Awesome job, btw. My goal is that once we get this thing done, I'll compile all of the files and go through and edit and clean up the language then post it as a single file, possibly with the cover artwork to The Raven. I'll credit both of us with the translation. Sound good?
On a side note, what are you using for the translation, or do you know some German? I am using Systran, which does an okay job. It really is difficult to capture the German language to English so a lot of it is interpretation for me.
As far as I have translated, it does not contradict in any way, especially since they only very loosely referenced El Dorado in Crystal Skull. But I have not completed the translation yet so I could be mistaken.
OK JuniorJones and I have done about 2/3rds of the book. I haven't heard fromhim lately, and I have been very busy with moving and a new job. I still haven't given up though. I basically did a rewrite of Junior's stuff to get it all in the same "voice". I will make an upload of what's been done so far if anyone is interested.
For anyone who has read the book, we've got up to and including the MAJOR action scene on the river done after the villain has basically wiped out a native jungle village.
There was a loud screech of car tires outside. Indiana was up in a split-second, jumping like a tarantula on its prey. He tore open the door just as a car screeched to halt outside.
But when Indiana peered through the door it wasn’t Laurel and Hardy as he had halfway expected. He saw the brake lights light up on a dirty Oldsmobile, and he recognized it immediately as the car that had pursued him from his house to the university campus earlier – and sitting behind the wheel was the same thug he had seen driving it and his partner. Obviously something had gone wrong with Reuben’s arrest. Indiana held out a momentary hope that the two goons might continue driving, and not notice his old beat up Ford outside. But it was short-lived. The Oldsmobile’s tires screamed as the driver slammed on the brakes about a meter passed his car, and Indy could hear the screeching of gears as the driver slammed it into reverse.
“What is going on, Dr. Jones?” asked Benson, who had stepped up behind him. “Who are those people? Do you know them?”
“No,” Indiana answered quickly, and then added: “Not exactly. But they are definitely not friends of mine.” He thought aloud. The car came backing into the driveway at high speeds. Indy could see the man in the passenger seat was already going for his door handle. In a few seconds, they’d be at the front door. With a little luck, he could possibly get away from them a second time – but it didn’t take much imagination to know what they would do to Benson.
“What’s going on here, Dr. Jones?” Benson demanded a second time in a very serious tone. “I demand an explanation! Immediately!”
“There’s no time!” Indiana answered hastily. He tore open the door completely so the thugs outside could see, then turned and grabbed Benson up by the folds of his house coat and started shaking him so violently back and forth that the old man gasped in surprise.
“Protect yourself!” Indiana hissed. “For the sake of God, Benson, you have to fight me. Hit me!”
But Benson did not understand at all. Confusion flooded his ashen gray eyes and a look of terror fell across his face. He stared incredulously at Indiana, until he was pushed so roughly against the door frame that Indy could felt he was going to break the old man’s ribs. From the corner of his eyes Indy saw the Oldsmobile lurch from side to side as it rolled backwards up the drive. It came jerking to a sudden stop half way up the ramp, and the passenger door ripped open.
“For God’s sake, you have to defend yourself!” Indiana yelled desperately and forcefully took Benson by his house jacket again, shaking him back and forth. The physician made no effort to resist and tried to sit down, so Indy roughly pushed him up against the doorframe a second time – this time trying inconspicuously to shove the paper with Stanley’s name and the postcard into the empty file binder in the doctor’s hand. Benson groaned with pain and sank to his knees. He hoped the two goons behind him wouldn’t see through the deception. He grabbed Benson’s hand and shoved the postcard and binder of Stanley’s file into Benson’s jacket, hoping the goons hadn’t seen the movement. It nearly broke Indy’s heart to treat the old man in such a way; however he knew it was the only way he might be able to save the man’s life.
He leaned over Benson and yanked him up above his shoulders, then flung him to the ground again, but at the very last moment he tried to inconspicuously counter the move to avoid hurting him. “Now listen! Act like you’re unconscious! Don’t move no matter what happens. And if anyone comes asking for Corda’s file, tell them I took everything from you! Don’t give it up to anyone. Your life might depend upon it!”
Benson rolled his eyes and moaned quietly. Indiana had no idea whether the old man had heard his words or not, let alone understood them. Indiana prayed he had, not only for Benson but for Marian and Marcus as well.
Indiana heard the steps behind him and quickly stood to his feet as one of the two thugs appeared on the steps with them.
“What’s going on here?” the larger thug asked. “Who is this old man?”
“No one,” answered Indiana gruffly. He hoped his response would deter the rogues from further inquiries about Benson. He took a large step over the old man, who lay there moaning and half-unconscious. He bent over and snatched Stanley’s almost-empty file out of Benson’s hand, raising it triumphantly into the air.
“Take me to Ramos,” he said. “I have what he is looking for.”
“A postcard!” Ramos’s fingertips glided over the glossy surface of the colored photo on the card and his empty eyes were turned toward the opened file on the table before them. It was almost as if he could see it, and was a very weird sight.
Indiana shrugged his shoulders, even though he knew Ramos could not see this gesture either. “This is all I could find,” he answered. “Nothing else was in the file except for this.”
“And of course, the doctor knew nothing else?” Ramos added with a smile, not really directed at anyone. Then he raised his head to ‘look’ in Indiana’s direction. “Or, perhaps he kept his pledge of medical secrecy and you, being his scientific colleague, respected this oath and didn’t probe any further, Dr. Jones?” Indiana could detect the mockery in his voice, as well as the threat behind his words.
“He really didn’t know anything,” Indiana said. Since Ramos would not see his facial expressions or gestures, he tried to sound convincing with his voice instead. He hoped that he had not achieved the opposite effect. “I got everything he knew out of him.”
Ramos sat silently for a while. He continued to run his fingertips over the postcard and the piece of paper with Stanley’s name on it. “Why can’t I shake this feeling that you are not being completely honest with me, Dr. Jones?”
“I’ve told you the truth about Benson,” insisted Indiana, hoping that Ramos wouldn’t notice his skillful attempt at diverting the question. “Of course he refused to talk at first, but I finally convinced him.”
“Yes, Peter has told me,” Ramos said, indicating the man with his left hand; the same gangster who had approached him at Benson’s house. Indiana had quickly realized it was also the same man who had taken him by surprise in Corda’s office at the university. As of yet, Ramos’s bodyguard hadn’t come back. Indiana presumed Reuben, Henley and the other agent had been able to overwhelm him, but in the commotion he guessed the other two had managed to get away in the ensuing struggle. So much for honor among thieves, Indiana thought to himself.
“However, that is what bothers me, Dr. Jones,” Ramos said as Indiana’s continuous silence told him that he would not get an answer to his question. “This is exactly what troubles my thoughts.”
“What? I did everything you asked. What more do you want?”
“I have heard a lot about you, Dr. Jones,” Ramos said steadfastly, still smiling and in a tone that seemed almost friendly, although Indiana knew it to be quite contrary. “Your reputation precedes you, and you are not the type to be particularly squeamish. But that Dr. Jones wouldn’t hit a defenseless old man for information. It doesn’t suit you. So now you understand why I am finding it hard to believe.”
“I did not hit him,” Indiana defended, attempting to feign indignation. “I took his file away, that is all. He didn’t want to give it up, so I gave him a little shove which caused him to fall.”
“You shoved him for an empty file which contained nothing but a postcard?” Ramos’s brows furrowed in doubt. “And you are sure he brought the entire file to you?”
“It has Corda’s name stenciled in large letters on it,” Indiana answered, annoyed. “Ask one of your whipping boys, they will confirm it – if they can read, that is.”
“I do not doubt that, Dr. Jones,” answered Ramos. “I only ask myself whether there was more in this file than the postcard. Perhaps something you forgot to bring or tell me about.”
“Perhaps there is another file,” answered Indiana. “Or maybe he filed the papers incorrectly. I didn’t have much time to look around, you know. Those two idiots you sent behind me were about to alert half the city the way they were driving. It’s a miracle that I was able to get as much as I did!”
Ramos stared onward. It was an uncanny sight; the effect of which did not diminish but actually became stronger with each passing moment; Indiana looked for something else in the man’s eyes, eyes which had seen endless darkness. Nevertheless, Indiana felt like those eyes were analyzing him. It was a frightening thought, facing a man whose blind eyes seemed to peer into his soul and understand his secrets, just as easily as peering through a window. In order to break the awkward silence, Indiana stubbornly continued: “I have done what you asked, Ramos. Now keep your word and release Marcus and Marian.”
A cold, volatile smile fell over Ramos’s face. “Oh, I will keep my word, Dr. Jones. No fear,” he said. “I will, in fact, release your friends as soon as I determine if the information you brought to me is worth anything.”
“That’s what you mean by keeping your word?” Indiana asked sharply.
The man to Ramos’s left started to make a threatening move, but Ramos made a rapid hand gesture that settled the goon back down, for the moment.
“A postcard and a scratched greeting aren’t exactly worth two lives,” Ramos said harshly.
“That is everything, I swear!” Indiana protested. “You already know more than anyone else about the situation.”
Indiana wanted to stand up and take charge of the situation, but now was not the time. He surmised Ramos was toying with him, trying to get him to act out in passion or anger, hoping Indiana would make a mistake so he could find a hole in Indiana’s explanation. “Yes,” he answered calmly. “And I am sure you have figured this out. And I also know something as well. You did not kidnap Marian and Marcus to find out more about Stan’s character. You kidnapped them to find out where he was. He hid his tracks well. Damned well. Not even the FBI knows where he and his men have gone.”
“And we know little more than they do,” said Ramos.
Indiana protested. “You’re wrong.” He pointed accusingly at the map before Ramos, but quickly remembered the man would not see the gesture. “A track is there,” he persisted. “La Paz is a big place. But it’s not that big. You make a few inquiries, beat a few brows. I’m sure you have experience in those areas,” Indiana continued sarcastically. “A man like Stan, accompanying a dozen or so mercenaries, will stand out, even in a city like La Paz.”
“There you may have a point,” answered Ramos calmly. He stood up confidently, almost as if he had no problem seeing, and pushed the paper back into the file without looking at it, and then picked it up. “I will think about what you have told me, Dr. Jones,” he said. “Until I come to a decision, you will remain our guest.”
“Actually…” protested Indiana, stepping toward Ramos. But before he could say anything further, one of Ramos’s men stepped quickly behind him and grabbed his arm, twisting his wrist so roughly that he gritted his teeth in pain.
“Take him to his friends,” said Ramos. “So that he will be convinced they have been treated well and no harm has come to them.”
At some point, the room he was taken to must have served as a storage place for a fuel yard or was very close to the exhaust of a large heating system. The air was sticky and the smell of oil and gasoline penetrated it so heavily that Indiana could hardly breathe. The dim light seemed to come from a single weak bulb that hung on a naked wire beneath its cover. The room was empty except for a couple of damp and moldy smelling straw-filled bags, on which Marian and Marcus had been thrown with their hands and feet tightly bound.
When Marcus had said they had been treated well and no harm had come to them, Indiana realized he had only kept half his word. He had been brought down here to be shown that Brody and Marian were still alive and, at least outwardly, uninjured. But he had not been able to talk with them – the two were not only bound but had been gagged as well. One of the two men who had brought Indiana down here stopped at the side of the doorway to stand guard, and was determined not to move from that position. Indiana had been shoved into the corner of the room and forced to his knees, but he was not bound. The goon stood in the doorway and grinned at him, a Tommy Gun hanging in the crook of his arm, waiting for Indiana to make a wrong move.
Indiana tried to communicate with Marian and Marcus as best as he could, but had failed. Marian was more unconscious than awake on her straw bag. Although her eyes were open, she appeared to alternate between a gloominess and emptiness. Marcus had tried to say something despite his gag, but the guard quickly quieted him with a crude blow to his rids with the butt of the gun.
So now, all they could do was wait. How long? Indiana did not know.
Some time had passed since he had been brought down to the room; surely half an hour if not longer, Indiana surmised. It was hard to determine how much time actually passed while being locked in a tiny chamber with no windows and very little artificial light, and nothing seemed to stir except the occasional uncomfortable movements of the prisoners.
However, Indiana used the long, quiet moments to think in peace for the first time about everything that had transpired – and to admit to himself how foolish he had been. Why had he believed Ramos would keep his word? He struggled to keep his thoughts straight. Why hadn’t he listened to Reuben? If not him, why not his own internal voice. Was he feeling guilty because now, someone other than himself was in danger? Perhaps a life worth more than his own? What led him to believe that a man like Ramos possessed anything resembling honor? The cold-bloodedness with which Ramos had let the old shopkeeper be killed should have been a warning.
Indiana sat in that cold, dark room, staring in emptiness at his surroundings. He alternated between long bouts of silence, then curses at Ramos and the whole world. Quite a while passed before he once again heard steps outside the rusted but sturdy door of the cellar in which he had been locked. The door creaked open. The sharp light from the corridor penetrated the darkness, and through squinting eyes Indiana recognized the crippled shade of Ramos and two other men behind him. They stepped inside, and Indiana made an attempt to rise, but a gesture from Ramos led to the second man rebuffing the attempt with the butt of his machine gun.
Indiana grunted as he fell back to the ground.
“You deceived me, Dr. Jones!” Ramos said. Although his voice was quiet, Indiana felt the menacing threat in the words.
“I don’t understand…” Indiana started, but Ramos cut him off instantly.
“You insult me still. You think I am stupid,” Ramos continued. “I don’t blame you for trying it before, but if you continue to treat me like a fool, I will become really annoyed!”
Indiana didn’t understand. He alternated his confused stare between Ramos and the second man, the other thug from the university pursuit. He was about to protest when he heard a muffled bang through the open door. It took Indiana a fraction of a second to recognize the sound: it was the echo of a gunshot. An instant later there were more shots, and then he heard the cries and trampling sound of numerous footsteps.
“You are right, Dr. Jones,” said Ramos, almost as if he had read Indiana’s thoughts. “You’re friends from the FBI have arrived to free you and your two friends. I must be honest; I did not expect them to get here so fast.”
“I don’t understand. I…” Indiana shook his head in honest astonishment. “I had no idea where your hideout was. They must have connected the dots. It wasn’t me.” Suddenly it occurred to him. “Your bodyguard! He must have told – “
Ramos interrupted him furiously. “Frank would never betray me!” His outburst was so sharp and aggressive that Indiana did not dare contradict him again. “It is you who betrayed me, Dr. Jones. Did we not have an agreement? You broke it – now you will pay the price for it!”
Indiana wanted to protest, but the two thugs yanked him roughly to his feet and slammed him into the wall with so much force his breath rushed out of his lungs. Indiana’s reflexes almost made him grab at the man’s head in resistance, but the thug stepped back and aimed his weapon at Marian. Indiana froze in his motion.
“Come along!” Ramos instructed.
The other man grabbed Marian and roughly yanked her to her feet, then grabbed Marcus and did the same. The first thug pushed Indiana out into the corridor where another of Ramos’ men waited. Indiana looked around, searching for any possibility of escape. Although the lighting was dim, the corridor was long and narrow. There was no way they could get away without being shot.
One of the men produced a key and separated Marian and Marcus’s foot shackles. However their wrists remained bound and the blindfolds were not removed.
“Where are you taking us?” Indiana demanded.
Ramos dismissed him with a gesture. “To a safe place, Dr. Jones,” he answered. He narrowed his eyes and ‘stared’ at Indiana. Although they could not see, they could express hatred. “You deceived me. Did we not have an agreement? We – “
Indiana heard a gunshot again. This time it was much closer. Ramos broke off in the middle of his sentence and turned his head in the direction from which the shots were coming. The shots were accompanied by the sound of dozens of feet and slamming doors. Splintering wood followed, and the door at the end of the corridor broke open. The shadows of two or three men appeared in the dimly lit corridor, followed behind by the shapes of other men.
Indiana decided to bet everything on one card. Counting Ramos, there were four gangsters here, three of which were armed with machine guns. But they were also distracted for the moment. Indiana made a lightning-fast step to the right. He noticed movement out of the corner of his eye as one of the thugs caught on to his plan. He ducked at the same time the thug lurched for him. The hasty movement robbed him of his balance and he fell clumsily to the ground. His kicked his foot kicked out at the same time and struck one of the thugs in the stomach as he tried to aim his machine-pistol. Luckily, this makeshift attack threw second thug backwards into another gangster and they both fell to the ground. The second man’s finger accidentally tightened on the trigger, releasing a salvo of gunfire in the narrow hallway. It sounded like cannon-fire echoing in the narrow space, and Indiana instinctively ducked his head as sparks exploded throughout the corridor from the ricocheting bullets. Sparks exploded next to Marian’s face as a bullet struck the stone corridor wall. The third thug, who just wanted to take on Indiana and was about to attack, suddenly grabbed his shoulder in pain and fell to his knees. But it appeared that Indiana’s winning streak was about over. He rolled over and tried clumsily to get to his feet, but with his hands tied behind his back it proved more difficult than he expected – especially since Ramos had turned around and with amazing marksmanship for a blind man tried to kick Indiana in the face. He missed, but his foot slammed into Indiana’s shoulder and knocked him down a second time. Shots rang out again, and the ricochets screamed off the back part of the corridor. One of the other thugs got to his feet and rushed forward, then with a gasping cry he fell back to the ground and lay still.
Indiana rolled quickly three or four steps to the side, trying to get out of Ramos’ reach. Rage distorted his face and small, raspy screams issued from his mouth as he stamped wildly on the ground where he thought Indiana would be. Suddenly the hallway was full of hurrying and fighting, men were screaming and scurrying movements were everywhere; Ramos’ men rushed in headlong flight down the corridor, followed by half a dozen figures. Indiana thought he even glimpsed Laurel and Hardy amongst the pursuers.
“The woman!” Ramos screamed. “Bring her!”
Two of the newly added gangsters pounced immediately on Marian, who fought back desperately. Indiana jumped to his feet and tried with all his might to break the bonds that tied his hands, but the thin leather straps simply dug painfully into the skin on his wrists. A punch hit him in the chest and threw him back against the wall. As he fell helplessly back to his knees, he saw another gangster grab Marcus and drag him roughly behind them as Ramos and his thugs headed down the corridor away from the melee.
The fear for his friend gave Indiana renewed strength. He jumped up and ran through one of the guys who had gotten in his way. He stomped unceremoniously after Ramos and the men who were dragging Marcus and Marian with them. Behind him, he heard someone shouting his name over two or three shots. A bullet bounced on the wall right next to him as he ran, howling as it ricocheted through the corridor, but he ignored all of these things and ran faster.
The passage ended in front of a locked metal door, which one of Ramos’ companions was trying to unlock with flying fingers. Two other gangsters were holding Marian and Marcus, while another turned to Indiana and came at him with fists raised. Indiana simply ran right through him, bounced awkwardly, and stumbled against the thug who was holding Marian. The sheer force of the collision knocked the gangster to the ground. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon whose point of view) Indiana also fell. The impact of Indiana’s weight caused the thug’s head to bounce so harshly against the floor that he lost consciousness on the spot.
Ramos’ companion was still working diligently at the lock on the door, which was still several steps down the corridor from Indiana. He finally managed to get it open. The door swung inward with a loud squeak and opened into a room of total darkness. Ramos shouted something Indiana didn’t understand, but almost at the same moment two more gangsters appeared and pounced on him. While still on the ground, Indiana met the first with a sharp kick to the shin, which made the guy stagger back in pain. But the second guy grabbed him by his collar, pulled him up, and threw him with such force against the wall that for a moment all Indiana saw was stars and he crumpled to the ground, fighting back the dark shroud that threatened to envelop him.
He heard Marian screaming, and with panic in his voice Marcus shouted his name and something else he could not understand. He was suddenly grabbed and yanked into the air again. A ghostly face appeared before him. Indiana tensed in anticipation of another punch or kick. Instead, the driving mist cleared before his eyes, and he realized it wasn’t one of the gangsters that had pulled him back to his feet, but one of Reuben’s men: his hair was sticky from sweat and his face flushed with exertion, but he wore the typical suit of a FBI official, and in his right hand was Smith & Wesson .38 caliber. He was shaking Indiana wildly with his left hand.
“Are you all right, Dr. Jones?” He asked.
Indiana made a motion that was a combination of a head shake and a nod, and when he freed himself from the grip of the FBI official he missed falling back to the ground again by a hair. “My wrists,” he blurted. “Cut me loose. Quick!”
The FBI man threw one quick glance back down the hallway, then produced a knife from his pocket and began sawing at the leather straps of Indiana’s bonds. Reuben’s men had apparently driven most of Ramos’ men away – all but one or two who still doggedly fought against the overwhelming armed federal agents. Most of the remaining stragglers stood with their hands up in the air or writhing on the ground.
Indiana sighed with relief as his hands snapped free. He wasted no time to massage his joints and move his fingers so that the feeling would return to his numb hands. Then he turned toward the now-closed door that Ramos and the men dragging Marian and Marcus had left through. Behind him Reuben cried his name, but he ignored it and ran even faster. He reached down and grabbed one of the machine guns Ramos’ thugs had dropped and threw himself against the door.
The door burst inwards, crashing into the wall. Indiana stumbled for a few steps more, then stopped in complete darkness, trying to get a look around. His eyes needed to adjust. The echo of his steps revealed that he was in a very large room. The little bit of light that managed to creep in from the hallway behind ended just a few feet inside.
“Jones! What the hell-“
Reuben’s voice trailed off, and as Indiana angrily turned around he saw the shadow of the FBI agent as a black silhouette looming in the doorway.
“Be quiet,” he said. “They are in here somewhere.”
Reuben did not answer, but he tilted his head as if it would help him listen. After a few moments, he thought he heard muffled sounds somewhere in the room in front of them in the darkness. But he couldn’t pinpoint the exact direction.
“A lamp,” ordered Reuben to someone behind him. “Bring a lamp here! Quick!”
Indiana crept a few more steps forward, and Reuben lifted a frightened hand. “Stay where you are, Jones,” he said.
Indiana did not remain in place, however. On the contrary, he fumbled forward with carefully outstretched arms, moving further into the darkness until his fingers encountered the cool, tough resistance of the wall. Behind him he heard Reuben cursing, yelling once more for a lamp. But he tried to ignore the commotion and focus on the faint scratching and tapping that was coming from somewhere in front of him. “Left.” He was almost sure it was coming from the left.
Reuben continued to swear and roar “Jones” with increasing loudness. But Indiana continued on, feeling his way deeper and deeper into the darkness, until the stone beneath his fingers suddenly turned into the rusted metal of a door. He quickly fumbled for the handle, and pressed down on the catch. He registered relief that the door was not locked. When he gently pushed it open, he saw light. It was just a glimmer, a pale yellow stripe emerging from underneath a door at the far end of a corridor. But now the noise he had been hearing became louder.
Indiana prayed that no one was lurking in the darkness before him. He moved the machine gun from his left hand to his right and stormed down the corridor. Behind him, the door he had just opened crashed loudly as it closed.
When he reached the end of the corridor, he paused for a second to take a deep breath – and slammed his shoulder powerfully into the door and blew it inward. Before him lay crates, bales, oil drums and all sorts of other junk cluttered the basement, rising almost to the ceiling. A single, bare bulb spread yellow light and even more shadows. Ramos, Marian, Marcus, and two of Ramos’ gangsters were faced with another locked door at the other end of the room. Ramos’ men strove in vain to open the door and escape from the fortress. As Indiana approached they turned, and he startled them with his raised machine pistol.
Indiana pushed on instinctively.
It was pure coincidence, but the machine pistol volley struck the wall, creating sparks next to one of the killers. The last bullet from the salvo struck the killer’s gun, snatching it from his hand. The guy stumbled around clutching his wrist in pain, while the second turned his attention from the door and turned toward Indiana, where he started to raise his machine gun.
“You better not try it,” said Indiana as he pointed his gun menacingly at the gangster.
The thug froze in mid-motion. His eyes flickered as he alternately looked at the ruined gun, his companion whimpering in pain on the floor, and the gun in Indiana’s hand.
“Shoot him!” Ramos said in a shrill voice. “Shoot him down!”
The thug hesitated, clearly torn between the fear of the weapon in Indiana’s hand and Ramos standing in front of him. The fear of his master was stronger. Suddenly he jumped to the side and fire simultaneously with Indiana. Indiana had guessed the movement from the start, and managed to doge away. The machine pistol volley smashed the door behind him. This thug was not as lucky as his friend. The bullets hit him squarely in the chest and shoulders, and flung him to the ground dead.
“Shoot him!” Ramos screamed again. “Bring him to me!”
Indiana slowly lowered his weapon. “Give up, Ramos,” he said. “There is no one here to help you.”
Ramos’ already disfigured face contorted even more with rage. With agility Indiana would never have credited him with, he spun around and grabbed Marian. Indiana noticed for the first time that she had managed to get rid of her shackles at some point, because her hands were free. Still, she made no attempt to put up a fight. Ramos dragged her around and wrapped his arm around her neck from behind and groped for one of the many wooden boards scattered on the crates around them. “Not another step closer,” he snarled as he brandished his makeshift club in the air.
Indiana was in the middle of raising his machine pistol to point it at Ramos, but he stopped and laid the weapon gently on the ground. Apart from the fact that he was not a marksman, the machine pistol was not an accurate weapon. Besides, he was not going to kill Ramos.
“Give it up,” Indiana said. “It’s pointless now.”
Ramos appeared to disagree. While Indiana cautiously approached him, Ramos pushed Marian awkwardly ahead of him with bumps from the wooden club. As he approached, he started swinging the club angrily and violently in the air.
Indiana realized what Ramos was up to a second too late.
Ramos’ punches weren’t as aimless as they first appeared. Indiana was maybe four or five steps away from him and Marian when the club smashed against the light bulb and it shattered. The room plunged into darkness, from one end to the other, in a split-second.
Indiana swore, stormed forward, and threw himself with his arms outstretched in the direction where he suspected Ramos and Marian would be. He heard a scream as he hit a body, which he forced to the ground with himself. He realized at that moment that it wasn’t Ramos but Marian.
When he heaved himself up again, he heard a crazy giggling in the darkness, along with quiet, dragging steps, but he could not tell exactly where they were coming from.
“Well, Dr. Jones,” taunted Ramos. “Do you still think you have won?”
Indiana did not answer. He felt something coming toward him, then felt a terrible blow to his shoulder that threw him to the ground. He fell, rolled to his side, and instinctively attempted to cover his face with his arms – a fraction of a second before Ramos’ club would have smashed it.
The blow split open the skin on Indiana’s forearms. He gasped in pain and surprise, rolled over again, heading blindly into the direction in which he suspected Ramos, but found nothing.
Again he heard the rapid, uneven steps and the mad giggle of the gangster. “My compliments, Jones,” Ramos said gleefully. “You were almost there. Almost.”
Again Indiana sensed the strike coming, but his reaction was not quick enough. Ramos’ stick hit his right shoulder when he tried to sit up and threw him helplessly to the ground again. Indiana clenched his teeth, rolled over three, four, five steps to the side and took another furious blow to his side as he scrambled to get to his feet. Quick as a flash he jumped, grabbed Ramos’s stick and tried to hold him. But the blind man pulled it with such force that the only result was tiny wood splinters buried in Indiana’s hands.
Cursing he jumped back, closed his eyes, and focused his listening on Ramos’ footsteps and the sound of his breathing. The blind man moved close to him, but Indiana succeeded in avoiding him even though he couldn’t make out exactly where he was.
Ramos figured out where Indiana was and struck another blow to his ribs, which made him stagger as Ramos giggled like crazy. Indiana tried to ignore the pain, rushed forward and stretched out his arms simultaneously. He grabbed a hold of something. A sharp, angry cry rang out and he felt clothing under his fingertips. He tried holding on with all his strength, but Ramos slipped from his grasp with amazing strength and agility, and gave him another blow with his stick.
Indiana stumbled back and crashed into a pile of boxes. Ramos giggled shrilly, caught up with him and struck another blow. Indiana managed to escape the blow by moving instinctively, and the club whizzed so close to his face that he could feel the breeze. Automatically he struck back with his fists, but met nothing but emptiness, and Ramos’ giggles rose to a nearly hysterical laughter. Indiana cursed as he freed himself from the mess of broken crates and planks, took a few more steps back into the darkness and crashed into another pile of junk. Ahead he heard grinding steps and the sound of a body moving with difficulty. In the silence and darkness, Indiana realized that it would be impossible to win this fight. The darkness was Ramos’ element, in which he could move around safely as only a blind man could. At this moment, it was evident Ramos had the upper hand and could really hurt him.
This idea proved to be a bad omen. At that same moment Indiana felt a draft, and something struck his head with a terrible force. He fell to his knees, once again fighting back the black shroud of unconsciousness. He gasped in pain, and brought his arms protectively to his face again, taking two or three more blows before he managed to back away and get to his feet. He threw an angry fist, but it was not altogether ineffective. Even though it only struck air, it drove Ramos back for a moment.
Light. He need light. He…
His right hand went into his pocket and he withdrew the lucky lighter he always carried. His hands were numb from the blows, but he did his best to strike it. It took three attempts before the sparks set fire to the wick. The result was a miserable blue flame – but the weak glow was enough for him to recognize the crippled shadow moving close to him in the darkness. Ramos stopped in mid-step. He cocked his head to the side, listening. Maybe he heard the flames, or the striking of the light. Or he felt the warmth coming off the tiny flame. In any case, Ramos seemed to sense something was wrong, because his movements suddenly became nervous and hectic. His improvised mace went whizzing through the air, narrowly missing Indiana by less than a foot. But now that Indiana could see his opponent, it wasn’t hard to doge the blows.
“What are you doing?” said Ramos. “I had you, Jones. You are dead. I will kill you! No one can stop me!”
Again he swung the stick with amazing accuracy. It hissed through the air and would have hit Indiana if he had not dodged quickly. Ramos let out a frustrated cry. Indiana took another small step back, then made a quick movement to the side and ran to where Ramos’ weapon had just struck the ground.. His foot hit the hand of the rippled man and knocked the plank out of his fingers. The hasty movement extinguished the lighter’s flame, but Indiana immediately flicked the lighter again.
The blue and yellow light revealed Ramos’ figure standing just one step in front of him – and a second slimmer but taller shadow approached the blind man silently from behind.
Indiana could make out Marian’s face in the dim lighting, but he saw the blade of the knife in hands even clearer.
“No!” cried Indiana. “Don’t do it!”
Ramos’ head snapped around with a startled movement, and Indiana tried to grab him and save him from the abyss. He just managed to yank him away as the knife, which Marian held tightly in both hands, missed its mark on Ramos’ back. The blind man pushed his wrinkled finger so forcefully into Indiana’s face that he cried out it pain. With his other hand he knocked the lighter out of Indy’s fingers, which went out as it flew away. Total darkness again filled the room.
Ramos began to squirm out of Indiana’s grip. He slapped at Indiana’s face three-, four-, five times and slammed his knee into Indiana’s thigh while he was trying to strike his testicles.
Indiana spun the blind man around with a curse and clasped his shoulders from behind. He squeezed him between his arms with such force that Ramos let out the air in his lungs, panting as he could hear cracking ribs.
“Stop fighting, you idiot,” Indiana said, “before I get really angry!”
Ramos screamed with rage and began to kick his legs, and Indiana squeezed a little tighter. He finally felt the blind man’s resistance fading.
“So,” said Indiana. “Now we will-“
A terrible pain shot through his upper left arm and continued into his neck and back. Indiana roared as he let Ramos go. He stumbled back and grabbed with his right hand. He felt cold, cutting steel, which buried itself deeply like a glowing fire in his palm, then he felt the small hand holding the knife.
"Marian!” he shouted. “It’s me! Indy!”
But Marian had not heard him, or she was out of her mind with fear. With a cry she tore herself away. The knife drew a second burning trail of pain over Indiana’s upper arm. He staggered back, grabbed in the dark a second time for Marian’s wrist and finally got it this time. With all his strength he squeezed until Marian loosened her grip with a scream, dropping the knife to the floor, clattering. However she still did not calm down. On the contrary, she was even more hysterical. She hit and clawed at his face so wildly that Indiana had to grab her other hand to restrain her.
It took a second for her to calm down, then he heard a grinding noise beside him. He turned his head – just at the right moment to get the board Ramos had torn loose from another crate directly in the face.
He probably wasn’t unconscious for very long, because the next thing he noticed was the white light of a lamp coming through his closed eyelids, excited voices and the echoes of isolated gunshots and screams.
For a moment he almost wished he had remained unconscious. His face felt numb and swollen, and his left arm was throbbing with unbearable pain. He also felt someone caress his face gently with their fingertips. He finally lifted one of his eyelids, and the light from the flashlight shot like a blinding pain arrow into his brain.
Indiana groaned as he laboriously lifted his uninjured right arm to push the flashlight aside and realized a second too late that he was not so inviolate – Marian’s knife-blade had left a painful gash in the palm of his right hand, which began to bleed immediately with the movement. Groaning, he lowered his hand again.
“Don’t move, Dr. Jones,” said a voice.
Indian blinked, slowly moving his head and opening his eyes, as the glare from the flashlight had been moved and was no longer blinding him. Someone was next to him, trying to cradle him and wrap a torn strip of his own shirt around the bleeding wound on his arm. Reuben was on his knees on the opposite side, waving a flashlight and looking at him with a mixture of relief, reproach, and anger.
“Actually, this is probably a stupid question,” Reuben said. “But how do you feel?”
“Fantastic,” murmured Indiana sarcastically. “What happened? Where are Marian and Ramos?”
Reuben ignored his question. “I honestly don’t know what impresses me more, Jones,” he said, the wrath no longer in his voice, “your courage - or your stupidity.”
“What happened?” asked Indiana again. He tried to sit up. He made it, but it hurt a lot. And the man who was bandaging his arm threw him a reproachful look.
“What the hell made you play hero?” asked Reuben angrily. “I hope you realize now that you could just as well be dead?”
Indiana took the precaution not to answer. Reuben stared piercingly at him for several seconds, before resigning the argument. He continued a bit calmer, but still clearly annoyed. “We do not appreciate you interfering in FBI business, Dr. henry Jones. We may have asked for your help, but that doesn’t mean you can run around like a cowboy at every opportunity. Why didn’t you tell us you found a clue?”
Indian looked at him questioningly, and saw the somber expression on Reuben’s face.
“We talked with Dr. Benson, Jones. So there is very little point in denying anything.”
“Did I deny anything?”
“So what are you doing here?” Reuben made an expansive gesture. “You wanted to rush Ramos’ fortress all alone? Damn, I told you we would find Marian Corda and your friend.”
“How could I know?”
“You should just listen to me,” Reuben spat back angrily.
Indiana looked at him with growing confusion. Not only was he physically miserable, he had a growing feeling he had behaved very rashly.
“Why haven’t you asked how we got here so quickly?” said Reuben.
Indiana was silent.
“I know that the FBI is generally considered dumber than a speeding bullet,” continued Reuben. Indiana’s persistent silence was obviously making him more angry. “But we are not. It didn’t even take two hours to figure out where Ramos’ hideout was. If you had left the whole thing to us instead of playing hero, none of this would have happened.”
“What?” Indiana asked meekly.
“This whole damn mess!” said Reuben. “Two of my men are seriously injured, and two or three of Ramos’ men are dead. That’s what we wanted to prevent. But once you got yourself captured, we had no choice but to storm the hideout.”
Indiana lowered his eyes, but he could still feel Reuben staring at him, waiting for an answer. Finally, just to have something to say, he asked: “Where is Ramos?”
Reuben snorted. “You know, Jones. I have good news and bad news for you. What do you want to hear first?”
“Start with the bad,” said Indiana.
“The good,” Reuben said, unmoved, “is that Marian Corda is free and unharmed. She was a bit hysterical at first, but she has calmed down already.”
Indiana looked firmly into Reuben’s face. “And I guess the bad news is that Ramos got away,” he surmised.
Reuben nodded. “Yes, he and two of his henchmen. But that’s not the bad news.”
“What?” Indiana asked, alarmed.
“They’re gone,” said Reuben, “and they’ve taken your friend, Marcus Brody.”
Location: Neuchâtel, Switzerland (Canadian from Montreal)
Originally Posted by punisher5150
OK JuniorJones and I have done about 2/3rds of the book. I haven't heard fromhim lately, and I have been very busy with moving and a new job. I still haven't given up though. I basically did a rewrite of Junior's stuff to get it all in the same "voice". I will make an upload of what's been done so far if anyone is interested.
Way to go, boys! You're doing Indy Literature Fans a great service!
This project is turning out to be its own serial cliffhanger!
I make another big update towards the end of the week, then one more possibly a week after that. It should catch up to where we have made it to in the translation. Meanwhile, my plan is to work diligently over the next few weeks to get more of the translation done.
Even the light was brighter here and somehow clearer than in New York, and although this wasn’t the first time Indiana Jones had set foot in South America, he could not recall having seen such a glaring sun. The air that stirred down the narrow, clean roads of La Paz seemed to boil, and it was unpleasantly warm and damp, making each breath a physical effort and each movement caused endless sweat. Marian had lowered the shutters of the hotel window, and a powerful ceiling fan hummed as it turned, but nothing seemed to help with the heat; it was quite the contrary. Sometimes Indiana had the feeling that the draft of air blowing from above was rather hotter still.
“Reuben’s back,” said Marian as she stood at the window peering down at the road through a gap in the shutter.
“Maybe he’s found something.”
Indiana looked up briefly. The light that penetrated the shutters was so bright that it nearly drove him to tears, and it left Marian’s shape a faded black shade. He squinted and noticed she had turned towards him. He sat on the edge of the bed with his shirt off and tried awkwardly to pull the two ends of a fresh sling together on his left upper arm. The wound was very deep, and although six days had passed, it still bled at times. It was still excruciatingly painful.
“Wait. Let me help,” she said, taking three or four quick steps to the edge of the bed. She bent forward and drew the two pieces of the sling together with the skill of a nurse, then locked it together with a safety pin.
Indiana nodded gratefully as he tried to slip his shirt on over the wound, gritting his teeth in pain at his arm stung furiously, throbbing against the movement. Marian helped him get his shirt on as well, then stepped away from the bed and looked down on him with sympathy.
“I’m really sorry, Indiana,” she said. She sighed. “I can’t help but think how close you came to being killed.”
Indiana wanted to get up and assure her that everything was fine, but stopped at the last moment as he twitched his shoulder and it only brought more pain. He could not count how many times Marian had voiced almost the exact same words in the past six days.
“It’s nothing,” he replied, just as he had done each time before, but they both knew it was a lie. It had been blind luck that the attacker’s blade had hit his bicep and not his heart. He wished it had been Ramos who had been stuck and not him, but the thought didn’t make the violent pain he had been feeling for days disappear, and also the fact that he would not be able to use his arm properly for weeks possibly. He didn’t know what was more uncomfortable – the pain in his arm or the shame and guilt Marion continuously reminded him of.
Before Marian could say anything more, the door pulled open and Reuben and Henley entered the room without a knock. Reuben’s face remained unmoved, but Henley looked surprised and with a salacious grin lifted his eyebrows up as he saw Indiana sitting on the edge of the bed with his shirt open. Indiana looked up at him, then at Marian, and finally back to the man. Indy swallowed the annoying comment that was on the tip of his tongue. This cretin would think what he wanted no matter what anyway.
“Mrs. Corda,” began Reuben. “How nice that you are here, too. It saves me from telling this story twice.”
Henley’s grin grew even wider, while Marian increasingly looked puzzled.
“What story?” Indiana asked rudely. “Have you found any trace of Stan?”
“At least indirectly, yes,” answered Reuben, turning to look at Marian.
“Indirectly?” Indiana sat up straight, using his right hand to cradle his wounded arm in the sling.
“La Paz is a big city,” said Reuben. “But even here, a dozen shady criminals that brought Corda with them can hardly go unnoticed. They were here as recently as three days ago.”
“Three days ago,” Indiana murmured, having trouble hiding his disappointment.
“It seems we just missed them,” answered Reuben with a shrug. “But don’t worry. We are pretty sure we know where they went. All the necessary preparations have been made. We can leave today.”
“Was Stanley with them when they left?” asked Marian.
Reuben shrugged his shoulders again. “I am guessing so,” he said. “But don’t worry, Mrs. Corda. As soon as we have caught up with the men, we’ll let you know how your husband is doing.”
It took a moment for Marian to fully understand him. “As soon as you…” she began as realization sunk in. She breathed deeply, then changed her tone sharply as she continued: “Surely you don’t think that I am going to stay here in the dark, not knowing whether you found him or not?”
Reuben suddenly looked very unhappy. “Dr. Jones will accompany us, Mrs. Corda,” he said, gesturing to Indiana. “And in his condition, I’m not even sure that is a good idea.”
“I’m coming along,” Marian said defiantly.
Reuben shook his head. He looked to Indiana for assistance, but saw none. It was not the first time they had tried to dissuade Marian from coming along. Since they had left New York and began the journey to Bolivia and La Paz, Indiana and the two FBI agents had tried at least a dozen times to change Marian’s mind, but to no avail.
“Please, be reasonable, Mrs. Corda,” pleaded Reuben. “The men we are chasing left this city to the east. That means they probably went into the jungle.”
“And you think it’s too dangerous for a delicate woman like me, don’t you?” Marian quipped.
Reuben remained serious. “Exactly,” he said. “It is difficult and dangerous.”
“I am coming,” insisted Marian.
Reuben sighed. “If you don’t believe me, Mrs. Corda, ask Dr. Jones,” he continued. “An expedition in the jungle is not a leisurely stroll in the park. And not to mention, we have no idea what to expect if we even catch up with the men...”
“So you are not even sure you’ll find them,” Marian said.
“Of course we will,” he answered hastily. “But the men that accompany your husband –“
“- are criminals of the worst kind,” Henley interjected. Marian looked at him with outrage, but it didn’t faze the FBI agent. He continued: “We have no idea why your husband is here, Mrs. Corda. But whatever the reason, it must be very dangerous. Otherwise he would not have brought a dozen criminals armed to the teeth with him. We simply can take responsibility for you.” He pointed at Indiana. “We can barely take responsibility for Dr. Jones. If it was up to me, I’d rather you both not be here. Not in this hotel, and not in this country.”
“Isn’t it true that you have no real jurisdiction here?” Marian said coolly. “The FBI has no power here, if I see things correctly. We are in Bolivia, not New York, Mr. Henley. You can’t tell me what I can and can’t do. I can go wherever I like.”
“Of course you can,” said Henley almost immediately. “But-“
“How good of you to finally realize that,” interrupted Marian. “There is no reason to discuss this further. Now I’ll pack my things and wait for you in the hallway.” She gave the FBI officials a cool look, then turned and left rapidly for her room to get changed and packed.
Reuben looked at Indiana shaking his head. “You should talk to her, Jones. It can really be damned dangerous.”
“I know that better than you,” Indiana said. Reuben turned to look at him again. “But I also know Marian. Don’t be fooled by her appearance. Once she has an idea in her head, she does it. And she was right – we are in Bolivia, not the USA. You really can’t prevent anything at all. On the contrary, those guys we’re after could give us considerable difficulties if word gets out to the right people.”
Again Reuben was visibly put in his place. Indiana had made a point. The relations between Bolivia and the USA had never been good, and in reality, at this point in time, they were at a very low point. Reuben had let slip on the way to La Paz that not only were they there without approval, but also there without the knowledge of the Bolivian government. They had left their FBI-authority behind, and were now just private individuals just like him and Marian – and they had undertaken this journey for nothing more than private reasons. And Marian had made it perfectly clear that under no circumstances would she be deterred from searching for her husband. It was really questionable whether they would find Professor Corda’s trail anyway. The two FBI agents could not afford to waste energy trying to keep an eye on Marian Corda while they were gone anyway.
“Did you really find any trace of Corda?” Indiana made an appreciative movement to change the subject. “It seems to have disappeared rather quickly.”
Reuben sat down on one of the two chairs in the dingy hotel room. Henley moved to the window and lit a cigarette. “Too be honest, we didn’t. But Ramos…”
“Ramos?” Indiana said keenly.
Reuben made a calming gesture. “He arrived a few hours before us and left almost immediately. And before you ask – the description of one of his companions matched that of Mr. Brody.”
“Are you sure?” asked Indiana.
Reuben shrugged, but Henley responded from the window without turning. “He won’t do anything to him, Dr. Jones. Brody’s safe.”
“How do you know?” Indiana asked, doubtful.
Henley took a drag on his cigarette, then blew out the smoke – a gray-blue cloud encircled his head, emphasized by the light seeping in through the blinds from outside.
“I know it.” He turned around this time and smiled at Indiana like a scoundrel as he leaned with his arms crossed on the wall next to the window. “I know Ramos’s type too well. Marcus Brody is much too valuable to him. He would never hurt him. Not as long as he believes he can use him as leverage against you.”
“I hope you are not mistaken,” said Indiana somberly. “Ramos is anything other than a fool.”
“Precisely,” said Henley with a smile. “You see, Dr. Jones, it is also a mistake to think this type of criminal is difficult for a detective to capture. It is easier to catch an intelligent criminal than it is an idiot.”
Indiana looked at him questioningly, and Henley continued in a tone like that of a teacher to his student: “You are completely right. Ramos is no fool. But the thoughts of an intelligent criminal can be reconstructed. On the other hand, an idiot who can barely write his name is difficult to read. Men such as Ramos may have a few surprises in store, but fools are erratic, undecipherable. That makes them more dangerous.”
Indiana was pretty sure he could find a half-dozen holes in this argument if he took the trouble to think for about it for a moment. But it seemed hardly worth the effort. He only hoped Henley was right.
He stood up. “Exactly when do we leave?”
Reuben shot his partner a quick, unenthusiastic glance before he answered. And when he did answer, he avoided the question. “I still do not think it is a good idea for you to accompany us, Dr. Jones. Please, think it over again. You know very well how dangerous a trip into the jungle can be. And with your injured arm, you will be severely handicapped.”
“I promise, you won’t have to carry my weight,” replied Indiana mockingly, but Reuben remained serious.
“I could force you.”
“Oh,” Indiana played along. “Could you really do that?”
Reuben nodded. “Save it, and tell me again how we are not in the United States; that my FBI card doesn’t apply here. But believe me, if I wanted, I could ensure that you do not leave this hotel for the next two weeks. But I would prefer it if you would decide this voluntarily.”
Indiana wanted to grab the man, but held himself back. He stared at Reuben very seriously for a few seconds before asking: “Why?”
“Because...” Reuben began.
“The real reason,” Indiana interrupted calmly, but his tone betrayed his seriousness. For a moment fright flickered in Reuben’s eyes, like Indiana was on to his secret. Henley stepped closer, almost imperceptibly. Indiana knew they were hiding something.
“What do you mean…?” asked Reuben evasively.
Indiana made an annoying twist of his good hand. “Just as I thought. Don’t play me for a fool, Reuben. I know you aren’t after Corda because of a couple of art treasures he stolen from some tomb. Why are you really after him?”
“It is better if you don’t know,” said Reuben.
“I could find out,” replied Indiana.
“Reuben nodded. “I believe you could. But it would be better for you and everyone else if you don’t. I give you my word. I will do everything in my power to ensure Mr. Brody returns safely and uninjured. But that is all I can promise you.”
“I thought we had a deal,” said Indiana.
Reuben nodded again as he stood up. “That we do. And I will keep it, Dr. Jones. But there are things that I will not tell you, even if I wanted to.”
“Such as the Manhattan Project?” Indiana asked off-handedly.
Henley winced visibly, and Reuben lost control of his facial expressions for a second as he looked with a mixture of horror and astonishment. He quickly recovered with an uncertain smile. “What do you mean?”
“The atom bomb you’re building,” said Indiana with the same casual tone in his voice. “What does Stan have to do with it?”
“I really have no idea what you are talking about,” said Reuben. “What is an atom bomb?”
“I think you know better than I do,” said Indiana. “But don’t worry – it really doesn’t interest me. I am an archeologist, not a soldier. But I can say this much, if it concerns Stanley Corda, you are on the wrong track. Stan might be a thief and a cheat, but he’s no spy.”
Reuben stared at Indiana for several seconds, his gaze penetrating. “That may be,” he said coolly. “The truth will come out. And believe me, Dr. Jones, I only hope you’re right.”
But haven't forgotten this thread. I'll be back home in another week or so and hopefully I can get more posted.
That being said, if anyone is available to help out with the rest of the translation it'd be much appreciated. Junior has focused his efforts elsewhere. His help up to this point has been greatly appreciated.
21 June 1943 • Rio Mamore
120 miles northeast from Trinidad
Despite Reuben’s optimism, it was a good two days before they encountered any concrete evidence that Ramos and his companions had passed. And it was very different from what any one of them could imagine. It had been two days since they had departed La Paz, and the two FBI agents had wrapped themselves in a mood of persistent silence despite Indiana’s energetic questions about their destination or ultimate goal. All he knew was that they had taken a boat down one of the countless small rivers that cut its way through the Bolivian high country and driven eastward. By noon of the second day they had reached the Rio Mamore, and just before sunset Trinidad, the last considerable city before the Brazilian border. They had stayed overnight in a shabby hotel, then continued on the next morning. Indiana became increasingly convinced that Reuben and Henley had no more power or influence in this country than he or Marian had. They were becoming more uneasy since they were no longer alone: they had started the journey with only themselves and the captain of the small, flat-bottomed square boat called a punt, but were now transferring to an old but extremely robust steamboat which was manned with half a dozen shady characters that were armed to the teeth. To Indiana’s surprise there were also two Bolivian police officials on deck with them, and as Indiana and Marian boarded Henley was loudly engaged in an on-going conversation in perfect Spanish with them, gesturing wildly with his hands as he spoke. It was barely an hour after sunrise and they continued the journey northeast. Shortly after noon, the land and vegetation on the riverbank began to change – the grass and leafy trees of the highlands was green-brown and patchy, but it was slowly transforming into the sprawling verdant green of a tropical rainforest. The river had widened and branched in various places, and Indiana was no longer certain they were still on the Rio Mamore – perhaps they had already taken one of its countless branches, some of which were as wide as or wider than the Rio Mamore itself, but not marked on any map. It was one hour before sunset when they came upon the destroyed Indian village.
More accurately, it was the Indians who found them because the jungle on the right and left of the river had become so dense that it was an impenetrable green wall of vegetation as far as the eye could see. Indiana had given up on asking the two FBI agents further questions because he got no answers anyway, and had moved to the nose of the small steamboat. He stood there alone, staring into the distance, away from his companions and the men Reuben and Henley had hired. He recognized mercenaries when he saw them. And the eight dark-skinned, broad-shouldered men that had received them on-board that morning were definitely mercenaries if he’d ever seen any. He asked himself over and over, what in the world were two FBI agents expecting to find in the Bolivian rain forest.
Indiana shrank away from his deep thoughts when he heard footsteps coming up the deck behind him. He half-turned recognizing Henley, who was wrapped in a light tropical jacket and had the inevitable cigarette dangling from the corner of this mouth, leisurely strolling toward him. He turned back towards the front of the boat. The river wound its way around countless bends and turns, cutting through the jungle, and a warm wind was blowing in his face. Although the sun had already half-disappeared behind the vast canopy of treetops and its glow had turned red, it was still very hot.
Henley stepped up next to him and put his hands on the rusty railing, staring emptily ahead in silence for a minute. He then flicked his cigarette butt into the water, and then reached into his jacket pocket to withdraw another. “It is truly beautiful here,” he said, snapping open his lighter and lighting the new one, blowing a cool blue cloud into the air.
Several seconds passed without Indiana answering. He turned and leaned back against the railing, pondering the FBI agent thoughtfully. “It would be even more beautiful,” he said, “had you not brought that here.” He pointed to the holstered pistol the man had dangling from his gunbelt, which Henley had removed from his backpack.
The FBI official smiled mockingly. With the glowing tip of his cigarette, he motioned to Indiana’s own belt, which not only had a curled bullwhip attached to it but a pistol as well. Since they had left the hotel in La Paz, Indiana had changed into the attire in which he felt most comfortable – a threadbare brown leather jacket, rough linen trousers and patched shirt, and brown fedora, and looked as if he had already travelled around the world three times.
“But you are also armed, Dr. Jones.”
“A bad habit, I guess,” confessed Indiana with a smile. More seriously, he added: “But I did not bring an army with me.”
Henley took a deep draw of his cigarette and shrugged his shoulders. “You never know what you’re going to run into.” He twitched his shoulders again. He looked at Indiana briefly, and then stared back out at the river. “If our information is correct, then Ramos has nearly a dozen men with him. Not to mention, your friend also accompanies them.”
Indiana wanted to sharply reply that Stanley was not his friend, but he swallowed the words and forced himself to calmly respond. “What in the world are you scared of, Henley?” Several seconds passed as Henley stared thoughtfully at the reflections in the river waters, which the blunt nose of the steamship had split evenly for the past several hours. Then the man bent forwards, resting his forearms on the rusty railing and sighed deeply. Indiana didn’t really expect an answer from Henley, so it surprised him when the man finally spoke.
“I don’t know, Dr. Jones,” he said. “And that, in fact, is the truth. No one knows what Professor Corda is here looking for.”
“Then why have you followed him to the ends of the earth?” drilled Indiana next.
Henley looked back at him very seriously. “What he has found could be of enormous importance.”
“And because of this, you and Reuben risk your lives – not to mention the diplomatic repercussions that could result?” Indiana asked, doubtfully.
Henley nodded. “If it is, in fact, what we suspect, then there are many more than two lives at stake in this game, Dr. Jones.”
“You don’t really believe Stanley is a traitor?” asked Indiana.
“No,” admitted Henley with amazing openness. “I…” he hesitated, and took a further draw from his cigarette in order to gain a little more time before continuing. He glanced around the deck to ensure no one else was present to listen in on their conversation. “No,” he said again. “You see, Dr. Jones, we know pretty much everything about Professor Corda. You are quite right – he is a thief and a fraud, but he is interested in politics and power about as much as I am interested in the fertility rituals of New Guinea.” He smiled fleetingly at his own joke. “But it is possible that he has found something here, and he doesn’t even know its importance. Something that is very, very valuable. And in the wrong hands it can be very dangerous.”
“This does have to do with the Manhattan Project,” suspected Indiana, and this time Henley nodded.
“I want you to know the truth, Dr. Jones. Reuben will have me drawn and quartered if he finds out I told you. But you have a right to know.” Again he hesitated, ad if pondering whether he should go one. Indiana could feel how difficult it was for him to continue. “We already have told you that some of Corda’s customers became very ill after their dealings with him.”
“It was not a mysterious tropical illness,” confirmed Henley. “Or a curse, as the dean of your university seems to believe.”
“It wasn’t? What then?”
“The gold Professor Corda found,” Henley explained, “is radioactively contaminated.”
Indiana stared, absorbing the implications of what he had just been told with fright.
“Some of the pieces were so hot that the scaled of the Geiger counter were not sufficient to measure. Others were only weakly radioactive, but all of them were contaminated. What do you know about radioactivity, Dr. Jones?”
Indy shook his head slightly. “Not much,” he confessed.
“We have something in common, then” Henley said. “I only know what I’ve been told, and that isn’t much. But I do know that radioactivity in dangerous or lethal amounts does not occur naturally. But the pieces Corda brought back with him were contaminated. Whatever he has found, he doesn’t even realize it, is a phenomenon which we have no explanation.”
“And now you’re afraid that…”
“We are afraid of nothing,” interrupted Henley so sharply that at first Indiana did not understand. Then he realized that the FBI agent was afraid, plain and simple. “I do not know whether you are aware of it, Dr. Jones – but at this moment in history there is a race taking place between us and the Germans.”
Henley nodded and stared into the river, foreshadowing further. “We are not the only ones with a ‘Manhattan Project’,” he said. “The Germans say otherwise, but they are just as intensively working on a nuclear weapon as we are. It’s only a matter of time before one of us is first. I believe that it will be us, but you can never be sure.”
“Stanley would never cooperate with the Nazis,” said Indiana with conviction.
“I know,” said Henley. “But you have to understand, Dr. Jones – the United States cannot afford even the tiniest risk.” He saw the fear and uncertainty in Indiana’s eyes and the slight shudder. “Do you understand what a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Nazis could mean?”
“No,” admitted Indiana fearfully.
“Neither do I,” said Henley. “No one really does. But I really don’t care to find out.”
It became quiet. For a long time, they simply stood side by side, staring down at the river, each immersed in his own thoughts and his own concerns. Indiana was not certain he understood all of the consequences of what he had just been told by Henley. The idea that Stanley could be entangled in some kind of espionage was truly absurd. But it was possible that he had discovered something and, without knowing, alter the course of history.
It was only after more thought that it became clear to Indiana. If the gold, which Stanley had found, really brought death, then they were running right to their deaths. And not only were they journeying to their deaths, so were Ramos and his companions. And with them – Marcus.
He wanted to turn and voice his concern to Henley. But he noticed almost at the same time as Henley that something did not seem right. Henley was tense leaning out on the railing. His hands were wrapped so tightly around the rusty bars that they trembled.
“What is it?” Indy asked alarmed.
Henley didn’t answer immediately. He simply stared attentively out over the impenetrable green expanse of the vegetation on both sides of the river. “Do you hear that?”
Indiana listened, straining to hear. He could only make out the monotonous hum of the steamship’s diesel motor and the noise of the water slapping against the vessel. “I don’t hear anything.” He said.
Henley nodded. “Exactly. It’s too quiet.”
Indiana noticed it immediately as Henley said it. The endless choir of birds and animal noises, the crackling and noise of the shrubs, the never-ending concert of jungle sounds which had accompanied them from the beginning of their journey down-river had grown silent.
Henley straightened up uneasily. “What does it mean?”
“I don’t know,” muttered Indiana. “I – look out!”
His warning would have been too late had he not thrown himself simultaneously to the side and into Henley, knocking them both to the iron deck of the steamer a fraction of a second before a hail of tiny feathered projectiles filled the deck where he and Henley had just stood.
Henley cursed and tried at the same time to jump to his feet and draw the pistol from his gunbelt while getting rid of the cigarette whose glowing tip had fallen into his shirt collar when they crashed to the deck. Indiana pressed himself closely to the deck as he surveyed the eastern bank. For an instant he believed he saw shadowy scurrying of dark skinned bodies in the dense jungle foliage before everything fell completely still and silent.
Henley finally managed to get the cigarette out of his shirt and was half way to his knees. He fought with the holster where the pistol had gotten caught from his nervousness.
“Don’t. Stay down you fool!” Indiana said.
Henley stared at him, bewildered. At the same moment, something small cut through the air with a hum, hardly a handbreadth from his face and clattered to the superstructure of the steamer behind him. Henley threw himself back to the deck with a renewed curse, landed flatly next to Indiana.