Indiana Jones and the Golden Death
Written by Aaron, Mack, Mola Ram, Toht, and walker
Created by Mola Ram
Edited by walker
Chapter 1 by Mola Ram
Mountain Top 1940
The mountain top exploded with lava. Red molten rock cascaded down the mountainside. Indiana Jones stepped back from this model of his most recent dig and asked his students, "What did we learn from this experience?"
"Don't get too close to an erupting volcano?" chirped one of the girls at the back of the room. The room stifled fits of laughter as Indiana Jones reached up and touched the rather ridiculous bandage around his head.
"Okay, okay, so maybe I did get a bit too curious," he grinned. "But don't you think it's fascinating? The Aztecs believed that this eruption was a symbol of their gods' anger. They would attempt to regain their favor with numerous forms of human sacrifice - including cutting the hearts out from willing men and women, or by hurling human or animal sacrifices into the volcano to quench the wrath of their sun god, Uitzilopochtli."
"I can't understand how they could have done that!" whispered one of the students, visibly shocked.
Indy paused for a moment, recalling his own vivid experience with human sacrifice, and shuddered. If only his students knew of the horrors that people still committed in the far corners of this earth. Although, if there was one person who had deserved to be sacrificed, it was Willie. When they'd eventually reached Delhi that time, he almost wished he'd let her roast! Pity they'd lost contact though. He'd have to go check out her new show in New York sometime....
"Dr. Jones?" one student asked impatiently. "Are you going to go back there?"
Indy's attention quickly returned to the subject. "I hope so, except we need funding for the excavation, and since my...falling out with our last sponsor, Mr. Donovan, it looks like I could be waiting a long time," Indy said sadly.
"Well, if you do, give Utilo-whatshisname our regards!"
At that moment, the class bell rang it's familiar shrill tone, and almost immediately the class began to file out of the room.
Students, thought Indy. They always have someplace to get to. Except this time, he was not left alone completely. Drake Hawthorne stood waiting by the window. Drake was one of the few in his class who did, in actual fact, take notice of his lectures. He was a strong boy of eighteen, and would consistently speak out knowledgeably in class. The essays he submitted were always thoroughly researched, with plenty of original thought. In fact, Indy considered, he was probably his best student.
"Dr. Jones, could I have a minute?" he asked.
"Sure Drake. What's on your mind?" Indy studied the boy - he was obviously deeply concerned about something.
"I have a problem. It's about my father - you know who he is don't you?"
Of course Indy knew of him. He was one of the most prestigious historians in the country. His writings had revolutionized theories on several cultures, and Indy had always suspected that he was the main reason behind Drake's studies in archaeology. Indy could relate to that. His own father had always pushed him into studying languages.
"Sure Drake, but if this is about your final grade for that piece on Celtic legend, don't worry, you did great." Indy smiled.
"NO, IT'S NOT ABOUT ANY ESSAY!" Drake exclaimed. "He's...he's dead."
Now this was a bit more than Indy had bargained for. A desperate plea to up a grade, sure, or a sly request to see the new exam paper maybe, but this?
"How did it happen?" asked Indy calmly.
"He was shot, Dr. Jones. I'd rather not talk about it here, but he left a letter that I think you should take a look at. The police said to turn over anything that might be of assistance in the investigation, but I believe this is quite possibly the reason why he was killed. I returned home two days ago to find our home ransacked, and his body tied to a chair in the study. My father was only a historian Dr. Jones. He'd been tortured and I had no clue as to why - until I checked behind one of the books in the library. He keeps old love letters from my mother there. I discovered this."
Drake withdrew a small brown envelope from his pocket, and handed it to Indy. The first thing Indy noticed was the postmark, "London, England".
Chapter 2 by Toht
"I read it before I brought it here," said Drake. "It's not a love letter." Indy opened it and began to read. It said:
Dr. Hawthorne, I am in great need of your research. It is very important that it does not fall into the hands of the Dark Destroyers. We are very close to discovering the Dragon of the Sun.
"Interesting," Indy said with amazement. "Which book did you find it behind?"
"The History of Ancient Brazil," Drake replied.
"I suggest we go to your house immediately." Indy and Drake headed down the hall to the main exit doors.
"We'll take my car," Indy said. As they climbed into the automobile, Indy thought, I wonder what the research is...
Indy drove up to the door of Drake's home. They walked in and Drake immediately pulled him to the library. Indy, quickly scanning the shelves, withdrew The History of Ancient Brazil.
"Why are you looking at that?" Drake asked.
"The research," Indy replied, looking at some tabbed pages. On one, a detailed map of Northern Brazil had been marked up with tiny notes written in pencil. The small mountain town of Arraias was circled in red. Another displayed a painting of a beautiful golden dragon.
Chapter 3 by Aaron
Indy let out a long whistle.
"What?" asked Drake, impatient.
"It's the Dragon of the Sun."
"And.Ö?" Drake asked, growing even more impatient.
"And it's worth a fortune, kid. And most likely pretty important to someone."
"Could this have been the reason my father was killed?"
"It's a good bet. The only thing I don't understand is this..." He unfolded the message. "It says here 'the Dark Destroyers'. Now, I've seen some crazy cults before..." and briefly, he found himself thinking about Willie and Pankot for the second time in one day. "Plenty of religious fanatics and all sorts of killers and cannibals, but I've never even HEARD of the Dark Destroyers."
"You mean they don't exist?" Drake asked, perplexed.
"No. I just mean that if they do, they've managed to keep themselves hidden. And if they've done that, that means they're very, very, good. Which means that your father, and this mysterious message-sender, may have gotten in way over their heads."
"Well we've got to do something - they killed my dad!"
"Look, kid. We're not police, and we're certainly not some sort of vigilante group. This isn't our business." Indy began to put the book back. When he had first come to Drake's house, he had been excited - the Dragon of the Sun would probably be enough to double the Museum of Natural History's yearly income. And if Indy could get it for them, it would nearly triple his. Marcus Brody, his friend at the museum, and Curator of Antiquities, would be most pleased with a find like the Dragon of the Sun.
As Indy was trying to talk some sense into Drake, he had also been trying to talk sense into himself. Because he was right - it wasn't any of his business. And he certainly didn't want to get himself killed. Or worse yet, tortured and then killed. So he had decided to forget the whole thing.
"But they killed my dad!" It looked as if Drake was beginning to lose his handle on reality. "We've got to do SOMETHING...anything!"
As he turned around to calm Drake, he looked at the interior of the house for the first time. Drake had managed to pick up some of the ransacked objects, but he had lived alone with his father ever since the passing of his mother. This being the case, he hadn't nearly finished cleaning up the mess yet. And there, on the carpet beneath Indy's feet, were several bloodstains. Briefly, Indy was filled with rage and a sudden determination. He cursed himself silently for what he was about to do, for always needing to do the right thing, no matter how dangerous. But then again - even though seeking revenge for a man's death wasn't his business...archaeology was.
Chapter 4 by Aaron
El Paso, Texas
Indy and Drake got off the steaming hot bus. The day was unusually warm - even for El Paso.
"So you think we'll be able to get a plane to Brazil from here?" Drake asked.
"That's right," replied Indy. "I've got an old friend out here who's used to this sort of thing--making unscheduled flights on short notice, I mean." Indy had shed his "professors' garb" and traded it in for his comfortable leather jacket, beige shirt, and work slacks. Atop his head sat his ever-present fedora. Its scrapes and dents told of a hundred adventures. At his side hung a leather satchel, containing 4 important items: the mysterious message sent for Dr. Hawthorne, a picture of Dr. Hawthorne, extensive research papers on the Dragon of the Sun (which Indy had acquired from the University), and Indy's six-shot Webley revolver. Lastly, attached to his climber's belt, was a long, powerful bullwhip - Indy's favorite "tool".
It was a short walk to the small airfield outside of El Paso were Indy's friend and sometime business partner worked, but on such a hot day, it seemed like a ten mile journey. When the pair arrived, the tiny airplane hangar and runway was such a contrast to what Drake had been expecting, he couldn't help but moan.
"This is it? This is it?! This little back road runway and tin can hangar?"
"Trust me, kid, this is a lot more reliable than any commercial airport--I should know, I've entrusted my life to these guys several times."
"That brings up another thing - just who the heck are 'these guys'?" asked Drake. But Indy didn't need to answer. The sign above the office door was clearly visible. It read, in red and gold lettering: WARD BROS AIR CARGO. Scrawled underneath the lettering were the words "We don't ask questions."
Inside the office, a greasy looking man sat in a rickety old chair behind an even older desk. He was contemplating a half-empty flask. A nametag sewn on his mechanics' uniform identified him as "Clarence".
"You know," he said without looking up, "this just doesn't taste as good with Prohibition over with. Sure is cheaper, though."
"Clarence, pal!" Indy said, moving forward to shake the man's hand. When he saw how filthy Clarence's hand was, he reconsidered. "Clarence, I need you to get me to Brazil."
"Well my friend, you're in luck - don't have any other customers at this time. Who's your friend?" he asked, motioning to Drake, who was looking around the messy office in disgust.
"Name's Drake Hawthorne," Indy replied. "And he's a student, not a friend." Indy didn't like his students to think of him as a personal friend - it just didn't help class lectures when his students called him by his first name.
"Hello, Drake," said Clarence, waving to him. In reply, Drake simply regarded Clarence the same way he had the office. Clarence turned to Indy. "I can get you out of here and on your way to Brazil in five days."
"Five days?" Indy nearly screamed. "Clarence, you lazy...." He breathed deeply. "Why five days?" he asked more calmly.
"I need to do some work on the plane. Heck, I was just in the middle of taking out the engine."
Indy looked at the flask sitting on the desk in front of Clarence. "Sure you were, Clarence."
"Well, I just thought I could use a break! In any case, I was planning on patching up the wings a little better - need I remind you that you're the reason those holes are there in the first place?"
"We'll make it to Brazil, Clarence," Indy said sternly. "Now get the engine back in. We're going today."
"Well, actually," Clarence said, half grinning, "I kinda lied when I said I had taken the engine out...."
Minutes later, Indy and Clarence had entered the copilot and pilot's seats, respectively. And, with much protest, Drake had climbed into the third seat, the one for the few passengers that Clarence and his brother, Donny, sometimes had on their many trips. The triple engines were already roaring, and the plane began to taxi from the hangar.
Behind Indy and Clarence, Drake began studying a tattered map of Brazil. Suddenly, his features lit up as he noticed something. "Hey! I know this place!" he yelled over the engines.
Indy looked back. "What?"
"This group of mountains here - Dad always talked about them. They're called the Dragon's Maw...."
Chapter 5 by Toht
Suddenly the plane jerked and started moving forward, interrupting Drake. It annoyed him, but he decided that complaining would do no good.
Indy turned back around and thought over the whole thing. He had found clues, but he had yet to piece them together and he had the feeling that time was of the essence. As the plane lifted from the ground, Indy sat back and used the little spare time he had to relax. Clarence may not be the best pilot in the world, but he would get the job done.
Clarence took the plane down on a nice field of grass that served as a runway. Indy sat up and looked about. The surrounding countryside appeared just as it had on the map. Had Drake said something about mountains?
"Drake," Indy called, "what was that jabber about the mountains?"
"Dr. Jones," answered Drake, "we're less than a mile from the range I was talking about. Its name, and I am sure you'll see the importance, is the Dragon's Maw.
"The Dragon's Maw? It must be related to the golden dragon! But if the Dark Destroyers have already gotten this far, I bet we're in for some trouble, kid."
"May I ask just exactly what kind of junk you're talking about?" inquired Clarence.
"The reason we came," answered Indy. "The Dragon of the Sun - a beautiful golden dragon.
"Well, you're here, so get going," said Clarence.
Indy and Drake stepped off the plane and Indy put a wad of money into Clarence's hand.
"Now's the hard part, kid," Indy said. "Finding a place to stay."
Chapter 6 by Mola Ram
"That's quite alright Dr. Jones. You won't be needing one."
Indy slowly turned around to find that his pilot, and would-be friend, was now leveling a pistol at his head.
"Clarence, what are you..." Indy began, incredulous.
Clarence shifted his cold stare over to Drake, ensuring that neither of them might catch him off guard. "Jones, you are one stupid SOB, you know that? I'd just like to say that it has never been much of a pleasure flying you to all kinds of dangerous destinations around the world, almost getting my ass shot off to save the likes of you. I mean, do you call this a tip?" Clarence chortled as he held up the money Indy had handed him. "I give more than this to drunks on the street!"
Indy stood, mouth agape at the pilot in front of him. What the heck was Clarence's motive? They had been friends for years. Why would he turn on him now?
Clarence must have noticed the curious expression on Indy's face, for he began to explain. "I guess you're kind of wondering why I'm doing this to you, Jones. Well I'll tell you. I had some visitors a couple of days before you arrived, and, interestingly enough, they also asked me to bring them to this exact place. They're paying me a LOT of money, although not just for the flight. They gave me specific instructions to 'dispose' of anyone else who came requesting the same destination. Shame it had to be you, Jones. I did try to put you off, but what the hell, I'm glad you came. I'm gonna be a rich man!"
Indy sneered at his friend. "So why didn't you kill us back in Texas? And who are these people that paid you off, Clarence?"
"Wouldn't you like to know? But it ain't gonna matter to you pretty soon Indiana, old boy. 'Cause soon you and your young friend are gonna be singin' with the angels!"
Indy thought fast, and quickly looked about him. Clarence had thought this one out well. They were in an open clearing with only the plane behind them. The trees on all sides must have been at least 200 feet away - too far to try and make a break for it. Clarence would take them down even before they got half way. He glanced over at Drake. The poor kid looked like he was about to have a heart attack!
Chapter 7 by Mack
The chances of escape were minimal. He might get out of this, but Drake wouldn't and it was Indy's responsibility for the boy that would slow him down. An idea came to Indy that just might work...but it would require a little bit of luck.
Quickly, Indy pushed Drake away and yelled "GET DOWN!" Drake fell to the grass. A bullet fired between them. With one fluid, swift movement, Indy rolled on the ground, unlatched the whip from his belt, and balanced himself in a kneeling position. Clarence had unloaded three bullets, all of them striking harmlessly against the ground behind Indy.
Indy cracked his whip around Clarence's arm and gave it a violent tug, causing his friend to fling the gun several feet away. As Clarence ran to retrieve it, Indy met him half way and dropkicked him in the chest. Clarence fell back, gasping for air. Indiana grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and socked him in the face. Clarence was out cold.
Drake looked at Indy in amazement. All this had been done in seconds! Indy began to inspect Clarence for damage. Finding that there was none - none long term anyway - he turned back to look at Drake and asked, "Do you have a lighter?"
"What?" Drake yelled, astonished.
"Do you have a lighter?" Indy repeated.
"He tried to kill us!"
"I know," Indy said calmly, "but do you have a lighter?"
"Y-yeah," Drake said weakly, tossing Indy a packet of matches.
"Thanks, these'll do." Indy lit a match and held up Clarence's limp arm. He held the match dangerously close and after a few seconds, Clarence jerked upright and screamed in pain at his scorched flesh. It suddenly dawned on him what he had done.
"What was that?" Drake asked, astonished.
"An old brain-wash remedy, kid," Indy said. He turned to face Clarence. "You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," Clarence replied, rubbing the back of his neck. "I guess I am. But I just...I mean you were...I pulled...."
"I know," Indy said, interrupting. "It's all right. You were brain-washed. Probably something the Destroyers slipped in your liquor. Let's just find out what we're supposed to do now."
Chapter 8 by Mack
Sunlight hit Indy's face and woke him up. Morning amnesia momentarily made him forget where he was. Then, as his wits came about him, he remembered Drake, Drake's father, Brazil, and Clarence pulling a gun on him. Clarence, sleeping (or rather, snoring) on the floor in a sleeping bag next to Indy's bed reassured him. He looked over at Drake who was hiking up the window curtains.
"Up and at 'em," Drake said, grimly.
"You're up early," Indy grunted. Clarence's escalated snoring accentuated Indy's point.
"We gotta find the guys who killed my father - remember?" Drake said, agitated.
"In due time," Indy said, leaning up in his bed now.
"What do you mean 'in due time'?" Drake asked, raising his voice. "If it had been left up to me, we wouldn't have slept last night!"
"Well, I guess that's just the difference between you and me," Indy said. "Trust me. Whoever these Dark Destroyers are, they must know that we're not dead. They'll come to find us." Drake was silent. Indy got out of bed and put on his shirt and pants. "Besides," he added, "that works well enough for me. I don't have a clue as to where we should start looking." Indy walked toward the bathroom door, opened it, looked inside and sighed. "I wonder if this place even has hot water," he said, disappearing into the bathroom.
Drake sat on the bed for awhile, thinking. His father was dead. He wanted to get out and reap his revenge. The grieving would come later. He shook his head of the idea. "Don't think about it just yet," he said to himself. He needed a diversion. He got up and nudged Clarence, who was still sleeping soundly under the sleeping bag.
"Uhf," Clarence said.
"Get up," said Drake in response.
"Effummah," Clarence mumbled in a half-sleep daze.
"Get up you smelly oaf!" Drake yelled. "You get the shower next."
"Humph," Clarence mumbled as he raised up like a half-dead man. "Man," he said, "I had the weirdest dream...."
Indy enjoyed hot showers. Pity there was none to be found in this wretched excuse for an inn. A bath would have to do. After about 5 minutes, when he figured he had been in the tub long enough, he got out, dried off, put his clothes back on and walked out into the bedroom. He saw both Drake and Clarence sitting on the bed looking tense.
"What's the matter?" Indy asked. The bathroom door closed behind him. He saw two men in black street clothes pointing knives at him. Each wore a red sash on his forehead. "Who are you?" Indy demanded.
"These are two of the goons who murdered my father!" Drake yelled.
"That's enough from you!" the bigger of the two demanded. "We, Dr. Jones, are the ones who have been here before time was time. It is now our duty to end it," he said threateningly.
"The Dark Destroyers," Indy said hesitantly.
"Correct," the big goon said. "Your time has come." He approached Indy, knife before him.
What do these jerks want with me? Indy thought. And what do they have to do with the Dragon of the Sun, or Drake's father's death? His questions needed answers and there was only one way to get them: fighting. Indy braced himself to dodge. The goon stayed wary of Indy's movement. Finally, the goon swung at Indy. Good. Just what he needed. Indy dodged the clumsy lunge and smashed the goon in the back of the head with his elbow. Then the other goon began to advance. Indy grabbed him and pinned him in a headlock as soon as he lunged. He forced the knife out of the thug's hand and threw him toward the other goon. Now, with only one of them armed, his chances got better. No sooner was he ready for another attack when both Drake and Clarence grabbed the Destroyers from behind. Clarence made quick work of his by smashing a liquor bottle over the goon's head. He fell limply to the floor. Drake didn't have as much luck. He had attacked the one with the knife, and his arm had been slashed when he grabbed him. While the goon was busy with Drake, Indy kicked him in the back with enough force to launch him into the wall and knock him out.
"You did good," Indy said, huffing.
The two goons awoke to find themselves tied to the bedpost. Indy was tending to Drake's wound. "Isn't bad," he said, "but the scar will probably be permanent."
"Fine," Drake said. He looked over at the goons. Indy also looked, and found that they were conscious. He walked to them.
"Alright," he said, looming over them like a despotic tyrant, "what's this business with the Dragon of the Sun?"
"We'll never talk to you," they said.
"Fine," Indy said. "But what about him? Will you talk to him?" He motioned towards Drake. "This guy would like nothing more than to gut you both." Drake smiled sadistically at them, catching Indy's drift. Both goons looked worried. They were obviously undisciplined.
"There is a cave in the mountains," one of them said. "You will find your answers there."
"This cave," Indy said, "where is it?"
"In my pocket," the goon instructed. Indy quickly picked out a piece of paper and unfolded it. It was a map. He studied it briefly, weighing its possible authenticity. When he was satisfied, Indy called for an agent of what passed for Brazilian law enforcement and, after filling out a brief report, relinquished his two captives to the authorities. As they were led away, the assassins paused and looked pointedly at Clarence. He shivered and turned his back to them.
Indy pondered the map in his hand and made a decision. "We're going to this cave. Clarence?" His friend looked as if he were in another world. "Clarence!" Indy barked.
Clarence snapped his attention toward Indy. "Yeah?" he said.
"You stay here."
"Fine by me," he agreed.
Chapter 9 by Aaron
"I'm only getting paid to fly you around, anyway. I don't need to get dragged along on any more of your damn adventures. Besides, I've had enough action for one day," Clarence said, glancing at the shards of broken glass on the floor. Indy said nothing as he left the room with Drake - he was growing more and more impatient to unravel the mystery and find evidence of the Dragon of the Sun.
After the two had left the small hotel room, Clarence crawled back into his cot. He thought he could get a drink later, but for some reason, he felt the strangest urge to go to sleep.... In his dreams, Clarence was pushing his way through thick jungle. Behind him, he saw smoke. Ahead of him, rising above the treetops, he saw what appeared to be an ancient pyramid - except for the fact that it was carved out of a mountain. He tried to turn and head back towards the smoke. He'd never liked the ancient ruins that Indiana always seemed to be drawn to - he always felt as if they were about to collapse in on him. He tried to turn, but strangely, his feet kept pushing their way through the jungle, towards the mountain-pyramid. He became very scared and began to sweat. As he drew closer to the looming natural pyramid, he noticed something odd: though it was a bright day in the jungle, the single archway entrance into the pyramid was dark - completely and utterly dark. He tried harder to move in a different direction. He strained until he felt his muscles were about to burst, but it was to no avail. He looked frantically around for something to grab on to. The pyramid came closer. Soon it was directly in front of him. He looked around...and he noticed something. In the middle of his chest was a gaping, bloody hole.
When Clarence awoke, he was in what seemed to be a sort of dungeon, and he was strapped to some sort of torture device. It was to dark to see, but he could swear he heard movement. He sweated harder.
Chapter 10 by Mack
"I don't know if it was good idea to leave Clarence in the room," Drake said, wiping sweat from his brow. "You know what he did when we first got here. And you remember how spaced he looked when those guys were taken away."
"That's exactly why I left him there," Indiana said, studying the map. "Who knows what those guys have done to him?"
"I just thought we should keep our eyes on him, is all. What are you doing?" Drake asked. Indy didn't reply but just studied the jungle. Saying nothing, he trudged up hill. They were close to the mountains. Drake followed.
"It should be around," Indy said, inspecting the area. "Yes. Right here." He pushed some foliage aside to reveal a horrendously ugly stone totem.
"What the heck is that?" Drake asked with a disgusted look on his face.
"Well," Indy said, "this guy is telling us not to go any further."
They continued through the jungle until they could see a fairly large waterfall that was marked on the map. It was getting hard for them to advance the steep slopes. It was especially hard for Drake who carried a large backpack full of equipment, whereas Indy just had on his beat-up fedora and shoulder bag. Right when they began to get too tired to go on, Indy peered through the foliage to find a black void sinking into the rock of the mountain. Around the cave entrance was an elaborate carving made to look like a dragon's gaping mouth.
"This is it," Indy said. "The Dragon's Maw." They both entered despite the obvious warnings. Indy held onto a lantern Drake produced from his backpack. Despite its glow, it somehow wasn't enough to completely light their way into the cave. Drake lagged behind Indy, tired from the uphill marathon they had just endured. He half consciously dragged his feet along the ground. Suddenly he was startled by Indy's arm lightly pushing against his chest, holding him back.
"What?" Drake asked.
"Booby traps," Indy said in a dismal voice.
Chapter 11 by Toht
Indy stepped on a rough tile and jumped back quickly. A large stalactite fell from the ceiling and crashed where Indy had just been a second ago.
"Wow, how does that work?" Drake asked.
"Unfortunately we don't have enough time to figure that out," Indy answered. "We have to get the Dragon and leave as soon as possible. I want to avoid any more encounters with the Dark Destroyers." Indy held the lantern close to the ground as they walked, searching the floor. He saw another tile and said in a quiet tone, "Drake, watch out. There's a tile right in front of me. Don't step on it, whatever you do. I've seen this kind of thing before and it will trigger the destruction of the cave."
They walked on and soon entered a large cavern. Carved into the far wall was a staircase going up to a large dragon's head carving, and in its mouth, the Dragon of the Sun!
"We've found it, kid!" Indy said excitedly. "Hand me my whip."
Drake did as he was told and Indy walked up the steps carrying his whip in one hand, his lantern in the other. Drake looked on as Indy climbed the steps to the mouth, and noticed a tile on one of the steps.
"Indy, there's another tile just a few steps ahead!" said Drake.
"Drake, I see it. It's made of gold!"
Indy continued walking, staring at the floor to see if he could find any more booby traps. Satisfied, he headed for the dragon.
Chapter 12 by Aaron
Indy stood, feet spread apart at the foot of the altar. His hands twitched nervously until he realized it and, for Drake's sake, willed himself to stop. The young man was already scared enough as it was.
The altar, a dragon's head, was intricately carved. Even the tongue looked as if it could snake out at any second. Or, as Indy realized a split second before he picked up the Dragon, lower. It was an independently moving pedestal. If the weight of the dragon's golden morsel were removed, the pedestal would lower and most likely bring death down, upon, or through Indy and Drake.
He tipped his battered fedora back on his head and scratched his brow. How? How could Indy remove the statue without getting he or his companion killed? He thought that perhaps he might get out alive, but Drake? He probably wouldn't make it two feet. "I hate sidekicks," he muttered.
"What?" Drake asked, nervousness apparent in his voice.
"Never mind. Listen, get those counterweights out of the pack, will you?"
"I wondered how we would ever use these things," Drake said in amazement. "Say...just how are we going to use these things?"
"Uh, it's hard to explain," Indy said, not wanting to scare Drake any more. The "counterweights" were actually a sack of stones, which, though they seemed an odd tool, had served Indy in several ways on many occasions. Drake hefted the leather bag with ease and tossed it to Indy. It sailed through the air flawlessly. Indy's catch, however....
The bag slipped through his sweating hands and flew towards the dragon altar. As it knocked the Dragon of the Sun out of the dragon's mouth, Indy felt a sickening drop in his stomach. As if in slow motion, it fell to the floor where it shattered - exposing plain rock inside. In that split second, twenty thoughts crossed Indy's mind, the most prominent of them being, you're about to die for a fake statue. But Indy knew the Dragon of the Sun existed. It HAD to - why would the Dark Destroyers be around if it didn't? However, at this point, he didn't care. As he recovered from the shock, he sprinted from the altar platform. Things began happening quite rapidly....
The dragon's mouth snapped shut, most likely powered by some unseen, massive spring, sealing the counterweight bag inside. The golden booby trap tile in the floor flew into the air, followed by a massive stone shaft that crashed into the ceiling. Indy had barely enough time to lunge sideways. Shattered rock rained down upon him.
Meanwhile, Indy's whip partially unraveled from his belt and began to drag along behind him. A huge stone slab fell from the ceiling and landed in front of the altar, completely sealing off the area. The tip of Indy's whip caught underneath the slab, jerking him off his feet. A spear shot up from the ground that Indy would have been standing on, had the pinned whip not stopped him. Several other spears followed, each one shooting from the ground a step or two farther from the one before it. This "domino effect" was working its way towards the now trembling Drake. He promptly fainted.
With barely enough time to react, Indy yanked the tip of his whip from underneath the stone slab and cracked it around Drakes limp arm. He pulled the young man a few feet to the right just as a spear shot from the ground directly beneath the crotch of his pants.
The cave itself could no longer take the strain of the booby traps and began to crumble. Indy took a brief second to look around, and ran towards Drake. With a strength he wasn't aware he possessed, he lifted the boy over his shoulder and continued running. Boulders rained down all around him. He leaped over them and dived through the exit. Sailing through the air, he let go of Drake, who fell to the jungle ground with a thud. Then Indy landed and for a while just lay there. The cave entrance was completely sealed off and dust and pebbles where everywhere.
The whole thing had taken under a minute.
Chapter 13 by Mack
"Wake up," Indy said, shaking Drake. "C'mon! Wake up."
"Wha...?" Drake muttered as he came to.
"We've gotta go back to the room and...oh no," Indy said.
"Huh?" Drake said, leaning up. He saw what Indy's cursing was about. More goons in black with red sashes were approaching them. Four of them, this time, and they all had guns. "Crap," Drake said.
"You took the bait, Dr. Jones," one of them said. "Now you must die." He cocked back the hammer of his gun.
Indy was genuinely terrified. There was almost no way out of this one. He stood with his hands up. Drake stayed on the ground. Indy's head began to spin with ideas, none of which seemed practical. Oh great, Indy thought, what I need is a miracle.
Suddenly, the ground began to shake in a furious tremor. The goons looked around, confused. Indy was confused as well, but glad that whatever was happening had distracted them. Then he then realized something and looked back at the cave. Suddenly, he grabbed Drake and forced him up. "RUN!" he yelled. Indy and Drake ran into the forest. As the tremor intensified, the goons looked up at the mountain in horror. Part of it was collapsing into the cave! Suddenly, a huge wall of earth blasted through the blocked cave entrance and engulfed the Dark Destroyers. They were pummeled and crushed by the weight of the rocks. Boulders and earth continued to blast out until that entire section of the mountain had given way to a landslide. The earth roared like a giant lion, or, Indy thought, a dragon.
When it was all over and the dust had cleared, the entire forest at the base of the mountain was leveled. It looked like a river of land had swept down the mountain and trampled every tree and bush in its path. Indy and Drake had no other option but to leave.
Chapter 14 by Aaron
Indy and Drake's three-hour trek back through the jungle seemed short and uneventful, as did the hitchhiked ride back into Arraias. However Drake, still feeling a bit woozy, couldn't help but kiss the ground in front of their hotel when they arrived. Indy, with a grim expression, kept walking.
"What's the matter, Dr. Jones? Aren't you happy to be back?" Drake asked, spitting out gravel.
"Happy to be back? Oh, yes. Happy with what happened today? Not in the least," Indy muttered. He stopped walking and turned around. "I thought you wanted to avenge your father's death, and as soon as possible - what happened to that?"
"What happened to that? I was almost killed today, THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT!"
"And you didn't think what killed your father could kill you?"
"Well, I...I...." Drake was near tears.
"Look, Drake, I'm sorry for snapping. But I warned you before we started this whole thing, didn't I? I warned you that we could get in over our heads?"
"Well, yeah, I guess so...." Drake choked.
"Good," Indy said as he turned and began walking up the stairs to their room. "Because what happened today could very well happen again, and...." He trailed off as he opened the door and entered the room. "Hey, where's Clarence?"
Inside the room, Indy saw Clarence's cot knocked over and shards of broken glass all over the floor near the now-broken window. Through clenched teeth he said, "They just don't give up, do they?"
Chapter 15 by Aaron
Indy felt sick. He felt angry. And most of all he felt like he was in way, way over his head. He looked around at the hotel room. From the broken window, he deduced that someone had smashed it from the outside, climbed in and kidnapped Clarence. And he was willing to bet it was members of the Dark Destroyers who did it.
"Well, what do we do?" asked Drake. He had started to regain some of his usual eagerness.
"We sit down," Indy said, stress apparent in his voice, "we look at our options, and we THINK THINGS THROUGH. I'm getting tired of rushing into things only to come face to face with another obstacle." He pulled over a table and two chairs, some of the few pieces of furniture in the room.
"But...." Drake began.
"Sit!" Indy demanded. Drake grudgingly obeyed. "Now," Indy continued, sitting down as well, "this all started when your father was tortured and killed. We believe this happened because he and a colleague had come close to finding a golden Brazilian relic known as the Dragon of the Sun. Before his death, your father's colleague sent him a message revealing that they were extremely close to finding the artifact." Drake was swallowing hard - he was having trouble reliving the events surrounding his father's death.
"Stay with me here, Drake," Indy said in a softer tone. "This message was disguised as a love letter, and hidden by your father behind a book on Brazilian archaeology. You found your father and ended up coming to me for help. We caught a bus to Texas where we enlisted the aid of Clarence, who would fly us here. He had been brainwashed prior to our hiring him, and turned on us at the landing field after we arrived. We snapped him out of it, and roomed here for the night. We were attacked by two members of the Dark Destroyers, whose goal it is to protect the Dragon of the Sun. Your father and his colleague were aware of this group, as it was included in the message. We overcame the two attackers, which I would guess were initiates to the group, and obtained what we believed to be a map to the holding place of the Dragon of the Sun.
"We left Clarence here and trekked to that holding place. It was, in reality, a trap. The Dragon of the Sun there was really a fake. We made it out of the temple-cave with our lives, when a group of four Dark Destroyers surrounded us. The mountain above us collapsed into the cave, we fled, and the Dark Destroyers were crushed in the rubble. We came back, only to find that Clarence had been kidnapped."
"You make it sound like it was easy," Drake joked. He had regained his confidence.
"Ha. Let's take a look at that message again," Indy said, withdrawing it from his satchel. "Now, it says...oh, jeez."
"What?" asked Drake.
"I think we forgot something," Indy said, showing Drake the envelope that contained the message. The postmark read "London, England".
"Oh man...." Drake moaned. "And I thought we were so close to the end."
"Nope," muttered Indy. "Not even close." He got up and walked over to the broken window. As he stared out at the small courtyard in front of their hotel, he noticed something. Most of the shards of glass were down there, not inside the room. That suggested the window had been broken from the inside. In other words, their room hadn't been busted into - it had been busted out of....
Chapter 16 by Toht
Indy grew angry. "The Dark Destroyers broke out of here when they got Clarence," he said. "That means they were in here while we were at the temple. But why would they bust out? Last I remember Clarence was going to take a nap. Probably means they didn't have a struggle, so why the damage? We should have taken him with us when we went to the temple, kid." Indy put his head in his hands. "Whatever's happening to Clarence now is all my fault."
Clarence screamed as a needle pierced his skin. The pain was intense, like two thousand wasps stinging him simultaneously.
"You will kill Indiana Jones," chanted a man, droning on and on. Clarence felt the pain dull and found himself getting sleepier. Everything was blacking out, fading away. Then, blackness. Three men in flowing black hooded robes and beautiful crimson belts hurried over, forming a line. The man in the middle of the three seemed to be the leader.
He spoke. "Is the captive asleep?" he said slowly.
"Yes," said the man who had chanted the words 'you will kill Indiana Jones.'
"Good," replied the leader. "The elimination of the one threat to our mission must succeed."
Chapter 17 by walker
The next morning was a rush of activity that didn't end until Indy and Drake boarded a plane bound for England. Indy leaned back in his seat and reviewed the events of the previous day. After they discovered that Clarence had gone missing, they questioned the owner of the inn and several other villagers living nearby. From what they could piece together with eyewitness accounts, Clarence had jumped out of the closed second story window like a madman, landed on the roof of a parked military jeep and ran off alone towards the mountains like a cat with its tail on fire. Indy and Drake tried to follow his trail but soon lost it in the thick overgrown jungle. "It seems my fire trick was a temporary wake-up call at best," Indy had said at the time. Whatever the Dark Destroyers had drugged Clarence with, it was still potent. Where he had gone and why was still a mystery.
Soon after, Indy and Drake determined that their only recourse was to find out who Drake's father was corresponding with. Although there was no return address, the postmark on the mysterious letter said London, England. They bought two airline tickets, hoping to beat the Destroyers to the mysterious researcher.
"So, what's our next step?" Drake asked, after having boarded their flight.
"Dunno...check the London universities and museums. Find a researcher specializing in the Dragon of the Sun." Indy rubbed his temples at the thought of it all. There just weren't many clues to work with and there was too much ground to cover. With nothing better to do and 14 hours to kill, Indy pulled out the mysterious letter to examine it once more. The text of the letter was printed in a neat, precise hand - by a man, Indy would bet. But the stationary was cream colored with an intricate hand drawn pattern of delicate, almost feminine, vine-work bordering the edges. Odd, Indy thought.
He held the stationary up to the window to see the words better and then flipped it over to check the back for anything he may have missed. There was nothing. Indy sighed heavily and began to fold the letter back up. Then he noticed something. "What the...?" he whispered. He unfolded the paper once more and looked at the back of it again. He held it flat against the window to let the sun shine through it. Slowly, a broad grin spread across his face and he chuckled. "I'll be darned."
Drake, having overheard Indy's oath, grabbed the letter from his hands impulsively. "What, Indy? What is it?"
"Calm down, don't tear it," Indy said. "Look...you see this fancy scrollwork running along the edges?"
"I could be wrong, but it seems to me that your father was being told very specifically where to send his research. Turn the paper over and hold it up to the light."
Drake did as requested. From the reverse some of the vine-work appeared to be cursive English lettering. "What's it say?"
"Well, that's not quite clear. It's in Latin, which is no problem in and of itself, but it doesn't appear to make much sense."
"Tell me what you think. Dominus Quincunx Duo Duo Sex."
Drake closed his eyes and thought. He smiled. "Easy. It means monarch, cross, two, two and six."
"Right. Any ideas?"
"Not a one. Except...if this message told my father where to send his research, it must be an address and 226 must be a house."
"Or an apartment number."
"Maybe the cross bit means it's a church."
"Possibly. The church of the king? Which king? England's had a pretty peculiar religious history." Indy leaned back and pushed up his hat. Drake did the same. A beat later, the two men looked at each other, smiling.
"King's Cross Station," they said together.
"The railway station on London's north side!" Drake said.
"Yes, it opened on what...December something, 1906?"
"1906, right. I've been there with my dad. And there's -"
"- a post office at the depot," Indy finished. "It's the number to a post office box."
Clarence slowly regained consciousness. He was sorry he had, for his body was screaming in pain. He groaned as an image of Indiana, beaten and broken flashed through his mind. A soft chuckle resonated off to his right. Clarence turned his head to the side and squinted, desperate to get a good look at something - anything.
And then, a bright light ignited behind him, illuminating the room. Clarence's breath caught in his throat. He was strapped to a slate gray table slanted at 45 degrees. The table was carved from a solid block of cold stone, positioned against the wall of a large cave. The grade of the table, the tightness of the straps and the addition of several fixed stones underneath Clarence's back were all calculated to maximize his pain and discomfort. Even given this, he couldn't help but stare at the center of the chamber.
Poised ten feet above the ground on a high pedestal of black stone perched a terrifying yet beautiful man-sized golden statue in the shape of a dragon. The beast rested back on its haunches like a proud, African cat, wings pulled tight against its body. The vicious maw hung open in a hungry grin, forked tongue protruding like a spear. The eyes of the creature were trained directly on Clarence, as if sizing him up for dinner. Frightened as he was, Clarence found himself mesmerized.
The silence was suddenly broken by a harsh, Brazilian voice.
"Your lord and master is beautiful, is he not?"
Drake started, and craned his head about to see who it was that had spoken. Directly to his right stood a man cloaked in black robes - he hadn't been there a moment ago, Clarence was sure of it. "Why am I here?" he pleaded, pulling against his restraints. "I haven't done anything. And it...hurts."
"You are one of a privileged few," the hooded man answered, "who will assist me in bringing about a great new age of enlightenment."
"I don't...I don't understand."
"Ah, of course not. Shall I tell you?" The Destroyer paused for effect. "What you see before you is el Dragon del Sol, the Dragon of the Sun - he whom you will now serve until the end of your days. At long last, your conditioning has neared its completion. There is but one more stage - that which will make our chemical and physical persuasions complete. You must face the purifying light of The Sun. And then - you will be our dagger!"
Another mirage of Indy, bleeding to death, swept across Clarence's vision. "Please, I haven't done anything to you..." His voice was shaking in pain and fear as the eyes of the statue began to glow like hot coals. "I don't want to hurt anyone! I don't want to -" He squeezed his eyes shut tight and wept as his mind was seared away.
Chapter 18 by Aaron
The airplane arrived in London and its groggy passengers disembarked. Drake stepped off the plane and rubbed his eyes in the foggy London morning sunlight. From behind him, down the stairs rushed Indiana Jones, awake and enthusiastic as ever, dressed in a tweed suit.
"C'mon, Drake!" he shouted. "Let's get to King's Cross!"
When he remembered the post office box, Drake's eyes snapped open. "I'll get a cab!" Indy called over his shoulder.
"And I'll get us some coffee!" Drake called back, but Indy had already made it to the gates. Not long after, the pair stepped out of their cab in front of King's Cross Station. As Drake was about to take a final sip of his coffee, Indy bumped into him, pushing him forward. The last few drops of coffee spattered on the ground at Drake's feet. "Innndy!" he moaned. "Look what you did!"
"Sorry," Indy said, handing the cab driver his money. "No time!"
"Whadda you mean, no time?"
"NO TIME!" Indy yelled as he grabbed Drake's arm and pulled him along.
"But...you...I mean...." Drake stuttered, dragging his feet.
As Indy pulled Drake behind him, he heard the squeal of tires on pavement. He stopped, turned around, and pointed to the end of the block. A sleek black car was speeding towards them. "They've been following us since the airport. Now do you understand?"
Drake uttered a schoolboy's curse and broke into a run. Indy followed. Inside the station, they made a mad dash for the post office. When it came into sight, the two were both puffing.
Suddenly, a janitor appeared from around the corner and began to mop. The sight of a black business suit beneath the janitor's clothes tipped Indy off that something wasn't right. Nonetheless, he kept running. Just as he was about to cross in front of the janitor, he feinted left and dodged right. The man was too quick, however. He lashed out behind himself with the mop and Indy went sprawling across the floor.
Drake looked behind him, kept running, and cursed when he realized that he couldn't remember the box address. The stationary was in Indy's satchel. "Two...two..." he muttered over and over to himself. He just couldn't remember. Then, a thought came to him....
The man who had tripped Indy was now leaning over him. Indy could see his face clearly and he looked Oriental. Gunmetal flashed in one of the man's pockets.
"I am...so sorry," the man said, a small smile on his lips. His accent was oriental as well. "Here, let me help you up." Indy allowed him to, and the man made sure that Indy knew the gun was pointed in his direction. As he got up, Indy realized that several other Asian men were all around him. Some were at telephones while others were talking amongst themselves, but all of them stood out as being dressed completely alike - black suit, black shirt and blood red tie. "Now Dr. Jones," the man continued, until he noticed the shocked look on Indy's face. "That's right, Dr. Jones. We know who you are. Now if you don't mind, we'd like you to help us with something."
"Oh yeah?" Indy spat out. Where the heck was Drake?
"Yes. We need you to get our mail for us." The 'janitor' motioned with the gun towards the post office counter.
Indy analyzed his options. Chances for escape were slim - he was surrounded and Drake was probably off cowering in a closet, if past trends had continued.
"You have no choice, Dr. Jones," the man said impatiently, interrupting Indy's thoughts.
Indy sensed the stress in his captor's voice and decided to play on that. "Gee," Indy said, "you're not too brave - cornering me and holding a gun on me? Why, you're positively YELLOW." Indy was far from racist, but he figured desperate times called for desperate measures.
"It is an effective tactic," the man replied coolly. "And might I add, Dr. Jones, that you look quite WHITE with fear. The mail please, Dr. Jones."
It appeared Indy had no choice. He started for the counter. He stopped, however, when he heard a shrill whistle behind him. He, his black suited captors, and the other patrons of the station turned. Five English bobbies were running down the hall towards them, billy clubs drawn. Drake was following behind.
Indy smiled and walked up to the counter. "Two twenty-six," he said. The woman behind the counter handed him a thick package. He signed his name on a clipboard that the woman handed to him, and began walking towards the station's exit. He looked over his shoulder and smiled. The crowd of black suited captors had dissipated when the bobbies arrived.
Later, outside the station, a Bobbie wrote down information dictated to him but Indiana and Drake on a dime store pad. When he had gotten all he could, he wished them a pleasant morning and was off. Drake began strolling down the sidewalk.
"So whadda ya think of my little trick back there, huh?" he gloated. "Not bad, eh?"
"Yeah, thanks," Indy said, his mind elsewhere.
" 'Yeah, thanks?' That's all I get is a 'yeah thanks'?"
"Drake, don't look now, but they're back." The black car was racing down the street towards them.
Chapter 19 by walker
"Move!" Indy shouted, pushing Drake back towards the train station. The black car skidded to a halt behind them and 3 men jumped out. A forth, the driver, drove back into the flow of traffic. Indy and Drake jumped the turnstile, much to the consternation of an elderly ticket taker, and began running up the steps leading to the departure platform. Indy chanced a look back at their pursuers. As before, all three were Asians wearing the same grim ensemble.
Indy pulled Drake over to the departing train. He needed to figure out a way to get on board without being seen ñ but there just wasn't enough time. "Drake, lose yourself in the crowd and meet me back at the Aristocrat Hotel. Be careful." Indy pushed the post office package into Drake's hands and forced him into the crush of passengers.
"But Indy, what- "
Indy threw a glare over his shoulder that told Drake in no uncertain terms disagreeing with him was unacceptable. "Good luck," Drake said, then turned and disappeared into the crowd.
Indy spun around lightly on the balls of his feet, willing himself to exude confidence and ease. His three pursuers moved slowly towards him, frowning. It appeared that their prey had given up. Indy, hands in his pockets, leaned back on his heels and grinned. "Alright boys, let me guess ñ now Hitler's convinced Konoe Ayamaro and his cronies to join him in his mad little quest for ñ what is it this time? Excalibur? El Dorado? The Fountain of Youth? C'mon guys, gimme a hint."
The Asian nearest Indy moved his suit jacket aside just enough to expose the gun he held through a hole in his pocket. "Meiguoren gou!" the Asian said with a grimace of disgust. "We are sons of Yu! Chinese, not Japanese. Konoe will burn under the gaze of the Dragon like all the rest."
"Chinese?" Indy was truly surprised.
The Chinese glowered angrily. "You will come with us Doctor, and you will tell us where you have sent your young friend."
"Fat chance, pal - unless, of course, you want to tell me how and why the Chinese are involved with the Dark Destroyers. Ya know, you boys could teach them a thing or two about snazzy dressing - those are great suits.
"Enough of your jokes," the Destroyer nearest Jones hissed. He moved behind Indy and jabbed him in the back with a needle-like stiletto.
"Ok, ok!" Indy winced and began walking. "Hey, anybody wanna stop and get a cup a' joe?" he said, motioning to a nearby cafe.
"Be quiet!" the three men said in concert, exasperated. Indy seemed so relaxed they began to get nervous and look around to see if they were being followed.
Indy glanced about casually as they exited the station. About 100 yards away, pulled up against the curb, the black sedan idled. If he was going to make his move it would be now or never. "Hey, fellas?" Indy said happily as he turned to face the Chinese, "Do you get Orphan Annie in the papers where you come from?" The men looked at Indy, incredulous. "Ever wonder how she gets around with eyes like that?" As if to demonstrate, Indy rolled his eyes up into the back of his head so that only the whites showed. Walking backwards, he stumbled and fell over a stack of papers piled against the wall of a newsstand. Several dozen dailies and magazines scattered across the walk beneath the stand's awning. As the wind caught them, they began to blow apart and glide across the pavement.
"Aye, you men, stop those rags or you'll pay for every one what's missing!" hollered the angry merchant.
"Sorry, sorry...." Indy said, crouching down to begin picking up the papers. The Chinese moved in and hauled him to his feet.
"Now fellas," Indy said, "you really don't want this guy screaming for the cops, do you? Let's just pick them up and be on our way."
The Destroyers looked warily at Jones and then one another. Indy resumed collecting the loose papers. After a few moments hesitation, the leader of the three nodded at the other two. "Quickly," he snapped. "We're wasting time." They stooped to grab a few scattered papers and then moved to throw them back into a haphazard pile against the newsstand wall.
Beautiful, Indy thought. With perfect timing, he swung a thick, rolled up magazine against the single metal strut propping up the awning. Indy dodged to the side as it cracked like a dry branch. The heavy metal and fabric framework crashed down against the front of the newsstand like a trap snapping down on a mouse or, in this case, Indy thought, three rats. He knew it would only distract them for a moment or two, but it would have to be enough.
He sprinted into the street and began weaving through the heavy midday traffic. Halfway across, he crouched down and ducked against the far side of a taxi. The two passengers in the back cursed in surprise as Indy awkwardly laid down on the running board outside their door.
"Hello, gentlemen," Indy said, nodding to the men in the rear. Then he threw a wad of ten pound notes through the open window toward the cabbie. "Drive," he ordered. In the distance, he could hear angry Chinese curses above the roars and honks of the traffic.
"What's the meaning of this?" one of the passengers shouted in agitation.
"Drive!" Indy commanded the cabbie again.
A brief glance at the wad of cash on the seat next to him was all the prompting the driver needed. "Whatever you say cap'n." The taxi gunned forward and quickly left the three Chinese Destroyers standing in the middle of the street, without a clue as to where Indy had gone.
"Oh driver?" Indy said, hanging casually outside the cab, as if relaxing on a sofa.
"To the Aristocrat, please."
"ButÖbut-" The men in the back were speechless.
"Whatever you say, sir," the cabbie laughed.
Chapter 20 by walker
"That looks like it," Indy said a few hours later, peering out the window of another taxi. "Pull over here."
The cabbie did as instructed. Indy and Drake stepped out in front of a large private residence located on the northern fringe of the city. Using the name on the parcel from Post Office Box 226, Indy had looked up the address in a local phone directory.
"Be prepared," Indy said. "We should have gotten this address before the Destroyers, but I've given up hoping."
Together they walked up the short flight of steps to the heavy oaken door. Drake rang the bell. Out of the corner of his eye, Indy noted that the curtain of a second story window was briefly moved aside. "He's checking us out..." Indy murmured, inclining his head towards the window.
Drake looked up. "Yeah, well somebody is."
A few minutes later, the latch clicked and the door swung back. A heavy chain secured the 4" wide gap and, to Drake's horror, the barrel of a long rifle rested on it, pointing directly at Indy's head.
"Hi there!" Indy smiled. "Nice gun. A Lee-Metford if I'm not mistaken. British army, 8 shot - put into use circa 1890, wasn't it?"
The elderly man holding the rifle frowned, drawing his thick gray eyebrows together in the center of this forehead. "1888. Now go away, or I make a pudding out of that pea-sized brain of yours."
Indy blinked. He hadn't heard that one before. "Dr. Cahill, we're here to help. This," he nodded at Drake, "is the son of Angus Hawthorne. We know about the Dragon and the Destroyers. I also know that standing out here on the street, talking to you, is not the safest thing to be doing." Drake nodded helpfully, and held up a wallet photo of he, his dad and his mother, long since passed away. Dr. Cahill's eyes widened and he looked at Drake with sorrow.
"I'm sorry, my boy," he said, drawing the gun away. "Come in."
The three men sat in front of the warm, crackling fireplace in Cahill's Spartan living room. "Where to begin, where to begin," Cahill fretted, pouring tea all around.
"Why was my father tortured and killed?" Drake said softly.
Cahill sat back heavily in a dusty old chair. He sighed deeply and began: "Well it's a long story. For years - most of my professional life, really - I've been studying about the legend of the Dragon of the Sun. Because I had only accumulated rumor and speculation, I never published my findings. In fact, the most difficult part of my research has been trying to separate that which must be discounted from that which must be investigated further. It's like trying to find a diamond in a room full of ice."
Tell me about it, Indy thought.
"Anyway, at some point, about 6 months ago, I confirmed the existence of the Destroyers. I don't know who runs them or how they are organized, but I do know they are very well-connected in the Brazilian underworld."
"So what's their story?" Indy asked. "And why did they go after Dr. Hawthorne?"
"Well, as the legends go, the Destroyers have been around for about 4 millennia or so."
"What a load of hogwash!" Drake said, throwing up his hands in disgust.
"Quiet." Indy glared at him. "Go on Doctor."
"One story chronicles that the cult developed about the worship of an ancient winged serpent. At some point, they crafted a golden statue, representing, of course, its true physical appearance. The stories say that after decades of being the center piece of their religion, it spoke to them."
"It spoke to them...." Drake shook his head.
"Well, maybe not like you and I speak, but rest assured, the Destroyers believe it did. They were commissioned with protecting the hiding place of the Dragon until the time to end all times - the rebirth of the Dragon and the world as he desires it."
"That explains the map and the trapped cave we found. If a Destroyer is ever captured or questioned by someone hunting for the Dragon, that person is led into a death trap. Curiosity kills the cat, I guess," Indy said.
"Yeah, that and a spike through the privates," Drake added.
"But what marks these 'end times'?" Indy asked.
Cahill looked up slowly and began reciting from memory. "'The world will prepare itself for His coming with fire and blood. The fire, a clash to shatter nations, the world as a game-board, pieces moved and countered. The blood, a torrent from the dead as evil men, deeming themselves masters of the game, wash over the whole of the earth.' This from the oral tradition of the ancient Brazilian Indians. I found it recorded in a journal belonging to the 17th century Jesuit missionary Manuel da Nobrega."
"Sounds a bit like Nostradamus to me." Indy said. "Open to interpretation."
"I know, I know. World War I and World War II seem to fit nicely though, don't you think?" Cahill smiled sadly. "All that really matters is that the Destroyers think now is the time to wake the Dragon."
"Have you guys even listened to what you're saying! Big giant statues don't just come to life!" Drake argued, exasperated.
"I don't mean to be so literal, my boy. For all I know, the Dragon is nothing but an inanimate piece of rock, and will always be so. The point is, the Destroyers believe their time is close at hand and they will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of the Dragon until then. They must be stopped - if only to avenge your father."
"As to why they went after him.... Well, although Angus and I had been working on the same thing, he published his findings, unwittingly telling the Destroyers how close we were to finding the Dragon's true location. I immediately got in touch and asked for the specifics of his part of our research."
"Ever since I learned of his death, I've been too frightened to step out of the house, so I have no way of knowing if he sent it or not. In fact, I believe I did something rather foolish. To avoid having the correspondence tracked back to me, I hid my mailing address in a coded letter, something only a scholar would have noticed...."
"Doctor," Indy grinned, "have we got a surprise for you."
Chapter 21 by walker
Hours later, the fire having died to embers, Indy and Drake concluded telling Cahill of their encounters with the Destroyers. The old man sat quietly for a time, staring into his tea. "Fascinating," he said finally. "What could have possibly brought the Chinese into this? What would motivate them to ally themselves with the Destroyers?"
"Doctor, I've been asking myself that all day. There's no political connection, certainly.
"Mmhmm," Cahill murmured. "But there must be something. Perhaps via an organized criminal network - the Brazilian underworld creating an alliance with the Chinese tongs. Something like that?"
"Maybe. Pretty thin, though. Those men at the station weren't just thugs, they were 'believers'. They were...." Indy hesitated, a memory coming to him. "Doctor, what do you know about a group called 'the sons of Yu'?"
"Mmmm. 'Yu' sounds familiar. Why?"
"One of the Asians at the station proclaimed that they were not only Chinese but 'sons of Yu'."
Cahill blinked and smiled. "Indiana, my lad, I wish you had told me that an hour ago."
"Well, if I remember correctly...hold on." Cahill pushed himself up out of his chair and brought in a large brown tome from a table in an adjoining room. "This," he continued, "is a copy of the Wallace Compendium; a general sourcebook of Chinese legend, but detailed enough for our purposes, I think. Now, let me see...." Cahill wet his thumb and paged through the index, murmuring to himself.
"Ah. Here we go." He cracked the text to its center and riffled back a few pages until he found what he was looking for. He held up one finger and began to speak as if lecturing: "Yu was the founder of the Xia dynasty. His reign is said to have lasted from 2205 BC to 2197 BC and so beloved was he by his people that his spirit remained on the earth after his death. He refused to ascend to the heavens and apparently paid the price - the gods turned their backs on him. When his followers ended mourning their dear, departed emperor, he was trapped, made to wander the earth for eternity.
"So..." Indy considered, "the thugs that jumped us are descendants of the Xia dynasty. That still doesn't explain why they would join forces with the Destroyers."
"Oh, I think maybe it does Indiana," Cahill said. "You see, legend has it Yu was a dragon."
Drake's mouth dropped open in surprise. Indy crossed over to Cahill and lifted the book from his hands. He read for a moment and then shook his head in amusement. "Right you are, Doctor. Yu was a dragon sent down from the heavens - from the sun - to help control a great flood. After years of labor, he succeeded in draining the waters to the sea. The reigning Emperor, Shun, abdicated his throne to express his gratitude. Yu took the form of a human and became the first Emperor of the Xia dynasty."
"So, now we know," Cahill said.
"Yes, now we know. All that's left is to stop the cult, avenge Drake's father and save our friend Clarence."
"And how are we supposed to do we do all that?" Drake asked.
"The Dragon is the key," Cahill replied. "It holds the Destroyers together and provides a link between the Brazilians and the Chinese. Find the statue and destroy it - the cult will fall. That is what they fear and that is why they killed your father."
"And you know where it is," Indy said. It was a statement, not a question.
"I will...." Cahill said, holding up the package of Angus Hawthorne's notes.
Chapter 22 by walker
Cahill led Indy and Drake back to his study. The room was large, octagonal in shape. Each wall was covered with a ceiling-high bookcase filled to bursting with old histories, manuscripts, maps and other assorted tomes. Attached to a rung, bolted along the circumference of the room, stood a ladder on rollers. Indy was impressed - Cahill's library was larger than even his father's.
'Now then," Cahill said, laying the packet of Hawthorne's research on a sturdy oak table in the center of the room, "here's what I know about the dragon's hiding place." He pulled a drawer open on the side of the table and pulled out a stack of notes bound together with a small mousetrap. He pulled off the trap with a 'snap' and smiled sheepishly. "Whatever serves...." he explained. Cahill then laid out his notes across the expanse of the table and pulled a hefty volume of Jesuit correspondence from a shelf on the wall behind him. He undid the latches on the book and paged through it gently until he found what he was looking for.
"Aha," he said, turning the book towards Indy. "Read this."
Indy slipped on his glasses and began to slowly translate the ancient Portuguese text.
"Indy, what's it say?" Drake asked.
"Just a minute, Drake. My Portuguese isn't so good."
A few more minutes passed as Indy mouthed the words of the passage to himself.
"Interesting." He turned towards Drake. "This is part of a journal entry written by a 17th century priest named Jose de Carvalho. In it he relates a tale told to him by the Brazilian Indians concerning Kulcalkan, the real name of the Dragon of the Sun. Kulcalkan was a god from their ancient past - one long since abandoned by the general populace living at the time this entry was made. However, a secret society was believed to have continued worshipping the beast, in the hopes that one day he would return and remake the world in his image."
"Lots of snakes, maybe," Drake said.
"Maybe," Indy shuddered. "In any case, they believed that they would be rewarded for their faith. As worship of the beast became more and more clandestine, a golden idol was cast as both a rallying point for the cult and a doorway of sorts for the god himself."
Motioning toward the papers in front of him, Professor Cahill added to the story. "It is said in some of these other documents that Kulcalkan saw the statue and deemed it a suitable receptacle for his spirit. He resides in the idol until the world is ready for his return."
"This is ridiculousÖ."
"Drake, please. Whatever the truth may be," Indy continued, "the entry ends by stating that the Indians laughed when de Carvalho put forth the idea that perhaps the lost statue was hidden somewhere in the mountain range known as the Dragon's Maw. He was told that the Destroyers were not so foolish as to have done such an obvious thing."
Drake slapped his hand against his forehead in disgust.
"Yeah, my thoughts exactly," Indy growled.
Cahill continued, ignoring them. "These other notes and papers consist of map fragments, legends, tribal surveys and so forth. Each one has enabled me to refine and condense the area in which I would expect to find the Dragon of the Sun."
"But Clarence was headed for the Dragon's Maw when we lost his trail. How do you explain that?" Drake asked.
"Everything we know of the Destroyers tells us that what they allow us to see is a lie. You were led to a cave with a false Dragon. You partnered with a friend who was not a friend -" Indy began to interrupt. "- for whatever reason," Cahill concluded quickly. "And then you followed a trail, one left by your 'friend,' back towards the very spot of country in which you were ambushed. No, my friends, I think that too misleading. I would guess that Clarence was simply following whatever orders were given to him. The Destroyers haven't slipped up in three thousand years. I don't expect they would just let you follow a clumsy trail back to their sanctuary."
"You're right, of course," Indy agreed. "So, where does that leave us?"
"Well, as you know, today Arraias is regarded as nothing more than a simple town located near the headwaters of the Rio da Palma. These headwaters flow from the Serra de Arraias Mountains, an offshoot of the Serra Geral de Goias ñ known to some as 'The Dragon's Maw.'" Cahill looked up for a confirmatory nod from Indy and then continued. "What you may not know is that Arraias was also one of the last Indian villages overrun by the invading Spanish. It was, indeed, to there that the worship of Kulcalkan had retreated. I expect nicknaming the Geral de Goias was designed to be misleading. It immediately distracts would be treasure hunters from the true location of the Dragon ñ the very mistake you two made. As far as that goes, however, the general area is correct, as both Angus and I surmised.
"My research narrows the search area and redirects it. You shouldn't be heading into the northern jungle towards Manha. Rather, follow Rio Parana up into the mountains past Galheiros and Sao Domingos." Cahill traced the route on the map with his finger. "You'll come to a great pass where the mountain layers upon itself like the scales of a snake."
"That's appropriate," Indy said.
"Quite. But that's as far as my research has ever gotten me. Somewhere beyond that pass lies the true hiding place of the Destroyers. I believeÖno, I know Angus found the way." Cahill began to tear open the package of notes from Hawthorne. After discarding the thick brown wrapping paper, he thumbed through what looked to be a collection of forty some pages of notes and diagrams. "This may take some time," Cahill murmured.
"Well then, let's get started," Indy said. "Drake, why don't you get some rest. We'll call you when we find something"
"Oh no. This may be the last chance I ever have to learn from Dad. I want to know everything he knew; what it was that killed him." Indy nodded and they began.
Chapter 23 by walker
Four hours and three pots of coffee later, they had combed through Hawthorne's notes. Much of it confirmed and embellished Cahill's own research.
"I guess he was brilliant, wasn't he?" Drake concluded.
"That he was, my boy," Cahill agreed. "Only man I ever knew of who enjoyed putting together jigsaws with the pieces picture-side down. He had quite a mind for puzzles."
"And," Indy continued, "he's shown us the rest of the way." He picked up a pencil and began drawing on Cahill's map. "We go through the pass, as you suggested, then continue east through this level area overgrown with jungle. This eventually dead-ends into a sheer rock wall. We follow the wall north for a day until we come to a large overhang of rock. Beneath it, we'll find the entrance to a tunnel that leads through the wall and opens out into a large valley where we'll find the 'Mountain of the Dragon.' That pretty much it?" he concluded, looking to Drake and Cahill for agreement. They nodded.
"Don't forget the last," Cahill added. "The Indian legend states that only where the Dragon is born anew may one come into his presence."
"And that meansÖ?" Indy sighed, rubbing his tired, red eyes.
"Hopefully, you'll understand when you get there," Cahill said, clapping a hand on Indy's shoulder. "For now, however, I think you both need some sleep. You've been running on fumes for half the day and I imagine last this morning's flight has left you feeling like you've stayed up all night."
"Yeah," Drake said, yawning, "final exams were never this bad."
"Very well, then. I have a guestroom for one of you. The other can have my room and I'll stand guard out here." Indy and Drake looked at him doubtfully.
"Just in case," Cahill grinned, hefting his Lee-Metford over one shoulder like a Buckingham Palace guard.
Chapter 24 by walker
Several hours later, Drake and Indy woke, showered and sat down to a large meal prepared by Cahill. The three of them ate in high spirits, feeling refreshed and excited, knowing that real headway had finally been made.
"Doctor?" Indy asked, chewing through a mouthful of saltbeef sandwich. "The message you sent to HawthorneÖ?"
"Who wrote it?"
"Well, I did, of course."
"No. Who wrote the hidden message ñ the one disguised by the vine-work?"
"Ah," Cahill smiled. "Well, I dictated it obviously. To my niece. She's quite a good artist, you know. Lives in York. She doesn't understand a word of Latin, poor girl, but would do anything to help her favorite uncle. A good soul that way, just like her mother."
"So she doesn't know about any of this?"
"Oh no. I thought it best to leave her out of it altogether. Didn't even write the letter until she was done with the stationary. How'd you know?"
"Just a feeling," Indy said, happy to have solved one minor mystery among several.
The three men finished eating quietly. Indy then excused himself and called for a taxi to take them back to the Aristocrat. There, he would make arrangements for the next day's return flight to Brazil.
A few minutes later the cab arrived and Cahill walked the men outside. "It's too bad you can't stay longer," he said. "My niece, Maggie, arrives tonight on the train from York. She'd love to have met you and heard all your stories."
"It would've been nice, I'm sure," Indy said politely. "Give her our regards." "Mmm. She's just about the lad's age," Cahill said, motioning towards Drake. "Beautiful, too." Drake perked up at this.
"So...when is she due in? You know, maybe we should -"
"We're leaving, Drake," Indy interrupted.
"We're leaving. Write her a letter; she likes that. Dr. Cahill," Indy said, turning back to the old man, "you have our thanks. We'll be in touch."
"I'll be waiting to hear. Take care, gentlemen. Good luck and Godspeed."
The three men shook hands, and as Drake and Indy walked down the steps to the waiting cab, Cahill called out a final warning. "Remember lads, if common sense has any worth, don't look let yourselves be blinded by the Sun. No matter what, it's just a piece of rock."
Indy looked back at Cahill and nodded, then folded himself into the backseat of the cab, Drake sliding in beside him.
"So, what did that mean?" Drake asked.
Indy shrugged. "Be on your toes. Watch your back. Keep your guard up. Take your pick."
"All of the above, I think."
"Ha!" Indy laughed. "Y'know kid, you may have a future in this business after all."
Chapter 25 by walker
Indy and Drake's return flight landed in Belem, a city on the northern coast of Brazil. There, they arranged for a charter back to Arraias, arriving just after dawn the next morning. Indy went about making preparations for their journey into the mountains, acquiring horses, packs, and other camping gear, while Drake rented a small room for their unneeded bags and clothing. They agreed to meet at noon for lunch.
On his way to the tiny restaurant, Drake thought about adventures past and his journey to come. He found it hard to believe that the week before he had been a simple college student, never having traveled abroad, and now he was journeying foreign lands to the hidden stronghold of a demented cult bent on world domination. School just didn't prepare you for this kind of thing, he thought.
His concentration was broken by a familiar voice. "Well, hey friend, long time no see!"
Drake turned at the door to the restaurant. Near the foot of the steps stood Clarence, fresh faced and clean shaven, looking for all the world like a sober, respectable tourist.
"Uh...hi, Clarence," Drake said in surprise, backing away a step. His mind began to race. Was Clarence still brainwashed? What happened to him? Was he armed? "We wondered where you were," was all he could think of to say.
"Well, sure," Clarence said amiably. "I didn't have time to leave a note." He grinned and began walking up the worn steps. Drake took another step back and thumped up against the restaurant door. As Clarence neared, the fine hairs on the back of Drake's neck bristled like the hackles of a dog. Clarence's eyes were pale blue, almost luminous. Drake could've sworn they'd been navy. What's more, they rarely blinked and never wavered. They peered at him as if magnetized.
"Uh...." Drake started to say something and then instinct took over. He whipped open the restaurant door and stepped inside. He glanced around. A heavy-set bartender with a dark beard and mustache resembling copper wire watched him thoughtfully. Drake took it as an opening.
"Sir, do you have a back way out of this place?" he whispered, flinching as the front door swung open.
The bartender looked from Drake to Clarence, now standing in the doorway, and shrugged. "No engleesh," he grunted.
"Hey Drake, slow down amigo. What's the problem?" Again, the wicked grin lit up Clarence's face.
"You disappeared. You used to have...your eyes," Drake said, raising his voice and pointing.
"My eyes? What about 'em? Are you okay?" Then the grin melted as he began to realize something was wrong. "Ohhh man, look..." he said, raising his hands in a supplicating gesture. "I'm fine. Let me explain why I left, will ya? You think I've had it easy while you were gone?"
"Looks that way," Drake said, gesturing towards Clarence's clean clothes and well groomed appearance.
Clarence frowned. "Look, at least let me explain," he said, moving to the bar. Drake stood his ground, but felt his mouth go dry. He began to cross his arms in front of his chest, but then caught sight of a nearby bottle and thought better of it. As inconspicuously as he could, Drake rested his left arm on the bar, hand near the bottle.
"Go on," he said, voice rasping.
The smile flashed back on and Clarence gripped Drake firmly by the shoulders. "Now that's more like it."
As Drake began to reach for the bottle, the sharp, distinct click of a handgun being thumb-cocked sounded behind him. Clarence froze and the bartender moved quickly into the hidden confines of the kitchen. Apparently Webley was a language everybody knew. "Let go of the boy," Indy ordered, moving out of the shadows at the back of the cafe. He held the revolver close to his hip, aimed, rock steady, at Clarence's head.
"Indy - cripes!" Clarence yelped, jerking his hands from Drake's shoulders. "Let me explain!"
Indy motioned to a nearby chair with his gun. "Right. So explain." Clarence walked slowly to the chair and sat. Indy pulled up another and motioned for Drake to do the same.
After a moment, Clarence sucked in his breath, paused and began his story. "There's not much to tell, really. After you two left, I went to eat lunch at a cafe near the hotel. While waiting for my food, I noticed two men standing across the street watching me. They weren't wearing robes or anything, but they had on black shirts and red sashes. I figured that was too much like these Destroyers that are after you, so I cut out the back door of the cafe.
It took a bit of sneaking around, but I made it back into the hotel without being seen. That's what I thought anyway. Next thing I know, these two jokers are busting in my door and pulling knives. What could I do? I grabbed my jacket, held it in front of me and jumped through the window. Cut my hands up pretty good, too." Clarence waggled his fingers, palms forward, as if to provide proof. Indeed, as Indy and Drake could see, multiple lacerations had been recently bandaged. "Messed up my knee pretty good, too," he said. "I didn't know how many others there might be, so I ran like heck for the jungle. Figured I could lay low for awhile, but eventually I'd have to get some food. Luckily, I came across this little church about a half mile north of town. This priest there, Father... Lucente, I think, fixed up my hands and let me spend a couple nights. I cleaned up and he lent me some decent clothes." Clarence tugged on the collar of his brown canvas shirt.
"I walked back into town this morning. Figured I'd gas up the plane and get out of Dodge while I could. I didn't even know if you guys were alive until I saw 'Nervous Nellie' here." He motioned towards Drake as he finished speaking and looked towards Indy for comment.
Indy watched Clarence quietly and then nodded. "Okay," he said. "As long as you're alright. We can't afford to waste any time. Drake and I need to head up river right away."
"You know were the Destroyers are?" Clarence asked. Indy waited before answering.
"Of course. They're not that bright - are they Drake?"
"Uh...no. I guess not." Drake looked at Indy, perplexed.
"Well listen," Clarence said, "I don't want to wait here alone. And now that I know you're alive, I can't leave without you."
"The only sensible alternative is for you to come with us," Indy said, clapping Clarence on the shoulder. "Get together two week's worth of rations and a bed roll. I'll get you a horse. We set out tomorrow at dawn."
Indy rose from his chair, ending the discussion, and moved to leave. Drake caught up with him at the door and whispered in his ear. "Indy, you can't be serious. Why in the world would you ask him along?"
"He does seem anxious to go, doesn't he?" Drake nodded. "Well, let's just play this out and see what happens. I'd rather know were he is than have him running around loose." "What if he tries something crazy while we're out there?"
Indy stopped and turned to face him. "Drake," he asked seriously, "do I ever not have a plan?"
"Constantly," Drake grumbled under his breath. Indy chuckled and continued on to the hotel.
Chapter 26 by walker
The next morning, their departure from Arraias was as calm as their last had been frantic. They slowly checked supplies, saddled their horses and headed east along Rio ParaÒa. The river and the jungle surrounding it vibrated with life. Great schools of fish swarmed just beneath the glassy surface and the scattering of startled tapir, barking in fright, became commonplace.
Not an hour into their journey, a high pitched scream drew them to the water's edge like passersby to a car accident. There, an unfortunate monkey thrashed about within a storm of teeth and blood. The water churned as if boiling for several minutes, and then - like a beaten fever - broke back into a cool, calm flow. The primate had been devoured in seconds.
"Good God," Drake breathed, backing away into the jungle. He sneaked a glance at Clarence who stood open-mouthed and wide-eyed.
"There are worse things out here than piranha, gentlemen," Indy said. "Get used to them."
"Worse? How much worse?" Clarence asked.
"When you hear me screaming, you'll know."
"Thanks a lot, Jones. Thanks a million."
"You wanted to come, Clarence. You're welcome to head back."
"Oh no," Clarence answered quickly. "I'm in this to the finish."
By the end of the second day they had reached Galheiros. If possible, the Spartan little town was even smaller than Arraias. The town folk were pleasant but kept to themselves. As there were no inns, the three men were forced to camp just within the boundaries of the Town Square, a flat patch of ground no more than forty feet on any side.
The next day brought Indy and his companions to San Domingos, similar to Galheiros in all respects save one. The inhabitants shunned them. Their sole contact came from an ancient Indian woman, her brown face wrinkled and weathered like a mariner's chart. She crossed herself several times before running to Indy and shoving the hollowed carapace of a large black beetle into his hand. Then she turned and ran into a ramshackle house with no windows.
"What was that all about?" Drake asked.
Indy studied the insect remains thoughtfully. "It's symbolic, I think. Missionaries have exposed most of the Brazilian Indians to Christianity over the centuries. There hasn't been a great deal of regulation to their worship, however, so they improvise; combine what they once knew with what they're trying to learn. Old gods mixed with new. This," he held up the insect, "is probably a protection totem. As the Creator protects the beetle with armor, so shall he protect us. At least, that's what I think it means."
"Let's hope so," Drake added. "So far, so good."
"Yes. So far."
They spent the night under a rough lean-to crafted from the surrounding trees and several horse blankets. Sometime before dawn, rain began to fall in a steady, pounding tide. After struggling to brew some coffee over their faltering fire, the three men broke camp and resumed their eastward journey. The rain continued, unceasing, until long after noon when they came, at last, to the mountain pass.
"Let's stop here for the night," Indy said, dismounting. "Clarence, find us a dry spot for camp. Drake, build a fire."
"Little early to be stopping, isn't it?" Clarence asked. "I mean, we've still got about four hours of daylight don't we?"
"Yes, we do. But I don't know how long it's gonna take us to get through this pass and I'd rather not be caught up there at night. Besides, I'm cold, I'm wet and I'm tired ñ aren't you?"
"Yeah, of course. I just thought you were in a big rush, that's all."
"Well, I appreciate your concern, but I think we're better off sleeping here."
Clarence shrugged and moved off to find dry ground. "What's he in such a hurry for?" Drake asked.
Later that evening, Indy curled shrouded in his bedroll, eyes closed. He lay there like that, breathing softly, for two hours. Finally, sometime around 1:00 am, he heard a quiet rustle of movement and the sound of boots being pulled on. He waited as the quiet activity turned into the crunch of footsteps, padding carefully away from camp. Fifteen minutes passed and then Indy sat up, reached over and shook Drake by the shoulder. Drake opened his eyes. They were clear and alert. "It's time," Indy said simply.
Chapter 27 by walker
Clarence crouched in the underbrush, waiting for what seemed like hours. But within twenty minutes of his signal, three ebon-clad figures slid out of the jungle mist and approached him from behind.
Clarence jumped up in surprise and turned around to face the three men. "Don't do that!" he pleaded.
"You were due in the pass this evening," the apparent leader of the three chastised.
"Yeah, I know. But who knew Jones was afraid of the dark? He decided to spend the night out here and cut through in the morning."
The Destroyer assassin paused to mull this last over. "Very well, it makes no difference. You did well to signal us. Now, take us to him."
Clarence headed as quietly as he could back towards the encampment. The Destroyers behind him moved through the jungle without a sound, wraith-like. As they came within sight of the cook fire's glowing remnants, the lead assassin held Clarence back with a hand and put a quieting finger to his lips. He motioned to the other Destroyers and they began to spread around the camp's perimeter.
Clarence felt a lump form in his throat and goose flesh ripple across his back and arms. He shivered. Wrong! The word crackled in his mind's eye like a flash bulb. He shook his head and refocused on Drake and Indy's still forms, wrapped protectively against the cold in their bedrolls. Indy, look out! Again, words exploded in his brain. Clarence grabbed his head and hissed through his teeth in agony. Some instinct was pushing him to fight, to rebel. In the end, though, it just wasn't enough. The Destroyers, upon reaching their positions, pulled several lengthy pieces of bamboo from sheathes strapped across their backs. These they fitted together until each man had assembled a six-foot long blowgun. Into the near ends, they inserted four-inch, needle-sharp darts, the tips of which were coated with a sticky, purplish liquid. They raised the lethal pipes to their lips and, as one, released the compact bursts of air that sent death on its way. Clarence watched, helpless, as the long, feathered projectiles stabbed into the sleeping forms.
A minute passed. The assassins then broke confidently from the shadows into camp, moving to the bodies. After standing quietly for a moment, the leader of the three turned toward Clarence's hiding place. "Convert!" he barked, venom in his voice. Clarence advanced into the waning firelight slowly. The assassin kicked Indy's bedroll towards him and it collapsed. Stuffed inside were vines and grasses from the jungle floor, as well as a spherical rock with Indy's hat pulled tight over it. The Destroyer shook with rage. "You fool!" he spat. "The simplest of jobs. The easiest of victories ñ and you fail." Clarence, frozen to the spot, could only watch as the man inserted a second dart into his blowgun and raised it to his lips. "You aren't worthy of the Dragon," he said.
At that moment, Indiana Jones stood up and moved into the moonlight, gun leveled at the Destroyer's heart. "Drop it, buddy." His voice was hard with anger. God only knew what Clarence had been through, but whatever it was, Indy was betting his friend could still be saved. There was no way Jones would allow the Destroyers to kill anyone else. Not if he could help it.
The assassin, seemingly unsurprised by Indy's appearance, lowered his blowgun and smiled. "Why Dr. Jones, I would never hurt my own brother. We are loyal unto death."
"Funny, it looked like that's where things were headed. Now, all of you - drop your weapons." Indy turned his Webley from one Destroyer to the next, punctuating his command.
The leader nodded over his shoulder at the other two and they knelt, placing their blowguns on the tangled jungle floor. "That's better," Indy smirked. "Now maybe you'd better all lay on the ground, face down, arms spread."
"No," the Destroyer sneered.
"Maybe I didn't enunciate properly," Indy said. "Get down or I'll shoot you."
The Destroyer chuckled. "You are so small, Dr. Jones. A dust mote to be blown aside by the Dragon's breath."
Indy cocked his gun and aimed it at the assassin's head. "Last chance, bozo." The Destroyer's eyes narrowed. He threw back his head and released an ear-splitting cry. Suddenly, the jungle came alive as Destroyer after Destroyer burst from the shadows.
I just can't catch a break! Indy thought. With a grimace, he squeezed off the promised shot, flattening the arrogant thug in mid-bellow, then turned and ran into the jungle, the sound of darts plugging into the trees behind him.
"Damn! Damn! Damn!" he swore, as if the word were a mantra. Close behind, nearly a dozen Destroyers joined in pursuit, their passage through the thick foliage eerily silent. Indy broke into a clearing and began sprinting for the other side. Halfway across he skidded to a stop as two more assassins leapt from the jungle before him.
Indy set his jaw and pumped the Webley twice more, taking one cultist down with a shot to the heart, while spinning the other with a bullet to the shoulder. It was then that the remaining ten pursuers caught up and bore Indy to the ground like an over-matched rugby player. Roughly, the dragged him to his feet and slammed him against a tree. Two Destroyers held his arms as the others formed a circle about him. "You have killed many brothers," the one in front of him snapped in broken English. "To honor them, I eat your soul."
"Uh, pardon me?" Indy wheezed, out of breath.
The Indian pulled a long, curved knife from a sheath at his hip and tore Indy's shirt open with a yank. Indy tried to struggle, but the Destroyer holding his right arm pivoted and savagely drove a knee into his stomach. Indy coughed violently and his legs buckled, but he was not allowed to fall. The Destroyers held his arms back to their breaking points as the one who had spoken jabbed his wicked knife a half inch into Jones' abdomen. Indy instinctively sucked in his gut and gritted his teeth against the pain. The agony, he knew, was only starting.
"First, I make cut here - just below the ribcage," the Destroyer explained, twisting his knife a fraction for emphasis. Indy hissed through his teeth as blood began to spill from the incision. "Then, I shove my hand into your belly and climb my way up, like the snake." He emphasized this point by undulating his hand in a serpentine. "Then I strike, attacking your heart, pulling it from its lair like a cowering rabbit." The Destroyer moved forward, his face inches from Indy's. "Then - I feast."
"Choke on it," Indy seethed, ramming his knee into the man's groin. With a shriek, the Destroyer dropped to the ground in a fetus position and began to rock back and forth. A second Destroyer, face scarred with disease, stepped quickly over his companion and backhanded Indy across the face, while two others moved in to secure his legs. The scarred man picked up the fallen knife, blood-smeared blade dull in the moonlight, and drew it back to stab Indy's belly. Indy clenched his eyes shut just as a soft whistling sound broke across the clearing.
After a moment, his guts still intact, Indy opened his eyes. The pox-ridden Indian in front of him dropped the knife and began to sway on his feet unsteadily. The other Destroyers murmured anxiously and Indy felt the hands on his limbs loosening. Then - all hell broke loose.
The swaying assassin collapsed to the ground in a heap, a blue-feathered dart protruding from the back of his neck. The remaining Destroyers scanned the clearing for their attacker, but could see nothing in the moonlight. Again, a whistling sound split the night and they dove for cover in the underbrush. Indy immediately sprinted for the center of the clearing where his gun had fallen.
Two Destroyers, braver than the others, raced after him. Indy dove for the Webley but fell short as first one assassin, then the other tackled him about the legs. He twisted around, pulled the whip from his belt and slammed the thick leather handle into the nose of the nearest Destroyer. The thug wailed in pain and rolled to the side. Another dart struck the ground between them.
"Stop shooting!" Indy yelled, punching his whip handle into the mouth of the second Destroyer. Teeth snapped like chalk and the assassin crawled away, moaning. Indy shuffled forward and regained his gun just as Drake leaped from the underbrush, darts and blowgun in hand, Indy's hat on his head. Close behind ran two Destroyers, who had circled around to flush him out.
"Get down!" Indy shouted.
Drake flattened, scattering his weapons as Jones fired. Indy's first shot took the closest Destroyer in the neck and the Indian collapsed, gurgling. The second shot fell on an empty chamber with an impotent 'click.' Indy scowled at his gun in annoyance. The Destroyer, gaining confidence, continued his charge past Drake's prone form, and rushed Indy, blade held high. Indy unfurled his whip and snapped it forward and back. Its tip slashed talon-like across the Destroyer's face. The cultist screamed and pressed his hands to the tattered flesh just as Drake hammered into him from behind, like a linebacker. They both went down hard, the assassin taking the worst of it.
"C'mon," Indy ordered, hauling Drake up by the arm. "Let's get outta here while we can." They bolted into the jungle and made their way haphazardly to a heavy thicket. Within rested their horses, secured there following Clarence's late night departure.
"Stay close," Indy ordered, leaping atop his horse. Drake followed as Indy plowed through the jungle, riding low to avoid being dismounted by the hanging foliage. In minutes, they cleared the jungle's edge and charged into the mountain pass, leaving their attackers far behind.
Chapter 28 by walker
The two men rode through the night, making their way carefully over the rocky ground. Occasionally they ate or conversed to stay alert.
"Thanks for the save," Indy said.
"I'm glad I could do something," Drake answered. "We're lucky they didn't spot me hiding next to you."
"Yeah. But you came through for me in a tough situation Drake. I don't forget things like that." They rode quietly until Indy broke the silence with the coming of dawn. "Drake," he began, head lowered in thought, "after I led the Destroyers from our campsite, did you happen to see what became of Clarence?"
The young man nodded sadly. "I'm sorry, Indy. I checked on him when I went to pick up your hat and the weapons of that first Destroyer you shot. He looked like he was in shock. Really messed up."
Indy shook his head in frustration. "I've got to get him out of this." Drake watched Indy closely. "He was a good friend once."
"Indy," Drake said, "he still is a good friend and you will get him out of this."
Indy raised an eyebrow humorlessly. "And how can you be so sure?"
"The beetle you gave me for protectionÖ."
"I slipped it into Clarence's shirt pocket just before I left him to go help you." Drake grinned slightly.
"Sometimes you just have to have a little faith, old man."
Indy laughed bitterly and sighed. "You know Drake, my 'old man' would probably agree with you." And with that, Indy realized that, like his father, he would never give in to despair. He would always find a way ñ even if it killed him.
Twenty minutes later, they left behind the final stretch of mountain pass. Indy, resolved and with a clear sense of purpose, reined in his horse and looked toward the warmth of the rising sun. "Faith it is," he said.
It was as Drake's father had predicted. Their passage through the jungle continued for the better part of the morning. At 11:00 am they slept in shifts to recover from their all-night ride, and continued their journey at 4:00 pm. As dusk approached, they came upon a sheer rock wall, so smooth as to resist any attempt at climbing. They bedded down for the night in horse blankets, having sacrificed their bedrolls at the ambush.
The next morning they headed north, following the stone barrier for almost six hours. Finally, like a dream image, the foretold outcropping appeared through the trees, a massive hawk's beak of rock jutting from the cliff wall. Beneath, there appeared to be about six feet of clearance as deep as the wall's face ñ just enough room for the horses.
Surprisingly, it only took them an hour to find the cave entrance described in Hawthorne's notes. Indy pulled a heavy flashlight out of Drake's pack and switched it on. The passage was rough but appeared to head in a generally straight line through the valley wall. With no more than a nod of agreement between them, Indy and Drake tied blinders around the eyes of their horses and began the slow journey to the other side ñ the land of Kulcalkan, Dragon of the Sun.
Chapter 29 by walker
Indy and Drake rode their horses through the exit of the passage and found themselves on a ledge overlooking a jungle-shrouded valley. Like a cul-de-sac, the valley ended at a sheer wall several miles ahead. Rising up from the valley floor, midway between the passage exit and the far wall jutted a remarkably symmetrical mountain spur. It stood alone, leper-like, the rest of the Serra de Arraias range resuming miles away to the east and west. The mountain cast an oppressive shadow across the valley floor and for a hundred yards or more, the ground around its base was devoid of vegetation as if blighted.
Indy and Drake spurred their horses onward, down a rough, winding trail that sliced its way to the valley floor. As they approached, the shape of the barren mass began to sharpen and appear more complex. After advancing 100 yards, they reigned their horses to a stop.
"Is it just me, or...?" Drake began to ask, squinting into the distance.
"No, I see it too."
Indy pulled a pair of field glasses from his pack and examined the mountain slowly. He shook his head in disbelief. "The entire mountain has been worked into the shape of a step-pyramid."
"Like at Teotihuacan, only ten times as large." Drake breathed. Indy nodded and handed him the glasses. "To work that much stone would take-"
"Four thousand years?" Indy interrupted, arching an eyebrow. "The time since Yu vanished and the Dragon of the Sun appeared? Think of it -- a monument constructed not over several lifetimes but several millennia. Look at how barren the valley floor is." He swept his hand across the dark panorama. "I'd bet it's all rock and dirt hauled down from the mountain as it was being shaped."
"So, how do you figure we get in there?" Drake asked.
"I've been thinking about that--we do what the man said. We enter where the Dragon is born anew."
"And that means?"
"Well, the Dragon is of the sun, right? You see the east wall of the canyon?" Indy asked.
"Look at the top of the ridge. Notice that stone archway?"
"Yeah. It looks worked too."
"Exactly. And it's my guess that when the sun rises every morning, the first rays of light shoot down through that archway like a thread through the eye of a needle. It ought to hit high up on the mountain's eastern face just as dawn breaks over the ridge. I'm betting the ring of shadow cast by that arch will encircle the entrance to the Destroyer's network of passageways."
"So what you're saying is that we have to sleep on the side of the mountain tonight." Indy grinned over at him and nodded. "You're a lunatic," Drake grunted. "What scares me is that I'm starting to get used to it."
"Glad to hear it," Indy laughed. "Now let's try and make some good time. We've got to get up there before nightfall."
Drake nodded silently, pulling his hat low over his eyes, and as one they stormed across the valley floor towards the Dragon's lair.
Chapter 30 by walker
Just as Indy and Drake finished their pre-dawn breakfast of hard cheese and jerky, sunlight broke over the ridge. The two men scanned the mountainside both above and below their position on the pyramid. Indy, with his field glasses, spotted the ring of shadow first.
"I've got it Drake! It's about 75 yards above us. Grab your stuff and let's get started." They packed up their bedrolls and broke camp.
"Do you think the horses will be okay?" Drake asked, looking to the wall of the valley where their mounts stood grazing.
Indy shrugged. "Not really. That's why I asked you not to tether them last night. They may need to run."
After a few more minute's preparation, the men began pulling themselves, step by step, up the massive pyramid. The rough stone ground the skin of their hands raw through the leather of their gloves.
"There has got to be an easier way," Drake gasped.
"I'm sure there is," Indy huffed back. "We just don't know what it is. Besides, look on the bright side--at least we got the bulk of the climb done during the cool hours last evening."
Drake sniffed, unimpressed, and continued climbing.
Forty minutes later, they pulled themselves up next to the area they had seen encircled from below. Not ten yards away stood a black, ragged cave mouth, punched into the face of the pyramid. The wind moaned deeply as it hurried past the opening. The sweat on the two men's bodies turned cold and Drake shivered.
"Weird," he said, moving towards the entrance. "No guards. Nothing. Seems kind of stupid." He began to enter the man-sized entrance when Indy's arm shot out and pulled him back.
"Usually," he instructed, "when there aren't any guards it means whoever's inside doesn't think they need any. Remember the first cave we checked?"
Drake whistled softly and stepped aside. "After you," he offered.
Indy pulled a heavy flashlight out of Drake's pack and moved forward. He snapped it on and examined the floor, walls and ceiling of the cave mouth interior. A tunnel stretched back into the mountain as far as his light could penetrate. "Follow me," he whispered.
Inside the cave mouth, the passage walls grew smooth. After twenty yards or so, Indy stopped and held up his hand. Drake came to a halt at his shoulder. Indy pointed at the ground and whispered back to him, "Don't touch that." Drake looked to where Indy pointed. On the floor rested a round silver coin of contemporary Brazillian make.
"One of the Destroyers has a hole in his pocket," Drake chuckled.
Indy squatted down onto his hands and knees and blew softly on the dusty stone floor. After a few moments study, he motioned for Drake to take a look. The young man crouched and put his face close to the ground. He saw, newly exposed by Indy's breath, a slender copper wire running along a crack in the floor. The wire seemed to terminate underneath the coin. The two men followed the wire across the floor through an almost invisible aperture in the near wall.
"Subtle," Drake breathed. "What's it do?"
"I have no idea," Indy said, getting up. "Let's go."
"But-" Drake began. Indy ignored him and continued walking down the passage. "Yeah, probably better I don't know," Drake said to himself.
After advancing perhaps another hundred yards, the gloomy tunnel opened up into a large octagonal room, forty feet in diameter. Archways yawned in three more of the eight walls. In the center of the room stood a well, ten feet across. Another shaft opened up in the ceiling, mirroring the one on the floor.
Indy drew his Webley, crossed over to the well and looked down. The sides of the pit had been worked to an unnatural smoothness. He aimed his flash downward, only mildly surprised to find that he couldn't see bottom. "Drake, keep an eye on these doorways," he said, handing back his gun, butt first.
Drake moved completely into the room and took the weapon, holding it in both hands, muzzle down toward the floor. His eyes darted back and forth between the three remaining doorways. "Indy, you know I've never shot a gun, right?" he warned.
"Just don't shoot me and you'll be fine," Indy mused. He climbed up on top of the low wall that surrounded the base of the well. Drake hissed between his teeth as the rocks shifted unsteadily beneath Indy's feet. Indy put his hands on the ceiling to steady himself and looked up into the shaft above. Again, he switched on the flashlight and searched. "Hmmm," he said finally, dropping back to the ground. "Looks like the shaft opens up into a room maybe a hundred feet above us. No way to climb up to it though. We'll have to try these other passageways and hope we can stay out of sight."
"Uh...yeah. That's good for me too," Drake responded, glancing briefly into the well.
Indy reclaimed his gun as Drake pulled another flashlight from Indy's pack. Together they passed through the archway to the right of the entrance. The passage beyond had been worked and seemed to have a slight downward grade to it. Eventually it began curving around to the left. Twenty feet before the bend, Indy stopped.
"There's another one," he said, pointing to the ceiling. "Trap, I mean."
Drake looked up and forward. Four holes pockmarked the ceiling, each the diameter of a man's fist. "Three things-" Drake began. "How do you know it's a trap, what does it do, and how do we get past it?"
"Well...if you can't tell what it is or what it's for, always assume it's a trap. You're safer that way. I can't think of any practical reason that four man-made holes would be here. Just as I couldn't think of a reason for there to be modern Brazilian money lying in that last passageway. It had to have been planted. As to what it does..." Indy shrugged, glancing up. "I've seen it all. Spikes, darts, snakes - take your pick. Each and every one of them stink, so we avoid them."
"Well, in this case, I expect there must be a pressure-sensitive stone in the floor beneath the holes, or perhaps a photoelectric trigger - break a beam of light and viola - shish kebab."
"And how the hell does that work?" Drake asked, incredulous.
"Hey, don't ask me," Indy chuckled. "I just beat 'em, I don't make 'em." Drake shook his head as if not quite sure of Indy's sanity. "But look kid, we have to assume that whatever sets it off lies just in front of the holes or directly beneath them. Whatever shoots down would miss us if we were already past them when it went off."
"What if the trigger is beyond the holes. Maybe it's meant to take out another party member; someone behind the men in front?"
"Possibly. That's good thinking, but it's not a problem since we both know to avoid standing directly under the holes. Here, I'll go first."
Indy seems to be enjoying this, Drake realized. Once again, it was he versus the architects of centuries past - and he hadn't lost yet.
Indy checked the level of the ground in front of and beneath the holes, stood, and backed up a few feet. With a grin, he executed a short little running jump, clearing the area from where Drake stood to beyond the danger zone. He spun about and cocked his head to listen. There was no sound. "There you go," he said, happily. "Now you." Drake backed up, held his breath and duplicated Indy's jump. Similarly, he landed without harm or incident.
They rounded the bend of the sloping passage and continued onward for another 200 feet or so until it ended at a thick wooden door inlaid with iron bands. To each side of the door rested a square iron grate, bolted into the floor. Indy knelt to examine one of them. Although rusted, it appeared quite sturdy. He moved his hand over it and felt a light breeze rising from the shaft.
"Appears to be a drainage system of some sort," Indy explained.
"What for?" Drake asked. "They're not gonna get flooded up here."
"True," Indy agreed. He resumed his examination using both his flashlight and pocketknife but could find neither a tripwire nor a pressure-sensitive trigger. "There's no trap here, Drake." Indy stood and listened at the door. "And it doesn't sound like anybody's home either. Here's how we do this: shut off your flashlight and I'll crack the door open just a bit. We listen. If it sounds clear, I move in first and you turn on your light." Indy drew his gun again. "I'll be ready if we're not alone."
"Right," Drake agreed, snapping off his light.
Indy felt for the door latch, grasped it firmly and pulled. For the first inch or so, the door dragged heavily. Indy adjusted his stance and began to exert a little more force. Suddenly, a sharp noise like a light bulb popping came from behind the door and it swung open easily. Behind it, a stone wall looked back, mocking them with its barren features. It was only when the sound of rushing water became audible that Indy noticed the broken wire that had once, when whole, connected the door to the wall.
"Oops," he sighed.
Chapter 31 by walker
Drake grabbed Indy by his jacket lapels. "What do you mean 'oops'?'" he asked. "What do you mean?!" "Well...." Indy looked back up the passageway as the torrent of liquid grew louder. Suddenly there was a splashing sound, like water from a giant faucet, then a crack and a 'whoosh' and the passage beyond the bend lit up like noon in Nevada.
Indy and Drake stood frozen as a river of blazing oil came sweeping around the bend and down the slope towards them.
"You said if you don't know what it is, it's a trap!" Drake roared, pointing from the door to the iron grate in the floor. "You said-"
"I know, I know. I was wrong, okay?" Indy yelled back.
Drake threw up his hands. "Now we're gonna-"
"Shut up and think!"
"How're we supposed to-"
"Think, damn it!"
Drake bottled his anger and they stood silent, nervously swiveling around as if expecting to find something of use behind them. "Not much to work with, hmmm?" Indy growled sarcastically.
"No kidding," Drake spit back.
The river of fire closed rapidly, picking up speed as the volume of oil behind it mounted up. Indy snapped his fingers. "Divert the oil. We've got to divert the oil away from us!" He began to look around again, hope evaporating with the growing heat as quickly as it appeared.
Drake stood motionless, as if entranced by the oncoming inferno. Suddenly, his head snapped back to look at the door. "The hinges!" he yelled. In the moment it took Indy to catch on, Drake had begun hammering the pin out of the top hinge with his flashlight. Indy knelt and worked on the lower one. Like men possessed, they beat on the pins until first one, then the other, wrenched free.
Together, they picked up the loose door, turned, and slammed it down in front of them sideways, the far end butted up against the wall to their left, the near end nestled against the blank wall just behind the open grate. With a roar, the liquid fire crashed against the face of their makeshift dam and, as hoped, flowed into the nearby shaft. The two men held the high edge of the door as firmly as possible, the flames swirling by just beneath their fingertips. The pain was maddening and they lowered their heads to deflect the heat from their faces.
As he looked down, Indy noticed burning oil seeping from underneath the door and around the far edge. "Drake, I need to let go or we're dead!" Drake tried to answer but instead, coughed violently as thick smoke rolled down upon them. Indy slipped off his backpack, jerked out his bedroll and stuffed it against the low edge of the door. It exhausted the oil's flame and, for the moment, acted as a workable barrier. He then reached into Drake's pack and repeated the maneuver against the seepage at the wall. Drake dropped to his knees, coughing uncontrollably as the front of the door burst into flames. Indy moved to help hold it and soon, he too sank to the floor. He clenched his eyes shut, knowing that any moment, the oil soaking into their bedrolls would reignite, ending their lives horribly. Well Jones, he thought, into the great unknown mystery....
Moments passed and, wondrously, the sound of hell rushing by diminished. Indy glanced up with reddened eyes to see the last of the oil swirl down the grate. He pushed the door forward so that its flaming face toppled flush against the ground, smothering itself. Then he grabbed Drake by the arm and half dragged him up the passage, moving as quickly as he could. He looked up in weary annoyance at the still-dripping holes in the ceiling as he passed beneath them and finally burst through the archway back into the main room. A cold blast of morning air struck him in the face. He drank deeply and collapsed to the floor, exhausted.
Chapter 32 by walker
Indy awoke after an indeterminable amount of time. Drake lay nearby, his breathing quiet but regular. A quick glance around showed that they were still alone. Lucky, Indy thought. Luckier than he had a right to be. He had been careless and arrogant in trying to impress Drake. He was well aware, in fact, that it had been Drake's quick thinking that saved their lives. Indy shook his head ruefully. He had always been subject to arrogance in the past, and had hoped wisdom would come with age ñ like a gift. Too much like Dad, he thought and laughed harshly. The noise woke Drake, who sat up quickly, remembering only his last moments of consciousness. He moaned softly and held his head with both hands. When the dizziness cleared, he examined himself for burns and then looked around.
"Welcome back to the land of the living," Indy said.
"It worked?" was all Drake could respond.
Indy stood and pulled Drake to his feet. "Yes, yes it did. Hell of an idea, Drake. I think you're starting to find your instincts for this sort of thing."
Drake shrugged and coughed lightly. "So what now?"
Still not deterred? Indy thought. Good man. "Only two passages left," he said. "What are those instincts of yours telling you?" Indy stood back to watch Drake work it out.
"Hire somebody to do this for us?" Drake said after a moment, grinning. Indy arched an eyebrow at him and said nothing. Drake cleared his throat and his face grew serious. "I would expect that the oil trap is refilled in the room above us, since it was pumped out of the ceiling. That way, gravity does the work of flooding the corridor. There's probably a holding tank up there that releases the liquid when the door at the end of the corridor is opened. Somewhere along the oil's route, a sparking mechanism must be triggered. Then after the burning oil traverses the hallway, it drains out to a waste disposal system somewhere beneath us."
"Good," Indy said. "So where do you think the Destroyers have their temple?"
"Nearer the bottom of the pyramid."
"WellÖI figure if that room above is used to service the trap, its going to be dirty and utilitarian ñ not the nicest of places for shrine or temple. Also, by virtue of the pyramid's structure, the amount of space available for rooms is going to shrink as the elevation increases. I expect the Destroyer's sanctuary is probably pretty large, like a church maybe. So it must be below us."
Indy nodded, impressed. "Go on."
Drake thought for a minute and moved slowly to the well's edge. "These remaining passageways don't give us a whole lot of options. Either they end in blank walls like the first, or they lead to the network of caves used by the cult. Given what we know of the Destroyers, I don't think any of these will take us where we need to go. Like Cahill said, we haven't seen anything from them that is what it appears to be."
"I agree," Indy nodded. "So what do you suggest?"
Drake cocked his head over the well before speaking. "I think we go down there," he said, pointing.
"Really? And why is that?"
"Two things. First ñ it's the only place left to go."
"And the other?"
"I can hear them chantingÖ."
Chapter 33 by walker
It was true. Indy leaned over the well and cocked his head to one side. Sure enough, what sounded like dozens of worshipers chanting in unison echoed up from the depths of the well. "Can't argue with that," Indy said. He turned Drake around and rummaged through the young man's pack. After a moment, he pulled out one hundred feet of tightly wound rope. He secured one end to an empty torch sconce bolted to the wall and leaned back heavily, testing its strength. Satisfied, he dropped the remainder of the coil down the well and shrugged off his pack. After extracting his flashlight, he walked the pack a short distance into one of the empty corridors and left it there. Drake followed suit.
Indy grabbed the rope and swung one leg over the lip of the well. "I'll signal you with the flash when I reach bottom," he instructed. Drake nodded.
Indy slowly lowered himself, listening closely to the growing religious clamor. The language was unfamiliar to him. Sixty feet down, he stopped - a gleam of light catching his attention. Through the wall to his left oozed a sickly orange glow. Indy tied off his line and hung freely by the waist. He pulled himself along the rough stone of the well and pressed an eye to the aperture. The sight beyond took Indy's breath away.
Before him yawned a massive natural cavern, easily the size of a football field. The ceiling arched as much as sixty feet above the floor. Great iron braziers of oil burned throughout the cavern, casting an orange pall over the mad ceremony within. Squirming like an army of leeches, dozens of midnight-clad Destroyers knelt on the floor en masse. Before them stood the powerful figure of their high priest, also draped in black, but with his face shrouded by a red scarf within his hood. Just behind this priest squatted a large, precisely cut block of stone. Indy grimaced at the sight of it, taking note of the numerous bloodstains evident in the firelight. As his eyes moved past the block, he started, his eyes opening wide. Thirty feet beyond stood the most impressive sight in the entire chamber. A twenty foot tall pillar of shiny black rock jutted from the earthen floor and on top of this, hovering over the crowd like an angel of death, perched the golden dragon, Kulcalkan.
Beautiful, Indy thought. My god, it's absolutely stunning. I had no idea.... As he watched, the chanting grew louder and louder, building into a ghostly wail, a frightening, banshee-like roar. Indy shivered as the din echoed throughout the underground chamber.
Suddenly, the chanting stopped. The red-masked priest began to speak in Portuguese - bold tones, loud enough for Indy to catch every few words, two of which were "lost brothers." Red-mask then pulled a worshipper from the front row of the congregation and joyously embraced him. This new individual threw back his hood, revealing himself to be an elderly Asian gentleman. A cheer burst forth from the mass of worshippers.
Red-mask threw back his own hood and pulled the scarf down from about his face. He was, as Indy suspected, a full-blooded Brazilian Indian. The priest pulled back his sleeve as an acolyte ran forth from the crowd carrying a curved knife and a goblet. With a slight bow, Red-mask took the knife and cut himself along the meat of his forearm near the elbow. As blood streamed from the cut, the acolyte caught it in the chalice. A second acolyte ran forward to carefully bind Red-mask's wound as the knife and a second goblet were passed to the Asian. He too cut himself and collected the blood. After his wounds were bound, both he and Red-mask traded cups. The acolytes receded back into the black horde and the chanting began once again.
The two priests, facing on another, raised opposite hands toward the Dragon. As the voice of the congregation grew louder, Red-mask and the Asian drank of each other's cup and brought their hands together in an overhead clasp. They then turned to the crowd and, together, roared like beasts. The crowd before them rose to its feet, joining in the cry. It was a sound unlike anything Indy had ever heard before and he couldn't help but avert his eyes and gulp for breath. Some insane joining ceremony, he thought. Two cults coming together as one - all sons of the Dragon.
Indiana was shaken from his thoughts by Drake's strained voice. "What's going on?" A flashlight beam played down upon Indy's face. The archaeologist held a finger to his lips, waved for Drake to shut off the flash and resumed his journey down the rope. Six feet from the bottom of the well's dry section, Indy ran out of rope. Beneath him, a narrow stone ledge ran around the perimeter of the shaft, just above water level. He hung and dropped to the rock shelf, landing on the balls of his feet. Opposite him stood a wooden door. Indy followed the stone ledge around and put his ear to it. The service nearby continued, partially audible through the door, but no sounds came from just beyond it. Indy pointed his flashlight up the shaft and snapped it on and off twice. Soon after, Drake joined him at the bottom.
Indy put his shoulder to the door and shoved gently. It swung open on well-oiled hinges into a large room full of boxes, crates and barrels, each labeled in Portuguese.
"What is all this?" Drake whispered.
Indy examined several of the containers. "Looks like dry goods and food. Smoked meats, fresh water...some cheeses. Almost like they're stocked up for a siege." Drake nodded.
On the far side of the room, a second door led into a long hall. Checking cautiously for guards, Indy peered down the corridor. To his right, the passageway opened up into the gigantic cavern he had seen from above. The ceremony continued at a somewhat more sedate level. Not a good choice, he thought. To his left, the passage continued deeper into the mountain. About ten yards down the hall on the opposite wall rested another door. Indy slipped into the corridor and made his way towards it, motioning for Drake to follow. Ten feet from the door, Indy caught sight of a shadow advancing into the passage from the large cavern - a guard!
He grabbed Drake by the jacket and rushed him through the door, closing it behind them, quietly. He pressed his ear to the wood and drew his gun. The footsteps grew louder until they passed by and receded into the distance. Indy breathed a sigh of relief and reholstered the Webley.
"Indy?" Drake tapped the archaeologist on the shoulder.
"Yeah?" Indy turned around. Drake motioned to several dozen boxes behind him, a grin on his face. Indy moved further into the room and looked around. Crates stacked as high as the ceiling surrounded them, a few, open at their feet. Each one, as they quickly discovered, contained either guns, rifles, ammunition or dynamite. They were in an armory.
Chapter 34 by walker
Drake chose a gun and some appropriate ammo from the cache of arms as Indy reloaded his Webley. The archaeologist then stuffed his coat pockets with loose sticks of dynamite. Drake removed his jacket and slung a bandoleer of the explosives across his chest and back. Indy glanced at him and raised an eyebrow. "I saw it in a movie once," Drake said, shrugging back into his jacket. He zipped it up and, armed as needed, they turned to leave.
Indy hesitated at the door. "Drake, you realize the Dragon is priceless." He turned to face the young man. "Maybe we could figure out another way. If the Destroyers could be dissolved by other means...." He trailed off as Drake's eyes hardened. "It should be preserved," Indy continued. "We've got no right to destroy such an artifact."
Drake grasped Indy by the shoulders and spoke in a calm, low voice. "I understand Indy, it's your passion. But it's not mine - and I'm going to blow that thing to hell. Remember what Cahill said? It's just a piece of rock. Don't be blinded by it. And you know as well as I, the only chance we have of ending all this is to destroy it. The Brazilian authorities aren't going to trudge out here into the middle of nowhere because we tell them to. Besides, I'm sure the Destroyer's connections with the Brazilian underworld keep the authorities busy enough as it is."
Indy sighed and nodded, memories of his last desperate attempt for the Grail flashing through his mind. His father had saved him from his obsession that time - and Indy wouldn't allow himself to get in such a situation again. "You're right, Drake," he growled. "But one of these days, I'm gonna to get to keep one of these damn artifacts if it kills me." Drake chuckled and followed Indy through the door.
>From the hall, the they observed the ceremony end and the congregation disseminate into the bowels of the mountain through various passageways peppered about the cavern. Red-mask and the Asian priest - Chinese, Indy presumed - made to leave as well when an acolyte hurriedly approached, bowed and began anxiously relating news of some sort, pointing back towards a passage behind him. In short order, the two priests quickly followed the messenger out of the cavern.
That can't be good, Indy thought. Once the sanctuary had emptied, Indy spoke over his shoulder to Drake. "Let's do it while we have the opportunity." Drake nodded and they raced across the cavern floor to the ebony pillar. The presence of the Dragon was almost a physical force, its eyes blazing down upon them. Indy glanced up briefly as he pulled four sticks from his jacket. "What a waste," he said quietly. "Drake, keep an eye out. When I light these fuses, we bolt for the well like our lives depend on it. Understand?"
"Way ahead of you Indy. Let's just get it done."
Indy knelt, focusing on the task at hand. First he linked the dynamite fuses together with an extension. Then, using a piece of twine from the dry goods storage room, he tied them about the pillar. His concentration narrowed further as he pulled the final four sticks from his other pocket, connected them and secured them further up the pillar. Sweat dripped from his jaw and nose as he manipulated the explosives. "If eight sticks of dynamite don't tear this thing apart, I don't know what will. Whadaya think, Drake?" The room was eerily silent. "Drake?"
Indy turned from the pillar slowly. Twenty feet behind him stood several dozen Destroyers, eyes burning with hatred. To his right stood the Chinese priest and Red-mask, the latter holding a curved dagger to Drake's throat. Just behind them stood the acolyte Indy had seen bring them news, as well as Clarence, glassy-eyed, and several assassins from the jungle ambush.
"Uh...hi, guys," Indy said.
Chapter 35 by walker
In short order, the Destroyers cut loose the dynamite and tied Indy and Drake side by side, backs to the pillar, their hands behind them. "Sorry Indy," Drake offered. "They're very quiet."
"I know. But we're not dead yet kid. Faith, remember?"
"Faith?" Red-mask laughed, moving in close and allowing Indy to get a good look at him for the first time. "What do you know of faith? We have adhered to a single faith, a single god for millennia. The Christian god is still but an infant. The Hebrew god, a young boy. Kulcalkan is ancient beyond the origins of man."
The priest was quite tall, perhaps 6'4", and thin, his robes hanging on him as on a scarecrow. By the way he moved, however, his strength was apparent. His brown face was hard, lined and creased by years in the sun. Indy stood quietly, testing the strength of his bonds. He would have to make a move soon. His silence encouraged the cult leader to speak.
"At one time, the Brazilian was perfect, both pure of blood and strong in number. Centuries ago, however, the first of your European "explorers" arrived, bringing with them disease, slavery and war. An entire people was murdered! And then, in order to eliminate every last trace of our existence, a continuous tide of invaders flooded our shores, intent on diluting our culture with their own - Italians, Germans, Africans, Portuguese and countless others." The priest directed his next comment at Drake. "Did your know, boy, that there are now more Japanese in Brazil than pure blood Indian?" Drake looked to Indy for confirmation and the archaeologist nodded. "And so," Red-mask continued, "how will we survive, I wonder? How will the Dragon's vision for us come to pass?"
"Through an alliance," Indy said.
"Yes, through an alliance."
"It doesn't make much sense, though," Indy continued. "I mean, I know you both worship dragons, but so what? Why the Chinese? Why not the Aboriginal cult of Yurlungger the flood serpent? Or one of the old, reliable Norwegian sects that continue to worship the World Serpent? C'mon, you can find a good dragon cult under just about any rock you turn over."
Red-mask shook his head in disappointment, ignoring the insult. "Doctor, even if we were interested, can those fractured little bands commit any major resources to our cause? Manpower? Technology? Money? No. China, on the other hand, is positioning itself to become one of the premiere world powers.
"In any case, it doesn't matter. None but the Chinese are pure. Only they are our brothers. And think of it, Doctor - in China, the descendants of Yu number in the millions. They only need to be shown the way, the one true path now illuminated by Kulcalkan, the Sun."
Indy frowned, at a loss to make the final connection. "And you think the Chinese are 'pure' enough for your Dragon?"
"Of course. You are familiar with the writings of the Jesuit priest Jose de Acosta?" The name sounded familiar, but Indy shook his head. "In 1589, he wrote a manuscript called Historia natural y moral de las Indias. In it, he proposed a hypothesis that has, in the 350 years since, grown to be considered fact.
"Thousands of years ago, our ancestors migrated south from North America. Thousands of years before that, as the age of ice lowered the world's oceans, we crossed the Bering Straight, leaving behind the lands of our people's birth, Siberia and-"
"China...." Indy finished, the last puzzle piece having fallen neatly into place.
"Yes. From the Manchurian Basin, specifically."
Throughout this conversation, Indy continued wriggling his hands back and forth, trying to loosen his bonds. His left wrist brushed up against something that felt like a rough string or cord and he grasped it, the movement hidden behind his open jacket. It seemed to come from within Drake's coat. And then, like a bolt of lighting , Indy realized its significance. It was a fuse leading to one of the many sticks of dynamite hidden within the layers of Drake's clothing.
As Red-mask continued prattling on about the superiority of Kulcalkan, Indy tugged on the hem of his jacket, slowly pulling it back until the left hand pocket rested with reach. If this works, he thought, Drake's gonna kill me.
"Stop squirming!" Red-mask demanded, looking directly at Indy. "There's no place for you to run." Wincing, Indy turned toward Drake, aiming his right shoulder to the priest, and looked down as if to protect himself from another back-handed strike. Doing so concealed the thrust of his hand as he slid it into his jacket pocket.
"Sorry," Indy offered, meekly.
Red-mask laughed. "So timid when it comes down to it, aren't you Doctor? Even the boy has more nerve than you. Look at him - unafraid, hatred in his eyes. Just like his father."
"Bastard!" Drake screamed, seething.
"Your father was, indeed, quite a challenging man. Do you know why we had to kill him? Hmmm, boy?" Drake kept his jaw locked tight, trying to will the Destroyer dead on the spot. "Because he was too strong. Oh, we tried brainwashing him." Red-mask threw up his hands in a show of disappointment. "Drugs, torture - everything but the Dragon himself. But your father would not turn, would not tell us what we needed to know. So, we had to eliminate him and resort to cruder methods."
Indy found what he wanted in his pocket and turned back to face the priest, his left arm tight against Drake's right side. "So your men followed the boy to me," he said. "Once you figured out where I was headed, you moved in and brainwashed Clarence, hoping we might tell him something of use. If not, he was to kill us."
"Quite so," Red-mask agreed. "We do have quite an extensive file on your modus operandi, Doctor. Thankfully, your dubious friend here has a somewhat more pliable will than Doctor Hawthorne. After the fiasco at the temple of the false Dragon, our agents trailed you to the airport and determined your next destination. I wired ahead to our recently acquired Chinese allies and requested they await your arrival in England."
"Spiders and snakes, working together...." Indy murmured. Red-mask flashed him a look of disappointment.
"Come, come Doctor, be a good sport." You've proven most invaluable to our cause. Because of your efforts we now have you, the boy and..." the priest paused for effect, "we finally know who in England received Hawthorne's information."
"Wha-? How?" Indy sputtered.
"Well, you know our agents in England followed you from the airport to the post office. We failed at that point, but we learned where you were staying - The Aristocrat, correct?" Indy refused to nod an affirmation. "Finding out was simply a matter of...prying the information from the officer to whom you filed your assault report. It took time, but our agents waited at the hotel until your return later that evening. Again, we were able to pluck the location from whence you had come from the rather dull-witted cab driver. I believe all that took was a ten pound note." Red-mask turned, laughing, to his Chinese companion. "Isn't that right, Wang Shen?" The Asian inclined his head, modestly.
"And, as you might expect, I ordered your contact be dealt with. I believe..." Red-mask once again turned to the Asian for confirmation, "our assassins carried out their duties just last night. Isn't that correct?" As before, the Chinese priest inclined his head. "I expect we'll receive confirmation of that little chore before day's end. Your friend, Doctor Cahill, really should have known better. Now, like the boy's father, he has been crushed beneath the heel of the Dragon."
Indy's heart sank with this last bit of information at the same time blood began roaring through his head. His eyes narrowed and his lips drew back in a feral snarl. The muscles of his arms bulged as he strained at the cords restraining him. "I...will...kill... you!" He managed to spit the words out, but they were nearly unintelligible.
"Really?" Red-mask smiled, arms crossed upon his chest. "And so, the great adventurer deludes himself to the very end." With that, Red-mask and Wang Shen turned and began to leave the assemblage. "Kill them, the priest called over his shoulder, as if an afterthought. Two of his Indian assassins advanced, their hungry knives drawn.
Chapter 36 by walker
Indy, moving quickly, snapped open the lighter concealed in his left hand and, looking down toward the bottom of Drake's jacket, thumbed it alight. He touched the flame to the fuse drooping from beneath the coat's hem. It popped, caught and began to spark its way up the small of Drake's back.
"Oh - my - god!" Drake yelled. "What the hell are you doing?"
Red-mask spun on his heel as the closing assassins backed up in alarm. The high priest ran forward, cursing his men for their gullibility, and tore open Drake's jacket. Like wildfire, the single fuse lit by Indy burned against its neighbors, igniting them. Likewise, those two fuses burned against the ones next to them, and so on until half of Drake's bandoleer was violently sparking.
Drake freaked. "Get me off of here! Cut me loose! Indy, I'm gonna kill you!" And so it continued.
Say good-bye to your Dragon, Destroyer!" Indy yelled.
"You would not...you...you...." And then it dawned on the priest that, yes, Indy would do just that. "Quickly, cut the boy free! Pull the fuses on the dynamite!"
The two closest cultists, knives already pulled to gut the prisoners, now jumped forward to free them. They severed the rope binding Indy and Drake to the pillar and wrestled the boy to the ground, tearing off his jacket. Red-mask took several quick steps back as his men exposed the full volume of dynamite Drake carried with him. A score of Destroyers screamed in panic and ran for the safety of the passageways, knocking the still entranced Clarence to the ground.
As the two cultists fought to get the bandoleer from about Drake's chest, Indy made his move. Ripping the last of the restraints from his wrists, he barreled into the two thugs and tore the bandoleer from their grasp. Then, he pulled the stick nearest to detonating from its place in the loop and lobbed it into the remaining mass of cultists. Like startled deer, they bolted in all directions until - WHOOM!! - a grenade-like sound slammed into Indy knocking him off his feet. Black-cloaked Destroyers flew through the air like poorly trained gymnasts.
Shaking his head to clear it, Indy pulled two more burning sticks and threw one at a mass of charging assassins, scattering them like a startled murder of crows. He spun around to face the pillar, fuses burning down as he held the bandoleer in one hand, a single stick in the other.
Suddenly, someone locked an arm around his throat from behind. Indy tucked his chin, dropped to one knee and drove his elbow backward, deep into the gut of his attacker. A hacking wheeze full of bile shot past his ear and the arms fell from his neck. Behind him, Red-mask collapsed to one knee. Indy jumped up and, fingers wrapped tightly around the dynamite stick, hammered a blow into the priest's jaw, dropping him to the floor as if shot. At the same moment, the explosive he had thrown only seconds before detonated, knocking him over sideways, the lit bandoleer skittering across the floor. He was stunned. Where am I? What's happening? What am I hold- "Godamighty!" Indy snapped back to full awareness with seconds left on the fuse, and lofted it overhand toward the pillar. It dropped on top of the flat surface between the Dragon's feet, bounced against the statue's leg and rolled to a stop.
"NOOOOOOO!" Red-mask screamed, pulling himself up from the floor with a manic burst of energy. Indy watched as, with an almost freakish agility, the mad priest scrambled up the pillar like a jungle animal. In what seemed like less time than it took to blink, the Destroyer pulled the single stick from its place on the pillar and plucked the fuse, just before it burned to the core. He laughed insanely, his god safe once again.
"Hey Destroyer!" a voice bellowed outward from a spot near the cavern wall. Indy turned toward the speaker, just in time to see Drake, fully lit bandoleer in hand, heave it with all his might towards the Dragon. "Consider yourself destroyed!"
Oh crap, Indy thought. He sprinted to where Clarence lay on the ground as the dynamite airmail sailed overhead. Red-mask followed its arc with his eyes, face unbelieving. Indy heaved Clarence to his feet and pulled him along behind, running as fast as he could. "There! There!" he shouted, pointing to the passageway that led to the well.
As the bandoleer descended, Red-mask averted his eyes, clutching to the top of the pillar upon which his lord and master stood. As tends to happen, however, curiosity got the better of him and he cracked one eye open, hoping to spot where the instrument of his doom had fallen. It wasn't until he glance up with a final, deluded prayer that the bitter irony struck. The bandoleer had come to rest in the teeth of the smiling Dragon.
A roar unlike anything Indy had ever heard shook the cavern. Dirt and powdered stone sifted down from the corridor ceiling above them. "This could be bad," Indy groaned. As the ground beneath their feet trembled, Clarence moaned and fell to his knees. "Not now, Clarence!" Indy pleaded. Together, he and Drake pulled their friend further down the corridor.
As they approached the door to the store room, the ceiling collapsed. "Back! Back!" Indy ordered. They retreated to the main cavern, dragging Clarence behind them.
"We're in serious trouble, Indy!" Drake hollered.
"I know. Help me lift Clarence - I'm going to try and carry hem. You keep your eyes peeled for another exit."
As they bent down to their task, Clarence's dark blue eyes fluttered open. "Oh...my...head," he said.
"Clarence, get up!" Indy growled. "We've got problems."
"Owwww." the pilot moaned, holding his head. "You've always got problems, Jones." Then he looked around, eyes widening. "Holy Moly, Indy. What did you do?"
"Later!" Indy yelled. "We've gotta make a run for it!" They rose from the ground as huge boulders began to fall from the massive cavern's ceiling. "Stick together!" Indy shouted, plowing into the storm of rock and sand.
As they desperately searched for an exit, Drake stole a glance towards where the Dragon had once stood. Now, there was nothing but a deep hole in the ground. "That was for you, Dad," he whispered.
And then - Clarence stopped. "Wait a minute. Wait a minute! I remember something. Follow me!" With that, he tore haphazardly in front of Indy and ran directly toward a particular passage on the far wall. "This is it!" he cried. "This is how they brought me in and out."
They bolted into the tunnel as the roof of the Dragon's lair caved in behind them. The passage turned into a steep staircase and they charged upward, hearts pounding. The ground shook with frightening violence as they came upon a secondary passage.
"Continue up or head this way," Indy asked the pilot.
Clarence knitted his brows for a moment, then committed. "This way." He ran down the level corridor. Drake followed, and as Indy made to bring up the rear, he spotted two Destroyers hurtling down the stairs towards him, vengeance and retribution written on their faces like tattoos.
"Geez, I'm way to old for this," Indy breathed, sprinting down the hall. Before him, Clarence ran to a dead end. Indy threw up his arms and began to swear a blue streak just as Clarence shouldered the rock face aside like a well-oiled door. They ran through and found themselves back in the upper well room. Indy looked behind him, his confusion absolute. The door swung shut, its appearance expertly disguised to look like part of the rock wall between passageways.
"I don't believe it!" Indy bellowed. He grabbed his hat angrily, as if to throw it on the ground, but stopped as the pursuing Destroyers kicked open the door. He spun around and sprinted after his companions, up the corridor toward daylight. Then - the entire pyramid shuddered, knocking them all to the floor.
"Oh, that's bad," Drake said softly.
The five men, Destroyers and adventurers alike, looked at each other nervously, the ensuing moment of silence heavy with dread. And then, the ground began to fall away, moving from the well room outward like a wave of emptiness flowing up the passage behind them. "The whole things going down!" Indy yelled, jumping to his feet. They began a final, desperate dash to safety, the exit just within view. Heavy drops of rain splashed visibly against the step outside.
Indy, spotting something on the floor ahead, chanced a glance over his shoulder. The two Destroyers were gaining, weapons drawn to avenge their god. Losers, Indy thought, kicking the coin trigger on the floor as he ran past. Like a whip crack, six spears shot out from both sides of the passage, hitting no one, but stopping the pursuing assassins in their tracks. They skidded to a halt and turned, forced to watch the Dragon's mountain fall away beneath them.
Indy could only just hear their screams as he broke free into the cool rain. Clarence grabbed his arm and they raced down the pyramid steps, jumping, tumbling, leaping and falling most of the way. As they hit the ground, the top of the mountain finally caved in upon itself, burying the Dragon and the Destroyers forever. They sound of the gentle rain was lost upon the three men, whose ears were ringing so loudly it sounded like thunder.
Eventually, they nursed their wounds and got to their feet. Drake seemed to have broken his arm but, after Indy set it, carried on in extraordinarily good spirits. Clarence found a jagged piece of stone lodged into the meat of his chest like a natural piece of shrapnel. Upon closer examination, however, they found its penetration exceedingly shallow, the brunt of its momentum absorbed by the now shattered beetle carapace resting in his shirt pocket. And Indy? Indy made it out with about 100 bumps, bruises and cuts - none of which were serious.
The next day, Clarence led them to a tiny, hidden airstrip used by the Destroyers. The airstrip, Indy determined, explained a lot - including how the cult was able to bring Clarence to the mountain and back before Indy's return from England. Clarence fueled up the Destroyer's plane and they made the short hop to Arraias early that afternoon. A few days later, upon their return to El Paso, Indy and Clarence said their good-byes as always - with great amounts of bull. "The check is in the mail, Clarence," Indy promised.
"Good thing, Jones," the pilot said jovially. "You owe me so big it makes me dizzy just thinking about it."
Eventually, Indy and Drake made it back home, their lives once again taking a turn towards normal; the pace of the world settling in at a walk. "Thank you, Indy," Drake said. "You're a true friend."
"You too, Drake," Indy nodded, shaking the young man's hand - and he knew it was true. "Drake?" he called, as his student walked away.
"Your father would be proud."
Drake nodded, a pleased smile on his face, and turned toward his adventures to come.
Indy dreaded making the call, but he had to. He had to hear the truth and to help in whatever way he could. The operator made the overseas connection as he waited, sitting anxiously in his office chair. The phone on the other end began to ring and, within a few tones, was answered. The voice belonged to a young British woman.
"Hello?" she asked, quietly.
"I'm...mmm. My name's Henry Jones, miss. I just wanted to call. You see, I'm so sorry about...I knew your uncle. He was a good man."
"Yes. Doctor Cahill."
"Wait just a moment please.
"But-" Indy didn't quite understand what was going on. A minute passed and the phone picked up again.
"Jones! Thank God, I thought you were dead!" Cahill's rough voice fairly burst through the line. Indy sat in wonder, looking at the receiver as if it were made of gold.
"But...they said you were dead!"
The old man chuckled. "Why, Indiana...that Lee-Metford's not for show!"
At that, Indy laughed for a long, long time.
China, one month later....
The priest tugged his black robes tight about his body, anger and disappointment wearing heavily on his face. He slowly raised his eyes to the man before him. "It's a sad thing, truly," he said. "As if my arm had been cut from my body."
The man inclined his head slightly before responding. "And yet, perhaps they were not really worthy. Indeed, the blood of their leader held no more of the Dragon's power than the well from which they drank."
"And you would know, my old friend?"
"I would know," Wang Shen replied.
And the sons of Yu sat for a time, making new plans....
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: Micah Johnson
Created: March 22, 1999
Last modified: March 22, 1999