Maronia, Crete: 17 May, 1941
The shot glass shattered behind George Petersen's head as he ducked; Marion already had another one in her hand. "You knew I wouldn't agree with you! That's why you didn't tell me!" The owner of the kafenia had raised his head above the counter and was waving his hands to encourage George to get her out of there.
"Marion," he began. "Dr. Jones is an expert in this sort of situation..." She threw another glass at him; the owner of the kafenia ducked back behind the bar. "You know we don't have much time, and we were lucky he agreed to come here."
The next glass clinked as she placed it back on the counter. He felt a surprising absence of relief. "You signed my name to the telegram, didn't you?"
At the time, it had seemed perfectly reasonable. Justified, at least. "Ah... well... Yes."
Marion pulled the cork out of a bottle of raki, filled the glass, and drained it. She closed her eyes for a moment, and then repeated the process.
"Marion, I had no idea you wouldn't wish to see him. He was one of Abner's students as well."
"That's right," she said. "You had absolutely no idea."
At least she wasn't shouting any more. "I'm sure if you'd prefer you can go down to Iearapetra for the week."
"Don't be more of an idiot, George. Go get the truck. You don't want to leave Indy waiting around for us in Heraklion. You also have no idea how much trouble he can get into."
She didn't talk to him for all the hours it took them to get to Heraklion, and she ducked what looked to George like an attempt by Dr. Jones to kiss her hello. He sighed to himself. It was going to be a long week.
On the road near Praisos, Crete: 18 May 1941
The truck bounced and swayed up the road -- road might be an optimistic term, Indy thought, one hand pressed to the roof of the cab to keep himself in the seat -- trailing clouds of brown dust. The sea was far behind them, now, olive-tree terraces falling down the slope on one side and scrub-covered hillside rising up steep in the other. Petersen wrenched the wheel around and the truck lurched to the right; at least one wheel went straight off the track into thin air and olive trees scratched the right-hand door. "Sorry about that, Dr. Jones," Petersen boomed. "Sharp bit of rock in the road there -- ripped up my tire two weeks back."
Indy grunted an acknowledgement and winced when Marion kicked his ankle. Then the truck bounced to the left, throwing her against him; he wrapped his arm around her and whispered, "Where did you find this guy?" She dug her elbow into his ribs as she straightened up.
"Didn't quite catch that, Dr. Jones," Petersen said.
"I said," Indy shouted over the rattling engine, "what kind of finds have you had at the site?"
That was enough to set Petersen off about the kamares ware and the Mycenaean drinking-cups; Indy slouched down against the seat and tried not to glare at him over Marion's head. Idiot, he decided. Tall, yellow hair, bluff English accent -- Indy couldn't imagine what Marion saw in him. Idiot.
"...but it's the architecture which is the extraordinary thing, isn't that right, Marion?"
"Sure, George," she said.
"The rock around the spring is carved out, and the base of the shrine is still visible. Frankly, I've been digging here since I was a boy, and I've never seen anything like it. Just wait -- we're nearly there." He jerked the wheel around again, and this time the truck did leave the road and went sliding and leaping down a set of collapsed terraces, stones shifting under the wheels and flying out to either side, and Petersen's cheerful, "Hang on, Dr. Jones!" still ringing in Indy's ears.
OK, maybe the idiot thing was part of his act. Maybe he was just an asshole.
Petersen cut the engine about halfway down and they rolled to a stop at the bottom of the hill. He jumped out of the truck, clearly no worse for the wear, and turned to help Marion. Indy shoved the door open on his side and slid out; he was pleased to find that his legs were still willing to support him. "Here we are," Petersen said. "The site itself is just behind the house." He began to walk in the direction he'd indicated, as if perfectly sure that Indy and Marion would follow him.
Indy watched him go. "So," he said to Marion. "You and George, hunh?"
She scowled. "I wasn't going to hang around waiting for you to get back from your latest adventure."
"Sure. And I'm sure George-Porgie there is great at everything he does, and considerate, too. For an Englishman. Shouldn't he be in the RAF, or wherever guys like him go in a war?"
"Screw you, Jones," she said.
If only, he thought. At least he managed to keep from saying that aloud as he followed her back behind the broken stone walls of the farmhouse.
The site turned out to be a neatly laid-out dig, a grid of trenches marked by white string, reaching back from the end of the farmhouse to the hill that started to rise up just behind it. "The house belonged to an old woman," Petersen was saying. "The people around here believe that the valley is cursed, and I must say I've had an awful time keeping workmen. I want to show you the spring." He led Indy around the edge of the trenches to the hillside, and then leaped down to the trench floor, where the excavators had hit some kind of bedrock. They'd followed the surface, which turned out to be a black stone basin, five feet in diameter; it ended in a smooth wall rising up against the hillside. "It clearly isn't a natural formation," Petersen said. "Come down here; you can see the tool-marks on it."
Indy jumped down and crouched next to Petersen to look where he was pointing; the edge of the basin was grooved. "And this isn't something your workman did?"
Petersen snorted. "My workmen won't come near it. Marion and I did the digging back here."
Hunh. "Any idea how old..."
"We found some Early Minoan III fragments in the lowest levels. But the feature was in use for a long time, maybe before that -- you can see how they carved the stone around the spring into this wall-and-basin thing. And if you look over there," he pointed to one side, "you can see the foundations of a Middle Minoan shrine of some kind."
"Fine. It's old. Why'd you two telegraph me?"
"Step into the basin," Petersen said.
He jumped, and then stood still, blinking his eyes. "What the hell..."
"You felt it?"
"Like someone threw a bucket of cold water in my face. You too?"
Petersen stepped in to stand next to him. "Each and every time. If you look at the back wall, you can see that there used to be a spring here. The place holds the memory. We couldn't let the workmen back here."
Indy found himself nodding. "What else?" Petersen tapped the wall. The hollow sound was just what Indy was expecting. "You guys got a pick, back there?" he asked.
"In the house," Petersen said. "I'll go get it."
When he was out of earshot, Indy turned to Marion. "I guess there are a couple things I still do better than George, after all."
"I didn't know he wrote to you," she said. "And if he'd asked me, I would have told him not to."
She turned her back on him and went to look at the stratigraphy on the trench wall; the silence dragged on until Petersen came back. He tossed a pick-axe to Indy, who hefted it to judge the weight and -- just as Petersen shouted out in horror -- slammed it into the smooth wall of rock. The crack of it seemed to echo back and forth through the valley and then, before the last vibrations could die, Indy swung again and once more, until water and stone burst out with a huge crash, pushing him back and down and filling the basin as they scrambled, soaking, back up into the trench.
"So, George," Marion said. "You figured the spring dried up, right?"
Petersen shrugged and climbed back down into the basin. "Pass me a lantern?" He lit it and held it into the hole Indy had made. Indy climbed in after him and looked over his shoulder. A tunnel stretched out into the darkness under the hillside, the source of the water that was still pouring out onto their legs. A few more blows with the pick and he and Petersen had cleared it enough to crawl through. The ceiling curved just above his head, and the dark water came up to Marion's waist as it flowed out. He took a few steps forward: the bottom beneath his feet was smooth and free from sand.
They waded forward, the lamp held high, for thirty yards; Indy counted his paces without even thinking about it. Then the tunnel curved out to his right, and slowly back. Just past the first bend, Indy stopped.
"Jones!" Marion hissed, but he held his finger up to his lips and listened. There had been something, the noise of another bit of wall falling away at the entrance to the tunnel, which might have been natural but... he listened harder. The ripples around them smoothed over as the water flowed silently around them. Nothing. Indy met Petersen's eyes over Marion's head. Maybe he'd been hearing things.
Petersen blew out the light.
Still nothing. Darkness, and no noise but the water. He blinked his eyes closed and opened them again. No difference. If there was someone back there, he wasn't using a light.
"Don't tell me you left your matches outside," Marion whispered. Petersen chuckled, and there was a fumbling noise which Indy guessed involved passing the lamp to her. The match scratched and lit, and then the lamp was sputtering out yellow light.
As they advanced the tunnel kept curving inward, tighter and tighter, into a spiral. The walls were carved in the jagged, unreadable script the Minoans had used, the signs worn down by the water as they got lower, but still sharp near the ceiling. No images of any kind, just column after column of half-erased text in an entirely forgotten tongue. Indy was holding the lantern high, looking at a letter-form that reminded him of some Ugaritic lettering Abner Ravenwood had shown him once, when he forgot to feel with his feet before taking the next step: the bottom disappeared beneath him and he sank straight down into black water.
There was nothing to see, no bottom, nothing around him as he fell and it took his mind a moment to realize what was happening and tell his legs to kick out. He came back up to cold darkness, coughing and spluttering from taking half a breath of water and flailing around. "Dammit, Indy," he heard, "where are you?" and Petersen, too, saying "Dr. Jones?" Then small hands grabbed his arm and pulled him back toward her; he let her support him for a moment, until her remembered that he shouldn't.
"Where's my hat?" he said. His arm was still around Marion's shoulders; he removed it.
"Forget your damn hat, Indy."
"No," Petersen said. "I have it -- the current sent it back this way." Indy felt the air between them until his fingers touched the brim; he jammed it on his head despite the water dripping down his neck. It wasn't going to make him any wetter.
"Do we have a spare torch?" he asked.
"You were carrying them," Marion reminded him.
Great. He felt along the wall, hands and feet inching forward. There was a narrow ledge and they crept along it, Marion's hand on his back; Indy was willing to ignore the fact that Petersen would be holding on to her, as well. His clothes were giving him goose-bumps. It took them a few minutes to skirt the edge of the well, or whatever that was; after that they moved forward a little more easily, but still in contact, Indy, then Marion, then Petersen. The floor was sloping up, and the water level was dropping. They made the final, tight spiral on dry ground, dripping water onto the stone; then the wall curved back out under Indy's fingers. "Stay here," he said. He followed the wall around until it brought him back to Marion: the tunnel had come to an end in a small circular room. He reached up, but couldn't feel the ceiling.
"Is this it?" Marion asked. They began to explore the walls by touch: it was smooth and felt plastered, nothing like the water-smoothed carving of the tunnel.
"Hey George," she said. "Got a light?"
"Of course." Indy could hear the rustling of cloth and paper and the whoosh of the match lighting, and in the brief flare, a small round pot in Marion's hands.
"Try again," she said, and Petersen repeated the process. This time the wick caught and Indy saw that she was holding a simple oil lamp. There were three more on the floor by the wall of the tunnel. "Oh," Marion said, as she raised the lamp and stared at the walls.
Out of the sun, the paint had never faded. The walls were covered by the deep blue and bright reds and greens of an intact Minoan fresco. White-skinned women surrounded them, swaying forward and turning back in two dancing lines, holding out their hands for small birds and butterflies to land, tendrils of ivy curling under their feet. They had long black hair curling down their backs and high white breasts pushing up out of their bodices. Above them the walls rose up into darkness; Marion held the lamp up but they couldn't see the ceiling.
Petersen walked forward to the opposite end of the room, where the double procession ended in a painting of a shrine. Snakes curled around the columns and water flowed from the altar. "Is this the shrine?" he asked.
Indy turned from his appreciation of the priestesses. "This is the antechamber," Indy said. "That's the shrine out by the spring." Marion was frowning at him. "What?" he said. "I was looking for clues."
"Sure, Indy," she said.
He was still trying to think of a smart reply when Petersen waved him over to examine the base of the shrine. There was a raised pattern under the plaster and Indy ran his fingers over it; the middle section gave, very slightly, when he pressed. "What do you think, Dr. Jones?"
"Call me Indy," Indy said, and pressed harder. He heard stone grinding on stone. "Hang on tight," he said, as the floor shook and dust rained down from the unseen ceiling.
"Jones!" Petersen protested. Marion was clutching Indy's shoulder, and he felt his own stomach clench as he thought of the floor dropping out beneath them. Then the wall in front of him began to shift and he heard the familiar grinding of stone on stone. Stairs rose up from the first step of the painted shrine and all along the wall, up over the painted procession and into the darkness.
The stone was solid under their feet as they ascended; the oil lamps they carried shed a dim light on the painted walls on the left but did nothing to illuminate the darkness on the other side. For the first two circuits Marion tried to make a joke about minotaurs but after that even her voice fell silent against all the black.
The stairs ended long after Indy lost track of time and distance. They found themselves in the center of a wide stone chamber. As Petersen stepped off the final stair, torches along the walls flamed into light.
"That was the antechamber," Indy said. "This is the shrine."
They stood in an oval chamber, at least seventy feet long. Here too the walls were painted with abstract patterns and what Indy sincerely hoped were imaginary monsters: winged lions, women with birds-heads and there, the body of a man with the head and shoulders of a bull. Next to him, Marion muffled a shriek; he looked where she was pointing and saw a pile of bones covered in dust and scraps of cloth, skeletons stacked six high and who knew how many deep.
"Mother of God," Petersen said.
Indy turned around. "You can say that again."
She was enormous: twice life-size at least, and her uplifted arms and hair curling out in all directions only made her seem larger still. She was clothed like her priestesses, but the ruffles on her skirt fell in bands of silver and gold, and snakes curled around her golden bodice. Her face was ivory, her lips and nipples bright red. She looked ready to step out of the fresco and strike them with the axe resting on the altar before her.
Indy took a careful step forward. The floor seemed stable, but he gestured to Marion and Petersen to stay back.
The altar was carved of the same black stone as the floor of the chamber, as if it had been left behind when the sanctuary was hollowed out; it sat on a little dais, on which someone had placed terracotta snakes, curled into coils. At least they were only statues; he still did his best to avoid them as he leaned forward to inspect the axe itself. It stood straight up in a socket carved into the altar, two semi-circles of bronze chased with gold, the wooden haft suspiciously solid under bands of gold and blackened silver.
He was reaching out to touch it when Petersen hissed, "Jones!" and gestured at the stairwell. Now that he was listening, he heard shuffling; now that he was looking, he saw the even glow of a kerosene lamp. Someone -- many someones, he thought -- was coming up the stairs.
The altar and the stacked skeletons provided the only cover. The torches along the wall flared back to life no matter how many times they were stubbed out: no shadows to hide in. Petersen drew his gun, as did Indy; then Marion drew one as well, and took a torch down from the wall for good measure.
The first thing out of the stairwell wasn't a head or a hand: it was a hissing canister, and Petersen ran forward and kicked it back down the hole before they got a good look at it, but Indy knew that smell. Gas. The next one came to him, and he flicked it back with his whip, and the same with the one after that; he only realized that it was a grenade when he heard the boom from the antechamber below. The next one went to Petersen; he kicked it again, but it missed the hole and skidded across the floor toward the bones.
Indy threw himself flat on the ground as it exploded and in that moment the troops burst out into the sanctuary: he fired, and fired again, and saw Petersen firing, despite the blood on his right sleeve, and Marion too. She looked dirty but unharmed -- and then his gun clicked -- empty or jammed, how many bullets had he fired? -- and he was staring into the face of a young man who crowed "Na, bitte!" and then fell forward, still grinning. Petersen had shot him in the back. He leaped forward to punch the next man to climb into the room -- and when the hell had the Germans landed on Crete, anyway? -- half-seeing Marion slamming her torch down on a soldier's head. Petersen tried to get to her, and Indy would have, but a blond-haired giant caught him by the shoulder, spun him around and punched him in the face. His head snapped back and when his eyes could focus again he saw Petersen go down, surrounded by five soldiers, and winced when one of them kept kicking Petersen in the back.
They were all pulled to their feet, still struggling, but aside from some groans and a few muffled curses the soldiers had fallen into the kind of silence that implied the arrival of someone important.
There was nothing in his dusty brown clothes to distinguish the man who came up the stairs from the men under his command, nothing but the set of his shoulders and the way he surveyed the room. That, and the salutes from the soldiers who weren't clutching their wounds or holding Indy, Marion and Petersen. He delivered a few brief orders before turning to look at the prisoners.
"Miss Ravenwood, I believe?" he said. "And of course, Dr. Petersen, we are old acquaintances. Or should I call you Captain Petersen? Yes, I know your rank." He turned to Indy. "But you, I don't know. Introduce us, Captain Petersen."
"Fuck you," Petersen said.
"Really, Captain. Such language, and in the presence of a lady." He turned a dubious eye on Marion. "At least, I presume so. Introduce us, or I'll have him shot."
Petersen stared at the German officer. "Dr. Jones, may I present Herr Professor Albert Hoffmann, formerly of the German Archaeological Institute in Athens, and currently, if I'm not mistaken, of the German Abwehr. Herr Professor, this is Dr. Indiana Jones. May I remind you that as American citizens, he and Miss Ravenwood are neutrals.
Hoffmann didn't seem to be listening. "You have quite a reputation in Berlin, Dr. Jones."
"Yeah, it's nice to be appreciated."
"Indeed." He turned to one of the soldiers next to him. "Erschiess ihn."
"What?" Petersen said, and as the gun came up Marion cried out, "Indy!" but it was drowned out by the shots, one, two, and then another, driving him back even before the pain started. The last thing Indy saw was his own blood, shining black in the torchlight against the dull black stone.
A messy business, Petersen thought, supporting a woman while she cried her eyes out over another man. Especially when one's hands were bound and one couldn't pat her back in a soothing manner. "I'm so sorry, Marion," he said.
She sniffled; he hoped that she wasn't wiping her nose on his shirt and immediately felt guilty for caring and ridiculous for worrying about his shirt when they were being held by the Germans.
"Marion," he whispered. She mumbled something into his collar. "Marion, do you know where we are?"
The noise she made was somewhere between a gasp and a sigh, a kind of hitching breath. "A church," she said. "I think so, smell the incense? I don't--"
"Marion," he said, trying to sound soothing. "I'm blindfolded."
"So am I," she shot back.
"I think I passed out for a while on the way here. Marion, can you think..."
"We went uphill," she said. "I mean, we had to, from the valley, but we kept going."
"A hilltop church, then? Agios Elias?"
He could feel her shrugging. "Maybe, I'm not--" her voice was rising again.
"I'm so sorry, Marion."
She sniffled again at that. "Get us out of here, Petersen, and then I'll decide whether I can forgive you."
That much, he was willing to try.
The last torch gutted and died. In the darkness something stirred: dust and clay shaped into bone and flesh and smooth scales. Then a tongue, flicking out to taste the air, and another and another, and the soft brush of scales against the stone floor. They curled around the base of the altar, encircling the broken spiral of their fellow, licking the clay body and nudging the broken pieces until they scattered, meaningless, before the altar.
Then, hissing and tasting the air, they slithered down from the altar and into the sanctuary: fading warmth and iron in the air led them forward. Here, too, was something broken, but this soft flesh could be repaired. They licked and twisted and nuzzled, wrapping themselves around the body's arms and legs, curling over its torso, while the wounds grew smaller and smaller, whispering secrets in its ears until its eyes flashed open.
"Oh, shit," the body said. "Snakes."
Somewhere in Eastern Crete: 19 May 1941
Marion knew that she could do a good job thrashing around and struggling against the ropes around her wrists and ankles, but George was clearly playing in another league altogether. There was a pattern to his motions: first some wriggling, then a pause as he tested the rope, then a little more wriggling. Meanwhile she kept kicking and pulling, all for nothing but a bad case of rope-burn and frustration.
"Ah," he said. "Marion, sit still." After a moment she felt him picking at the knot at her wrists; as soon as her hands were free she ripped the blindfold from her eyes and looked around.
The blackness was unchanged. "George?" Her voice wavered.
"I think we may be in the crypt, unless this is someone's cellar," he said. "Otherwise, I've gone blind."
She managed a weak laugh, then realized he'd been perfectly serious. "I can't see anything either."
"Good. I wasn't sure, having gazed upon the face of the goddess, and all that."
"What?" George was turning out to be much more complicated than she'd thought.
"You did notice that the processions on the frescoes were entirely female. That sanctuary was no place for men."
She thought of Indy, and swallowed. "So why..."
"My superiors believed that something in that shrine would be vital to the battle on this island."
"Hoffmann thought so too."
"So," she said. She cleared her throat. Her voice sounded a little firmer now. "I guess we'd better go find that axe." It's what Indy would have done, she thought, and damn. Just as well it was dark and George couldn't see her.
He found the trapdoor by accident, pressing his hands against the low stone ceiling of the crypt. She guessed it was a crypt, anyway, by the metal cups and plates and folded cloth, and the complete absence of anything to eat or drink aside from a rack of wine-bottles. He pushed up, and the stone shifted before he could stop it. They both heard feet shuffling above them. "Back against the wall," he hissed, and she flattened herself next to the wine-bottles. The stone was lifted up, and dim light shone down onto the floor. She let out a sigh of relief she hadn't realized the was holding and then jumped when the light was followed by a hail of machine-gun fire.
Up in the church, the soldiers were talking. "Sehen Sie etwas?"
"Die sind nicht da, Leutnent."
"Natülich sind die da -- gehen Sie hinunter und überprüfen Sie es."
George caught her eye and gestured as the soldier dropped down, so she yelped in fear -- she wasn't faking that -- and the soldier turned toward her as he fell, the gun on her, but before he could get his balance George had dragged him back against the far wall and snapped his neck. Well, Marion told herself, they don't teach that at the Oriental Institute; if they did she might have sat in on more lectures. Before she'd finished the thought George had picked up the gun and was shooting up at the officer. She didn't even realize that she'd thrown herself flat on the ground until she tried to move and realized she'd have to get up first.
The German officer shouted something -- Marion only caught the word "grenate" but that was enough. She didn't want to be down here when they started dropping grenades into the crypt. George crawled around the wall to meet her by the wine-bottles. "Cover me," he said, and passed her the gun. He grabbed one wine-bottle and smashed it against the wall; then he kissed her cheek and added, "and do try not to hit me."
Marion fired wildly into the trapdoor and just as the officer shouted again for a grenade, George grabbed the edge and swung himself up and through, brandishing the jagged edges of the wine-bottle. Once he was clear she fired into the opening again; she heard a crash, and a single shot. Her hands were shaking as she lowered the gun.
"My God," George said.
He didn't sound injured. "George!" she shouted. No answer. "Hey, George!"
"Stay there," he said.
"Why?" She shouted.
"Oh -- not you, Marion. Just a moment." He appeared in the trapdoor, and reached his arms out to pull her up. It was a little awkward, with the gun as well, but once she was kneeling up on the floor of the church he held her arms gently. "Marion," he began, but she was already looking around -- it was Agios Elias, she was right -- and she saw the figure slouching by the door.
She got to her feet, and he took a step forward. He was wearing Indy's hat and Indy's battered jacket, and had Indy's whip coiled to one side. He lifted the hat as she took another step forward and she saw Indy's eyes and the way he his lips fell into Indy's slightly nervous smile, as if he didn't really expect a welcome. Then she was in his arms, kissing and being kissed, and this was Indy, it had to be, no matter how her hands found no trace of the wounds she knew should be there..
When they broke away to breathe she asked, "How..."
He winced. "There were snakes. I really don't want to talk about it." And as if he'd just noticed her hands resting on his naked chest, "My shirt was pretty much a loss."
"I really can't explain it to you, Marion." And there was that uncertain expression again, as if he was expecting her to push him away. She kissed him instead.
George coughed, and they broke apart. "I'm sorry to intrude with our very real problems but--"
Indy interrupted him. "I know, George. We have an axe to find."
"Hoffmann will be taking it nearer to the front line," George said. "Wherever that is. I don't suppose there was a radio outside?"
There was, it turned out: a radio, and a radio operator who was just beginning to sit up, groggy and blinking. George knocked him on the head and he went back down. Indy came and sat next to her as George fiddled with the German radio.
"So," he said. "How'd you end up working with Petersen?"
"Indy, I spent every summer in the field. I know a lot about archaeology."
"Hunh," he said. "So the two of you are..."
"Never mind. You think one of these Germans had a spare shirt I could steal?"
The sun came up behind them like nothing was wrong; George kept working on the radio, trying to find out where Hoffmann had gone. "They'll have to hole up somewhere for the day," he said. "We might get a chance to catch up with them."
"Without our truck?"
"I think the local priest has a donkey-cart." When they got down the hill, the priest and the cart were both gone. "Cagey old bastard," George said. "Probably heard the Germans coming and went for the hills."
"I don't understand how they got here in the first place," Marion said.
"Paratroopers," George said. "They won't have a great deal of kit, of course. They're probably using our truck to get around."
It took them until mid-morning to make it to a village; striped curtains fluttering in doorways and a few old men dozing in the square. George disappeared into the kafenia for a few minutes. He came back out looking surprised. "The good news is that there's a farmer in there with a truck," he said. "The bad news is that he won't let us have it. Or he won't take money for it."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
George chewed at his lip. "The thing is, Marion, you've become a bit of a local celebrity. He'll lend you the truck if you can drink his brother under the table."
She grinned. "Great. Let's do it."
The kafenia was just the front room of someone's house, with four small tables and a counter at one wall. Every head turned when Marion walked in; she wiped her hands on her filthy trousers and stared right back at them. There were two men sitting at a table in the center of the room; the farmer and his brother, she guessed, small stringy men, wrinkled and brown from the sun. They grinned at her as she pulled out a chair and poured the first round from the bottle of raki in the center of the table. Home-made stuff, it burnt going down. Just what she needed to wake up.
Eight glasses later the farmer's brother had the same grin on his face and every man in the village was crowded into the kafenia. Indy was standing just behind her, hut George had disappeared into a corner with a couple locals. She drained the next shot and slammed the glass down. It was getting hot in the little room and she was starting to wonder whether the farmer's brother did anything with his life but drink. He poured, drank, and filled her glass with the clear liquor. The owner brought them another bottle.
Three more shots, and she was glad of Indy's hand on the back of her chair; the brother's eyes were starting to glaze over and she just needed to hang on a little longer. Another shot down. He toasted her, drank, and swayed in his chair. The farmer started to berate him and he waved his hands to placate him.
"Lightweight," Marion muttered, and poured another round.
The farmer's brother understood her tone if not the word itself, and prefaced his next drink with a long, meandering speech. Looking back on past drinking-contests, Marion guessed; she kept smiling and nodding. George had made it back to the table. The farmer's brother finally drank. Then he pushed his chair back from the table and started to stand up; she was going to ask him what was wrong, but before her tongue could start moving he was falling backwards, nice and slow, collapsing first onto his chair and then into his brother's arms. The kafenia burst into shouting and applause as Marion poured one more glass, spilling raki all over her hand, to toast her unconscious opponent. Most of it made it down her throat as Indy helped her to her feet and George asked whether she could walk.
"Sure," Indy said.
He swung an arm around her shoulders and turned her around so that she was facing the door; the floor seemed uneven, but she smiled and waved as he guided her out. "Bye, guys! See you later!" He kept pushing her toward the truck, a hulking, dirt-covered shape that probably dated back to the first war, and half-shoved her up into the cab. There was something wrong with the windscreen, she thought, because everything looked very fuzzy and dark.
"Should we get her some water?" George asked,
"No water," Indy said.
"No water," she agreed. "Love you, too." Her head fell forward as George started the engine and the truck rolled through the square.
When she blinked her eyes open she was resting her head against soft leather. Her mouth tasted like crap and her head was still fuzzy, but not too bad. She tried raising her head -- still not much pain -- and discovered that she'd collapsed against Indy's shoulder. He still had his arm around her.
"Where are we?" she asked.
"Near Palaikastro," George said. "Someone saw our truck heading down this road last night. Feeling better?"
"Sure," she said.
"Good, because we'll leave this truck here and go in on foot." He cut the engine and let them roll to a stop just off the road. The fresh air felt good on her face while he and Indy divided the guns they'd taken from the Germans at Agios Elias.
Indy passed her a handgun. "Here's the plan. George and I will create a distraction, and you run in and get the axe from Hoffmann while his men are busy with us."
"That's your plan?" she said.
"Hey! It's not a bad plan," Indy said.
"Sure. Why do I have to get the axe from Hoffmann?"
"You're the smallest," George said. "And frankly, Marion, you're a terrible shot even when you haven't drunk a few bottles of raki."
She grumbled to herself but followed them along a set of terraces and then through the prickly bushes until they rounded the curve of the hillside and saw the shore below them and the sea shining blue in the afternoon sun.
The beach was fringed by a semi-circle of scrubby little palm trees. They crouched down and squinted and could just make out the figures sheltering under them. "There's an old Minoan palace here," George said. "You can just see it at the edge of the water, in the sand. My guess is that they'll head out there at nightfall to do whatever they're here to do. That's when we'll move." He turned to Marion. "Would you like something to eat?"
She considered her stomach. "Sure."
They had a few hours before sunset. George ended up dozing against an olive-tree, but Marion picked her way through the thorns and found a place to sit where she could see the water. After a little while, Indy came to join her.
She rolled a few sentences around in her head and settled on the obvious. "You ought to be dead."
"So should you, after all that liquor."
"I'm not joking around, Indy. What happened back in that cave?"
He was quiet for a few moments. "There was something in there with us. It isn't happy right now."
He skin prickled. "Oh." She took a couple of breaths, until she was sure her voice wouldn't shake. "You scared me half to death back there."
"Yeah?" he asked.
He gave her a lopsided grin. "Me too." They stared out at the sea in silence; then he asked, "Hey, Marion? How about, when we're done here, you and me go for a drink?"
She smiled. "A drink?"
"Yeah," he said. "You know, a drink. If you ever want to drink again."
"I'm fine, Indy. You know I have a hollow leg."
"So that's what you call it."
She elbowed him in the ribs. "Hey," he said, "be gentle. I died yesterday, don't forget."
"I'm not going to forget that any time soon."
"So how about that drink?" he asked.
"Sure," she said. "That sounds good."
They picked their way back to George as the sun began to set. He'd been busy watching the Germans. "There are fourteen of them," he said, "in addition to Hoffmann. And they have a prisoner. There, under the second palm tree. A boy. Local, I expect. Hoffmann has the axe, too. I saw him unwrap it earlier."
Marion watched the soldier moving about; they lit torches on the beach and set up some kind of table just at the water's edge. Two of the soldier dragged the prisoner -- it was a boy -- out to the table, and Hoffmann followed with the axe.
"I don't like this," Indy said. "We should move." He was already getting to his feet, George following suit. "As soon as you hear them shooting, head for the trees. Free the boy or grab the axe, whichever looks easier. Just make sure you interrupt the sacrifice."
"Sacrifice?" she asked. "Indy, wait a minute. Where are you..." but they were already moving, George to the left and Indy to the right. She couldn't see them, in the dark, but she heard the gunfire and ran straight down the slope to the palms. Hoffmann was shouting in German and the soldiers were running around, all but two of them still standing by the table. The altar. Crap. She hoped that the shooting meant that Indy and George were still out there, but she didn't know how long she'd have. The two soldiers weren't budging; she didn't think she could take them out, and Hoffmann too, without getting killed herself, which was not part of the plan. She focused on breathing deeply, because hysteria wasn't part of the plan, either. There had to be something, she thought, and then, of course. Their truck. It was standing under the palms just few yards away.
No one was watching as she climed in and started the engine. Someone was screaming, down the beach, but it didn't cover the engine noise: the two soldiers sprinted up toward her as she slammed her foot down and was very, very glad that she couldn't see the face of the German she was about to run over. The impact, the crushing sound as he went down, that was bad enough and she wrestled with the wheel and realized that she had no idea where the second soldier was.
She could see Hoffmann, standing over the altar with the axe, just down the beach from her. Sand sprayed out from the wheels as she turned the truck toward him. He raised the axe above his head just as she slammed into him, knocking him sideways. As he went flying the second soldier dropped into the cab from above and knocked her out the door and into the surf.
She blinked salt out of her eyes as she came up and hid next to the altar. She was going to kill Indy for coming up with this plan. She peeked over the altar and saw the last soldier feeling around in the water for something, Hoffmann maybe. She set to work on the ropes tying the boy to the altar; they were soaked and swollen and the boy wouldn't stay still long enough for her to get a grip on them. She dug her nails in and worked on them by touch as she kept looking around to see if anyone was about to shoot at her.
The wind picked up and a wave crashed over them. She held onto the ropes but the last soldier was knocked off his feet; he came up without his gun, she was glad to see, but with Hoffmann's body. Just then Marion got one of the boy's arms free. He ripped off the gag and started screaming at her in Greek. "Do your other arm," she screamed back, because she just had a moment to duck as the soldier swung at her. He overbalanced in the water and she knocked him down and tried to sit on top of him as he thrashed against her and the waves pounded them both. She got her hands around his neck and held on tight: the world was nothing but foam and noise and the man struggling under her.
Even those three things were swallowed by a single gunshot. She looked up and lost her grip on the soldier. Hoffmann was standing over her, until he began to lean, then fall forward, the axe sliping from his hand, and Indy standing just behind him, gun in one hand and whip in the other. Then the German soldier coughed and sat up and punched her in the jaw. Everything went black.
Near Praisos, Crete: 22 May 1941
The tunnel roof collapsed with a satisfying crash. "I reckon that's that," Sergeant Davies said, adding the "sir" after a pause. George supposed that he wasn't quite their idea of an officer. He'd been lucky that the engineers of the 18th New Zealand Battalion had been willing to accept his orders at all, considering his salt-encrusted state and the amount of German weaponry he'd been carrying.
Or not lucky, precisely: the island, or the goddess, was taking care of her own. Ever since Palaikastro, when he and Jones had dragged Marion and the axe from the water, he'd had the sense that something was gathering its strength, preparing for what might be a long battle ahead. It had been something of a disappointment to learn from Davies that the three of them had not managed to foil the entire German invasion on their own; the entire western part of Crete was under attack, and the situation looked grim.
All that was out of his control. He had ensured that whatever else happened, the axe would be safe, buried under its mountain; he would stay on Crete to watch over it. He expected, or more honestly he hoped, that Marion would evacuate along with Jones. At the moment, two of the engineers were trying to chat her up while Jones looked on and sulked. She waved and grinned when she saw George watching her.
The smile faded as he started to explain his plans. "Nope. No way. No. I'm not going anywhere."
"Marion, you're a civilian -- a neutral civilian -- in a war zone. What do you think you'll do if you stay?"
"What do you think you'll do?"
She scowled at that. "You mean you're going to get yourself killed doing something brave and stupid."
"I can't help my stupidity," he said, "but I will certainly try not to be brave."
"Please don't argue, Marion. You know you can't stay on Crete, and I would feel slightly better if I knew you were with Dr. Jones."
"Oh," she said. "So that's your plan. You want my help getting Indy out of here!"
He tried to keep his satisfaction off his face. "Yes," he said, "that's it exactly."
At sea, between Crete and Alexandria: 25 May 1941
The boat stank of dried squid and waves were washing over the deck, But Indy considered them lucky to be on it. Two days of haggling for a boat in the small port town of Sitia had been useless until the town's communist mayor realized that the Germans really were coming and decided to take his whole family to visit a cousin in Alexandria. His tiny, wrinkled mother-in-law, swathed in black, had spent the entire afternoon glaring at Marion as if the invasion were her fault, before retreating below when the wind picked up. Indy had the feeling that he and Marion were expected to stay above along with the mayor's five nephews and eight cousins.
The boat dipped in the swell and salt water splattered over him. Now that it was dark they were going as fast as the boat could, in this choppy water. Marion was picking her way across the deck, through the luggage and the nephews and the cousins; then the boat rose and fell again and she went flying toward the rail. Indy caught her and helped her back up, keeping one arm around her and one on the rail.
She grinned up at him. "Never thought you'd miss Katanga, hunh?"
"I miss that dress," he said. In the dark he figured she'd never know that he was leering at her, too.
She elbowed his ribs anyway. "You would."
"Good times," he said.
"Sure, being chased around the Mediterranean by Nazis is my idea of a good time."
"A guy could be forgiven for getting the opposite idea." He felt her draw her elbow in. "Hey!"
"Watch it, Indy."
"I hear there's some good Nazi-chasing and treasure-hunting in Mesopotamia this year. We could take a look at that, if you want."
"Or maybe we should head down to Cairo and visit Salah."
"That's more like it." She leaned back against him. Her hair was damp and probably salty; he leaned down to kiss her head and find out. "And we could visit the Well of Souls while we're there, see what it's like when no one's trying to kill us."
"You'd be bored."
"On second thought, so long as I'm with you, Indy, there'll always be someone trying to kill us."
"So, you don't want to go sight-seeing in Egypt," he said.
"Not unless you're going, too."
"I might be able to clear some time for that."
"Yeah?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said.
The boat dipped again and a wave crashed over them. "Shit," she said. "How many days is it to Alexandria? I really do miss Katanga."
He held her a little tighter. "Sure you do, Marion. Sure you do."
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Raiders of the Lost Ark and its
sequels are the creation of Steven Spielberg, and presumably a lot of
other corporate entities.
I make no claim to ownership of these properties.
Many thanks to Rez and Rhi for beta-reading under pressure, and to Mona for German translations.