Indiana Jones and the Serpent of Evil
Chapter 12: Deadly Surprises Redux
"Surprise!" Vargario threw his hands in the air, a smug grin pushing his round cheeks into a chipmunk-like visage. Then he walked around Indy and his companions slowly, looking them up and down as if gauging their worth. Two of his men took the weapons from Indy's belt and threw them onto a table across the clearing.
Vargario came to a stop directly in front of the archaeologist and stepped close enough for Indy to smell the beef jerky on his breath. "You are the world famous archaeologist Indiana Jones," the Spaniard stated in a richly cultured accent, the evidence of higher education stamped on each word like a royal seal. "It's funny, but you look somewhat less...intelligent...than I expected." The men spread about the clearing chuckled at this and Vargario turned to nod encouragingly.
"And you're Carlos Vargario," Indy replied. "Funny. I thought you were dead."
"I should hope so," Vargario said. "My demise took some doing. Hate for all that effort to go to waste." Again, some of his men tittered.
"I suppose it would be too much to ask you to let us go on our merry way, wouldn't it?"
Vargario didn't answer immediately, his eyes closed as if thinking. Then he snapped his fingers and smiled. "Say, I've just had an idea," he said. "Reports are that you're a rather astute man in the field. That being the case, I'll make you an offer. Assist me, and I'll see to it that you and your friends get out of the jungle alive."
"And if I refuse?"
"I could kill the girl. I could castrate you and your friend over there." Vargario nodded towards Merida. The lawman sneered back unpleasantly. "I could go on. My choices are many, yours are few." Vargario walked toward the table supporting Indy's gun and whip and sat heavily in a nearby chair. He mopped the top of his head with a handkerchief and turned toward Jones. "I give you five minutes," he said with a wave of his hand. Then he swiveled back to the table and began speaking in a low voice to a mercenary close by.
Indy's mind raced, trying not only to think of a way out, but also to understand how it was that Vagario could be so recently dead and yet so damned alive. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind. He'd have time to worry about that later. As it was, he'd need a miracle to get them out of this one. They could play along with Vargario as long as necessary, but Indy knew that at the end of the game, neither he nor his friends would be allowed to leave the jungle alive.
"Any ideas?" he whispered back to Merida.
"Not a one."
Indy nodded and looked around, studying the layout of the clearing. It seemed to be oval in shape, stretching out 60 feet from the river's edge, 40 feet across at its widest. Scattered about within were a table, several chairs, tents and fourteen men, most of who were studying the archaeologist intently. In a small corral crafted of vines and brush stood 10 pack horses.
It wouldn't be difficult to lose these idiots in the jungle, Indy thought. But we'll have to wait until we're well out of this clearing. He nodded as if agreeing with himself on the course of action.
"We'll do it," he said confidently.
"Good!" Vargario rose from his seat and walked back to the trio. "I didn't think the decision would be a hard one. As I said before, your reputation is that of a smart man. Think of how rich we'll all be."
Indy recognized the lie as soon as he heard it, but it raised a good question. "Rich, sure. But what about 'the cause?'" Vargario raised an eyebrow in amusement. "You are trying to find the mine for the Insurgents...aren't you?"
Vargario smiled and shook his head. The Insurgents will win independently of my contributions to their misguided efforts. As for Spain, she can burn for all I care." At this, Angelina gasped. Vargario glanced over at her, an amused look on his face. Indy could've sworn he giggled as he did so.
"Yes," Vagario said, his comment directed toward Angelina, "now you know how foolish you've been. A woman to the core."
Indy started at that. "What the hell are you talking about?" he demanded.
Vargario walked past Jones and stood in front of Angelina, placing his index finger underneath her chin. "Stupid," he said bitterly.
Indy looked back at her, his eyes displaying a mixture of confusion, pain and anger. "You?" he whispered. Angelina's eyes were closed, her head tilted forward in shame. "You...." His words tapered off. He slowly turned back to Vargario.
"You lie," Indy accused the Spaniard. "Angelina was in the car with me the day we were attacked. She was almost shot."
Vargario shrugged. "They weren't taking any chances with you, it's true. Certainly, they weren't given instructions to harm Miss Morales. They were simply - how do you say? - overzealous."
Indy closed his eyes and shook his head sadly. His allies had just been whittled in half. Anger began to boil up within him. He had been deceived by one he cared for - and it hurt more than he cared to admit.
He opened his eyes and let out a slow breath, trying to regain control of himself. As he did so, he noticed that Vargario had turned his back to Indy and moved away from the center of the clearing to speak with one of his mercenary soldiers. He would make the man pay if it was his last act on earth, Indy thought. And at that exact same moment, he discovered a possible means to his salvation. Stuck in Vargario's waistband, nestled against his back, rested a slim, black pistol. Although the distance was such that he couldn't be sure of the make, it was definitely a firearm - and Vargario had yet to display any compunction against getting close to Indy. A plan began to form.
"Vargario!" Indy shouted. The Spaniard turned. "If we're joining your little party, we'll need our things." He pointed his thumb back over his shoulder. "Over that ridge, maybe a hundred yards away, we've got all our equipment and horses. Also, all of my notes. We'll need that stuff if I'm gonna help you. I could go get it...." Indy turned and began to walk toward the jungle. Immediately a soldier crossed over to bar his way.
"I don't think so, Jones," Vargario said. "However, you're correct. We do need your equipment - and your notes. This damnable mine hasn't been as easy to find as we thought. So...." Vargario snapped his fingers and waved toward the dense foliage. <"Gentlemen,"> he addressed a few of the men behind Indy, <"go collect those things belonging to Dr. Jones and his companions.">
The men picked up their guns and quickly moved off into the jungle. Indy glanced back over his shoulder. That's three of them, he thought. He allowed a few minutes to pass, giving the men enough time to put some ground between themselves and the camp.
"Carlos?" Indy asked.
"In the spirit of combining our resources for the greater good, I wonder if I might examine some of your findings? There's a landmark we've been searching for and I thought perhaps that if you had come across it, you'd have noted it on one of your maps. There's a chance I'll recognize it for what it is and save us all a lot of time and bother."
Vargario thought over Indy's request carefully, fully expecting the archaeologist to attempt something foolish if he agreed. But then he realized, if he wasn't going to take advantage of Jones' insights now, when would he? Vargario pulled a map from beneath Indy's weapons on the table and walked briskly to where he stood.
"Here," he said, thrusting the map into Indy's hands. "I hope you attempt to do as you say. I've no time for games."
"I understand," Indy answered, reaching for the map. As Vargario stretched out his arm to comply, Indy grabbed him by the wrist and yanked, pulling the man forward violently. Then, with a much speed as he could muster, Indy locked his cast around Vargario's throat and used his right hand to pull the gun from the villain's waistband. As the mercenaries snapped their rifles toward Indy, he pushed the barrel up against Vargario's temple.
"Okay. Now things look a little different," Indy said. "If any of you morons make a sound or move an inch, I'm gonna open up your boss like a melon. Everybody got that?" The mercenaries didn't budge, the aim of their weapons unwavering from the archaeologist's head. Indy jabbed the barrel of the gun into Vargario's ear. "Tell them," he growled.
Vargario spoke to his men calmly and, with only a little hesitation, they placed their weapons on the ground.
"Esteban," Indy spoke over his shoulder. "Grab one of those rifles. We're getting out of here." The lawman complied and moved to Indy's side. Angelina looked at the archaeologist squarely, her features twisted in fear. He ignored her.
"Now, let's back up to the horses," Indy ordered. "I'll need you to load two packs, quick as you can. We're getting out of here."
"What about your notes and maps?" Merida whispered. "Don't we need them?"
Indy smiled. "They're not at camp. They're right here." He glanced down to the leather bag at his waist.
"Good," Merida said. He walked to the table upon which Indy's gun and whip rested, picked them up in one hand and offered them to the archaeologist. "Here, Indy. I'll watch our fat friend." He poked his rifle into Vargario's belly, emphasizing his intent.
"Thanks," Indy replied. "I feel naked without these." He stuck Vargario's gun in his waistband, holstered his Webley and began to hook the whip in its loop. As he did so, Merida shifted the barrel of his rifle from Vargario's belly to Indy's head.
"Idiot," the lawman said, pulling the trigger.
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: walker
Created: Aug. 5, 1999
Last modified: October 2, 1999