I waited until I was sure that the giant wasn’t coming straight back, while Dr. Johann began messing with the machines, adjusting dials apparently at random. I stepped out from behind the crates and demanded, “What the hell have you gotten yourself into?”
I felt a juvenile sense of pleasure at the way Dr. Johann squeaked in surprise as he jumped at the sound of my voice. He spun around, his jaw dropped. “Jake?” He asked in disbelief. “You’re alive?”
“No thanks to you.” I declared harshly.
He cringed back at the accusation. “I am so sorry.” He apologized. “I had no choice.”
“Is that so?” I asked quietly.
He nodded and turned back to the equipment. After a moment a quiet hum began to emanate from the machines once again, as the three electricity generating pillars began to descend back down. “Chief Darden,” He said after a moment, “Is a very… dedicated individual.”
“I noticed.” I replied dryly. “But I ask again, what have you gotten yourself into?”
He sighed and turned around to face me, rubbing at his throat. He leaned against the equipment as it warmed up. “Ze Moonstone,” He explained, “Vorks, in vays even I don’t understand, as a bridge between vorlds.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He waved towards the Moonstone and said, “Vhen certain frequencies of electricity are applied to ze stone, it opens a doorvay to ozer vorlds. Vhen little Susan called me ze ozer veek, she told me vhere she had been for ze last fifteen years.”
I listened with extreme interest, the scientist in me caught up in the concept. “Where was that?” I inquired.
“She told me zat she, and your fazer, had been pulled zrough ze Moonstone’s portal during ze lightning storm in ze rainforest. Zey had vound up in a vorld filled viz prehistoric creatures. A vorld vhere ze dinosaurs never vent extinct, and mankind lived in small tribes.”
“My father is alive?” I interrupted in disbelief.
“As far as I know, yes.” He told me before continuing. “Your fazer raised Susan as his own daughter, mingling viz vone of ze tribes as a shaman. His knowledge of ze sciences almost made him like a god to zem.”
He paused, taking time to consider his next words. “Ze rest is mostly speculation, from vhat I have heard from Chief Darden. But it vould seem zat vhen Susan turned eighteen, ze chief of a varrior society, Darden, demanded Susan’s hand in marriage, zretening var if she refused. To save lives, she vent to him. She bore him a child.”
“June.” I said quietly.
“Yes.” He agreed. “June.”
“So what happened?” I asked. “How did Susan and June end up here?”
“Darden started a var anyvay, absorbing tribe after tribe into his ovn. Susan was crushed by ze betrayal. Togezer viz your fazer, she devised a plan to get out. I do not know vhat zey did to activate ze Moonstone, but zey managed. Zen somezing vent vrong. Your fazer vas left behind.”
“I don’t understand.” I said, confused and wishing I had something to sit down on. “If only Susan and her daughter made it here, where did Darden come from?”
Dr. Johann sighed and shook his head sadly. “Zat vas my fault.” He admitted. “Vhen I used ze Moonstone for ze first time, I had hoped to find Jack, so zat I could finally bring him home. But instead, Darden and tventy of his varriors vere vaiting behind ze portal. Zey overpovered me easily, and demanded I take zem to his vife. I had no idea vho he meant at ze time. I took zem to ze city, and hoped it vas all over.”
“But it wasn’t.” I realized sadly.
“No.” He shook his head. “Darden came for his vife and child, but he decided he liked zis vorld better zan his ovn. He insisted I open ze portal again so zat he can bring his tribe to live here.”
“I can see why.” I told him honestly. “Our world must seem very safe to him, without any dinosaurs to fight. Plus, his daughter is here. But why is she sick? He didn’t seem like he cared at all.”
“She is ze child of tvo vorlds.” Dr. Johann explained. “One parent from each vorld. Her body cannot take eizer vone vizout ze presence of ze Moonstone. It allows her to survive.”
“How?” I asked, looking at the stone.
“In ze same way it can open portals betveen vorlds, ze Moonstone stabilizes June’s body. Makes it so zat she can live safely.”
“Then why would Darden want to bring his people here?” I demanded. “Surely he must realize that any children born here will get sick too.”
“No.” He argued. “Only ze children vho have vone parent from each vorld.” He looked at me seriously, and spoke as if talking to a child. “But you do not understand. He is a varrior chief. He vill not bring his people here to live viz ours. He vill bring zem to conquer, and rule over, ours. His varriors, born and raised to survive against dinosaurs, the deadliest creatures vho ever valked ze planet, vill valk all over our military. Zey vill enslave our people, and rule over zem.”
I stared at him, horrified. “And you’re helping him?” I demanded, outraged.
“Of course not.” He replied, shaking his head. “Vhen he goes back to gazer his people, I vill shut down ze portal. Vizout ze Moonstone, he vill be trapped zere forever.”
‘Without the Moonstone, he will be trapped there forever.’ The words echoed in the vaults of my mind. “Then why haven’t you already done it?” I asked, dumbfounded.
“I have been trying!” He exclaimed in a frustrated tone. “But Mad Moby’s equipment vas not designed for zis!” He kicked the machine in front of him. “Ze damn frequency resets after every use, and I cannot remember ze right one!” His tone became more and more angry.
He began explaining how the machine worked, but my ears ceased to hear anything as my mind screamed at me. ‘Without the Moonstone, he will be trapped there forever. Without the Moonstone, he will be trapped there forever. Without the Moonstone… He never could have gotten here…’ I stared at Dr. Johann, my eyes opening wide in my sudden epiphany. “Dr. Johann…” I interrupted. “You said that Darden was waiting for you when you first used the Moonstone, right?”
“Yes, yes.” He replied flippantly. “I still do not know hov he knew vhen and vhere to be vhen ze portal opened. It vas nothing but pure luck zat I managed to open ze door to ze right vorld.”
“But how did you have the Moonstone to begin with?” I asked.
Dr. Johann froze in place and stared at me, his face a calm and serious mask. “Clever Jake.” He said in a disappointed voice. “I vas not avare you vere so clever.”
“It was you.” I said quietly in disbelief. “You attacked the delivery van, and killed those people who found the Moonstone.”
“Zey did not find it!” He snapped at me over the increasing sound of the humming machines. “Ve found it! Your fazer and I! Ve lost tvo good friends in ze search, zen your fazer after zat!” His eyes were crazed, nearly insane, and I wondered how he had hidden it from me before. “Zoes pretenders vere not even scientists! Zey vere environmentalists, out to spread ze knowledge of ze rainforest. It vas nozing more zan coincidence zat zey vere vhere Susan arrived. Zey took ze Moonstone from her, fearing she vas an alien from anozer vorld, and tried to keep her locked up. Zey deserved vhat zey got! Not recognition for finding our discovery!”
He was breathing heavily, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see foam at the corners of his mouth. “That’s why she did what she did.” I realized in shock, the puzzle pieces falling together too quickly. “She and June got away from them somehow, but couldn’t get to the Moonstone. She contacted you, as one of the people she knew from the expedition. You hijacked the van, killing everyone. Then you came out here, to the one lab no one ever goes to.”
“And tried to get your fazer back!” He declared madly. “So zat ve could finally share our discovery viz ze vorld togezer!”
“He would have never wanted that.” I replied, shaking my head. “My father would never have wanted to find his way home over the blood of innocents.”
“You do not know zat!” Dr. Johann declared.
“But I do.” I said sadly. “And it doesn’t matter, because you got Darden instead. And Susan never contacted you again. She sold the relics from the other world, and came to the city to try to get the Moonstone back. For June. But when she got here, she found out about the hijacking. She didn’t know who to trust, or what to tell them, so she changed her name. Created a whole new identity, just in case Darden was already here. Then she went to the one person she thought might be able to help. Her pseudo brother, the private investigator.”
“Yes.” Dr. Johann practically hissed. “And vhen you asked for my help in finding ze stone, you let me know zat someone vas searching for it. I assumed it vaz ze relatives of vone of ze people I killed, and so I told Darden about it. He found her, and killed her. If not for you, she vould still be alive!”
“And if not for you, she wouldn’t have gone into hiding!” I yelled back. “I’d have had a sister!” I took a menacing step towards him.
“Zat is close enough!” He yelled over the sounds of the machines, which had worked their way back up to a loud buzz. A small caliber gun appeared in his hands. It wasn’t very powerful, but it was powerful enough. I stopped moving. “I am afraid zat Jack vill be most unhappy vhen I find him. He vill only have vone child left out of his zree.”
Before I could react, my senses suddenly shouted at me that we were not alone. A half a heartbeat later, a black stone knife buried itself into the meat underneath the right side of Dr. Johann’s collarbone with enough force to knock him off of his feet.
I spun around to find the giant, Darden, standing at the entrance of the room. “So.” He said just loud enough to reach my ears over the humming, the deepness of his voice shaking my rib cage. “The shaman who was going to betray me, or the blood child of my greatest enemy. Who to kill first?”
With no other warning than that, and with the speed of a locomotive, the giant rushed at me with bloodlust in his eyes.