Disclaimer: The characters of Dr. Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas belong exclusively to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. Indiana Jones belongs to Warner Bros. The ruling families al-Qassimi and al-Sharqi are real. In an effort not to offend the present rulers His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Sharqi (Fujairah), His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qassimi (Sharjah), and any members of their families, I have changed various names. No offence was intended, and the author apologises sincerely if any occurs. The Archaeology Museum of Amphipolis belongs to itself. No copyright infringement was intended through the writing of this fan fiction.
Subtext Warning: This story implies a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If this offends you, you are under 18 or it is illegal in the state/country in which you live, please read something else.
Violence Warning: This story contains violence and the aftermath of violent events. If this type of thing bothers you, read no further.
Historical Accuracy Warning: I have taken various liberties with archaeology and history in this story. I am playing with locations and provenance of materials and peoples.
Religion/Culture Warning: I have respect for Islamic beliefs, which many westerners find odd (not sure if that is the right word) since I am a western woman. However, having lived and worked in a Muslim society for several months every year for the last five years, I have gained a certain appreciation and understanding of that religion and associated culture. Discussion of any aspect of Islam in this story is not meant to offend in any way. In addition, some of the conversations between the main characters and locals in this story are based loosely on conversations and experiences I have had. If offence occurs, I apologise.
Author's Notes: This story is the sequel to 'The Spear of Penthesilea', it is recommended that you read that story prior to undertaking this adventure, it would help you get a few things. This story is inspired by my work in the Oman Peninsula. The only Oman Peninsula I have experienced is one after the discovery of oil, a region trying to grow Western too quickly from the 1940's onwards. In a sense, it has grown too big for its' skin, with clashes of culture, religion and 'Western Idealism' all too apparent, a culture fighting within itself for identity. I thought it would be interesting to explore this beautiful and breathtaking area through another's eyes during the 1940's. Thesiger was right when he wrote about future travellers to Arabia: "they will move about in cars and keep in touch with the outside world by wireless. They will bring back results far more interesting than mine, but they will never know the spirit of the land nor the greatness of the Arabs" (Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands). We had four-wheel drives, mobile phones and the Internet.
Acknowledgments: Thanks must go to the various people I have worked with in the Oman Peninsula, they know who they are and I wont incriminate them here. Thanks especially to Michel Mouton and the French excavations at Mleiha for providing one of the settings for this story. Although sorry Michel, I'm making your site about 900 years older. Special thanks must go to several men in dresses for their friendship and stories about their youth. Thanks to my father, who, despite thinking I am a) stupid, b) insane, c) obsessed or d) all of the above, helped Janice and Indy escape, at least the British Army was useful for something, thanks Dad. I must also include reference to the following text, Potts, D.T. The Arabian Gulf in Antiquity, Volume II, From Alexander the Great to the Coming of Islam , Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1990. Sorry Dan for not using your work for a more scholarly endeavour, but hey, you know what I'm like! Finally a thanks to Kamouraskan for suggesting I did not have the guts to post half a story.
Feedback: Love to hear what you think, I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Treasury of Magan
Wadi Daftah - Magan c. 326 B.C.E.
The blood red sun rose hotly from its slumber over the al-Hajjar mountain range. A humidity haze blurred the ragged edges into almost undefinable monoliths. Summer was coming. Hues of purple and grey filtered across the barren, rocky surface, shading the crags and desolate beauty with brazen fingers. The lone figure stumbled over the rocky terrain marking the wadi trail though the mountains. Boulders the size of small houses marked the flow of past water torrents. There was no water now. The man clung desperately to the sack over his shoulder. It felt like a lead weight. He'd been carrying it for three days. He had not been informed of its contents, he was merely the dispatcher. Whatever it was, it was important enough for the trek across the mountains, through unfriendly territory. The man had to make it through the mountains by nightfall. He had to make it to Fujairah.
Archaeology Museum of Amphipolis - late July 1941
"C'mon Mel, I know you want to." Janice pleaded with what she hoped were puppy dog eyes.
"But Mel, it's a chance of a life time."
"You go, youre the archaeologist." came the terse reply.
"I'm not going without you." Janice said, daring the woman, as she flopped down in her office chair and swung her legs up on her desk.
"Fine, I guess that's settled then."
Janice gave an exasperated sigh and swung her legs back down. "Look, Mel, I need to do this."
"No you dont. You just want to go gallivanting around the desert with thatÉthat man!"
Janice's jaw dropped. "Oh c'mon Mel, you can't seriously thinkÉ" the archaeologist smirked. "Are you jealous?"
"I am not jealous Janice Covington."
"What? Hey Mel, there is nothing there. You cant possibly think that Indy is any threat here do you?"
"Dont treat me like a child Janice, that man wants to get his hooks into you."
"Jesus Mel, you havent even met him, and I can assure you, if he wanted to get his hooks into me, he's had plenty of opportunity in the past. Do you see me biting?" she asked, holding out her arms in a submissive gesture.
"IÉ" she trailed off shaking her head.
"Aw shit Mel." Janice rose and sauntered over to the translator, wrapping her arms around the woman's waist and staring up into her blue eyes. "You know I wont go if you really don't want me to."
"I know." Mel sighed and returned the smaller woman's embrace. "But you've got to promise me, no Nazi's, no dead heroes coming back to life and no ancient gods."
Janice grinned, "I'll do my best. So you'll come?"
"Oh dear Lord, I suppose someone has to keep you out of trouble dont they?" Mel said, brushing a stray hair from the archaeologist's face.
"You bet Miss Pappas." Janice whispered, leaning up for a kiss.
"Oh no you don't Janice Covington, you dont win that easily." the dark haired Southerner smiled down.
"I don't?" the small woman asked, opening an eye and settling back down on her heels.
"Uh-uh." Mel shook her head. "I have one more condition."
"If you so much as even think about being sick in my boots again I get to kill you."
"It's a deal, now, where was I? Ah yesÉ" the smaller woman retook her pose and awaited Mel's lips which descended on her own like a warm summer breeze.
"So where is he?" Mel asked after pulling away.
"Who?" Janice asked with a frown.
"This Dr. Jones of yours."
"What's the time?"
The Southerner glanced at her watch. "Half ten-"
"Oh shit!" Janice flew away from the woman and hastily tucked loose hair behind her ears and smoothed down her trousers. "He'll be here any moment."
"Now Janice, there's no need to panic-"
"I'm not panicking. Quick, sit over there and act like you're doing something." Janice blurted, running over to a chair by a small desk and pulling it out for the translator.
"Okay, if you're not panicking," Mel began as she walked across the room, "at least try and stop acting like someone just shoved something up your ass."
"Melinda!" Janice was honestly shocked as she turned to stare at the woman. So was the Southerner. She stood with a hand over her mouth and a guilty expression on her face.
"Oh my! Did I just say what I think I said?"
"Oh yeah, you said it." Janice managed before she burst into laughter. Mel couldn't help but produce a small grin. At least the archaeologist wasn't running around like a chicken with its head cut off any more.
"Oh dear, I think your bad habits are starting to have an effect on me Janice."
"Only my bad ones?" she asked as Mel settled herself in the chair and idly picked up a loose piece of paper.
"You mean you have good?"
"Shut up." Janice swatted at the Southerner and sauntered over to her own desk.
Mel smiled as she watched the archaeologist walk away from her. She liked the form of playful banter they had developed, and the truth was, they were both incorrigible. Mel had to admit she was naturally reserved, yet somehow around Janice she seemed to become a different person. The woman had an uncanny ability to make Mel do and say the darnedest things. Well, she didnt really make her, they just seemed to happen. Mel's smile grew broader when she thought of how the people back home in South Carolina would think of her if they knew what she was up to. They'd probably all run screaming for the nearest Bible.
"What are you thinking about?" Janice asked from her desk, nervously reaching for a cigarillo.
"Mm? Oh, just how different this all is, and how relaxed you make me feel." The Southerner sighed.
"I relax you? You must be insane." Janice mumbled as she lit the small cigar and puffed a few times.
Mel shook her head. "Yes, well sometimes I do wonder." She leafed through a few more papers. "He's late."
"But only fashionably so." A voice rumbled from the door. Mel glanced up immediately and scowled at the rugged man leaning casually against the frame. She looked him up and down and cringed.
Janices response was rather more obvious, abandoning her cigarillo, she jumped up from her chair and just about tackled the man before her. Indiana Jones extricated himself from the almost vice-like grip and pushed the small archaeologist away from him.
"Do you always have to do that?" he asked as he frowned down.
"Yes I do, its one of my many foibles." Janice grinned, ever pleased to see the swarthy man.
Indy smiled back at the woman and cast a glance over her shoulder at Melinda. "Arent you going to introduce me Janice?"
"Oh yeah," the archaeologist began, dragging Indy across the room by his jacket. "This is Melinda Pappas, museum translatorÉand another of my many foibles." she finished with a proud smile.
Indy produced as sideways grin and took the Southerners hand in his own, raising it to his lips he brushed the knuckles ever so gently.
"Charmed Miss Pappas." he said in a low voice.
To Mels utter consternation, she met his eyes and felt herself blush. "Why, thankyou Dr. Jones, Ive been waiting to meet you." she managed to get out before retrieving her hand.
"Indy, and it is clear that Janice still has her impeccable taste in women." he cast Janice as sly look.
Mel did not know how to respond, but she felt her blush deepen at the comment. She caught Janice staring at her and quickly cleared her throat. "Ah, thankyou againÉIndy."
Janice rolled her eyes, all the while thinking, and she was worried about me
"More beautiful than the Baroness." Indy said with a wink at Janice who immediately frowned and returned a warning glare.
"TheÉthe Baroness?" was all Mel could say.
"Now thats an interesting story-"
"Which I will tell Mel some other time!" Janice cut in, desperate to get off the topic.
"Oh I dont know Janice, I think Id like to hear about this Baroness." Mel said a little more sharply than she intended. She fully realised that Janice had had previous lovers, but a Baroness?
"Indy, no!" Janice warned as the archaeologist opened his mouth.
"Its alright Janice, Id like to hear." Mel said, finding the womans hand and holding it. Janice let out a long breath and resigned herself to the inevitable.
Indy smiled, "Baroness von Opermann." he said, wickedly drawing the name out.
"She was German?" Mel asked.
"Yes, she was German. Indy and I were working in Germany in 38 when it happened." Janice took over the commentary. "We were looking for a tumulus located on her estate. She was a very nice woman Mel. One thing led to another and wellÉI think you get the picture."
"Oh really?" the translator questioned.
"Yes, really. But she was a lying cow Mel. She used our relationship and instead of the material from the tumulus going to a museum, she stole it from me, and Indy." she added after a brief pause.
"Thats terrible! Did you get the artefacts back?" Despite herself, Mel was intrigued.
"The authorities did, eventually." Indy cut back in, "But not before the lovely Baroness had sold them to the highest bidder. She was a Nazi."
"Oh my!" Mel muttered, unable to mask her shock.
"I didnt know!" Janice defended vehemently.
"No, nor did I, until it was too late." Indy lamented.
"Well," Mel squeezed Janices hand, "whats done is done."
Janice gave her a grateful smile. "Yeah, ancient history Mel."
"Oh I dont know," Indy said with a grin, "she wasnt that much older than you Janice."
Janice lashed out with her free hand and swatted the archaeologist roughly. "Leave off Indy, okay?"
"Geez, alright, I get the idea."
The two friends glared at each other for a moment before Mel broke the tense silence.
"So Indy, are you going to tell us a little more about this treasury I hear you are looking for?"
Indy glanced around Janice's office a minute before spotting a free chair. Turning it around, he sat, his arms resting across the back.
"Dont I even get a cup of coffee?" he asked slyly.
"No, spill it." Janice said not unkindly.
Indy sighed and pulled his hat from his head.
"I was working on a site at Fujairah, on Hellenistic deposits. It's located on the east coast of the peninsula, and one of my workers came across this." Indy said, hurriedly delving into his brief case to produce a clay tablet. Mel grabbed hold of it immediately and stared in awe at the writing over the surface.
"Its classical Greek!" she blurted.
"Of course it is, dating to the time of Alexander the Great."
Janice glanced from the tablet to Indy in shock. "Have you had it translated?" she asked.
"Yeah, its very interesting." The burly archaeologist said, pulling out a sheet of paper and handing it to Janice. Janice stared at it for a moment before beginning to read for the benefit of Mel.
The fleet arrived at a natural harbour on the east coast, having passed by Maketa. The area being populated by a local fishing tribe, where the people are primitive and know little of our ways. As requested, I sent a force inland. Yet in this region, the great mountain range descends directly to the sea. We travelled the passes through the mountains for a total of five days. The mountains are inhospitable and rocky. Barely a tree grows on the craggy peaks. Water is scarce, yet our guide was able to find it where we could not. After this time, the mountains gave way to a large gravel plain. We camped at a small village beside several rocky outcrops for three days in order to rest and replenish our supplies from the local stock. How anything could live here is beyond me. Passed the plain lie vast sands, dry, desolate and unforgiving. If you seek a house for the treasury, truly it must be here.
Janice shrugged after reading the translation. "What does it mean?"
"Why is it on clay?" Mel asked at the same time.
Indy grinned at the obvious interest of the two women. "Melindas question is easier to answer. Its probably on clay because it is more durable."
Mel nodded at the clear statement, silently thinking that she should of thought of that herself.
"As for its meaning, I have a few speculations." Indy gave his sideways smile and Janice groaned. "You see, Alexander the Great in 325 BC sent an expeditionary fleet under Nearchos to explore the waters of the Arabian Gulf or the Persikos kolpos, during his return from India. We know that, its a fact. We also know from various additional accounts, that he intended to gather intelligence material in preparation for the invasion of areas along the Gulf coast. This text gives a pretty accurate description of the geography of Northern Oman peninsula. I think it is part of that intelligence gathering system. As far as the treasury is concerned, I can only guess as to what it is. I think it may contain a portion of the spoils of war gathered during the Indian campaign. It had to go somewhere, why not the peninsula?" Indy finished looking seriously at the two women.
Janice blew out a breath and sauntered over to her desk to retrieve what was left of her cigarillo. She puffed a few times before speaking.
"So what you are saying, is that this is a report which was to have been sent back to Alexander."
Indy nodded and Mel picked up on Janices train of thought.
"Why wasnt it sent?" the translator asked.
"I dont know. But the thing is, we have it, and a general location of the treasury."
"The entire Northern Oman peninsula." Janice said flatly, "Thats not exactly pin pointing the location Indy." She moved over to the large map file on the other side of the room and pulled out a sheet map for Arabia. Mel rose and followed the small archaeologist over to the file.
"Okay Indy, where?" Janice asked, circling the pointy mass of land with an index finger. Indiana Jones licked his lips and gave a shrug. "Ah, somewhere here." he stated, drawing the same circle Janice had.
"I dont believe this." Janice grumbled and drew heavily on her cigarillo.
"Thats why I thought wed make a good team Janice. What with my expertise and your intuition Im sure well find it."
"Your expertise? What am I? An idiot?" Janice demanded.
"Now Janice, you know thats not what I meantÉ"
"Look, Indy, well go." Janice looked into his face and grinned.
In the adjoining office, Ida, Janices secretary, was rifling through the mess of papers from Janices last excavation. Even though the archaeologist had not been excavating, there was enough bureaucratic red tape to keep the hardy secretary more than occupied. She shifted a few more papers into a to do pile and took a sip of her rapidly cooling coffee. She glanced up to see SS-Standartenfhrer Mller walk through the door unannounced.
"I should have known you werent an officer and a gentleman Colonel." Ida sneered, staring straight into the mans near black eyes. Since the untimely demise of Captain Eric Vogt a few days ago, the Colonel had taken over command of the Amphipolis Museum. The position was obviously too low for his rank, yet no-one at German high command was willing to trust in another incompetent like Vogt.
"My dear," the Colonel said with a smile, "my estimation of you has just risen several notches. You insulted me."
Ida snorted, "Im flattered, and Im sure it does not take much to insult you Colonel."
Mller gave a deep laugh and clapped his hands together. "I think I will like working with you Fraulein." he said, leaning over Idas desk and resting his gloved hands on the smooth surface.
"Dont bet on it." Ida returned, glancing at the Colonels hands as if they were intruding.
Mller nodded and pushed himself away. "Yes, I think I will like it very much." He cocked his head to one side as if listening. "Who is in Dr. Covingtons office?" he asked after a moment.
"Does this colleague have a name?" the Colonel asked in a sugary voice.
"Yes, he does."
Mller frowned. "You are obliged to tell me Fraulein."
One thing Ida was not was stupid. She sighed and took a sip of her coffee before answering. "Dr. Indiana Jones."
Mllers eyes narrowed slightly. "Jones, I know that name." He paused a moment, fingering his dimpled chin. "Yes..."
Ida stared at him, a terrible sinking feeling in her stomach.
"Yeah, me and Mel. You got a problem with that?" Janice asked, blowing acrid smoke in his face.
"Ah, no." Indy said, casting a glance at Mel, who was absorbed in the map.
"Fine." Janice was about to say more when a stern figure stalked into the room.
"I hope you are not planning on going anywhere Dr. Covington. I would be most disappointed."
"Nazis!" Indy spat under his breath and shuddered despite himself.
Mel glared defiantly at the man who could assume control of things so easily.
"This is SS-Standartenfhrer Mller, hes in charge of antiquities." Janice said off handedly, trying to hold off on the contempt she felt came through in her voice.
"And this is the elusive Dr. Jones." Mller said, looking Indy up and down.
Jones stared back at the SS officer and tried a lop sided grin.
"You know him?" Janice asked Indy in awe.
"Not exactly." Indy grated through his grin.
"It appears Dr. Jones reputation precedes him somewhat." Mller tsked and shook his head slightly. "No-one enters this museum without the proper authority. Do you have that permission Jones?" Mller raised a condescending eyebrow.
"Well no, I guess I forgot my invitation." Indy said sarcastically, bunching his hands into fists by his sides. Janice caught the move and hastily stepped between the two to avoid any confrontation.
"Now gentlemen, no need to get violent." she said, jabbing Indy quickly in the ribs with an elbow.
Mller grinned with distain, "Thankyou Fraulein Covington, you have done the Reich a great service."
"Now hang on just a minute-" Janice began, but was cut off when Mller reached for his Luger and pulled it on Jones. Indy shrugged and swatted at Mllers weapon, managing to knock it off target before the Colonel fired. The Luger discharged with a violent crack and Mel yelped as a bullet whistled over her head to embed itself in the wall behind. Indy dropped Mller with a left hook and held him on the ground with a booted foot.
The three stood staring at the immobile figure as if frozen to the spot. They broke their statue-like pose when Idas head popped round the door and her nasal twang assaulted them.
"Oh for fucks sake, what have you done now Janice?" the secretary demanded.
Janice rolled her eyes and desperately wanted to scream. "I didnt do anything, it was Indy!"
"Whatever, you two are just as bad as each other. Go on, youd better get out of here." she said, motioning them to the door.
"What about you?" Mel surveyed the situation with a critical eye. "Hes not going to be out much longer."
"Dont you worry about me darl."
"Ida, youre the best! Why do these things always happen to me?" Janice asked, staring up at the ceiling.
"Cmon Janice, you can lament the situation later." Indy said, grabbing the archaeologist by the arm and dragging her to the door.
"Where are we going?" Mel asked as they flew out the main door of the museum into the bright sunlight.
"Hotel, not too far, cmon, run ladies." Indy yelled as he barrelled down the street, jacket flying behind him, desperately clutching his briefcase. Suddenly he skidded to a halt and Mel careened into his back. Janice on her shorter legs took a moment to catch up and was not a part of the pile up.
"Shit!" Indy yelled and threw his briefcase on the ground where it burst open, spewing paper over the ground.
"Whats wrong?" Mel demanded, wondering whether petty tantrums were one of the defining characteristics of archaeologists.
"The text and the translation. I left them in your office Janice." Jones panted, kicking his briefcase.
"Calm down, cant do anything about it now. Well have to get them later. Ill give Ida a call from the hotel and maybe she can sort something out."
"No, thats too late, Mller will have his hands on it by then. Hell, he could be looking at it right now. Ive got to go back." he said before turning around and bolting back up the street.
"Indy!" Janice called after him, but her did not stop. Swearing harshly she took a deep breath and followed doggedly.
Mel gaped after the retreating figures and bent to gather the fallen material from Indys brief case. She haphazardly stuffed the contents back inside and contemplated what to do. After a moments hesitation, she headed back up the street to return to the museum.
Janice caught up to Indy as he was charging through the door of the museum. She didnt have time to stop him or warn him of the probable implications of his hasty entry. Consequently two junior SS officers with pistols stopped them both mid stride. Mller was standing behind the uniformed men with a smug smile on his face.
"You are making this very easy for me Jones. I did not expect you to return so soon. Did you forget something?" he asked, holding up the tablet and translation.
Janice glared at the archaeologist with eyes that tried to say I told you so.
"Give me the tablet Mller." Indy said, ignoring the pistol pointed at his chest.
"I dont think so Dr. Jones. If you would be so good as to come with me, I think we can arrange something regarding your future." The SS officer said icily.
"Were not going anywhere with you." Janice grated.
"Oh but you are Fraulein. Bring them." Mller ordered sharply.
The two junior officers grabbed at the archaeologists. Janice and Indy struggled but to no avail as they were manhandled into Janices office and pushed roughly down into a couple of chairs.
"Secure them." Mller ordered again and the officers produced handcuffs, securing Janice and Indys hands behind their backs and attaching them to the chairs.
"Well this is just goddamn fantastic." Janice mumbled as her hands were pulled behind her.
"Youre telling me." Indy mumbled back.
"We wouldnt be in this situation if youd let me handle it Jones." Janice whispered harshly, glaring at the man.
"Shut up!" Mller turned on the two. Janice sighed and looked out the window. What she saw made her catch her breath and she hastily glanced elsewhere.
Mller, rubbed his hands together, "Schiller, stand at the outer door." he nodded to one of the young officers who saluted and scurried from the room. "Now, what are these items you so stupidly left behind Dr. Jones?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"Because if you dont, Ill have SS-Scharfhrer Feldmann cause a little damage to Fraulein Covington." he glanced at the man in front of Janice. Feldmann grinned and shifted his feet, balancing himself before striking Janice across the face with the back of his hand. Janice grunted at the impact, her head whipping to one side.
"Bastard!" she spat, bringing her eyes back to Mller.
Indy cringed at the blow Janice had received. "Alright." he said, glancing at Janice. "The tablet was found during an excavation on the east coast of the Oman peninsula."
"Why is it so important Dr. Jones, important enough to return here and risk your life?"
Indy frowned. "I dont know, thats why I brought it here to Janice. I thought she might be able to shed some light on it."
"And can you Dr. Covington?" Mller asked in a slightly condescending tone.
"No I cant, its not my area of expertise." Janice said wryly.
"Well, well, something the good doctor cannot do. Im not impressed. Still, the tablet is a nice addition."
"What are you going to do with us?" Janice asked after casting another nervous glance to the window.
"As you may or may not be aware, Dr. Indiana Jones is wanted by the SS for various acts of sabotage, theft and murder." Mller paced before them. "You, however, Dr. Covington are still useful."
Ignoring Mller, Janice whipped her head around to Jones. "And you came here? Indy, you must be out of your mind." Janice vented.
"Either that, or desperate." Mller continued, "Somehow I do not get the feeling that both of you are being entirely truthful with me."
"Why would you think that?" Janice asked, trying to plaster a half smile on her face with little effect.
"Because neither of you have said anything about the treasury that is so clearly mentioned in this text. I want to know, what is it, and where is it?"
Janice opened her mouth but Indy cut her off. "We dont know exactly, perhaps some spoils of war. As to its location, it could be anywhere in the peninsula."
"Spoils of warÉ" Mller mused. "I like the sound of that."
"Yes well, you would." Janice muttered.
"Enough!" Mller thundered.
Outside, Mel prowled around under Janices office window. She had taken a couple of cautious glances over the sill to see what was going on. What she saw was not good. She hunkered down in the grass and chewed on a thumb. What was she going to do? She couldnt leave the two of them in there, but she could think of no way to get them out. To top it off, there was an additional armed man in Janices office and another she assumed was at Idas door. She doubted very much whether she could take on three armed men and win.
"Think Melinda!" she berated herself. She didnt know what she would do if Janice were harmed in some way. Glancing around the side of the building, she could come up with no solution. Just when she was about to give up, she heard footsteps crunching from around the corner. Mel flattened herself under the window and shut her eyes tight.
"Hey darl, need a hand?"
Mels eyes flew open and she stared gratefully into Idas mischievous expression.
"Dear Lord in Heaven! Ida, you nearly scared me to death." Mel whispered as Janices secretary squatted down beside her.
"Mllers got them." Ida said, shaking her head.
"I know, Ive been watching. What are we going to do?"
Ida winked at the translator and pulled something out from under her jacket. It was Janices .44. Mels eyes widened as the secretary grinned.
"I thought wed stick them with a few rounds from this. What dya say Mel?"
"Youre going to kill Mller?"
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"You cant just barge in there and start shooting, youve only got six rounds. Besides, I think theres a man at your door." Mel whispered with a frown.
"Then well have to lure him out."
Ida glanced down the side of the building and noted Mllers SS vehicle parked by some trees. She licked her lips and turned back to Mel. "What have you got in the briefcase?"
Mel shrugged, "Just some papers I suppose." She began, opening the case. "And a box of matches!" she said, holding the small packet up in victory.
"Thats it, well blow the car, create a diversion and go in and get them."
Mel was shaking her head. "No, too quick and too noisy, well draw attention to the museum. It has to be subtle." She thought for a moment. "Ill hot wire it." Mel said in a resigned voice.
"You can do that?" Ida asked, looking at Mel with a new sense of respect.
"Sure I can." Mel responded, how difficult could it be? "Stay here." she said as she slunk along below the window line, heading for Mllers vehicle. At the edge of the building, she dashed to the trees near the car and crouched down. She did not know why she was so worried, there was no one about, but she kept an eye out anyway. Slinking on her stomach around to the drivers side, she eased open the door and turned on her side. Ripping the underside of the steering column out, the translator stared at the mass of wires confronting her. She blinked in confusion and pulled at them until they came loose. Taking potluck she twisted a couple together. Nothing happened. On her second attempt, she gave herself a nasty shock and only just stopped herself from crying out. Sending a silent prayer upward, she tried a couple of red wires. To her surprise, the engine screeched once and turned over. Smiling broadly, she twisted the wires securely and the engine caught, producing a satisfied purr. Shrugging mentally, the translator reached down and depressed the accelerator a few times, revving the engine. That ought to get Mllers attention.
Inside Janices office, SS Standartenfhrer Mller was pacing back and forth in front of Indy and Janice.
"I am very disappointed in you Dr. Covington." he began, but stopped and tilted his head to one side. His eyes narrowed as he walked to the window and stared outside. "What was that?" he asked, stalking back to the captive archaeologists. Indy and Janice looked back at him blankly.
"Schiller!" he called, "Go and see what that noise is outside. Sounds like an engine."
Indy and Janice stared at each other as they heard footstep retreat down the corridor.
"As I was saying Covington, you disappoint me, associating with known criminals."
"Criminal my ass!" Janice shot back and wished she hadnt when she received another backhanded blow from Feldmann.
"Janice, stop, just shut up." Indy warned her, noting the thin trickle of blood running from her split lip.
"Id listen to the doctor if I were you doctor." Mller said slyly. "Now, Dr. Jones, about this treasuryÉ"
Mel did not have to wait too long before she saw the approach of one of the SS men. The young officer was striding with purpose in the direction of Mllers vehicle. Mel took a deep breath to calm herself. She had previously removed a baton from the vehicle and was lying in wait for the man. She heard the crunch of boots around the opposite side of the car and pushed herself into a crouch. There was a pause as the SS officer looked through the window. Noticing the tangle of wires hanging from the steering column, the man frowned and headed around to the drivers side. He had half a second to heed the crouched woman before she launched herself at him. Mel swung back with the baton and cracked it down on the astonished officers head before he had time to respond. With a dull thud, the black uniformed man fell to the ground in a crumpled heap. Mel was breathing heavily, more from excitement than exhaustion. She had done it! She had incapacitated one of the SS men. Mentally scolding herself for what she perceived to be premature adulation, she discarded the bloodied baton in some bushes and began to drag the SS officer back around to the side of the building.
"You got him!" Ida whispered as Mel rounded the corner, dragging the body behind her.
"Dear Lord, I got him alright. What are we going to do with him now?" she panted, dumping the unconscious form unceremoniously at Idas feet.
Ida frowned down at the figure for a moment. "Well tie him with his sam brown." she said with a nod.
"With his what?"
"The leather strap over his shoulder, cmon, give us a hand." The secretary groaned as she tried to roll the man over.
Ida and Mel set to work removing the thin leather strap. Mel struggled with the buckle for a moment, but it eventually came free.
"Right, now bend his legs up." Ida stated and Mel complied. The secretary quickly looped the leather strap around the mans ankles several times and then around his hands which had been pulled behind his back. Kneeling with one knee in the small of the SS mans back, Ida pulled the leather tight and buckled it. She sat back on her heels and looked at her handy work.
"He wont be moving for a while." She said with a grin at Mel. The translator met the sparkling eyes and could not stop her own grin in response.
"I really dont see what more I can tell you." Jones said defiantly as Mller bent down to glare in his face.
"You were going to look for the treasury. Thats why you came here, to find Covington."
"Well, you seem to have it all worked out already, dont you?" Jones spat up into the mans face.
"It would be wise to hold your insolence Dr. Jones." Mller straightened and walked over to the window. He stared outside for a moment before turning. "That engine is still running. Where is Schiller?" he asked no one in particular. "Feldmann, go and see whats keeping him, but be quick about it." he ordered and the other junior officer headed out the door. Mller licked his lips and returned to Indy.
"What is the location of the treasury housing these spoils of war?"
Indy half laughed. "If I knew that, do you think Id be sitting here?"
Mel hazarded a quick glance through Janices office window. She could only see the figure of Mller bending over Indy. Making quick eye contact with Janice, she winked, although she inwardly cringed at the blood on her lip. Darn that woman! She was always getting herself into situations that put her in danger and invariably got her hurt.
"Okay, the other ones gone." Mel said, dropping back into a crouch.
"Right, through my office window."
Mel nodded her understanding and the two of then shifted the few feet until they were under Idas window. Ida cautiously looked over the sill, but found the room empty. She reached up and eased the window open to allow them access to the room. Pushing herself up, she swung a leg over the sill and dropped as silently as she could into her office. Mel followed suit and shortly both of them were crouched behind the door that led into Janices office.
Mel took a deep breath and held out her hand for the .44. Ida frowned and shook her head. Mels gesture became more frantic until the secretary finally relented and handed over the pistol. Mel smiled her thanks and signalled that Ida should lie on the ground and push open the door as the translator crouched by the frame. The translator nodded once and Ida pushed heavily on the door. It swung open.
In a flash Mller turned and was confronted by Melinda Pappas wielding a pistol. He brought his own Luger up and fired off a round in Mels general direction. The translator threw herself against the wall as the bullet flew by. A split second later she fired Janices .44, sending the startled SS Colonel to the floor, clasping his shoulder. Mllers pistol flew from his grip and slid across the room to come to rest by the side of Janices desk.
"Mel!" Janice yelled. She did not know if she had ever been so glad to see the woman before. "Keys, Mllers pocket." she said, rattling the cuffs behind her.
Mel nodded and scurried over to the bleeding officer. He groaned and his head lolled to one side as Mel searched through his breast pocket. Coming up with a set of keys, she dashed over to Janice and undid the cuffs. Janice jumped to her feet and immediately grabbed the woman in a fierce embrace.
"Later." Mel said sharply, extricating herself and moving to undo Indys cuffs. She struggled with the lock a few moments, but was distracted by Idas voice, warning them that the other SS officer was returning. Mel gave a final twist of the key in Indys cuffs and swore as the key broke off in the lock. Too shocked to move, she grinned at the archaeologist who swore violently.
"Goddamn it Melinda, break the chair!" he ordered.
Mel glanced around but could find nothing to do the job. Resigning herself to this fact, she frowned and kicked at the back of the chair, once, twice and on the third attempt, the chair split into several pieces. Indy fell, sprawling to the floor, swearing as his hands were twisted painfully around. He managed to stand and free himself of several clinging pieces of wood.
Meanwhile, the final SS officer strode into the room and took in the confusion with a rapid glance. He saw his commanding officer lying on the ground against the wall, bleeding. Before he could act, Janice and Mel jumped on him, and slammed him against the wall. Despite having two attackers, the SS officer fought them off valiantly until a left hook from Janice sent him to the floor. Indy leapt over the remains of his chair to lend his two cents worth by kneeling on the poor mans throat, throttling him.
During this maelstrom, everyone failed to notice SS Standartenfhrer Mller drag himself across the room in the direction of his fallen Luger. Almost too late, Ida saw the pistol aimed at Jones. She grabbed a leg from the broken chair, launched herself across the room and slammed the makeshift weapon down as hard as she could on Mllers outstretched arm. She heard it break with a satisfying snap. Mller screamed and dropped the weapon. He slumped sideways onto the floor, pain driving him to unconsciousness.
The four stood breathing heavily. The entire incident took no longer than a few minutes, but it had seemed like an eternity. They looked at each other and at the bodies strewn about the room. Finally Indy spoke.
"Weve got to get out of here. Mel, get the tablet and translation. No sense in leaving it behind a second time." he grinned.
Mel nodded and located the requested material. "We can take the SS car. Its down the side and ready to go." She said flatly. Now the immediate danger was over, she felt a little deflated.
All four of them scrambled from the room and headed out to the side of the building. Mel jumped in the drivers seat with Janice next to her. Ida and Indy piled into the back. Indy landed awkwardly, his hands still secured behind his back. Making sure all were safely in, Mel floored the accelerator and they sped out of the museum drive.
"Howd you get this car?" Janice asked after a moment.
"I hot wired it." Mel said simply.
"What? You hot-wired a car?" Janices jaw dropped. She knew Mel had done some pretty wild things on their last adventure, but she truly thought hot-wiring a car beyond her.
"Yes I did, were driving it arent we?" the Southerner said, a little put out.
"I guess so." Janice mumbled. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Janice was beginning to feel just a little inadequate.
"Well done Mel." Indy encouraged, leaning uncomfortably forward on the back seat. "Weve got to get to my hotel. The SS doesnt know where Im staying, and it will take a little while to figure out. Head straight down here and take the next left."
"No! Thats right passed SS HQ!"
SS Standartenfhrer Mller regained some semblance of consciousness. He blinked several times to clear his cloudy vision and tried to drag himself across the floor with his good arm. He grabbed hold of the telephone cord dangling from the desktop and pulled the phone down on top of himself. Mller saw stars as the phone crashed into his shattered arm, but fought off the wave of blackness. Shakily her picked up the receiver, ignoring the tight pain in his shoulder. He dialled direct to SS Headquarters and asked for his second in command, SS Obersturmbannfhrer Voss. With a half-choked voice he relayed what had happened and ordered a scramble of men to go after the escapees. With a grateful nod he accepted the information that an ambulance was on its way to the museum. He let the phone fall to the ground and rolled onto his back to wait.
"We cant avoid it, its the only route to the hotel." Indy insisted as Mel took the corner. A little further down the street, she saw a mass of SS vehicles filing out of the gates.
"Oh my! I dont think we are going to be able to do this." She cringed as a black car flew passed in the opposite direction.
Her three passengers ducked below the seats to avoid being seen as they felt the car increase speed. Mel held her breath as they rocketed by SS Headquarters. However, it seemed that in the confusion of like vehicles, one more black SS car did not matter. With surprising ease they escaped the black metal throng and took the next corner leading to Indys hotel.
"Right, that does it!" Janice almost yelled as she stepped into the hotel room. She rounded on the man with unspent fury, jabbing a finger into his chest.
"Whoa, hang on JaniceÉ"
"No I will not hang on. If its not enough that you put my life in danger, you put Melindas in danger too. I cant forgive that Indy." The small archaeologist ranted.
"Now Janice, dont go getting all upset with him, he wasnt to know the Nazis had taken over the museum." Mel tried to calm the woman down. She walked over and put a hand on Janices shoulder, yet the archaeologist flung it off.
"Stay out of this Mel."
"I really dont see why I should stay-"
"Because Im asking you to." Janice countered.
Mel opened her mouth to respond but saw the fire in her partners eyes and left her comments unvoiced.
"Look, Janice, Im sorry." Indy began in what he hoped was a truly apologetic tone. "Mels right, I didnt know, if I had, do you seriously think I would have intentionally endangered you?"
Janice snorted and shook her head, her anger deflating somewhat. "No, youre not stupid. I guess Im a little too emotionally involved for all this shoot em up bull shit."
Indy smiled lopsidedly and glanced across at Mel. "Well, well. Melinda, I have to congratulate you. You have Dr. Janice Covington here, talking about emotions. Thats very impressive."
"IndianaÉ" Janice warned.
"You know Janice, it looks like youre loosing your touch. It was Mel and Ida who saved us, not you." Indy continued, heedless of the rage building behind Janices eyes.
"Loosing my touch?" Janice questioned, turning around to glare at Mel and Ida. She grinned, "He reckons Im loosing my touch." She threw a thumb back in Indys direction. "What do you guys say?" she asked before quickly spinning and thumping the unsuspecting archaeologist hard in the guts. Indy doubled over gasping for breath. Janice looked down her nose at the winded man and sneered, "Loosing my touch huh? You got anything to drink in this place?"
"Alright! Thats enough!" Mel finally screamed as Janice began hunting around the hotel room. The small archaeologist straightened and stared at the Southerner as if she had just become a gorgon.
"Janice, I think we are all a little emotional at the moment, so just shut up and stop acting like a three year old whos lost its piece of candy. Nobody put my life in danger except me. I could have easily just walked away, but no, I chose to stay and defend you, so did Ida. Dear Lord I dont know why, but I just couldnt leave you there. Now, sit down and let me see to that lip." The translator finished, pointing at a chair.
Janice stared back at the woman but complied with a foul grace, muttering something incomprehensible under her breath.
"Excuse me, arent we forgetting something here?" Indy asked, rattling his handcuffs.
"Ive got them." Ida said, glad she was being useful for something and the chance to avoid Janices glares.
While Ida worked on Indys cuffs, Mel set about cleaning the blood off Janices chin and dabbing at the split with some warm water and cloth. Try as she might, she could not think of a reason to be overly gentle with the archaeologist. Mel knew she was simply reacting to the situation, as was Janice. Mel sighed as the small archaeologist winced at her touch.
"I still love you, you know." Mel whispered, glancing up briefly from her work.
"I kind of hoped you still did." Janice mumbled back around the cloth held tight to her lip.
Mel smiled. "I find it incredibly hard not to. There, thatll do it." She said, leaning back to admire her handiwork.
"Thanks." Janice smiled awkwardly out of one side of her face and grabbed hold of Mel's hand before she could move away. Mel nodded, squeezing the smaller hand tightly in her own before standing to move over to Indy.
"Howre those cuffs coming?" Mel asked.
"Just about there." Ida replied as a satisfying click reached her ears and the cuffs dropped away. Ida grinned in triumph and flung the offending bracelets across the room.
"Arggh, glad theyre off." Indy sighed, bringing his hands round and rubbing at his wrists.
The four sat staring at each other for a few moments.
"So, what we do now?" Mel asked, staring after Janice, who had gotten up again continuing the search of alcohol.
"In the cupboard Janice." Indy said, noticing the womans frustrated search attempt. Janice nodded and retrieved a two thirds full bottle of scotch. She located several glasses and poured them all a healthy nip. Handing out the glasses, she reiterated Mels question.
"Yeah, whats next? We cant stay here, thats for sure, not with an SS vehicle parked outside."
"True," said Indy, taking a healthy slug of the amber liquid. "We have to get out of here."
"How?" Mel asked, grimacing as she took a small sip of her own drink.
It was Ida who provided the solution. "Why don't you speak to Karl?" She swilled her drink as she looked at Janice.
Janice tilted her head to one side in thought and licked at her split lip. "Now there's an idea." she mused.
"Who's Karl?" Indy asked.
"Hmm? Karl de Cardi. A fellow archaeologist working for the museum. He was with us when we had our last run in with the Nazis."
"He has contacts and has proved in the past that he can wangle just about anything and pretty damn quickly too." Janice finished. She shrugged and sent Mel a reassuring smile before turning to Indy.
"What do we need?" she asked grimly.
Indy breathed out through a half smile and met the archaeologist's gaze.
"A plane!" Mel shrieked and almost spilled her drink. "What do we need a plane for?"
"Look, Melinda," Indy moved over to the Southerner and placed a hand on her shoulder. "We've got to get out of here, the Nazi's will be after us. We have to get some place where they aren't or can't go. Now, if you ladies are with me, that means we're going to the Trucial States. We may as well go now, while we still can. We can fly to Bander -e 'Abbas, and get a vessel across to the mainland. What do you say?" he looked at her solemnly.
Mel looked nervously down at her glass and then across to Janice. She noticed the small archaeologist had turned a slight shade of green at the mention of sailing.
"IÉI don't like planes." Mel finally muttered, glancing back to her glass. She fingered it for a moment before looking back to Indy.
"You don't like planes." Indy said flatly, trying to contain a mixture of amusement and annoyance.
"No, I dont like planesÉand Janice gets sea sick."
"Hey! I can deal with it Mel!" Janice almost shouted. She swallowed the rest of her scotch in one to try and curb the anxiety welling within.
"Oh really, you can deal with it can you Janice? Well, the last time you dealt with it you were sick everywhere and behaved like a baby."
"I had a bullet hole through my arm!"
Indy threw his hands up and walked to the other side of the room to stare out the window silently.
"Alright you two," Ida's voice broke through the tension. "Stop trying to score points off each other, and if you have to deal with something, deal with the situation at hand. Problem: Mller is going to find you unless you are gone very quickly. Options: 1) you get caught, 2) you do not. Solution: both of you just pack it and get out of here." She finished with a decisive nod.
That seemed to put everyone in their place. Janice sighed and nodded, but was suddenly struck by what her secretary had just said.
"You're not coming with us?" she asked.
"Me? You've got to be kidding-"
"No buts Janice. No-one is going to bother about a crusty secretary like me. Trust me, you'd do better without me." The secretary paused and looked down at the backs of her hands. I'm not cut out for this any more. Besides, if I stay, I can always throw them off the scent." she said with a mischievous grin.
Janice grinned back as Ida gave her a knowing wink.
"You're hardly crusty Ida, but I'll call Karl." was all Janice said."
Karl de Cardi sat at the small table at the rear of the bar and blew cigarette smoke across the table. He eyed the man opposite and looked disgustedly down at the cards he held in his hand. He took another drag on his cigarette before flinging his hand down.
"I'm out, you can take my damn money."
His partner grinned, showing uneven teeth and scooped the paltry sum into his pile, which was by now quite large.
"I know you think I cheat de Cardi, but it is just you who cannot play poker." the man said in a gravely voice.
"I dont think anything." Karl snapped back.
"What are you accusing me of de Cardi?" the man sneered.
"Hey, you were the one who mentioned cheating Costa, not me."
The man laughed as Karl scraped his chair back and headed for the bar. He was only there a few moments before Nik the bartender sidled over and leaned on the counter.
"Scotch Nik." De Cardi grumbled.
Nik nodded and filled the request, talking as he did. Nik was renowned for gossip, and he found Karl a good source.
"I was right about them, wasn't I?" he asked as he placed Karl's drink of the counter top.
"Janice and that tall, dark woman."
"Mel. Yes, I suppose you were." Karl took a drink and placed the glass back down. He really didnt feel like losing more money at the moment.
Nik shook his head sadly. "You must feel pretty bad Karl."
"My feelings have nothing to do with it my friend." He tried to smile.
"But, you could have had her."
Karl sighed. Nik was hardly the shrink he thought he was, but it did not hurt to talk to him, and Karl needed to talk.
"No Nik, I could never of had her."
"But a smart, good looking guy like youÉ" Nik trailed off.
"Look Nik, you know Janice, it would never of happened. She's better as my friend, and Mel isÉgood for her."
"Ah, so you like this Mel do you?"
de Cardi nodded.
"Then maybe you could-"
"Dont even think it Nik." He slammed his glass down on the counter for emphasis.
"Okay, okay. I just do not like to see you hurt my friend."
Karl snorted. "Thanks Nik, I appreciate your concern."
Nik frowned, what kind of a statement was that? "By the way, you have a phone call, it's Janice."
"Jesus! You could have bloody told me before now." Karl yelled.
"Here." Nik said simply and shoved the phone at him with a smile.
Karl waved the man away and placed the receiver to his ear.
"Hey Karl. I need your help."
"Yeah, look, I know it's short notice-"
"But?" Karl asked. Janice sounded a little nervous and Karl frowned. Janice was hardly ever nervous unless something was wrong.
"Yeah, butÉI need a plane." Janice's voice gushed down the phone line.
"A plane!" Karl realised he was shouting when a few heads turned in his direction. He lowered his voice considerably and whispered harshly, "What the bloody hell do you want a plane for?"
"I dont want to discuss it over the phone. Can we come see you? Use the back room of the bar?"
"I guess, I'll speak to Nik. Who's we?" Karl questioned.
"I'll explain when we get there. Thanks Karl."
"Alri-" but Janice had hung up. Karl stood for a second just staring at the receiver. A plane? He snapped back to reality.
"Nik! I need the back room."
For all his gossip mongering, Nik knew when to be serious, and anything that involved a phone call from Janice resulting in Karl screaming, probably called for seriousness.
"You've got it."
Janice, Mel and Indy slunk down the side of the building where they were to meet Karl. It was nondescript as far as bars went, but nondescript was good. They had made it across town and managed to avoid any confrontations, which Mel thought was a minor miracle in itself. Now as they waited for the back door of the bar to open she sent a silent prayer skyward in thanks. The door was opened and the threesome scuttled inside and were ushered into the back room.
Karl was waiting for them at the only table in the room. He was sitting silently, smoking a cigarette. In fact, he had smoked several while waiting for Janice's arrival. He stood when the three entered. He frowned when he noticed Janice's newly split lip but had little chance to say anything before he felt her arms around his waist. Karl cleared his throat and pushed the small woman away.
Indy leaned into Mel and whispered, "Does she do that to every man she meets?"
Mel raised an eye brow. "No, just you two I hope, usually she just punches them."
Indy grinned and strode across the room, hand extended. "Indiana Jones."
Karl snapped his gaze up from Janice and met the sparkling eyes. "IndÉas in? Oh Jan, what have you got yourself into now?" Karl took Indy's hand in disbelief and shook it a couple of times.
"Yes, he's that Jones, and I haven't got myself into anything. Well, not really." She smirked.
Mel rolled her eyes. "We have got ourselves into something Karl."
"So are you going to tell me about it or stand around like a bunch of idiots?" he tried to sound blas but didn't really feel up to the job as he motioned for all of them to take a seat.
"Well," Janice began as she scooted the chair under the table, "Indy's wanted by the SS."
"What!?" Karl shrieked.
"Wait, it gets better." Mel interrupted.
"Yeah, he's wanted, and Mller almost picked him up at the museum, but weÉgot away. Now they must be after us and we have to get to Bander -e 'Abbas."
"Whoa, hang on, Bander -e 'Abbas?" Karl stubbed out one cigarette and reached for another. "Maybe you should start from the beginning?" he suggested, looking across to Indy.
Indy cleared his throat and proceeded to tell Karl all about the tablet, the translation, Mller and the Treasury of Magan.
Karl whistled and drew heavily on his cigarette. "That's some story." He blew smoke across the table. "So you plan to go look for this thing with Jan and Mel." he said flatly.
"Yes, I do."
Karl looked at all three in turn and nodded slowly. "I think we can get the plane, but I have a condition."
All eyes turned to Karl expectantly.
"I want in." Karl said, drawing in more smoke.
"Uh-uh, no way Karl, you dont have to put yourself at risk." Janice stated.
"I think I already have. You could use the extra set of hands. I'm at a dead end here, you know that Jan. Mller wont give me any workmen. All I'm doing here is sitting on my ass, loosing my money in poker games and drinking scotch. And besides," he looked directly at Indy, "I speak Arabic."
"You speak Arabic?" Mel asked, her jaw almost dropping to the table. "But you work on Classical material."
"I haven't always, I used to work in Syria. I know Levantine Arabic is not Gulf, but it will do."
"Damn right!" Indy said with a huge grin and reaching out his hand. That was something he'd been worried about. On his excavation, he'd picked up a few words and phrases, but he was by no means fluent. They had had a translator. If Karl spoke the language, it would be a hell of a big problem solved.
"And anyway, someone has to keep Jan out of trouble." he said, smiling back.
Mel started and Janice looked down at the table. "Why is everyone so concerned with keeping me out of trouble?" she grated.
"Perhaps because you have a tendency of getting yourself into it?" Mel asked and received daggers.
"Right, I'll go find us a plane." Karl said rising, "You'd better stay here and ah, keep out of trouble." He grinned before striding out the door.
Indy looked back and forth between the women and understood two things, either Mel was extremely stupid, or she was extraordinarily gifted with immense amounts of tolerance.
"What are you smirking at?" Janice asked, fishing in her pocket for her cigarillos and matches.
"You." Indy answered, wiping the back of his hand over his mouth.
"Well stop it."
"I'm sorry Janice, it's just that you have the unnatural ability to wriggle your way into people's hearts. God knows why, but people do really care about you."
"It's because, despite all the evidence to the contrary, Janice Covington is actually a nice person." Mel supplied, smiling a brilliant smile at her partner. It showed her pride and her love.
"Yeah well, just dont tell too many people okay?" Janice said before lighting her cigarillo and puffing away.
Indy snorted, shaking his head. "Sure." He stood and moved about the small room looking at the various bits of paraphernalia stored on shelves and left in corners.
Janice sat still for a moment before scooting her chair closer to Mel and resting her head against her shoulder.
"He's right you know Janice."
"'Bout what?" she asked, blowing smoke.
"You do wriggle your way in. Now get that smelly thing away from me!"
Janice grinned and shifted her chair away again. That was something she had to work on, not smoking in Mel's presence. Not that the Southerner really minded, it was just she'd rather have a smoke free Janice leaning against her.
The small archaeologist sat smoking quietly as Indy and Mel exchanged long looks. After what seemed an eternity, the door opened and Karl entered, taking the seat at the head of the table.
"What have you got for us Karl?" Janice asked, stubbing her cigarillo out on her boot.
"I've got us a ride, but not until tonight. They can't move until after dark. We have to meet them at a field not too far out of the city."
"Who's they?" all three said at the same time.
"Dont ask, people Costa knows. Has to be dodgy, but it's the best I can do."
"When tonight?" Janice asked.
"After dark, around eight."
"And they'll fly us to Bander -e 'Abbas?"
"It's a big ask, but they'll do itÉfor a price."
Everyone looked at Mel.
"How much?" she asked.
"Two thousand American dollars."
"Two..! That's ridiculous!" Janice scoffed.
"No it's not. I just have to get to the bank, that's all." Mel dead panned.
"Mel, you can't make a withdrawalÉ"
"I know that! I have a safety deposit box in the vault."
Indy was shaking his head. "It's too risky, we might be informed on."
"Well, I'll go on closing."
"You can't be serious." Janice spluttered, standing up to pace the room. "The SS is on the look out for us."
Indy frowned for a moment, "We've got another problem Mel."
"Oh for Christ's sake!" Janice exploded.
"Let him explain." Mel answered.
"We'll need money for the peninsula, gold sovereigns." he said nervously.
"Sovereigns? What the hell for?" Janice swore.
Indy gave a lop sided smile. "The Arabs dont trust paper."
"It's true." Karl supplied.
Mel rolled her eyes, "How many sovereigns?"
Indy looked at the table and appeared to calculate the sum. "Five thousand British pounds worth."
"This is getting insane." Janice mumbled, "You came here, expecting only me to go to the peninsula with you, where was your funding coming from then?" she demanded.
Indy shrugged, "I was going to wing it." he admitted.
"Wing it? You were going to wing it." Janice shook her head in disgust.
"Well, it appears he has winged it Janice." Mel glared at Indy. "However, it will take a week for me to wire the sum and coinage to Amphipolis. I cant leave tonight." She shook her head.
"No, you're not staying here." Janice said vehemently, standing up.
"I'll stay with her." Karl offered.
"Oh gee, that makes me feel a hell of a lot better. No!"
"Janice, calm down. It's not the end of the world. You go tonight with Indiana. Karl and I will be fine. You are the ones Mller is after." Mel tried to soothe.
"You aided in our escape!" Janice reasoned.
"True, but we need the money. It'll take a week, no less. YouÉyou could stay in Bander -e 'Abbas and wait for us." She said hopefully, begging Janice to understand.
"I'm not going to leave you here. Anything could happen." Despite the presence of Indy and Karl, Janice sounded desperate.
"One week Janice." Indy said, rising to place a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"No." Janice said again, shrugging the hand off.
"JaniceÉ" Mel began, she rose and moved over to the smaller woman, casting warning glances at both Indy and Karl. The two men looked at each other and hurriedly busied themselves in another part of the room.
"Janice, seven days, that's all it will take, no more."
"MelÉI can't leave you here. What if something happens? What if you get caught, what if you can't get the money?" Janice pleaded with her eyes.
Mel smiled and reached out to stroke the smaller woman's face. "A little while ago you were begging me to go. What changed?"
"I also promised you no Nazis, and look a the deal we've got now." she snorted.
"Well, that's for me to worry about. Now you go with Indiana tonight."
"Oh my Lord, dont you understand that I want you as safe as you want me safe? That means you leave Janice." Mel gripped the woman's shoulders and shook her slightly.
"It's a chance we have to take Janice." Indy cut in from across the room.
"What do you know?" Janice spat at him.
"He knows what's right." Mel said.
"Right my arse! You cant stay here Mel"
"And I'm not going to. I'll be with you in seven days."
Janice looked down at her boots and shook her head angrily, feeling tears well behind her eyes. She clenched her jaw and forced her emotions under control. Taking a deep breath she met the Southerner's eyes and nodded slowly.
"I guess I dont have much choice do I?"
"Not unless you want us all to go down with you." Mel smiled.
Janice nodded with some semblance of resolve. "Eight tonight, but you've got to get the two thousand Mel."
The four spent the next several hours sitting and talking about trivial matters. Janice nodded off briefly, curled against Mel's shoulder. Indy was amazed at the change he perceived in the small archaeologist since they had last met. Where was the iron clad wall of confidence? It was still there, but other things showed through, primarily love. Somehow Melinda Pappas had managed to break through the wall, just a little and allow a small portion of the real Janice Covington to show through. Gone was the blustering, high balled violent young woman Indy had known. In place was now an openly caring and concerned individual in the guise of Janice. Indy had to smile at himself at the transformation. He would not have believed it possible if he had not witnessed it for himself. He could not help but think there was a connection here that had transcended all he knew.
As the time neared for Mel to visit the safety deposit box, Janice became slightly agitated, smoking several of her cigarillos in rapid order. Karl had gone off some time during this to negotiate another trip in a week. Sensibly, the price was dropped to one thousand dollars for the first trip, the other thousand making up the second.
Finally Mel stood a let out a long breath. They had decided out of necessity that Mel would organise the transport of the sovereigns at the same time in order to minimise external contact.
"Well, I should go." Mel said, smoothing her damp hands down her trousers.
"I'll go with you." Karl announced, jumping up.
Mel smiled her thanks. She did not relish making the trip alone, especially if they ran into trouble.
It appeared that Janice had resigned herself to the inevitable and merely nodded at Karl's comment.
"We'll see you back here in no more than an hour. If you are longer than that, wellÉ" Indy trailed off.
"Don't even think it Indiana." Janice growled.
Indy nodded and shoved his hands in his pockets.
Mel quickly embraced Janice and headed to the back door, Karl following.
The walk to Mel's bank was relatively quick and uneventful. However, at their arrival on the opposite corner, Karl and Mel noted several German soldiers smoking on the steps to the building. They appeared to be talking casually, yet that could be deceptive.
"At least they're not SS." Karl mumbled as they decided what to do.
Mel glanced quickly at her watch, they had fifty minutes, deduct ten for the trip back, that left them with forty.
"We're going to have to go in there Karl, past them. I dont like it."
"Only one thing for it Mel, and that's to do it."
Mel smiled sagely and headed across the street. Th her immense relief, the soldiers seemed more interested in talking amongst themselves to worry about the two of them. Once inside the bank, Mel relaxed a little. She smiled sweetly at the elderly man behind the counter and gave her best interpretation of a rich woman making a regular request.
"Good afternoon, I'd like to make a transfer of funds please."
The little man knitted his bushy, overgrown eyebrows in a viscous frown.
"What kind of transfer?"
"AhÉ" Mel had to think, "A routing of funds through Charleston to London and transferred here in sovereigns."
The man's eyes widened and his brows shot to his non-existent hairline. "Sovereigns?" he asked.
"Yes, that is the currency I require." Mel replied firmly.
"And the sum?"
"The equivalent to five thousand British pounds."
"Five!" If it was possible for the bushy brows to climb higher, they did. "You must speak to the manager. I am not authorised to wire for that amount in gold."
"Then I will speak to the manager."
The man appeared grateful to be relieved of the custom as he ushered Mel and Karl through to an office at the rear of the bank. He scurried back out to the front desk and picked up the phone.
Mel repeated herself to the bank manager, who seemed in greater control of his eyebrows.
"You must understand, dear lady, that the transfer of such an amount is highly unusual."
"I realise this, however, it is a situation that cannot be avoided sir."
"It will take some timeÉand there is a feeÉof ten percent." The manager smiled wickedly.
Mel was under no illusion as to where the fee would go, yet there appeared to be no choice. They needed the money.
"Then add the fee to the requested amount." she said blankly. Karl glared at her but she calmed him with a raised hand.
"Of course dear lady, and your name?"
Mel licked her lips, this was the sticking point. Had the bank been informed of her wanted status?
"Melinda Pappas." she said with all the authority she could muster.
The manager's eyes shot up from the piece of paper in front of him. "Pappas!" he said in shock. "I am sorry, I cannot transfer funds for you, and I must-"
"Perhaps you would care to add another ten percent to the fee?" Mel suggested, leaning across the table before the man could finish.
The manager looked about nervously for a moment before setting his pen back in the inkwell. "I am not given to accepting bribes Miss Pappas."
Mel shrugged, "It is not a bribe, it is a fee." she said simply.
"A feeÉ" the manager mused. "I see, so I should make the requested amount out for six thousand British pounds in gold sovereigns?" he asked.
"Yes." Mel quipped. She calculated briefly in her head and decided that it was not such a large amount. In truth, she had more money than what she knew what to do with, and if this amount got her and Janice safely out of Nazi hands, it was a price worth paying.
She provided her account details and signed the request form with a flourish.
"The transfer will not take so long." the manager concluded, "Yet the shipping of funds in these troubled times will take a little longer."
"I expect the funds within the week."
"You must understandÉ"
"Within the week sir, no later."
"Miss Pappas, dear lady, I know you are in trouble, and I am doing all I can to help. I shall make the request urgent."
Mel's eyes narrowed. "Thankyou sir, I appreciate your frankness in this matter."
"Do not thank me dear lady, it is the fee, not you. Within a week, yet if you are taken, I keep the entirety of the sum. Agreed?"
It appeared as if Mel had no choice. "How do I know you will not betray me?" Mel asked reasonably.
"My dear lady, I give you my word." The manager stood and bowed briefly.
Mel rose and held out her hand to shake the manager's. "Well then, one week." She said, turning on her heel and marching out the door.
I can't believe you agreed to that!" Karl whispered harshly once they were back in the main bank area.
"He gave his word."
"The oath of a scoundrel is meaningless." Karl muttered as they headed towards the safety deposit boxes. The little man from behind the counter watched them.
"This is the one." Mel said, stopping by one of the metal boxes in a wall of the things. She produced a key and slid out the drawer. She moved it to a table and lifted the lid. Stacked to the height of the box were wads of American bills, and they weren't in small denominations.
"Jesus Christ!" Karl breathed.
"You sound like Janice." Mel smiled as she pulled out a couple of wads and shoved them into her pockets. She hesitated briefly and took another wad. "Just in case." She offered. "I've told you before that I like to prepared."
"Yeah, butÉfor what?"
"Oh I dont know, maybe something like this?" Mel shut the box and returned it to it's slot.
"If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it." Karl sighed. "C'mon, we'd best go."
"You are leaving?" It was the man from behind the counter. "Have you finalised the arrangement?" he asked.
Mel glanced briefly at Karl. "Yes, it is arranged. Now if you will please excuse us?" she asked, trying to push passed.
"One moment, the manager requires you signature."
"He already has it." It was obvious the man was trying to stall them and Mel hated to think why.
"For confirmation, you understand?" the man tried again.
"I dont think so." Mel said, shoving the man out of the way and jogging to the door with Karl close at her heels.
"They are waiting for you!" the man called after them harshly.
Mel got to the main door of the bank and stared out the cut glass panel. "Oh my! He must have informed on us." She said as she noticed several armed SS soldiers making their way up the street to the bank.
"This is just great!" Karl spat. "Why do I get involved with you people?"
"Because you are just as crazy as we are. Back door?" she asked, heading behind the counter in the direction of the manager's office. She glanced at her watch. They had fifteen minutes to get out of there and back to the bar before Janice would start to panic, and a panicked Janice Covington was liable to get herself in trouble.
They dashed passed the manager's office and down a corridor leading to the rear of the building. There was a door at the end, but it was bolted securely.
"Brilliant!" Karl shouted in frustration. "We're trapped."
Mel was just about to head for the manager's office when he arrived with the keys.
"I may be a greedy man my dear lady, but I do not like to see needless death."
He unbolted the door and received a quick thankyou from Mel before she and Karl disappeared into the back alley just as the SS men entered the main area of the bank.
It took Karl and Mel a lot longer that fifteen minutes to return to the bar, taking back streets all the way. Somewhere along the line they got lost and had to double back. By the time they were approaching the bar, Indy was having to physically restrain Janice from going to the rescue.
"JaniceÉJanice! Stop it, you are not going to help the situation by getting yourself killed." he shouted.
"That's my choice to make Indiana. Now, let go of me!" she struggled in the archaeologist's grasp.
The door to the back room burst open and Mel and Karl tumbled in, breathing hard. Mel lent over, hands on knees as she tried to regain her breath.
"Oh my!" she gasped, "What a run!"
"Were you followed?" Indy said immediately.
Mel tried to answer, but she was almost bowled over by Janice in a fierce embrace.
"NoÉwe madeÉsure of that." Karl responded, "That'sÉwhy weÉtook so long." He glanced over at Mel who was being swamped by the small archaeologist and shook his head.
"You idiot Melinda! We said one hour. One hour! Where the hell have you been?" Janice was almost screaming as she clung to the tall woman.
Mel pushed Janice firmly away from her and took several deep breaths. "It's alright Janice, we're back. There were some minor complications, that's all. Nothing happened, it's okay." she said again. There was only one thing worse than a panicking Janice Covington and that was a desperate one.
"Dont you ever make me feel this way again Mel!" Janice grabbed once more for the taller woman.
Mel looked with an exasperated expression over to Indy who simply shrugged.
"Oh really, so it's fine for you to do outrageous things, but me, I'm supposed to stay home and wash the dishes?" she asked with a wry smile.
Janice dropped her hands from around Mel's neck and moved to sit at the table, trying to get herself under some sort of control. She wasn't like this. She was acting like an over-protective freak.
"Just as long as I'm allowed to dry." Janice mumbled and hung her head in her hands. It was her way of saying that she knew they should share the dangers. Her way of saying she didnt like to feel helpless.
Indy looked at both the women and cleared his throat. "What was it Tennyson said? 'The vow that binds too strictly snaps itself'?"
Janice raised her head and pierced him with vivid green eyes. "I think that is enough of your wisdom Dr. Jones."
Trying to break up the tension, Mel slapped three thousand dollars down on the table and shoved one thousand of it towards Indy.
"That'll get you Bander -e 'Abbas." she said whilst splitting the additional thousand into two parts. "And that should keep you alive until Karl and I get there."
Janice eyed the money and Indy picked it up, pocketing it. "Mel, you are one wily ladyÉfor a Southerner."
Mel laughed, "You dont know the half of it Dr. Jones."
"What's with the Dr. Jones?"
Janice glanced again at the fidgeting Southerner as they huddled in the tree line along the field. It was just after dark when the four of them arrived as the designated spot. They were awaiting the arrival of Costa and the pilot who would take Indy and Janice to Bander -e 'Abbas.
"What wrong?" Janice whispered in a slightly irritated voice.
"Nothing!" the Southerner shot back, shifting her position yet again. "No, that's a lie. Janice, I have to go to the bathroom."
Janice snorted. "No you don't it's just nerves." Janice had reverted to her stoic self now that Mel was back in her sights.
"Right." Mel said, shifting again.
"Where are they?" Indy whispered in the darkness. "The plane's right there."
"They'll be here." Karl said.
"No, it's not nerves. I have got to go to the bathroom." Mel's voice held a hint of desperation.
"Well hold it!" Janice didn't quite know what it was, but she was enjoying watching the Southerner squirm. Maybe it was a trivial way of getting back at her for taking so long with the cash. Or maybe it was a way of distancing herself emotionally. She didnt want to think about it.
"Oh for Christ's sake, let the poor woman take a piss." Indy snapped.
"Thankyou." Mel breathed as she hurried behind a tree. She emerged a few minutes later with a satisfied sigh, but was quickly pulled down to ground level. With a surprised grunt, the tall woman fell to her knees.
"What was that-" Mel's surprised voice was cut of by a heavy hand across her mouth. In the darkness, Mel was uncertain of her assailant and began to struggle.
"Stop it!" Indy whispered harshly, "Patrol."
Mel's eyes widened and she scanned outside the tree line. Sure enough, a line of soldiers were silhouetted against the night sky.
After several tense minutes of being huddled in stark silence, the group relaxed as the patrol moved on. Janice let out a breath.
"That was close." she mumbled, half to herself.
Karl was nodding, "They dont normally patrol this area at night." he said in a worried voice.
"You were scared, yes?" the gravely voice came from behind. Janice had just enough time to reach for her .44 before the voice turned to one of laughter.
"Do not be thinking you can shoot me little girl. If you do that, no-one will fly the plane."
"Costa, do not creep up on us!" Karl blurted, "And where is the pilot?"
"I am pilot!" Costa said proudly, "Soteris had small problem and cannot fly. I am here." Costa cleared his throat and spat on the ground. "For luck." he said, wiping his mouth.
"Yeah," Janice murmured, "I think we're gonna need it." she snorted, re-holstering her weapon.
"You have money yes?" Costa asked, his beady eyes glistening in the faint light of the moon.
Indy handed over a wad and Costa began counting it.
"It's all there." Mel said, a little irritated.
"Good, now we will go." Costa said, stalking off in the direction of the plane.
Indy looked across at Karl and nodded. He thought to leave Janice an Mel alone for their goodbye. Karl understood and followed after Costa.
"Well," Mel said as she watched the men depart, "This is it."
"Yeah." Janice mumbled, shoving her hands in her pockets and looking at the ground.
Mel frowned and raised Janice's head up with a finger. She couldnt quite make the green of Janice's eyes out in the dark, and that bothered her.
"I'll be fine." She said, trying to read the archaeologist's expression. "Will you?"
Janice gave a fleeting smile and nodded her head slightly. "Yeah." There was so much she wanted to say, but didnt seem able to voice it.
"One week," Mel murmured, embracing the smaller woman, "in Bander -e 'Abbas." She pulled back and planted a passionate kiss on Janice's mouth that struggled to impart all her emotions.
Janice pulled back breathless and disentangled herself from the Southerner. She sniffed and looked over to the plane.
"I gotta go." she said, backing up and throwing a thumb over her shoulder.
Mel nodded, Janice's wall was back up. "One week." she murmured again as the archaeologist abandoned her to the darkness.
A few minutes later she felt a hand on her shoulder and jumped. It was only Karl.
"I know, it's not fair, is it?" he asked.
"Nothing ever is." Mel said as she watched the small plane taxi across the field and disappear from view.
Bander -e 'Abbas
The plane touched down at the small, dirt airfield outside the village of Bander -e 'Abbas. If Janice had been in any way religious, she would have kissed the ground. The trip had taken an excruciating nine hours in the cramped aircraft with a stop over in Bagdhad to refuel. Without having time to stretch their legs, the two weary passengers were rather worse for wear as they stumbled out onto the dusty airstrip. They were hit by a wave of heat and humidity that took their breath away. They carried with them nothing more than the clothes on their backs and the five hundred American dollars Mel had given them. Indy had no idea if the paper money would be considered good, yet he hoped that Bander -e 'Abbas being a trading port town, would accept a variety of currency.
The two left Costa with the plane after thanking him for his service. Despite the man's pot luck attitude, he had turned out to be a decent pilot.
"So, where to now?" Janice asked as she stretched the muscles in her back, trying to get rid of a few kinks.
"First things first, we have to get you out of site and into some decent clothes." Indy said, working on his own kinks.
"What!? What do you mean into some decent clothes." she asked, a hint of trepidation in her voice.
Indy looked her up and down, noting her knee high boots, kakhi pants and long sleeve shirt. He reached out and flicked the brim of her fedora.
"Well, we cant have a lady dressed like that, now can we?" he asked with a lop sided smile.
"You know I'm no lady Indiana." She said dangerously with a snarl.
Indy shrugged, "That may be, but ah, do you want to get stoned to death for indecent exposure?"
"Indecent exposure?" she said, placing a hand on her hip.
"It's kind of hard to explain. Let's just get going shall we?" Indy shook his bead and marched off in the direction of the town.
The streets were narrow and crowded. It appeared as if every living thing, human or otherwise had conglomerated in the spaces between the cramped and crooked buildings. The streets themselves were sand and dirt laden. Varieties of excrement littered the walkway and the lower portions of the leaning buildings were splattered with beetle-nut from where passers by had spat. Janice tired to ignore the smell that drifted inexorably around them as they made their way to the main souk area. After too long a time, the two archaeologists finally broke out into a small compound, surrounded on all sides by tiny ramshackle shops. Their world suddenly became of cacophony of people shouting in Arabic, hawking their wares. Black clad women screamed and haggled over paltry items for paltry sums. Janice watched one woman pick up a fish, only to throw it back down on the table, disturbing a throng of flies, to poke furiously at a sunken eye. Elsewhere at the shop were mounds of small dried fish, the surface of which appeared to crawl as if alive.
"What are we doing here?" Janice asked in exasperation after a rather burly man slammed into her from behind.
"We need a room." Indy answered, deftly avoiding a pile of fish heads and entrails. He looked about for a moment and pulled Janice in the direction of one of the shops. With his limited Arabic, Indy tried to haggle down the price of a small room at the back of a pottery shop. The owner grunted and spat at Indy's feet when Indy automatically halved the price suggested.
"By the head of my father, do you want me to starve?" the man retorted sharply.
Indy moved as if to walk away and the man grabbed him by the arm, pulling him back.
"May Allah lead your camels astray stranger, perhaps we can settle on a different sum? I am giving you best price." the man said in a slightly more hopeful tone.
After several minutes, Indy agreed to a slightly higher price, and was thankful that his American dollars were accepted. The owner of the shop grinned and slipped a handful of bills into a pocket. He gestured with a slight bow for them to follow through the shop and out to the back. He leered at Janice as she passed, eyeing her up and down with beady eyes.
"I dont think he likes us very much." Janice spat as she looked around the small room at the rear of the building. It was like a sweat box.
"No, " Indy mused, sitting down on a wooden bench. "He thinks you are a prostitute."
"Jesus Christ! You didnt enlighten him?" Janice swore.
"Wouldnt be much point, he'd still think it."
Janice grated her teeth and undid a couple of buttons on her shirt. "Goddamn it's hot in this place.
"Middle of summer. Most place usually shut down in the middle of the day, so I'd better get going."
"To make you look less like a prostitute."
"You gonna leave me here?" Janice asked in a very un-Janice voice.
"Sure, you'll be fine, get some sleep or something."
Indy looked about and finally pointed to a pile of smelly looking coarse blankets on the floor.
Janice almost laughed when she saw where Indy was pointing. "Now look, Indy, I've slept in some pretty rough places, but that goes beyond rough."
"Whatever, I've gotta go." he said, and headed back out through the shop.
"Just goddamn great." Janice mumbled as she moved about the room. It was pretty Spartan, a bench, the pile of blankets and a low lying table of sorts. With extreme care, Janice shifted the blankets slightly and just about hit the low ceiling when a scorpion made an appearance. She quickly recovered and slammed her boot heel down on it's head. It cracked open with a slightly disgusting popping sound and lay still, nerves feebly working to attack with it's sting. Janice swore and kicked it across the room. Gingerly she checked the other blankets and finally settled down on the floor.
Just when her head hit the hard ground, a grating voice came through the entrance way, mumbling in Arabic.
Janice cracked open an eye and stared balefully at the small man wearing a dirty robe.
"Get out of here!" she said with as much vehemence as she could manage.
The man on the other hand took this as an open invitation and stumped into the room, sandals flapping on cracked heels. Janice sat up and reached for her .44 under the blankets.
"What are you doing?" she asked as the man cracked an evil smile showing more gums than teeth.
The man cocked his head to the side and moved closer. Janice pulled her gun from beneath the blankets and levelled it at the man's groin.
"I said, get out of here little man." she grated.
The man flicked his gaze to the weapon, the smile dropping from his beetle-nut stained lips. He held out his hands in a submissive gesture and backed away slightly.
He stammered something before turning on his heels and bolting for the door in billowing cloud of linen.
Janice sighed, "Godamn it, Indiana, where the hell are you?" she asked the walls. Janice resolved to sit with her back against the wall and keep watch. Of course, she was totally capable of defending herself, yet she did not like the notion of strange, dirty men imposing themselves on her while she slept.
She must have dozed off, however, because the next thing she knew, Indy was gently removing her pistol from her hands. Janice snapped back to reality, ready for a fight. She relaxed when she recognised Indy. He smiled at her and placed her gun on the bench.
"I hear you had a little entertainment while I was gone." he said.
"Yeah, the guy from the shop."
"Abdul bin Mohammed. You gave him quite a scare Janice."
"Yeah? Well he gave me one."
Indy laughed, "He only wanted to know if you were sleeping here and whether the place was good Janice."
"Oh, I see." Despite herself, Janice had to smile. "And there was a scorpion." She shrugged.
"Welcome to the Near East." Indy smiled back and threw a bundle down on the blankets.
"What's that?" Janice asked, eyeing the packages.
"Your new wardrobe." He smiled crookedly.
"My what? Janice demanded, ripping open one of the packets to reveal a mound of black cloth.
"It's an abaya, and this," he picked out another piece of black material is your shaileh."
"Oh noÉ no, no, no, no, no." Janice vented, picking up her outfit.
"Relax would you Janice, it goes over the top of your own clothes. It would be immodest of you to walk around uncovered, you know that now."
"Uncovered my ass, what do you call thisÉnaked?"
"Hardly, but people can see your-"
"What? What can they see? Can you see anything?"
Indy rolled his eyes. "For a start, they can see your face."
"Janice, you'd save yourself a lot of trouble if you just wear it. C'mon, try it on." Indy persuaded.
Janice grumbled for a few moment before rising and slipping her arms through the loose hanging sleeves and settled the garment over her shoulders. She stood, unconvinced with a slight slouch.
"Indy, it's a sack."
"No it's not, now for the shaileh." he said, wrapping the veil over her head and draping a loose end over a shoulder. "There, what do you think?
Janice stared down at herself and frowned. No-one would have recognised her as Janice Covington. No-one would have recognised her as anyone.
"I can't believe this." Janice groaned, pulling the shaleih from her head and almost strangling herself in the process. "I'm not Muslim. What the hell are you going to wear anyway?" she asked Indy.
"Glad you asked." he said, ripping open another packet and extricating a flowing white garment. "It's a dishdasha, I'll be wearing local dress."
"Literally." Janice smirked, "I never knew."
"Very funny. At least you wont be wearing a burkha."
"I dont want to know."
"It's the face mask the older women tend to wear." Indy supplied anyway.
"Well, I'm not wearing this, it must be over a hundred out there."
"One ten actually, and you'd be surprised at how cool it will be."
"So, do you get to wear anything under you dishdasha?" Janice asked with a wry smile.
"Not a thing." he grinned. "Here, I brought us some lunch." he said, shoving something in a small container at her.
"What is it?" Janice asked as she pulled the thing open and took a whiff. "Arghh, what the hell is it?" she repeated as a pungent odour hit her nostrils.
"Come on, it's not that bad." Indy took a handful and shoved the glutenous looking concoction in his face.
Janice didn't look convinced as she reached for a taste. Indy grabbed her hand short of the prize.
"Rule number one, eat with you right, wipe with your left." he instructed.
"Wipe?" Janice asked, a puzzled expression on her face until understanding dawned. "Oh, wipeÉ" she trailed off, changing hands quickly to claim a sample.
"Okay, that's it, I've tasted it, now you have to tell me what it is." She made a face and forced herself to swallow.
"An Arabic dish called hariss , think of it as a puree of chicken porridge, bones and all."
Janice almost gagged but forced down another mouthful.
"If I wasn't so Goddamn hungry Indiana, you'd be wearing this now." she muttered.
The two of them ate their meal in silence, sitting on the dirty blankets.
"Now I know why I'm a Classical archaeologist." Janice said as she licked the last of the salty hariss from her fingers. She sat back for a moment and sighed.
"So, where's the can?" she finally asked.
"Out the back further." Indy pointed out their 'back' door, which really was nothing more than a gap in the wall with a curtain hanging over it.
"Great security in this place." Janice said as she rose and headed outside.
Janice hunted around until she came to a small mud brick structure. She peeked her head around the door and reeled back as a wave of flies hit her.
"Jesus Christ." she groaned as she entered the fray. There was a small mud brick squat toilet on the ground with a channel leading to the outside and a goat skin container filled with dirty brown water beside it. "If I dont get dysentery in this place it'll be a miracle."
After concluding her business she re-entered their small room to see Indy dressed in his dishdasha, buckling his ammunition belt and holster about his waist.
"What do you think?" he asked, sweeping his ghutra over his head securing it with a an agal or black circular band of twisted wool..
Janice looked him up and down. "You look like you've got a tea towel on your head."
Indy grinned, "C'mon, it cant be that bad?" he laughed.
"Well, it's not as bad as the experience I just had outside."
"Yeah, I know. Things'll get better once we hit the Trucial States and out of the towns. Then it'll just be like any other dig."
"It had Goddamn better be Indiana."
"Courage is not the absence of fear, it's taking action in the face of it." Mller mused as he perused the two figures sitting in front of his desk. His shoulder was strapped and his arm in a cast. He leaned awkwardly across his desk.
"I should have you shot for what you have done, yet somehow I cannot bring myself to order it." he sighed and leaned back in his chair. The two figures sat silently. They were not restrained, nor were they guarded.
"You have managed to evade and talk your way out of many incidents. Yet now, you sit here," He indicated the room, "after helping Dr. Jones and the most disturbing Janice Covington to escape." His voice dropped sharply, "Where did they go?" he asked.
Mel glanced across at Karl. They had been picked up by the patrol on their way back to the bar.
"You know where Colonel." Mel said evenly.
"Ah yes, the treasury. To the Trucial States was it not? A place where I cannot go since we have not yet assimilated that part of the world into the Reich."
Karl snorted but held his tongue.
"You disagree?" Mller asked.
"You'll never take it." Karl replied.
"It is only desert. This conversation is irrelevant, for you will recover the treasury and return it to me." Mller smiled.
"Not a chance." Karl spat.
"No de Cardi, you have no choice. You cannot leave. How do you think you will make it to your precious Janice without my help?" he sneered, staring both at Karl and Mel. "Oh yes, I know what she means to youÉboth. Perhaps more to you Miss Pappas, yes?"
Mel gripped the arms of her chair, knuckles turning white, but she refused to answer.
"I thought so." Mller nodded with satisfaction, a glint of disgust in his eye. "You see, I have the greatest bargaining tool in this matter. That is why I say courage is not the absence of fear. You are afraid, but you will act, will you not?" he leaned across the table. "And that action will either result in your unfortunate death, or in collaboration with me." Mller smiled wickedly, he had them. "Now, I will arrange a special envoy to accompany you, plain clothes."
"Gestapo?" Mel blurted, "The British will never let you in."
"Perhaps not, but the Arabs will, they have no hate of the Germans as the British do, and with the current work of our leader, we will be welcomed with open arms."
"The Jews." Karl muttered and Mel shook her head in disgust.
"You are well informed de Cardi. So now, you must stay in a holding cell until such time as the arrangements have been made."
"What are we going to do?" Mel asked. She was sitting on a narrow cot pushed up against the iron bars of what could be described as nothing if not a cage. Karl sat opposite her on an identical cot.
"I dont know. I need to think." He hung his head in his hands.
"Janice is in Bander -e 'Abbas." Mel said quietly.
"I know that!" Karl retorted angrily, looking up. He saw the anguished look on the Southerner's face and apologised.
"It's okay, but Mller will send us straight to the peninsula."
"We cant compromise Janice's position. Indy will look after her."
Mel shook her head. "You saw how she acted when we were half an hour late earlier. I'd hate to think what she'd do if we didnt turn up at Bander -e 'Abbas in a week.."
"If you didn't." Karl corrected.
Mel opened her mouth to reply, but realised that Karl was right. She simply nodded her head slightly.
"We have to go, dont we?" Mel finally asked.
"And we'll just have to trust Janice not to do anything stupid. We cant even get any word to her. I dont like it Karl." Mel said, feeling totally helpless.
"You think I hate it any less? We're being used. We dont even know where to start looking for the damned treasury."
"Indy's site on the east coast, that's where he found the tablet."
"What's it called?"
"AhÉ" Mel had to wrack her brains for a moment, so much had happened in the last day that she couldnt remember outright. "F somethingÉFujairah! That was it." she came up with the name, clicking her fingers.
"Fujairah. Then I guess that's where we are going." he sounded disheartened. "But I dont see how we can just turn up and take over."
Mel laughed wryly, "This is the SS and Gestapo we're talking about, they have a way of disregarding red tape with the utmost skill."
After the dismissal of Mel and Karl from his office, Mller sat back to think. He ran the lines of the translation over in his head and focussed on the one sentence detailing the encampment at the small village. He closed his eyes for a moment before reaching a decision. He pushed himself to his feet and headed out to his car, collecting his driver on the way. They drove to the museum where Mller hastily entered Janice's office and poured over the map of the Oman Peninsula that still lay on top of the file. He tried to ignore his own blood stains on the floor by Janice's desk. As he stared at the map, he envisioned a trail through the mountain that ended in a gravel plain with various outcroppings of rock. After several moments he laid a finger on the map and smiled.
"A small village, passed the plain near outcroppings." he mused. "Jebel Emelah, Jebel Fayah, Jebel Buhais, Jebel Mleiha." he said, counting off the various small limestone outcroppings labelled on the map. "And the town, Mleiha." he said with a smile. He'd get rid of Karl and the Pappas woman by sending them on a wild goose chase to Fujairah. It was at Mleiha, he speculated, where the true treasury lay. He straightened with a new sense of resolve, there were plans to be made for Mleiha.
The week Janice and Indy spent in Bander -e 'Abbas passed reasonably quickly. They had acclimatised to the weather conditions and Janice had grown rather fond of her abayah as it allowed her to move freely through the streets of the town with out many problems. The only thing giving her away was her eye colour, and she received a few curious glances from passers by on occasion if they looked too closely. Indy was busy growing a beard and improving his Arabic as well as teaching Janice all he knew. By the end of the week, Janice was able to carry on a decent hello how are you conversation and basically make herself understood at the various shops in the souk, where she was a regular customer. Despite her aggressive first one to one meeting with Abdul, she had made friends with the little man and frequently sat with him out the front of his shop. For the owner, this was an added bonus since the strange, green eyed woman promoted custom.
At the conclusion of the week, Indy and Janice had taken to walking to the small airstrip out of town for several hours of the morning, waiting for Costa. But Costa never came. It was on the third overdue day the Janice really began to panic.
"They're dead." she said flatly to Indy as they sat cross legged on the dusty, parched earth.
"They're delayed." Indy tried to lift her spirits. The woman had been walking around like a ghost of herself when Mel and Karl had not arrived when they said they would.
"No, that's it, Mller's got them." She drew her knees up and hugged herself.
"You dont know that Janice." Indy looked across at her for a moment. He didnt know how to relieve her concern.
"She's gone Indy." Janice muttered.
Indy licked his lips and glanced about to make sure no-one was about. He moved over and placed his arm over Janice shoulder. Janice shrugged it off.
"Dont do that, you know the rules, no public display of affection between men and women Indy." she said blankly.
"There's no-one here Janice." He wasn't really sure if Janice said the words truly believing in them or simply because she was back to her self-effacing self.
"I dont care Indy. I dont." she could feel the tears coming before she could stop them.
Indy simply sat beside her while she cried. He couldnt do anything.
"Yes you do." he said finally.
Janice sobbed openly now. "No I dont. If I keep telling myself, it'll go away." She rocked back and forth.
Indy sighed and looked up at the sky, hoping he would spot the small plane. The sky remained a clear, shining blue, devoid of black spots on the horizon.
"Three more days, we'll wait three more days." he said.
Janice shook her head and wrapped her abayah more tightly across her body.
"No, I've lost her Indy andÉI only just found her. How could I have been so stupid? We should have gone back to the States. We should have just left." she sighed, "We should have done so many things."
This was a side of Janice that Indy had rarely seen, if ever. The vulnerable and scared Janice. She was always so strong that Indy forgot she was a person and not a machine, and people felt. Janice was feeling now, and there was nothing he could say or do to make the situation any better.
"Three days." he repeated, and desperately hoped that the plane would be in by then.
To be continued...
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