. Raiders of the Forbidden Valley
Chapter 21: Back to Nature

An original story by Hannibal King, told in serial form

Indy looked at Qwam Sung Ho with a tired and battered expression. This was not what he needed after his battle with Fenris. He looked at the Chinese villain's army of thugs. Each one of them had a gun pointed at Indy's head. Susan looked at him as if expecting some decisive action.

All Indy could do was raise his hands.

"Very wise Dr. Indiana Jones!" Qwam Sung Ho moved forward, supported by two of his men. He looked very old; his face was papered with parchment-like skin. "I have enjoyed this game that we have played, it would be a shame to kill you before you could witness me claiming the prize!"

"Listen to me Sung Ho, this isn't going to be how you imagine," Indy began

"How can you possibly know that?" Sung Ho asked with derision.

"I just know that it won't be," Indy muttered. He remembered Walter Donovan being torn apart by hundreds of years in the space of seconds. And he remembered the Grail Knight, trapped for centuries in a lonely temple in the desert. A prisoner of the Grail's immortality.

Indy looked at Sung Ho, but the man just wasn't contemplating failure. He gazed at the tree with wonder.

"It is wonderful!" he whispered. Indy knew that he was fighting a lost cause. He had seen this kind of greedy fervour in people's eyes before. Rene Belloq, Mola Ram, a man who wore a Panama hat that he'd never found out his name, Walter Donovan, the list went on and on. Sung Ho had been consumed by his obsession. It was a look that Indy recognized and feared - it was a look that he had seen mirrored in his own eyes on occasion.

"Dr. Jones, you have been as worthy an opponent as I have ever faced. You remind me of a tenacious Briton called Smith. However, I have outlived him and I will outlive you!" Qwam Sung Ho turned and looked at Indy "this is the beginning of my greatest achievement! China will soon be under my grasp. I will crush that buffoon Mao Zedong like an insignificant bug. I will rule over China with an empire of terror and violence. No man will defy me! I will build an unstoppable army and we will cross the continents and countries until I control everything!"

"It's nice to have ambition," Indy smirked.

"I have the ambition and soon I will have the time that I need! I will have all the time that anyone would need!" Sung Ho looked at Indy with malevolent eyes.

"You are a fool!" Indy hissed.

"Bow before me Jones! Bow before the master of everything!" Sung Ho replied coldly.

The guards nearest him clubbed the back of his knees with their rifles. Indy slumped forward, tired and sore after his confrontation with Fenris. All he could do was watch as Qwam Sung Ho moved towards the great tree Ygdrassil.

Susan moved towards Indy and helped him onto his feet. They watched as Sung Ho picked up some leaves from the ground around Ygdrassil's mighty trunk.

"At last!" Sung Ho intoned.

He broke the leaf up into tiny pieces and held them cupped in his long talon-like fingers. He turned to face his men and held the vegetation up triumphantly.

His men cheered and some fired guns off into the air.

Qwam Sung Ho slowly held the leaves to his mouth and took a mouthful. He slowly chewed at them and looked at his hands. Indy watched with fascination as he ate some more of the mighty ash trees leaves. The spring of water started to bubble and froth and the tree started to bloom into buds unlike any that Indy had seen on any of his travels.

Qwam Sung Ho suddenly lurched forward and fell to his knees. Indy smiled grimly - this was it. The tall Chinese villain coughed and groaned in pain as the leaves began to do their work.

"How do you feel now Sung Ho?" Indy yelled defiantly.

"I feel . . . I feel . . . I feel better!" Sung Ho looked up at Indy with the face of a fifty-year-old. His hair began to grow thicker and regain its color. Sung Ho looked at his hands, as the skin seemed to reknit itself with strength and suppleness.

Indy looked at the transformation with amazement. This was not what he had expected.

Qwam Sung Ho stood up without any assistance. He felt the skin on his face - it was becoming smooth and soft. The wrinkles around his eyes started getting smaller and soon they too were gone. Consigned to memory. Sung Ho spine crackled and popped as it began to restrengthen itself and he became noticeably taller.

"Now what do you say Jones?" Sung Ho asked with a strong and mellow voice. He now looked twenty-five.

The rejuvenation had stopped and Sung Ho laughed.

"Kill them, kill them both!" Sung Ho ordered his men.

Indy looked around and saw that the guards had all started aiming their guns at both he and Susan. He grasped her hand and held it tightly.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

She looked at him with clear blue eyes and smiled reassuringly.

Suddenly one of the men began to scream. Indy looked at the man and saw that his fingers had seemingly turned to wood, melding themselves with the stock of his rifle.

<"Master . . . please"> he looked at his master with horrified eyes and screamed in agony. A scream that was smothered as a whole load of green tendrils shot from his mouth and started wrapping themselves around the mans body.

Sung Ho looked in awe-struck horror as his soldiers started suffering from the same phenomenon. Vegetation and plants were consuming them. Indy looked as one man rushed towards him, fungal growths were puffing from his face. His legs were becoming hard and knotted. The man fell to the ground and his entire head exploded in a puff of spores.

Qwam Sung Ho listened as his men became one with the earth. They were all being merged with the ground.

Indy looked around and saw two men wrapped together like Siamese twins. Caught up in a mixture of flesh and vegetation. They struggled feebly as the tendrils that shot from their mouths and eyes sought out the ground and pulled them down.

"Onto the ledge Susan!" Indy barked and they both ran from the carnage. Dodging the pitiful sight that littered the cavern.

The screams were dying, as the men's torment became something altogether different. None of these thugs were dying. They were being given the gift of immortality.

Indy and Susan clambered onto the ledge and looked across the cavern floor to Qwam Sung Ho. The ground before him was now lush with vegetation and life.

Sung Ho opened his mouth and pointed at Indy. He began to scream in fury, but this was replaced by a sibilant hissing. Even from this distance Indy could see that Sung Ho's eyes were changing. They had widened and almost shifted position to the side of his face. Sung Ho looked terrified. His pointing arm began to shrivel and wither away, as did his other arm until they were stumps at his shoulders.

"What's happening Indy?" Susan asked.

"I don't know honey!"

Sung Ho's skin began to take on a scaly look and a green hue began to tint his neck and cheeks. Then Indy realized what was happening.

Qwam Sung Ho was changing into something!

Qwam Sung Ho was changing into a snake!

He shuddered with revulsion as the villain's clothes began to split, as his body became elongated and wider. It was now a knot of muscle. His arms were completely done and his neck was becoming as wide as his shoulders. Still it had Sung Ho's face.

The tree was changing him.

"Jonessssssss!" Sung Ho managed a garbled plea for help and then his face began to change shape. His mouth elongated and his jaw flattened out. Indy watches as his legs became one and started to stretch to an impossible length. The Qwam Sung Ho / snake being was becoming longer and longer. As it expanded it began to coil around the base of the tree. The Sung Ho serpent darted towards Indy and Susan with its jaws wide open, but Ygdrassil had begun to wrap its roots around the serpent's body, trapping it. Soon both beings were locked in an eternal embrace.

Serpent and tree.

Ygdrassil and Nidhoggr!

"Oh my God Indy!" Susan said and looked at the scene before them. The snake was biting at the trees roots. But there was to be no escape.

Qwam Sung Ho had found his immortality!

"What the Hell's . . ." Indy began, but his words were lost as he and Susan were gathered up in a kaleidoscope of colors.

They were being expelled from the underworlds.

Indy held onto Susan's hands but they were wrenched apart by the force of the Rainbow Bridge.

Color gave way to darkness.

Marcus and Grey Wolf looked in the ruins of the mineshaft.

"Do you think that it's over?" Grey Wolf asked his dusty friend.

"I have a feeling that it is old man. Now let's go into town and have some breakfast."

Marcus started moving towards his horse.

"What about Indy?" Grey Wolf called after him

"I'm sure that he'll be alright," Marcus said with a twinkle in his eyes "he has a knack for surviving against quite difficult odds. Now why don't we go down to Innsmouth and get something to eat? I'm absolutely famished!" Marcus walked towards his horse and saw that far below them in the bay around Innsmouth the sun was beginning to rise over the sea.

A new day was dawning.

Indy snapped his eyes open and found that he was nestled in the branches of the tree.

"Well done, big guy!" a small voice said to him. Indy was unsurprised to see the squirrel sitting next to him.

Far below them Sung Ho / Nidhoggr was thrashing around trying to destroy the tree.

"What happened here?" Indy asked the squirrel.

It shrugged and looked at him.

"The same as always happens. The battle was fought and won!"

"What battle?"

"Oh for Pete's sake! The eternal battle between good and evil, light and dark, squirrels and weasels!"

"What?" Indy looked at his companion

"Okay, I made the last one up, but the principle stands. Good and evil will always battle each other!"

"So, we won then?"

"No, look at the size of that snake down there! The point of the battle is that neither can win. If either side won then the balance would be lost and the world would surely die," the snake looked at Indy and scampered up onto his shoulder.

"So, what about Ragnarok?" Indy asked him

"It's over, but it has still to begin!" the squirrel replied enigmatically "The end is the beginning is the end! This cavern and all of us little critters are without time! We don't travel the same plains as you do buckaroo!"

"What?" Indy looked at the squirrel, who scampered down onto his knees.

"The cavern isn't in normal space. It doesn't really physically exist, but it's very real and important. You've saved things and maintained the natural balance. As you have before and will again. Ygdrassil thanks you Indiana Jones!" The squirrel turned and scampered off into the shadowy depths of the trees lush foliage.

"Any time," Indy muttered.

He snapped his eyes open and looked at the starlight sky. A husky leaned forward and started licking his face with enthusiasm.

"Easy boy!" Indy said and pushed the dog away from him gently as his entire body was aching. He looked around and saw Susan lying in the snow, as if on cue she started to stir.

"Oh, I think I'm going to be sick!" She muttered and then as if stung she said "Indy?"

"It's okay sweetheart, I'm here!" he got to his feet and helped her up. They looked together at the horizon.

The Rainbow Bridge was gone.

Indy put his arm around her and held her close to him.

Both lost in the moment. Both lost in their thoughts.

Both alive!

Epilogue I

Beijing, 1949

The man sat in his chair regarding Mae Ling with curiosity. He had spent the past three years in a civil war against Chiang Kae-Sek's forces and had recently forced him and his Koumingtang to flee China for Taiwan. He was tired but enthused of the future of his country. However this woman was an enigma. She had been the daughter of one of China's most feared crimelords and had disappeared with her father a year ago. Now she was back.

"What is that you think you can do for me?" Chairman Mao Zedong asked.

"There are a number of artifacts that were spirited away by Chiang Kai-Sek's forces as the war was drawing to a close. I can help you retrieve them. I can pass onto you much of my late father's wealth and property. I can do much for you Chairman Mao, but I ask for one thing in return."

Mao Zedong was not a naive man; he blanched at the prospects of collaborating with this woman. However, he also saw the inherent benefits.

"What is this favor?" he asked

"When the time comes I want assistance in the destruction of a capitalist lackey called Indiana Jones!"

Mae Ling's eyes burned with hatred and Mao Zedong saw a passion that he could use in many ways.

"Please Mae Ling, have a seat. We shall discuss this matter over tea."

Epilogue II

The American / Canadian border, 1949

Deep within a disused mine shaft thirteen miles from the spot where Hume had been killed was the second site. In a shrine, bound by ancient magic a small black idol sat within a ring of runestones, waiting patiently for someone to discover it.

Patiently and silently and eternally.

The End

<== ==>

Indyfan.com Site Author: Micah Johnson
Page Author: Hannibal King
Created: Oct. 4, 1999
Last modified: October 4, 1999