Andy Nunez's Elmo of the Apes in:
Copyright © 1997
Aboard the aircraft carrier USS Chester A. Nimitz, somewhere in the Pacific off Honduras --
As vast as it was, the huge warship was dwarfed by the massive blue expanse of the Pacific. Its decked pitched ever so slightly as a light breeze made the flags flutter. A dot that appeared in the sky from the east slowly enlarged into an Osprey V-22. The Osprey, capable of vertical take-off and landings, was a tricky plane to fly in normal conditions, but landing it on the bobbing postage stamp of the Nimitz's deck was no mean feat.
Landing deck crewmen with orange signal batons waved the plane to its assigned platform. The Osprey seemed to slow to a stop when it came even with the carrier, its wings rotating so that its twin props now faced skyward. Now, like a helicopter, the craft settled onto the deck, propellers making the crewmen's jumpsuits flap. The pilot switched off the engines, and the wheels were chocked. The side door of the stubby rescue plane's hull slid open, and a single passenger stepped out.
He wore an immaculate khaki uniform denoting the rank of Colonel in the Royal Air Force. From the lanky black hair atop his tanned face to the shiny combat boots on his feet, the man exuded confidence. He moved lithely, like a lion traveling with ease through his domain. On hand to greet this individual was Chap Flemster, the CAG, or commander, air group, the leader of the Nimitz's pilots. He saluted sharply, and the passenger answered in kind, fingertips just touching the jagged white line of a scar that defaced an otherwise noble brow.
"Colonel Clayton," Flemster greeted, "a pleasure to have you aboard." He stuck out his hand and was surprised by the strength of the other's grip. "Welcome aboard the Nimitz."
"I have been in Pacific waters before," Clayton said. "Neither time was very pleasurable. I hope this time will be different."
"Your stay with us will probably be the highlight, from what I understand," the CAG commented. "The Captain sends his greetings and asks for the pleasure of your company on the bridge after you have freshened up a bit."
"This is fresher than I usually get," Clayton remarked with a slight smile. "Lead the way."
They crossed the wide steel deck of the nuclear ship and passed within its towering superstructure, or "island". Inside, Clayton was led up to the spacious bridge. Upon arriving, he found the captain to be a tall, leathery man in his fifties, bright white hair peeking from beneath his cap. The captain shook hands with Clayton warmly.
"Colonel Clayton, its good to see you," the captain said, lines making a maze of crisscrosses around his eyes as he smiled. "It's been a long time."
"Your father's funeral, as I recall," Clayton returned. "You know, he never forgave you for joining the navy instead of the air force. Jerry Lucas was a great man, and I miss him."
"So do I," Captain Lucas agreed. "He got you into a mess in Sumatra, now I guess I am going to get you into another one. Let's go down to the briefing room. CAG, you come with us. O.O.D., you have the con."
Deep in the ship's bowels was the briefing room. It was a large affair, with a big map table that satellite imagery could be projected upon. A bank of monitors filled one wall. Silhouetted against them when Captain Lucas led Clayton and Flemster into the room were two individuals, both dressed in civilian clothing. One was a short, nervous man in a blue serge suit. The other was a tall, lanky man whose posture denoted some crippling injury in the past. His luminous eyes bored into Clayton as soon as he stepped into the room. A wide, mobile moth broke into a sardonic grin.
"You don't look much like Joe Lara," the man said. Clayton made no indication that he understood the reference.
"Colonel Clayton, this is Professor Ian Malcolm, late of several universities," Capt. Lucas introduced.
"I'm your expert on this matter," Malcolm commented. "Of course, few people listen to me."
"You are a paleontologist?" Clayton asked.
"I am a chaos theorist," Malcolm corrected. "Though I have had a rather hands-on experience with paleontology, my expertise is figuring out when and how things go wrong. Where you are going, things have been continually going wrong."
"Suppose we get down to business," Lucas advised. He flipped a switch on the table and a chain of five islands appeared in an almost holographic image on the table. To Clayton, it was like looking down from the window of an airplane.
"The Five Deaths," Lucas explained. Clayton found them to be jungle clad lumps of rock jutting out of the ocean. Lucas indicated one of the larger ones, its sides seemingly unbroken by sheer cliffs.
"Isla Sorna," Lucas continued. "On a routine patrol flight as we maneuvered off the coast of Costa Rica, one of our planes signaled a Mayday. Isla Sorna and its sisters are strictly off-limits by order of the Costa Rican government, with only the military authorized to overfly them. The plane, an F-14 Tomcat, was piloted by one of our best, Lt. Palmer. Palmer reported a lock-on from an anti-aircraft radar and the next thing we got was the Mayday signal. Subsequent overflights have revealed nothing, except the wreckage of the Tomcat."
"Why send for me?" Clayton asked. "Why not just drop in a couple of copter loads of your marines to mop up the place? I mean, you told me that there were some research projects on the island, involving dinosaurs, but wouldn't the fossil digs be easily recognizable?"
"We aren't talking about fossils," Ian Malcolm spoke up. "We're talking about the real thing."
"Living dinosaurs?" Clayton smiled. "Sounds like something from a Burroughs novel."
"Does Col. Clayton have top secret clearance?" The man in the blue suit finally spoke.
"This is Mr. Van Owen," Lucas introduced. "He represents government intelligence."
"To what degree?" Clayton wondered. "At any rate, I am cleared above top secret, to include information privy to 10 Downing St., 00 agents, and MJ-12. Is that good enough for you, or should I point out that Stalin himself once had a death warrant out for me?"
"We can't take any chances," Van Owen said. "I had a bad experience with hired guns before. There was this Roland, in Mombasa."
Captain Lucas held up a hand for silence. "Colonel Clayton is here because he is the best man to have in jungle terrain against wild beasts. Yes, there are dinosaurs roaming around Isla Sorna. Have you ever heard of InGen Corporation?"
"Yes, I had some stock in the company," Clayton said ruefully. "I took a bad hit when they folded. Are you saying that they found dinosaurs on Isla Sorna?"
"No, they made them," Malcolm stated. "InGen dumped a ton of money into cloning and related DNA fields, in order to breed dinosaurs for a Theme Park -- Jurassic Park, to be exact. I was one of the first to tour it, and one of the few survivors. Not getting enough thrills from nearly being eaten by Velociraptors, I went back for another round. You see, Jurassic Park was on another island in the chain, Isla Nublar. The Costa Rican government bombed that island, but they didn't know that the breeding ground for Jurassic Park was on Isla Sorna. There, nature has taken its course, and dinosaurs are roaming all over the place. Thanks to some more level headed intervention by our government, Isla Sorna is a sort of experiment, to monitor extinction. We will see exactly how the dinosaurs lived and died, undisturbed, until now. This plane crash could upset the balance of nature. Sending in Marines to shoot up the place would be even worse. We need somebody who can adapt to the wild and leave it as they found it, while collecting the downed pilot and navigator. You are the expert."
"It sounds like an interesting place if you don't get eaten first," Clayton remarked. "What sort of dinosaurs besides Velociraptors might I encounter?"
"The usual kid's dream. Tyrannosaurs, Triceratops, Stegosaurs, Brachiosaurs, the like."
"You can have whatever equipment you need," Lucas offered.
"I brought what I need with me," Clayton said. "It's stowed on the Osprey. I accept your request. This sort of adventure hasn't come around lately. I would like to get a couple hours sleep and then we'll get started, if you don't mind."
"Fine," Lucas agreed. "I'll have the CAG pilot you over. Good luck, Colonel Clayton. There must be something more than dinosaurs on that island. Tyrannosaurs don't use radar."
"I'll be careful," Clayton assured him.
* * *
The Osprey's instrument panel gave everything in the cockpit a ghastly green hue. Clayton looked over the shoulders of the CAG, Flemster, and his copilot, a hulking man named "Moose" Mozarth. A bulging moon made the water below them twinkle like diamond dust on black velvet. Clayton was amazed at how the satellite feeds automatically registered their exact position, making flying by night almost as easy as doing in it broad daylight.
"I will warn you that I have poor luck with military flights," he told the CAG.
"You're a safe as if you were on a Coney Island ride," Flemster replied. We are coming up on the island chain. We are going to drop you right on top of the wreckage and you can go from there."
"Fine," Clayton assured him. He put a hand on his bag.
"Whatcha got there?" Moose Mozarth demanded. "Golf clubs?"
"A short spear, a bow, quiver of arrows, a hunting knife and a breechcloth," Clayton informed him.
"Don't you want a gun?"
"Guns appear to make these things angry," Clayton said. "If I am to succeed, I must move silently, and kill silently."
"I'm making a circle over Isla Sorna now," the CAG reported. "I have the crash area in sight. Dammit!"
"What's the matter?" Clayton demanded.
"Radar lock," Flemster snapped. "Somebody is down there with some high tech equipment."
"You sure its not some automatic device left by InGen?" Clayton wondered.
Suddenly, the plane was rocked as if slapped by a giant hand. The controls were torn from the CAG's grip and the Osprey began to spiral downward.
"Then again," snarled Flemster, "maybe not. "No time to eject! True to form, Col. Clayton. You've lost another ride."
Then, the black ground enveloped them and there was a crash of trees. The plane's wings snapped off as it plummeted downward, to land in a shuddering heap. Clayton was thrown clear, landing in a clump of bushes. He was stunned for a moment, then regained his wits and rushed back to the plane. Underneath one of the wings, he found Flemster, neatly decapitated by a propellor. Mozarth was still in his seat, unconscious from having his head contact the windshield. Unbuckling the copilot, Clayton grabbed his bag and dove clear of the wreckage in case it exploded. By luck, it didn't.
Clayton heard rustles in the underbrush, and strange hoots not far away. His nostrils brought to him many strange scents, not unlike some he had smelled in Pellucidar. Instinct overcame his reasoning, and he sought shelter in a nearby forest giant, bearing the large frame of Mozarth as if it were a sack of laundry. With each moment he spent in this jungle island, the veneer of civilization slipped away. Finding a spacious crotch in the tree, Clayton tied Mozarth to a limb with his belts. Then, Clayton shucked his flightsuit and donned the breechcloth from his bag. He also affixed the knife and quiver of arrows to his person, slinging the bow over his shoulder and placing the short spear close at hand.
Col. John Clayton of the Royal Air Force had vanished. In his place stood Elmo of the Apes, Lord of the Jungle.
Elmo decided that there was no point in attempting to move by night since he was totally unfamiliar with the terrain. Also, he felt that he needed to see how badly Mozarth was injured. With the casualness of one of his own great apes, Elmo curled up in the tree's crotch and napped, spear close at hand. About an hour before dawn, a rustling below him caused him to look down.
Below him, maneuvering in an overwatch formation, were four Velociraptors, each as tall as he. He noted their cooperative actions with unease. He was used to the solitary gryfs of Pa-lul-don. These were nearly on a par with the Horibs of Pellucidar. They were intelligent, and very fast. They went past his tree. A few moments later, there was a squealing and deep bellowing. Soon after, the raptors came hustling back, two of them dragging what appeared to be a young hadrosaur of some sort. As they vanished, the ground shook, and along came three adult hadrosaurs, apparently Lambeosauruses, emitting steam-whistle shrieks that were magnified by the plume-like air chamber that at times inflated like one of those balloons that clowns make animals out of.
This tableau was enough to rouse Mozarth from his unconscious state. He began to thrash and suddenly slipped around on his belts until he was under the limb. Elmo gripped the airman's shoulder.
"Do not cry out," he whispered. "There are dinosaurs all about. Our only hope is to remain unnoticed."
"Great," Mozarth replied. "Help me up. I feel like an apple waiting for a T-Rex to snap me up."
Elmo helped maneuver Mozarth back around and undid his belts. The airman joined him in the crotch of the tree and they waited until dawn approached.
With the hazy dawn came a host of new sounds, hisses and hoots from every corner of the forest. Mozarth checked his service Beretta 9mm automatic and made sure that he still had his survival knife. Elmo gave him a sad smile.
"You will need more than a pistol against these creatures," he admonished the airman.
"All you've got is a spear and a bow," Mozarth pointed out.
"True, but I can use them with much greater efficiency than you can use your pistol, and they are silent. In this world, silence means survival. And speaking of which, I had better find us something to eat. Those rations in your kit won't last long. We also need to get to the bottom of this before your commander decides to send in the marines and bomb this place also. You stay here. From what I saw last night, this is the safest place for you. Don't fire that pistol unless you absolutely have to. Whatever you kill has plenty of pals. Also, the Velociraptors I watched last night had a wicked intelligence. Good luck, and stay hidden. I'll be back soon."
"Great," Mozarth grumbled. "Here I am, a navy fighter pilot, stuck in a tree in some godforsaken place overrun by dinosaurs. Ok, I can follow orders, Elmo. See if you can bag me a Big Mac and some fries."
"Whatever I find will probably put up a fight." With that, the apeman was gone, flitting from the branch to another tree with silent grace. Mozarth sat back in wonderment.
"I guess he really is Elmo," Mozarth mused, and began to inventory his supplies.
Elmo traveled the upper terraces for some time, until he came to a large clearing. Below, overgrown by years of neglect, was a complex of buildings. Usha, the wind, brought to Elmo's nose the scent of many creatures, including that of men. He descended to the middle terrace of the surrounding jungle and surveyed the area. Men had been here recently, and at least one human was female. This scent was fresher, and led Elmo to investigate. Perhaps this would lead him to the downed Lt. Palmer. Elmo saw no close dinosaurs. A family of Stegosaurs were shredding a stand of young trees well beyond him. Apparently, the predators were mostly nocturnal. The Lord of the Jungle hit the ground lightly, scattering some small dinosaurs about the size of hens.
The complex seemed deserted. The fresh female odor was coming from a large Quonset hut to his right. Elmo made use of the rank underbrush to approach the building unseen. The small dinosaurs were everywhere, and they seemed to follow him, as if waiting for him to stop long enough for them to concentrate. A side door to the hut was askew, only one hinge holding it in place. Elmo eased himself inside. This time the little reptiles did not follow. Inside, a stench of some other creature nearly blotted out the human pheremone he was following. The scent was not as fresh as the female's but it signaled the presence of several creatures that used the building regularly.
He found that the scent led him to a locked door with a barred window about a foot square. Looking inside, he saw a female with a pretty, if somewhat squarish face and reddish hair. She was dressed in a sweat-soaked t-shirt, olive pants, and combat boots. Elmo was sure she was a prisoner of some sort.
"Do not scream," he whispered. "I am here to help you."
"Thank God!" she replied. "This place is horrible. I don't know which are more monstrous, the men or the beasts."
"Men, always," Elmo said. "Have you seen a Lt. Palmer here?"
"You're looking at her," the woman said. "Lt. Jamie Palmer, USN."
"Ah, yes, the new armed forces," Clayton said. "Who is holding you prisoner?"
"Some nasty looking fellows, led by a guy named Javier. They are poking around the equipment here."
"What about the dinosaurs?"
"Believe it or not, they control them."
Elmo wasn't sure what to make of that statement. "I am with your fellow airman, Moose Mozarth. I will try to free you."
Elmo examined the lock. It was fairly simple, but needed a key. From what he had been told of the cunning of the velociraptors, something more than a simple bar was necessary. The apeman cast about for something to pick the lock with when his nostrils brought to him a fresh scent. Only his nose saved him, as the next instant, a mottled, scaly body hurtled past him to impact against the wall of Jamie Palmer's cell. Elmo gripped his spear as the creature struggled to rise. Sharp nails clicking on concrete, the thing turned to strike again at the apeman. Elmo got an impression of a blunt, lizard-like snout full of razor teeth, and talons larger than his hands coming at him with cobra speed. His spear struck true, its point sinking into the beast's chest just below its throat.
Elmo drove home the spear with all his jungle-trained might, nearly bowled over by the man-sized dinosaur's thrashing tail. With a quivering convulsion, the thing suddenly became still, yellow snake-eyes glazing over in death. Elmo withdrew his spear and black blood pooled all about the creature's corpse. His nose went up, but detected no other creature. If the thing had not been alone, he would in all probability have been its lunch. Elmo resumed his search of the building and was rewarded with a stiff piece of wire. He inserted it into the lock and worked at it as if there was not an island full of hungry dinosaurs just outside the hut. In about a minute, the lock clicked, and he was able to open the door. Lt. Palmer stepped out gingerly, recoiling at the dinosaur's corpse.
"Which double-feature nightmare was that?" She asked.
"A velociraptor, I think," Elmo stated. "We had better get lost before its brethren coming looking for it."
"Javier had those things roaming all over. I couldn't get any sleep for them snuffling at the bars of my cell. They would have eaten me if they couldn't gotten in. Say, that was a pretty fancy piece of lockpicking, Mr. Alexander Mundy."
"My name is Elmo, and I learned that from a cousin of mine, another 'Savage' you might say. I assume that it is Javier who shot us down."
"Sure was. He brought in a portable radar unit and has a case of Stinger handheld antiaircraft missiles. That much I have seen. However, I didn't have a missile targeted by my radar when my F-14 was hit. Javier has something else on this island, something that he's not telling anybody about."
"We'll have to let Captain Lucas figure that out. Come on, let's find Moose."
Elmo and Jamie Palmer raced through the trees, Elmo just far enough ahead to scout for danger. They encountered no predators, but had to detour around some truculent pachycephalosaurs who were very turf- concious. Soon, they found the tree where Elmo had left Mozarth. Elmo called the airman's name, but got no answer. Skirting the tree, he found the bloodied, shredded remains of Mozarth's flight suit.
Survivor --Part II
Moose Mozarth had just finished his inventory when all Hell started breaking loose around him. He looked down and saw a group of raptors snuffling along the trail beneath him. He gripped his automatic and tried to make himself inconspicous. Behind the raptors were another group of man-sized dinosaurs, but these were unusual in the fact that they had some sort of shiny helmets on. This bunch, he decided, must be part of the mystery that surrounded his being shot down on this horrible island.
Moose lay still, wishing he were back on the Nimitz playing his guitar, or better yet, back home in Texas. Jim Bowie had better odds at the Alamo, though Moose thought that Elmo was probably head and shoulders above Davy Crockett, especially in this situation. The raptors got sidetracked when a Tyrannosaurus suddenly bounded down the path, in hot pursuit of a thundering Diplodocus. The raptors were initially inclined to challenge the T-Rex, who felled his prey some hundred yards away and was not inclined to share, but discretion proved to be the better part of valor after two of their number became crushed entrees for the many scavengers that crept about the underbrush.
Moose was wondering what the bizarre party was hunting for when something landed on the limb in front of him. It turned out to be one of the helmeted dinosaurs. On closer inspection, Moose could now discern that the reptile had a less pronounced snout than the raptors, and its eyes appeared to be set in a more binocular fashion. It looked at Moose for an instant, as if sizing him up, then it charged him with a tea-kettle shriek. Moose instinctively unloaded his automatic, but the thing's headlong charge caused it to rip into his jumpsuit and bore him out of the tree with the dinosaur falling beside him. He had no time to react or to consider his surroundings when the ground met him and darkness overtook him.
He awoke in darkness, head throbbing from his ordeal. He blinked, but only dimness greeted him. Suddenly, out of the gloom appeared the head of one of the helmeted dinosaurs, almost nose to snout with him. Moose tried to slide backwards, but his posterior met a wall, so the airman was forced to remain in the presence of his reptilian nemesis. Again, this creature, as did the other, studied Moose closely. It sighed a leaky radiator hiss, luminous eyes never blinking. Moose could see that the helmet was fitted like a skull cap, and it was festooned with wires and computer modules. Moose had no idea of the cap's purpose, other than a vague guess that it might be for studying the creatures brain waves. The reptile's next action nearly caused him to black out again.
"Ssso, you man-thing?" the creature whispered sibilantly.
"Y-you talked!" Moose said, unable to think of anything less banal.
"Man-thing talks," it noted. "I talk, ssso. Me man-thing, too, yess?"
"You're a dinosaur," Moose pointed out. "At least, you're supposed to be. Why aren't you and your big-toed buddies looking over some Triceratops al fresco?"
"Hunters catch food for us. Shiny-tops, we learn to think big thinks, be man-things like you."
Good Lord! Moose thought, this overgrown lizard sounds like a reject from The Island of Dr. Moreau. "Why are you shiny tops?"
"Chief man-thing, Javier, he give us shiny tops. We sleep on long beds, many wires stuck in us, but we change. I was once egg-stealer, but now I become man-thing, hey? Shiny top gives me man-thing thoughts. Pretty soon, I wear skins like you and use man-thing guns and tools, yes?"
"There is more to being a man than clothes and guns," Moose said, his terror abating since the thing had decided not to eat him. "We think deep as well as broad thoughts. We have values, like friendship, loyalty, love."
"I read man-thing books," the creature revealed. "Friendship is pack hunting together, yes?"
"More than simple cooperation. It is companionship, trust, a knowledge that a friend will always be there for a friend. Do you have a name, shiny top?"
"They gave you a dog's name? Shows you how much they think of you. I'm Moose."
"Gave you a big mammal's name. Show you how much they think of you."
"Well, at least you have a sense of humor. Who is this Javier?"
"He is chief. He and his man-things make many machines work on this island. They think big thinks about making all creatures into shiny tops, then they go and take over all man-things."
"That is a very harsh word," snapped a voice from the darkness.
Fido turned at the sound, his eyes round and his movements quick. Moose reasoned that Fido feared the sound of that voice. There was a metallic clanking, then an L of light expanded into an open doorway. The sudden luminance made Moose's eyes smart for a moment. Framed in the grayish glow were two men. One was small and wiry, dressed in black fatigues. He had curly black hair and a thin mustache. About his waist was a utility belt full of pouches, from which hung a Heckler und Koch VP-70 automatic. Behind him loomed a man nearly seven feet tall and almost as wide. The towering moon-faced giant had lank mahogany hair and an almost circular goatee, stretched by his lard-packed cheeks. His whipcord shirt and pants bulged at their seams and his combat boots were at least a size 16. He wore no weapons, but his bulk probably made them unneccesary.
"I am Javier," smirked the smaller man. "I am master of Isla Sorna now. You were lucky that you did not share the fate of your co-pilot. I am chagrined that my other guest, Lt. Palmer, has left my hospitality without even the courtesy of a goodby. I intend to keep a closer eye on you. Allow me to introduce my assistant, Eric Von Pfaffinger."
"Him called Fatfingers," Fido said to Moose.
"What was that, Fido?" Javier demanded. "Remember that it was I who gave you the ability to think and to talk like a man. It was my electronic enhancements that accelerate your evolutionary process to bring you up from a pathetic scavenger to something approaching human. Your headgear stimulates your brain and implants data from computer chips to turn your raw thoughts into reasoning. You can think, and understand."
"I can," Fido admitted. "You make me man-thing, yes?"
"You will always be just under a man-thing," Javier spoke, and Moose could see Fido's head droop a bit. "I cannot remove your scales, but I promise you will have a place in the new order. From here, our enhanced creatures will invade the mainland and wreak untold havoc. Once I have been able to capture and breed the giant lizards, I can create living tanks, living planes."
"These things aren't Godzillas," Moose said. "They aren't invincible. A squadron of jets could destroy them all."
"They are but a part of my plan. While they are being shipped to the mainland, I have a friendly foreign power that will be launching a satellite capable of channeling the power from this island that its builders so thoughtfully provided. Power that I will be enhancing using some of the same technology that I am engineering my cyber-dinosaurs with. Technology that swept you and Lt. Palmer from the skies. Now, where is the other person in your plane. I found a jumpsuit at the wreckage. Did they help Lt. Palmer escape?"
"You're such a smart guy, you figure it out," Moose quipped. "If I told you who was on this island, you'd probably crap your pants."
"Oh, so? Perhaps I should let my friend Eric here persuade you a bit."
The rotund giant grinned at this and began to crack his quart-sized fists. Fido turned completely around and faced Javier.
"Not hurt Moose," he snarled. "He talk nice to Fido."
The enhanced reptile bared his needle-like fangs. The hulking von Pfaffinger's grin dissolved, but Javier stepped forward and whipped out a small box containing an antenna. He aimed the antenna at Fido and pressed a button on the box. Instantly, Fido fell to the floor in pain. Moose, unthinking, vaulted over the reptile's anguished form and struck the box from Javier's hand. Before he could come to grips with the madman, Von Pfaffinger's enormous fist lashed out and impacted the side of Moose's head. The pain made an explosion of stars go off in Moose's head, and they quickly faded to blackness.
When he again awoke, he was alone. His head hurt abominably, a ginger examination found a considerable lump near his temple. He decided that he was lucky it wasn't a concussion. Von Fatfingers was a dangerous opponent. Javier's plan was sheer craziness, but it was the sort of craziness that killed hundreds of people in places like the Gaza Strip or Oklahoma City. Moose knew he had to escape. He paced off the dimensions of his cell when the door again clanked. Light streamed in, and Moose recognized Fido. He shoved in a struggling Lt. Palmer, then shut the door again suddenly.
"I am sorry, Moose," the thing said through the door. "You saved me from Javier. You are friend."
Moose helped Jamie Palmer to her feet and led her to one corner where they sat in darkness. It was just as well. Moose remembered Jamie's lovely face and form only too well and had many times cursed the fact that the two of them lived in an era where to express one's feelings could lead to disgrace due to the harsh nature of mixed sexes in combat. Rules and regulations weighed him down and he attempted to be as formal as possible.
"Are you Ok, Lieutenant?" he asked.
"I'm fine. They captured me in the jungle. I had almost made it to the cliffs."
"What about Elmo?" Moose wondered.
At that, Jamie Palmer put her head in her hands and sobbed in a very unmilitary fashion: "Elmo is dead!"
* * *
Elmo of the Apes did not take long to assess what had happened to Moose Mozarth. He sniffed the ground, finding the twisted body of a small dinosaur with a shiny helmet.
"Moose was surprised by this thing," Elmo told Jamie Palmer, indicating the body. "He killed it, then they fell out of the tree. He was taken away by several other dinosaurs. I think he is still alive, or they probably would have eaten him. I am sure that the scavengers are now only waiting for us to leave to devour this corpse. This island is the most violent in my experience, surpassing even Pellucidar. I heard that Caprona was like this, in a report from my friend Bowen Tyler, but I have never gone there."
Lt. Palmer shook her head in slight confusion. "Those are all places out of the books about you. They aren't real, though. We'd be up to our armpits in lost cities and dinosaurs if even half of those books were real."
"The world changes. Lost cities sometimes disappear altogether. As for dinosaurs, well, even they are only mortal."
"But, with today's satellite imagery, even a lost island like Caprona, which I saw in a movie, would be found."
"Who says it wasn't?" Elmo gave her a half-smile. He reached down and retrieved Mozarth's automatic. "It still has a couple of rounds. We need to find where they took him. It looks like a roundabout way to the compound you were held in."
"We'd better do something fast," Jamie Palmer said. "A whole bunch of these rejects from Land of the Lost are going to be charging down that trail any second."
"Let's follow this trail, then." Elmo, bent forward to sniff, though making such time that Palmer had trouble keeping up with him, started off. Elmo found the thrill of the hunt enough to make his senses race with pleasure. Modern life had squeezed dry the excitement he had experienced half a century and more ago. Though he was chronologically over a hundred years old, his body and its superior abilities had not changed for over sixty years. Whether by Kavuru pill or witch-doctor spell, he was as spry as any thirty year old. Even Jane had not experienced the effects of aging. Elmo knew that she had wanted to come along, but security on both sides of the Atlantic would not hear of it.
He considered moving to South America, but rejected it based on the violence and totalitarianism so rampant in these countries after decades of exploitation first by colonial powers, then by industry. Deep in the Amazon, he knew, were more adventures. His favorite legend was that of Maple-White land, written about by Edward Dunn Malone. He wondered if it really existed. Then there was the mysterious photograph of Loy's Ape, much larger than any species of South American monkey. The possibilities were endless. Of course, he could always go back to Pellucidar, but Jane would not be happy there. She liked having real cities to shop in on occasion.
The trail wound about the dense undergrowth, and Elmo sensed that many types of dinosaurs used it, both large and small. It came out of a small bluff overlooking the compound. From there, Elmo could see that the path went down into the jumble of vine-encompassed buildings. He also saw something that interested him. On a high pedestal, surrounding by tall fencing that was apparently designed to keep out animals, was a complex array of antennas, with cables connecting to a concrete building that seemed to be the energy supply for the project. Elmo noticed the familiar yellow and black nuclear symbols on the building, but was quick to figure out that there was some sort of device on the building's roof and looked like some sort of cannon. It was a slender affair with a lot of tubes or hoses running out of it. Perhaps this was the weapon that had downed the two planes.
"I want to get a closer look at that thing," Elmo told Lt. Palmer, pointing at the antenna and the reactor building. We better wait until dark, though."
"What about Moose?" Lt. Palmer asked. "He and I were friends. I just can't leave him there."
Her tone suggested more. "Just friends?" Elmo cocked an eyebrow."Y-yes!" She stammered. "Just friends." But the hot flush to her cheeks gave her away.
Elmo noticed the rank odor too late. Perhaps he was too interested in the compound. It filled his nostrils with the scent of dried blood, then he heard the crashing in the trees. Wheeling, he looked up in time to see an adult Tyrannosaurus charging down the path toward them, head down and emitting a burst boiler roar that shook the ground.
"You run into the thick brush and I will distract him!" Elmo yelled.
The monster stood over twenty feet tall, waving its ridiculously small forearms as its piston-like legs drove it forward. The head was over five feet long, armed with six-inch teeth, each one serrated like a carving knife. Any other creature would have probably fainted at the site of this Cretaceous killing machine rushing toward them, but Elmo merely waved his spear and counter-charged.
"Ha!" He yelled. "I am Elmo, mighty, hunter, mighty killer!"
The T-rex wasn't really interested in that. Elmo's ears brought him the message that Lt. Palmer was sprinting to safety. He brought up his spear, but the T-rex was faster, snapping Elmo up in his massive jaws.
Survivor --Part III
As earlier stated, a normal creature would have been consumed immediately by the ravenous Tyrannosaurus, who was starving after having a bad day hunting. Elmo, not being Lord of the Jungle for nothing, managed to reverse the grip on his spear before the dinosaur could bite down hard and struck the massive creature across its wide snout. The effect was not what Elmo had anticipated, but was in fact, a better result. The sensitive nose of the Tyrannosaurus, used for sniffing out prey, curled in agony and the giant predator inhaled for a huge sneeze. Its jaws opened enough for Elmo to swing out by using the monster's jaw for leverage. Elmo ignored the pain of the ridged teeth as he found himself on the creatures head just behind its eyes. He was reminded of the saying about riding the tiger being easier than dismounting.
Meanwhile, Moose Mozarth and Jamie Palmer huddled in the dark of their cell. Jamie recounted her tale to Moose, ending with her backward glance to see Elmo seized in the jaws of the Tyrannosaur before the jungle closed about her. She was no longer the businesslike Navy pilot, but a human being who had been subjected to the stress of almost unendurable horror. Moose held her close, unsure of what to say, since the end seemed imminent, but knowing that he had to say something.
"You were a great pilot," he told her, stroking her soft red hair.
"We're facing death in this Hell-hole and you want to compliment my flying?" She looked at him, but there was no real anger in her voice.
"Dammit, Jamie, I want to say other stuff, but this red-light, green-light crap is for the birds."
"Well, we might get snatched out of her any second as a canape for a carnosaur, so this might be as good a time as any to chuck the lights."
"Well, being a great pilot is one thing I have admired about you, but to tell the truth, I think you're the prettiest woman on board the Nimitz."
She laughed at that. "I'm damn near the only woman on the Nimitz. I have to admit that I've enjoyed your company also. You play a mean guitar."
"All, right, then, I'll tell you straight out. I like you, and I want you. You drive me crazy. If you want to slap me, I guess I deserve it, but this is no time to waste on poetical stuff."
"You want me? Right here?"
"Well, no, not right here, but maybe if we get out of this place."
"How? You got a pair of submachine guns and a rocket launcher in your pocket?"
"To quote Elmo: `I still live'."
"I'll believe it when I see his body."
At that, he squeezed her lithe form close to his and crushed his lips to hers. Desire flooded his system, but it was squashed as the lock clattered. Light flooded in, making them both shield their eyes against the sudden intense glare. Moose saw that it was Fido, closely followed by Von Pfaffinger. Fido's expression looked downcast, if that were possible for a dinosaur.
"Javier wishes you to come with us," he said.
"Why?" Moose demanded.
"You are to be taken to the lab and Javier will use what he can to help make us man-things," Fido explained. "I am sorry, friend Moose."
"You can stand up to him, Fido," Moose said. "There are many of you, and only some of his man-things. Fight him."
"Not as long as he holds the box that brings pain."
"Come now," rumbled "Fatfingers", "or you will not arrive at the lab with all your parts intact."
* * *
Elmo of the Apes was in full ape mode, his human reasoning almost totally gone. He knew that his only chance for survival was to defeat this huge creature that he precariously clung to. The Tyrannosaurus was whipping its head and trying ineffectually to use its atrophied forepaws in an attempt to dislodge the ape-man. Elmo needed a better purchase. Using both hands, he drove the razor-sharp spear into the dinosaur's skull more than a foot. The effect was immediate. Maddened by the pain, the T-rex forgot all about Elmo clinging to its skull and began to stumble forward, blood flowing down its snout from its wound. Elmo clung to the spear shaft for dear life, letting his legs dangle down the creature's back. The reeling dinosaur got to the edge of the rise that overlooked the compound and launched itself forward. Elmo hung on while the vast predator cleared the compound's fence. He then leaped clear as the stricken beast struck the ground hard.
Men and small dinosaurs ran in all directions. The Tyrannosaurus was dying, but it wasn't ready to give up. Giving a thunderous cry, it charge off at the fleeing humans, trampling them and snapping them up in its huge jaws.
* * *
Moose and Jamie had just cleared the doorway of their holding area when the T-Rex vaulted from a hillock into their compound. It immediately went on a rampage. Moose saw Javier running toward them, an HK MP-5 submachine gun in one hand, his control box in the other.
"Take care of that thing!" He yelled at Von Pffaffinger.
The hulking assistant went back inside the building and returned with a 66mm LAW antitank rocket. He sighted it quickly and fired the high explosive charge. The rocket struck the Tyrannosaurus just under its right armpit and blew its upper torso into a shower of dripping chunks. Moose saw Elmo then, running toward the reactor building. Javier saw him, too, causing him to drop the control boxand unleash a short burst, missing the ape-man as he disappeared into the concrete building.
"Get the ape-man!" Javier commanded "Fatfingers".
The huge Von Pffaffinger moved off to obey. Javier turned to Moose and Jamie, now watched only by Fido.
"Your game's about done," Moose observed. "The T-rex has killed most of your men and cyber-lizards, and Elmo is going to cut your power. Give up while you're still alive."
"You forget that I'm the one holding the gun.," Javier snarled. "The T-Rex is dead, and my associate will soon take care of the ape-man. You will serve me as DNA resevoirs that I can graft onto things like Fido here."
"Better slaves?" Moose wondered. "How long before they become so smart they see that you are using them."
"You saw how I keep them in line," Javier noted. "Fear and pain. They are just pawns in my chessboard."
"But you don't have the box," Moose pointed out. "Sic him, Fido!"
"You not hurt my friend!" Fido hissed, falling upon the startled terrorist.
Javier managed to get off a burst before Fido's jaws closed on his throat. Moose rushed over and pulled Fido off Javier's limp form, but saw that the bullets had found their mark.
"Not fast enough," Fido whispered. "Saved my friend. What a man thing would do. I read. `The needs of the many outweigh the few . . .'"
"Or the one," Moose finished. "Only a man could know sacrifice. You are a man, my friend."
The reptile's eyes glazed over, and Moose took Jamie's arm. Together they headed for the reactor building.
* * *
The reactor building's interior was dim, lit only by the many panels inside. Elmo of the Apes went in cautiously after the bullets missed him. He knew that there might be guards. He was down to his last weapon, his father's hunting knife. He slid it from his sheath. After one hundred years, its edge was still keen. It had drunk the blood of many foes, and Elmo had replaced the handle twice. He had no real knowledge of nuclear reactors, but knew that if he shut it down incorrectly, the pile might melt down and spew radiation for leagues. He hoped to find an emergency shut down that would go through the steps automatically. He looked at the various monitors and panels, finally seeing one console that was labeled "For immediate shutdown". Before he could turn the switch, he heard a scrape behind him.
Turning, he was unsure whether he was facing man or beast. A huge ovoid shape filled the hallway behind him. As his eyes adjusted to the dimness, he saw that it was a man, but he was built more like Bolgani the gorilla. Elmo crouched, knife ready as the giant approached.
"You have caused enough trouble, jungle man," breathed the enormous Von Pffaffinger. "The power of this reactor controls the laser cannon on the roof. Without it, the Americans would come down and blow us away."
"Not a bad idea," Elmo shot back. "Don't try to stop me."
Von Pffaffinger laughed in deep, explosive gusts. "Huh! Huh! Huh! You Elmo, me kill!"
At that, he lumbered forward, moving much faster than would be expected for a man of his size. Elmo barely dodged as a meaty arm nearly took his head off. Elmo danced in with his knife, but the giant nimbly blocked the blow and dove for Elmo's waist. Elmo felt the vise-like grip of the enormous Von Pffaffinger close about him, shoving the air from his lungs. The suddenness of the giant's attack, left Elmo no target for his knife, and he knew his spine would snap if the man maintained his grip. With all his might, Elmo drove his fists under Von Pffaffinger's ears, causing the huge villain to groan in pain and loosen his grip. It was all Elmo needed. Moving with the speed of Histah, Elmo got his knees against Von Pffaffinger's chest and broke the massive hold. Doing a handstand to gain distance from his adversary, Elmo vaulted to his feet. Snatching up a rotting chair by the console, he dashed it against Von Pffaffinger, sending him reeling.
While the giant was off-balance, Elmo struck him with a standing drop kick, and Von Pfaffinger went to his knees. Elmo lashed out with a spinning back kick that smashed Von Pffaffinger's nose to a shapeless mass of blood and red flesh. Elmo then got behind the stricken giant and locked his elbow under the flabby chin of his nemesis. His muscles knotted until the veins stood out in gleaming relief.
"Elmo bundolo!" he snarled through clenched teeth.
With an audible snap, Von Pfaffinger's neck broke and Elmo tossed the twitching corpse from him. He leaped for the shutdown switch and snapped it off. Sounds behind him caused him to whirl. There stood Moose and Jamie.
"Thank God!" Moose exhaled. "We got in here as soon as we could. Javier's dead and his critters and henchmen are fighting it out."
"Let them kill each other off," Elmo advised. "We need to find a radio and call help. I bet that there is one in the lab. I, for one, am tired of this place. It's too easy to get killed here."
"But, you've been in this situation before."
"Not as a way of life," Elmo smiled. "The jungles of my homeland were dangerous enough. Only Pellucidar would be a reasonable place, since men have tamed a great deal of it. Now, let's find that radio."
They sprinted to the lab and found a complete communications network. Moose managed to contact the Nimitz and alert Jerry Lucas to the problem. Within an hour, a patrol of F-14's escorted two Ospreys full of marines into the compound. They rounded up the surviving terrorists. None of the helmet dinosaurs survived the battle. Ian Malcolm stepped out of one of the V-22's and sauntered over to Elmo.
"Well, congratulations," he said, grinning lopsidedly. "You are one of the few survivors of Jurassic Park and its progeny. "How much damage was done?"
"Several Raptors, one Tyrannosaurus and half a dozen or so egg-stealers," Elmo totaled. "It seems that some terrorists were using genetics and cybernetics to speed up the evolution of the more intelligent dinosaurs. The T-Rex was just an innocent bystander."
"I find it hard to believe anything innocent about a T-Rex," Malcolm commented. "The idea of the brain of a human combined with the speed and cunning of the Raptors is a scary thought. That would certainly give me so new extrapolations to the chaos theory. What about those two?"
Elmo glanced at Moose and Jamie. The were locked in a steamy embrace.
"Looks like the light is green," Elmo observed. "One of them will probably be transferred. Well, I need a bath and something to drink. What do they have on board, some Tang, or ....?"