Indiana Jones and the Serpent of Evil
Chapter 13: Forked Tongues and Revelations
The bullet ripped past Indy's right ear, near enough that it took a lick of fabric off the underside of his hat brim. The sound of the nearly point blank rifle shot both deafened him and bowled him over in panic and surprise. He thought he might have screamed, but he wasn't sure.
He lay on the ground, heart racing. The feathery, light-headed panic assailing him quickly descended into something heavier: dread - complete and utter dread. Although the roar in his ears kept him from making out Merida's words, he could tell by the sneer on the lawman's face and the pleasure Vargario seemed to be taking in the proceedings, that he had been deceived worse than he could have possibly imagined. Esteban and the former museum curator were partners in this mad scheme. Indy's allies had been reduced to zero.
"Bastard!" the archaeologist bellowed. And then, driven more by anger than sense, he drew Vargario's gun from his waistband and aimed it at Merida. From all sides, Vargario's men - having picked up their weapons during the chaos - leaned in about him, guns pointed at his head. Through the buzzing, Indy felt sure he heard Angelina cry out at this. As he dropped his weapon, he looked up from his place on the ground, searching for her.
"No! Get away from him!"
Indy had been right. She was screaming. And she was armed.
Rifle butt pulled tight against her shoulder, Angelina leveled one of the mercenary's weapons at Merida's chest, stepping in close to ensure the accuracy of her shot. Indy lay on the ground watching quietly and, as the humming sound fading from his ears, decided that he was better off letting someone else be the center of attention for a change.
Merida turned to Angelina and smiled calmly, dropping his rifle and raising his hands in supplication. <"Gelina, please,"> he said. <"You don't know what you're doing.">
<"Don't call me that!"> she cried. <"You lied to me. It was never about supporting the cause or General Franco. You both lied! You murdered Alejandro and when you have no more use for Indy, you'll kill him too. And me...."> She finished quietly, her voice shaking.
Vargario stepped forward. <"My dear girl,"> he began. <"Don't you see how foolish all of this is? We don't want to hurt you.">
Angelina swung her rifle from Merida to the curator, the barrel wavering as her arms began to tire. Even so, Vargario continued to approach. <"Stay away,"> she warned. <"Don't make me....">
Vargario smiled in understanding. <"You can't kill me, my child. You are like a daughter to me."> He advanced further and Angelina felt her resolve begin to weaken. She was no killer. Vargario began to reach a hand out to gently touch the gun.
"You guys are the biggest assholes I've ever met."
Vargario's hand froze and he turned towards Indy.
The archaeologist lay on the ground calmly, Webley in hand, drawn during the distraction of Angelina's outburst. "Now I'm no genius," he said, "but it seems to me that we're in the middle of a good old fashioned Mexican standoff. Literally."
"Don't be a fool, Jones!" Merida snapped. "Angelina won't shoot him. And if you were stupid enough to try, you'd be dead a moment later."
The much was true, Indy knew. Vargario's men had once again brought their guns to bear upon him. "Can't argue with that last part," he said. "Of course, the fact that I'm dead-aimed at Vargario's head means that Angelina doesn't have to worry about shooting him. See, if she were ever to hear the truth about your involvement in all this, she might just make an exception about killing." Jones said this with a look of revelation beaming from his face.
Angelina lowered the heavy rifle to a position at her hip, and re-aimed the barrel at Merida's groin. "What do you mean, Indiana," she asked.
"Way I've got it figured, Carlos here is just the idea man. The fat thinker who puts the plan together. Esteban is the nut job. He's the muscle - the guy who does the dirty work. You probably already know this next part, so tell me if I'm right."
"Carlos and Esteban, long time buddies, figure on a plan to get themselves a little treasure, drop out of sight and blame the Nationalists. So Carlos "vanishes," heading down Mexico-way to get the ball rolling on his little expedition. Later, some fingers, teeth and a faked picture are sent in as warning and "proof" of his murder. The investigating inspector, pulled in on every Museum-related case, conveniently enough, is slick Señor Esteban Merida, who confirms that the remains do indeed belong to his dead pal. Right so far?" Indy raised his eyebrows at Angelina and she nodded in confirmation.
"It's funny, you know, that all of this seems so clear now. I have to wonder though," Indy said, directing his question to Merida, "did the fingers and teeth come from a John Doe or did you actually bump off a vagrant to make sure the evidence was fresh. I'd bet on the latter." Angelina gasped in disgust.
Merida turned towards Vargario. <"Must we listen to this?"> he asked.
The burly curator nodded. <"No harm in seeing how much he knows...or how much others might be able to figure out.">
Indy let the side conversation end and then continued. "Now which of these two clowns had Zamora killed? The desperate museum curator or the crooked cop? Who would've been in a position to hire the filth that attacked us in the basement, and then handle their arrest and questioning afterwards?"
Merida sneered at Jones, but kept his mouth shut.
"And here's the kicker," Indy continued, turning back to Angelina. "They were willing to murder both Alejandro and me because they didn't want any one else examining the statue - something that Vargario's departure made possible. Ironic, isn't it? What they couldn't have anticipated though, is that I would find additional, more accurate clues - ones they would need if their plan was to be successful.
"The later hit, planned on our taxi, was meant to eliminate both of us, you and me, Angelina. Fortunately, it was scheduled the same day I began to discover new information about the mine's location.
"That being the case, Merida thinks 'oops, better call off the dogs, Jones is onto something.' And when Angelina and I head out for the King's map room, he stays behind to call off his men. He fails. He's too late, so he has to try and catch us and get us out of harm's way himself. He can't afford for us to die if we've figured out something he can't do without."
Indy sat up and spoke directly to Merida. "That's why you followed us to the church that day. You shot one of your own hired killers in order to keep me on the trail."
Merida scowled, saying nothing. Vargario, however, smiled and inclined his head. "You are, Dr. Jones, an impressive man. I salute your intelligence, truly. But it doesn't change the fact that you're out-gunned five to one."
"True. But what's it matter how many guns are pointed at me if all it takes is a single bullet to kill. I could care less about your hired help. But I'd be more than happy to blast that stupid pipe through the back of your head. And I'd bet at this point, Angelina's willing to do the same to Merida. Aren't you honey?" Indy looked toward the Spanish senorita, hopeful.
Her eyes, flinty with rage, burned unblinking into Merida's, the rifle at her hip held rock-steady. "Sí, Indy," Angelina said after a moment. "You are right. I believe I can shoot this one."
Indy noticed the lawman's composure flicker, the sides of his mouth twitching. "That's what I thought." Switching his gun to his left hand, Indy got to his feet. Keeping his Webley pointed at Vargario, he slowly backed towards the makeshift horse corral, picking up two of the mercenary's packs along the way. "Angelina, come here," he said, "but keep your gun on Merida."
She did as she was told and Indy helped her shrug into one of the packs. After it was secure and she had mounted one of the horses, Indy followed suit. He then kicked the gate of the corral open and spurred his mount forward, driving the other horses out ahead of him with a few flicks of his whip.
Every barrel of every gun followed his head and chest as if drawn by a magnet. Indy and Angelina kept their own weapons aimed as best they could at the two psychotic treasure hunters standing at the camp's center.
Upon reaching the trailhead at the northern perimeter of the clearing, Indy cracked his whip over the heads of the other horses as loud as he could, startling them into a frenzied charge through the camp in every direction. Then he and the woman turned their horses, lowered their guns and raced into the thick jungle.
As best they could through the small stampede, the mercenaries converged on the narrow opening and fired their weapons. Indy, bringing up the rear, felt several well aimed shots slam into the thick pack strapped against his back. He spurred his horse on faster, and encouraged Angelina to do the same. They were far from safe, he knew.
Still, he couldn't help but chuckle as the volume of Vargario and Merida's curses rose to surpass the gunfire.
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: walker
Created: Aug. 12, 1999
Last modified: October 2, 1999