Raiders of the Forbidden Valley
Chapter 9: Stars and Stripes
With the panic-stricken horse's high-pitched whinnying ringing in his head, Indy grabbed Susan and threw her to the ground. Indy knew that he just couldn't allow the horse and carriage to career wildly through the park. There were people everywhere, and a high proportion of them were children. He had to stop the horses fear-fuelled flight. He maneuvered himself to the left, tensing his muscles and focusing his mind. In the split second that the horse galloped past him, he grabbed onto its neck and mane. With a grunt he hauled his legs up and onto the animal's back.
Susan watched from the grass as Indiana Jones performed a feat that Zorro and the Lone Ranger would have been envious of. The archaeologist had swung himself onto the crazed animal and was riding bareback through the park. It was like watching an old western, but the setting of New York city had given the spectacle a slightly bizarre and surreal aspect.
Indy held onto the horses mane - a grim expression etched onto his face. He was comfortable on horses, he had been since he was a boy. There had been many times that his life had been saved by these gentle but powerful animals. This was dangerous sure, but not as dangerous as jumping onto a train, truck or tank from the back of a galloping horse and he had done all three in the course of his eventful life. However, this was different. He was in the middle of Central park and there were small heads everywhere just ripe for a horse's hoof to smash open and he couldn't, no wouldn't allow that to happen. The horse was snorting wildly and its eyes were bulging. The poor creature was terrified and was going to be difficult to control. He glanced over his shoulder to see if Susan was okay. She was standing up watching him - even from this distance he could see the expression of disbelief on her face. The horse galloped off of the path and headed through the trees - the carriage was taking severe punishment, the dead driver was lolling about in the seat like a broken puppet. Indy started trying to calm the horse down - he leaned forward and whispered gently in its ear. A trick he had learned from an old Cossack in Siberia many years before. The horse galloped between two trees and he winced as he heard the carriage smash against the unforgiving tree trunks. The wheels came shearing from the carriage and one of them ended up hanging in the branch of one of the oaks. The body of the carriage started dragging along the grass, churning up turf and soil. The unfortunate driver fell from his seat and his body rolled limply on the ground. Indy, while holding on with one hand, tried gently stroking the horse's face. He was leaning precariously forward, but his thighs were clamped firmly around the horse's sides. The carriage was rapidly disintegrating behind them. He was aware that people were watching open-mouthed as this violent spectacle was taking place. Indy felt himself slipping. His tweed suit was no match to his khakis and leathers, but if he slipped there was every chance he would be crushed beneath the horse's hooves or under what was left of the carriage. The horse's eyes weren't looking so wild and it's frantic snorting was beginning to transform into the normal snorting that accompanied exertion. Indy continued to whisper smoothly into the horse's ears and stroke its neck. The animal started slowing down and Indy felt its body easing slightly.
Susan watched from the spot where Indy had thrown her. She could see that the animal was slowing down, however, she was still feeling slightly tense. As she watched the horse stopped and Indy got off its back, a huge sense of relief washed over her. She started running towards Indy and the horse and in her haste she failed to notice the small, delicate looking Chinese man who was watching the scene with inscrutable eyes.
Chi Keung cursed the many gods who apparently watched over this tenacious American. The man was surrounded by miracles, he had survived a number of deaths. Deaths that would have killed any other and Chi Keung was falling into disfavor with his employer Qwam Sung Ho. He had watched ten minutes ago as Jones and the woman left the hotel where his colleague Marcus Brody was staying. He had decided to deal with these two first and then return for the Runes. Chi Keung discretely followed them through the crowded streets of this accursed hellhole of a city and this had taken them to Central Park. Jones and the woman had entered the park, deep in conversation. Chi Keung had been too far away to know what they were discussing but it had been obvious that the conversation had been getting progressively more heated. The woman was the aggressor and Jones seemed to be having trouble calming her. Chi Keung had then seen a horse and carriage trotting along and decided to take advantage of the ongoing argument. He offhandedly killed the driver by stabbing him in the chest and then he ensured that the beast was startled enough to start galloping towards his enemies. Chi leapt nimbly from the carriage and had slipped into some foliage and waited for the inevitable.
An inevitability that did not come.
Now, he watched as the woman rushed over to Jones - her anger seemingly had been replaced by relief. Chi Keung was furious and moved forward. It was time to finish this!
Indy was standing beside the horse when Susan reached him.
"Indy..." she began, but stopped as she saw the silver star shaped object in his hands. Indy looked at her with a grim expression.
"I found this in the horse's side, just in front of its left leg. It's a throwing star that's used in some martial arts. Sung Ho's men are behind this. They know where we are Susan."
She felt a cold hand grip her heart. These people were everywhere!
Marcus sat in his hotel room and examined the runes. He knew that these relics had proven to be the source of tragedy for many but he had to admit that he was fired up.
And by God, it was a feeling that he had missed.
Marcus held the first Rune up and examined it closely. The marking was akin to an arrow pointing upwards. This Rune represented Tir who was the original Norse God of creation. Tir had not been in the least bit benign. He had been a fierce warrior God, very similar to the Roman God, Mars. Marcus seemed to remember that this Rune signified battle or that the querent was to embark on a quest or enterprise that would need great fortitude and mass amounts of energy. He looked at the second Rune stone. It was a single vertical line with a boomerang shape running through it near the top. Marcus smiled as he recognised this symbol as Eoldh. This Rune was a protective charm that shielded the querent from danger and difficulties. Marcus wrote this information down on a piece of paper and picked up the next Rune.
Indy stroked the horse's mane and whispered soothingly to the animal. Susan was surprised by his expression - he was angrier than she had ever seen him and considering what he had been through over the past few days that was puzzling.
He was furious. Indy hated it when people uninvolved in the situation were killed by thugs in their attempt to kill him. That poor bastard who had driven the carriage had nothing to do with this, but still Sung Ho's goons had casually taken his life. He also loathed when children or animals were mistreated or harmed, well except for snakes but they didn't count. He had gotten himself and his two companions into a whole heap of trouble in the subterranean mines of Mola Ram and his Thuggee cult because of the abuse of children. He had dragged Willie and Shorty into all sorts of tortures and violence when he could have caught up with Blumbutt's cavalry division and got them to storm the palace and rescue the kids that way. Later in conversation with the middle-aged officer, Blumbutt had confessed that he had sensed that something evil was going on at the Pankot Palace. Indy had stayed friends with Philip Blumbutt until the man died of malaria in 1942.
He looked at the razor-sharp throwing star with dark eyes.
Suddenly something whistled past his ear. He heard the hard dull sound of something embedding itself into a tree behind him. A second later he felt something wet trickling down his neck. Indy had time to register that the side of his face was bleeding before he saw Chi Keung darting off through the trees.
"Susan, you stay here and tell the cops what's happening. I'm going to stop that guy!" He glanced around and saw the throwing star stuck in the tree behind him.
"Indy be careful. Remember he gave you quite a beating on the stairwell in Glasgow." Susan looked at Indy with concerned eyes. He smiled ruefully.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence honey!" he turned to leave and a thought struck him. He looked at Susan and shrugged. He grabbed her waist and pulled her close. Susan started to say something, but whatever it was going to be was lost to the moment as Indy kissed her. She reciprocated with warmth and Indy felt his spirits soar. He let her go and looked at her. She was obviously flustered and looked at him with a mixture of surprise and pleasure.
Indy winked and turned to give chase.
Marcus looked at the list of Runes. He had catalogued them and was pretty sure that he had them all correct.
Tir the creator, Eolh the protector , Beorc the birch, Lagu the elemental force of water. Hagall the primal force of the universe, Agarr the wolf, and finally Loki the trickster.
The biggest problem was, now he had to see exactly how the Runes had been laid out. Each of these Rune Stones could mean different things. Each Rune had a different meaning if reversed. For instance Beorc the birch was a fertility symbol. Its very design was reminiscent of a woman's breasts and its presence would seem to indicate fertility and an abundance of crops. However, when reversed it signified sterility. This coupled with the presence of six other Runes made the divination of them almost impossible.
Marcus would have to see Humes records of the site before he could prove to be of any great help to Indy. He picked up his phone.
"Ah yes this is Dr. Marcus Brody in room 263, I should like to make a telephone call to the Miskatonic University in Arkham please. No I'm afraid I don't know the telephone number but it should be listed."
Marcus waited as the hotel switchboard operator began to search for the relevant telephone number.
Indy had followed the small Chinese man through the park. It had occurred to him that the wily man could have easily lost him on a number of occasions but had always managed to leave enough of a trail for Indy to follow.
He knew that this was leading somewhere, but he was too angry to care. Again common sense was being replaced by that feeling of reckless injustice that he knew so well.
A building loomed up before him. It was actually a collection of buildings - Central Park Zoo! Indy saw that some people were leaving it and he glanced at his watch. It was almost 5:30 pm - the zoo was about to close. Indy caught a glimpse of the Chinese assassins jade sash inside the entranceway. Chi Keung was inside the zoo. Indy ran forward and started barging past people.
"Excuse me, pardon me, sorry..." he muttered as he made his way past the people leaving.
Inside the zoo was deserted. Indy moved cautiously forward and warily looked around for the man. He wished that he had brought his revolver or bullwhip with him, but it was a different climate. The authorities were not keen on people wandering around a major American metroplis with concealed weapons. He looked around.
"Hey buddy what the Hell do you think you're doin'? we're closin' up ya bum! Now scram!" Indy turned to see a burly zookeeper approaching him. He attempted a smile, but the man's expression suddenly turned to one of shocked disbelief. The man keeled forward and Indy saw a throwing star protruding from the poor guy's back.
Indy looked up and saw the Chinese man dart around a corner. Indy gave chase through the maze of pathways past all the animals. The creatures seemed to sense something was happening and were screeching, chattering of roaring excitedly. Indy ran past the primate house and an old orangutan watched him curiously. Chimpanzees in the next cage started screeching angrily.
Indy ran along and saw the small Chinese man running towards him.
The men looked at each other. Indy saw the man looking around for some kind of exit - he didn't want to fight for some reason.
The assassin turned and ran the opposite direction, Indy rolled his eyes and gave chase. The whole animal population of the zoo seemed to be up in arms. Animals were pacing their cages and screeching into the evening air.
Indy turned a corner and looked ahead. A cage door was lying open, it's padlock had been burst open by the sharp edge of one of the assassin's stars. Indy moved forward and looked at the sign on the cage.
Indy cursed. The stupid bastard had freed a tiger. Indy decided that it was time to get out of here. Reckless bravado had a time and a place and this wasn't it!
He turned and started running towards the exit when he heard a blood curdling scream. The assassin was screaming in agony - the noise was accompanied by the deep-throated growl of the tiger. Indy winced as he heard the tearing of flesh and the man's scream became a wet gurgle.
Chi Keung had released the tiger in an effort to kill Jones. However, what he had failed to realize was that there were two tigers in the cage and as one of them had bounded free the other had leapt for the man who had released them. Chi Keung had thrown his last star at the attacking beast. It had embedded itself in the cat's skull, killing it immediately. The dead tiger's mate had gone berserk and Chi Keung had attempted to escape, but Jones had blocked his path. In his efforts to find another route he had stumbled across the tiger. It had leapt on him and torn his left arm off at the shoulder. Chi Keung had a moment left to feel the extreme pain before the tiger had swiped at his head with a massive paw. The blow had instantly killed the small Chinese man, but the tiger's anger had not abated.
It padded off looking for any other two-legged murderers.
Indy ran towards the exit and skidded to a halt. The gates were locked!
Indy glanced over his shoulder. The animals were going wild in their cages. Indy moved towards the gate and tested it. The locks were too sturdy and the gates had no way to climb over them. Indy looked ahead. Of course the unfortunate zookeeper would have keys somewhere on his person. He ran forward and turned the man on his back. A bunch of keys hung from the man's belt and Indy unclipped them.
He looked at the dead man and doffed his hat as a sign of respect.
Indy stood up and started moving towards the gate. He heard a deep-throated rumbling growl and watched as the tiger moved forward. Blocking his path.
It was about 11 feet long and probably weighed about 500 pounds or so. Its reddish fawn body was rippling with muscles and its stripes did not disguise this. The creature looked at him with malevolent green eyes. It roared in fury at him, exposing huge and vicious-looking fangs. Blood stained the fur around its muzzle. Indy slowly backed away and felt terror grip at his soul. The tiger started moving towards him gracefully - its mighty tail was swishing back and forth with agitation.
The creature started galloping towards him and Indy stumble as the creature leapt towards him. Its claws and teeth ready to tear his body apart!
Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: Hannibal King
Created: June 29, 1999
Last modified: October 4, 1999