted her with some of the Amber Clave’s most valuable customers. A typical job would involve Watts covertly landing someplace remote where she could not be monitored, picking up an animal held by a local supplier, and then transporting the animal safe and alive to wherever Santos directed. Sometimes this was straight to its final destination, as was the case for her runs to Biosyn Valley. Other times, such as her last job in 2022, the last leg of the journey was completed by someone else. In this last job, Watts was sent by Santos to the High Sierras in California, USA to pick up a juvenile Velociraptor captured by Rainn Delacourt, delivering the raptor to a disused airstrip just north of Valletta where Santos and her subordinates brought it to an awaiting Biosyn aircraft in the city.
Watts had rapport with other people in the black market as well; this may be where she acquired her pet Lystrosaurus, Leonard. Santos’s more reliable poachers and smugglers probably worked with Watts on a number of occasions. It is not known whether she previously knew Delacourt, since he worked mostly in the United States and had only recently become internationally wanted; however, Watts had decals in her plane indicating she had visited Louisiana in the past, and Delacourt was arrested in October 2020 in Baton Rouge, so they may have encountered each other. Behind the scenes, DeWanda Wise has suggested that Watts, Delacourt, and Santos all knew each other well.
Although she was known by most people in her usual haunts, not all of her fellow criminals considered her a respectable figure. An Italian smuggler named Wigi was familiar with her and offered her work, but even while doing so he made snide remarks about Watts’s financial circumstances. In 2022 he bought Leonard from her, with Watts haggling for him to pay quadruple his original offer. Wigi rudely dismissed any concern Watts had for Leonard’s well-being and almost immediately entered him into a pit fight, which Leonard won. The junior novelization expands upon Wigi’s duplicitous relationship with Watts: after Leonard killed his opponent and that dinosaur’s owner became confrontational, Wigi claimed that Leonard still belonged to Watts, leading to a physical fight between Watts and the owner of the dead dinosaur.
Shortly after she sold Leonard, Watts betrayed Santos’s trust by aiding some of her enemies. Though Santos herself was arrested during the incident, she has a long reach, and turning on her was a major risk for Watts to take; she knew how dangerous her choice was, but believed she was doing the right thing. Because of this, Watts can no longer safely enter the Amber Clave, though some other black markets such as one in Mombasa she once frequented may still be open to her. However, for some time she has thought about ending her smuggling career in favor of something with a lower fatality rate. She has gotten her airplane replaced since crashing it in the spring of 2022, but her current line of work is unknown.
Maisie Lockwood and family
In the spring of 2022, Watts was completing an animal delivery to Santos just outside Valletta when she spotted a young girl being brought to Santos at the same time. Santos had a lengthy criminal record, but human trafficking was something new, and a particular crime that Watts found it difficult to turn away from. She was warned that the girl was none of her business and uneasily walked away from what she had seen. Not long afterward, though, she encountered a woman named Claire Dearing in the Amber Clave who claimed to be the mother of the girl, named Maisie Lockwood. Dearing and her boyfriend Owen Grady had followed Santos’s underlings to Valletta in an effort to rescue their daughter. Watts was still wary of helping, but later that day she spotted Dearing running for her life from one of Santos’s trained Atrociraptors and finally gave in to her moral compass. Commandeering a construction truck, she helped Dearing escape and discovered that Maisie had been taken to Biosyn’s headquarters. Although Watts was uneasy about becoming enemies with Biosyn too, she brought Dearing to the airfield where they met with Grady and made a hasty escape from Malta.
By the time they arrived in the Dolomites a few hours later, Watts had gotten to know her passengers better, and came to regret not immediately saying something when she saw Maisie’s kidnapping in progress. Biosyn had already been alerted to her betrayal by Santos, and as they flew over the valley they were attacked by a pterosaur that was deliberately set loose in order to crash the Midnight Oiler. Dearing had been sitting in the only ejector seat, and both Watts and Grady were in agreement that she should be the one to escape the crash. Fortunately both Watts and Grady survived after the plane impacted Biosyn’s reservoir, narrowly missing the hydroelectric dam.
The two of them crossed the frozen lake to the dam, defending each other against a territorial Pyroraptor as they did, and descended to the forest below. By now Watts had come to respect Grady’s survival skills and his drive to protect his family, and he was grateful for her willingness to help even at such great personal cost. They looked out for each other as they crossed the forested valley, following the GPS beacon in the ejector seat. Dearing had already left the seat behind in search of shelter, so they continued after her. Finally they found her near Outpost 04, Watts using her taser to drive away a threatening Dilophosaurus. While they sought a way into the outpost to safely reach the headquarters via the hyperloop below, their attention was brought to a vehicle crash nearby; Maisie was inside, having escaped Biosyn’s research facility with the aid of three scientists. With Maisie reunited with her parents, Watts felt great relief. However, her conscience would not be totally clear until everyone was safely out of the valley. Biosyn management accidentally lit the forest on fire while trying to cover up evidence of corruption, and the group was menaced by a Giganotosaurus; amidst the chaos, Watts led the charge breaking into the outpost and driving the predatory animal away.
All together the group managed to reach the headquarters, where they collaborated to escape. While Watts acquired a helicopter, Dearing helped activate the valley’s Aerial Deterrent System to gain them safe passage while Grady and Maisie led another group to collect the young raptor, Beta, that Watts had smuggled into Malta. Once all their tasks were done, Watts met them at the center of the courtyard in the headquarters, the only place safe from the flames. Unfortunately, the facility’s safety protocols meant that the animals were being herded remotely into the bunker within the mountain, sending the frightened dinosaurs right through the courtyard. Brawling theropods threatened the evacuation, and Watts used a flare gun to distract the Giganotosaurus so that everyone could safely board. Once the whole group was present, Watts took them over the mountains to safety.
After the incident, she and the others gave their testimony to the authorities before all boarding an Italian rescue helicopter and heading back to civilization. Though they have now gone their separate ways, Maisie and her family were a major turning point for Kayla Watts, breaking her out of a state of casual apathy and motivating her to take action against injustice. This incident has become a defining moment in Watts’s life.
2022 incident survivors
Though she arrived to Biosyn Valley with just Maisie Lockwood’s adoptive parents during the 2022 incident, their group of survivors progressively grew larger during the night. After sunset, Maisie was inadvertently returned to them when a getaway jeep crashed near Outpost 04, and Maisie’s rescuers were also on board. At the wheel was Dr. Ian Malcolm, a mathematician who had first publicly described de-extinction well before it was known to be real, whom Watts found to be something of a silver fox. During their escape attempts Malcolm ensured to button up his shirt as not to distract her. Also helping Maisie escape were two paleontologists, Dr. Ellie Sattler and Dr. Alan Grant, who along with Malcolm had witnessed the incident at Jurassic Park in 1993. They worked together to find a safe path to Biosyn’s headquarters and out of the valley.
At the headquarters, they determined just how bad the situation was and made a checklist of things to do in order to get out. It was at this point that Ramsay Cole joined them. Watts obtained them a helicopter while the others completed their tasks, and then she met them in the central courtyard. By this time they had acquired yet another survivor, the disgraced geneticist Henry Wu, who had created a world-threatening plague of locusts but believed he had a way to stop what he had started. It was Wu’s idea to acquire Maisie and the young raptor Beta for research purposes, and so Wu in a roundabout way was the impetus for Watts’s involvement in the incident in the first place. Like Watts, Wu had done much wrong in his life and now sought atonement.
Watts got everyone safely on board the helicopter as dinosaurs fled through the courtyard to escape a forest fire, including a trio of huge theropods that viciously fought each other amidst the chaos. Despite a number of injuries, everyone in Watts’s custody made it safely out of Biosyn Valley. Thanks to her help, Wu was able to finish his research without Biosyn’s support, ending the locust plague and opening the door for new types of medicine. Cole, Sattler, Grant, and Malcolm testified before the United States Congress about Biosyn Valley, which was declared a de-extinct wildlife preserve by the United Nations shortly after the incident. All ended well for Watts too, as she was compensated by Biosyn for the loss of the Midnight Oiler; the plane was salvaged and restoration costs covered.
It is unknown if Watts ever visited Jurassic World, the only successful de-extinction park built to date, but after it closed in late 2015 the world’s relationship with the technology was dramatically altered. In 2018, genetic engineering techniques and resources became open-source as InGen assets were sold on the black market, and live animals escaped into the wild due to poaching. In short order, the animals were present all over the world, and they attracted attention not just from the authorities and civilians but from far more unsavory types who sought to exploit them.
These members of the criminal underworld were the main source of Watts’s income during that time, and as their designs turned to the dinosaurs, Watts became involved with the lucrative business too. She was hired to pick up illegally-caught animals from points around the world and deliver them to buyers, typically arranged by people like Soyona Santos. Some of the customers she delivered for were quite high-profile; she transported some of the animals eventually housed in Biosyn Valley, including a flock of Compsognathus, a family of Gallimimus, and breeding groups of Nasutoceratops and Velociraptor. These animals were used for research, particularly biomedical; it was believed that their unique immune systems could be studied to develop cures for various diseases. Not all customers of the black market had such noble goals; many kept prehistoric animals as luxury pets, entered them into fighting rings, slaughtered them for body parts, or simply treated them as a source of exotic meat. Watts herself owned a pet Lystrosaurus, which she called Leonard, for a time; she sold him to another smuggler in early 2022. In the Amber Clave market she saw many an animal come and go, and quite a few left in a sorrier state than they arrived. Many did not leave alive at all.
Although her job by definition placed some animals in the hands of people who caused their suffering, Watts herself was not devoid of sympathy for the creatures. She care for Leonard well and demanded a high price when she sold him, and showed concern that Biosyn was overstocking its valley with predators (both Giganotosaurus and Tyrannosaurus were present in the valley, which Watts considered unwise as there were not enough resources or territory for both). Some of the animals were more concerning to her, though, such as the huge pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus.
Her last job for Biosyn involved the smuggling of a juvenile Velociraptor, which she later learned was called Beta, out from the rural Sierra Nevada region. She acquired the animal from poacher Rainn Delacourt and delivered it to Santos in Valletta without apparent difficulty. Watts later learned that this young raptor’s importance was due to the fact that she was the parthenote daughter of an InGen specimen called Blue, born without a father. The incident that transpired was partly brought on by Beta’s kidnapping, along with the simultaneous (and related) kidnapping of Maisie Lockwood.
During the incident in 2022, she experienced a series of animal conflicts beginning in Valletta, Malta. There she aided Claire Dearing in escaping an Atrociraptor bred by Santos, an animal called Tiger, and helped Dearing and her boyfriend Owen Grady escape the country under hot pursuit by two other raptors called Panthera and Ghost. Only this last raptor caught up to them as they flew off out from Maltese airspace, but could not stay on board Watts’s plane during the steep ascent and fell into the Mediterranean. Over Biosyn Valley they were harried by pterosaurs; Lewis Dodgson had his security team shut off the facility’s Aerial Deterrent System in a successful effort to down the Midnight Oiler. An attack from a Quetzalcoatlus caused the plane to crash, forcing Watts to cross the valley on foot. Along the way she encountered a territorial Pyroraptor and witnessed a scuffle between Biosyn’s Giganotosaurus and an old Tyrannosaurus rex once bred by InGen in years long past. Later that night she rescued Dearing from a small group of predatory Dilophosaurus, losing one of her gloves to the animal’s venomous spit.
Conditions in the valley worsened due to a forest fire caused by Biosyn trying to incinerate its swarm of genetically-modified hybrid locusts, the same species that had been released into the wild and were decimating cropland throughout the American Midwest. Biosyn’s attempt to cover up its complicity set the valley ablaze, endangering Watts and her companions as much as the dinosaurs. To reach a safe route to Biosyn’s headquarters at the north end of the valley, Watts led her group in braving not only the fire but the marauding Giganotosaurus. They planned to evacuate the valley by air with Beta in tow, though the fire also forced the dinosaurs into the headquarters’ courtyard. Watts had to dodge creatures such as Dreadnoughtus, Iguanodon, and Pteranodon to land safely, and even then was menaced by the Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus as they were brought together by the evacuation. To prevent the latter from attacking her friends as they tried to escape, Watts used a flare gun to distract the huge carnivore, and its attention was drawn instead to a blind Therizinosaurus that had also been evacuated into the courtyard. While the dinosaurs were occupied with each other, Watts lifted off and safely evacuated everyone from the valley.
Due to her actions, numerous witnesses in the case against Biosyn lived to tell the authorities what had happened. The company lost the exclusive access it had once held to the valley, but the animals themselves did not end up suffering for it thanks to the timely intervention of the United Nations. Finally, Watts was able to rescue Beta from the valley where she would have been separated from her mother. Beta and Blue were reunited in the wild once Maisie Lockwood’s family was able to bring her home.
Kayla Watts is portrayed by DeWanda Wise. She is not based on any particular Michael Crichton character, as the films beyond The Lost World are not based on Michael Crichton works. Watts was written as bisexual, making her the first LGBTQ+ character explicitly depicted on-screen in the films (Zia Rodriguez was originally intended to be described as a lesbian, but dialogue referencing this was cut from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and was never brought up in Jurassic World: Dominion). Although the word “bisexual” is not used in the film itself, Watts is depicted as having previously had a relationship with a female Biosyn technician, and during the course of the film she conspicuously checks out both Claire Dearing and Ian Malcolm. A Pride sticker can be seen in her airplane, behind the ejector seat.
Jurassic World: Dominion released during a time in which white supremacist rhetoric was widespread in the United States and other Western countries, so Watts was the subject of racist commentary by far-right audiences during the film’s promotion. However, among audiences less inclined toward goose-stepping, Watts has proven a very popular character favorably compared to Han Solo of the Star Wars franchise. DeWanda Wise has voiced an eagerness to portray her character in future media, suggesting Kayla Watts could star in a television series about her adventures.