“Arrogant, overconfident imbecile!” Dr. Wurmhausen stalked over to one of the equipment tables and snatched up a little steel box with vacuum tubes and dials running down its side. Two long wires dangled from its front end and a small vial of red liquid percolated on its back.
“Atlantean technology may only be utilized by someone with Atlantean ancestry,” he waved the box at them angrily. “The one and only member of the Thule Society with that heritage allowed me to draw a sample of his blood to allow the Reverse Bio-mimetic Key to operate, and I haven’t even tested it yet. And you tell me that Professor Scrumtumbler—that pompous fool—thinks he has invented something so simple it can be operated by you?”
“Listen, mister Worm-house—”
“That’s Dr. Wurmhausen, you mental midget,” The doctor spat.
“Sorry. Doctor Worm-house,” Reggie pressed on. “Here’s the thing: we don’t need to know whether Scrumtumbler is better than you. Let’s just destroy the camera. Go ahead and have your goons here fill it full of lead. Sure, we’ll spend the rest of our lives wondering who is the better scientist, but the important thing is that your gizmo will be the only one left.”
“Silence!” Wurmhausen slammed his bio-mimetic device down on the table. “Come over here. Immediately. Show me how your device is supposed to work.”
“Are you sure?” Reggie said. “I’m just a hired hand. I don’t even know what’s supposed to happen if that gate opens.”
“You will do as you are told,” Wurmhausen waved his luger dangerously. “And if you fail to open the gate, you will be shot. You will do your best and die knowing that Scrumtumbler’s failure is your doom.”
The color drained from Reggie’s cheeks, but he nodded and rose to re-position the camera. With shaking hands he unscrewed a side-plate and rewired the battery connections to the lighting attachment.
“You might have noticed that this camera has a special bulb attachment that looks like it’s for providing direct lighting. But Scrumtumbler said something about connecting the whoozi-whatsit to the thinger-majinger over here and then running a wire from the battery to this light bulb. The whole secret comes from this industrial-strength light array right here. See this?” He held it up with a flourish, as though he were a magician about to transform it into a pigeon.
Then he clamped his eyes tightly closed and jabbed the wire against the battery terminal. The sudden jolt of power overloaded the bulb, which emitted an intense, blinding flash.