Whip and Wing

by Fernin

Ch 9: Conjunction

Brother Marble yawned and glanced at his fellow sufferer, Sister Bertha. He felt his hopes rising as the griffin turned her head, peering intently into the gray shadows of the valley below. He reached out a tentative hoof and prodded the female. “Do you see anything, Sister?”

“Eh… nothing.” Sister Bertha flared her wings to stretch the disused limbs and struggled to control a yawn of her own. Fervor for the Brotherhood of the Snake could only take one so far. She and the earth pony had been on watch duty since sundown, clinging to the lonely patch of rock on a crag above the Temple of Shadow.

“Stay strong, Sister Bertha,” the earth pony whispered encouragingly. “Only another hour or two!”

Bertha yawned again. By asp and viper, didn’t Marble ever give it a rest? Of course, the earth pony was a relatively recent convert so some extra zeal was to be expected… But there were limits. At least he hadn’t repeated his earlier poorly thought out request to use her crossbow so that he could ‘smite the unbelievers.’ Sanity had prevailed and the weapon remained firmly in the claws of the cultist who could actually aim the crossbow and pull the trigger at the same time.

Straining to see through the gloom of the pre-dawn hours, Bertha turned her eyes again to the approach leading up to the temple. Things had certainly gotten stricter here since Brother Starfire had returned... unfortunately. Only a few days before, Sister Bertha would have been nice and warm in her bed at this time of day instead of out in the hills watching for any signs of somepony stupid enough to—

Bertha’s resentful thoughts screeched to a halt as a shadow shifted on the rugged trace weaving its way to the cultists’ temple. Was it a trick of the light? The griffin peered closer and reached out to shake her fellow guard out of dreams of sunning himself in the glory of the Old Ones. “Hey! Marble! Brother Marble, look at this! Somepony’s coming!”

It wasn’t a trick of the light; somepony was indeed coming. The dark blotch climbed ever closer, resolving itself into the shape of a unicorn stallion. The exhausted pony’s head drooped as he struggled even to put one hoof in front of the other; he probably wouldn’t have realized he was being watched even if the cultists had been standing up and shouting instead of lying partially hidden among the rocky outcroppings of the ridge.

Brother Marble joined the griffin in staring down at the path. Bertha could hear his breath quicken as he spotted the approaching pony. The young stallion fumbled for the warning whistle at his neck as he quavered, “A-an intruder, Sister! Quick, smite him while I call for our Brothers!”

Bertha pressed a clawed paw to her beak and sighed. “Hold it, Brother Marble. Stay still and wait a minute. Think of Brother King—that’s one diamond dog I know even you don’t want to anger. How do you think Brother King will react if we wake him up over one lousy unbeliever who might not even come this far up the trail?”

“Then ‘like the clever asp, we will wait for our moment to strike,’ Sister Bertha!” Marble quoted, pleased at the chance to show off his knowledge of the Sibilant Scriptures.

“…Yeah. Like that,” Bertha agreed. Her eye twitched imperceptibly as she restrained herself from smacking the younger cultist across the snout. It should have been a sin the way he made the holy writ sound ridiculous with his goofy voice and almost annoying enthusiasm. She crouched down and dragged Marble with her until the two were completely hidden on the slope.

Sister Bertha waited for the unicorn to turn back. What kind of foal came willingly on hoof into territory belonging to the cult? Perhaps he was a would-be initiate? The griffin hesitated, but finally clacked her beak in irritation and hefted the crossbow. Better safe than sorry, especially with recent events fresh in everypony’s mind. Rising from her hiding place, she took aim.

A deafening crack split the air just as Sister Bertha squeezed the trigger. A long, thin tentacle wrapped around the crossbow and jerked. The weapon slewed to the side, sending its bolt zipping off into the shadows of the valley instead of thudding into the flesh of the unsuspecting unicorn. The griffin gaped as the crossbow flew out of her claws and clattered to the ground.

Time seemed to slow as the astonished cultist looked up in time to see the leather ‘tentacle’ coiling as Indiana Jones retrieved his bullwhip with a flick of the wrist. The archeologist nodded to the guards. “Hello.”

Before Bertha or Marble could respond, Silver Trowel’s feline allies landed on the cultists’ backs and bore them back to the ground. Razor sharp teeth and powerful jaws made short work of the would-be sentries. Indiana hurried up to the makeshift guard post, voicing his disapproval. “Hey! Wait, we were going to question one, remember...? Damn.”

Doctor Jones winced at the bloody results of the big cats’ skills. He wouldn’t be getting any information out of these cultists; they were already communing with their snake gods—or whatever it was that they worshipped.

When a panting Silver Trowel finished his laborious journey up the path and reached Indy and the two cats, he all but collapsed. “I trust… my distraction… was adequate?”

“Yeah, worked like a charm. But remind your friends that we need at least one cultist alive and able to talk if we meet any more. I don’t like going in blind,” Indiana complained.

Trowel sagged and gasped out an apology with what little breath he’d managed to get back after the most recent leg of his ascent. “Terribly sorry… ‘Don’t kill’ isn’t an easy concept for them to understand, I think…”

Indiana leaned against a boulder and breathed slowly, savoring what would probably be his last chance to rest before entering the snake cult’s stronghold. The small party around him was definitely worse for wear. Silver Trowel looked half dead, and even the tiger and panther accompanying them seemed somewhat less chipper than when they’d started. That made sense, of course; the group had been hiking for the better part of the night with only momentary breaks.

Eyeing his companions again to see how they were recovering from the forced march, Indy shifted uneasily. It wasn’t simply that they were large predators with all the apparent intelligence of a human; something seemed fundamentally off about the big cats. Even beyond the obvious concerns raised by the too-convenient appearance of muscle just as it was needed, the felines’ presence was ruffling the feathers he definitely didn’t have.

“Everypo—everyone ready?” Indiana asked, glancing at his allies. The archeologist rubbed his head. He must be getting more tired than he thought; he was even starting to talk like these ponies. People. Whatever.

The cats, of course, didn’t respond. Silver Trowel nodded and pushed himself doggedly to his hooves. Swaying for a moment, the unicorn cleared his throat and smiled wanly. “All right, Doctor Jones. Again, I’m terribly sorry for losing that stone-walking amulet of mine. I know it would be easier just to walk in…”

“Too late now. You did great keeping us from dying going over that waterfall, Doctor Trowel. You don’t need to apologize to me,” Indiana replied, waving a hand dismissively. Admittedly it would have been nice not to have to fight his way through for once, but it was more surprising that anything had survived the trip over the Flying Falls. “Come on then. Let’s go.”

Soon the dark gray façade of the Temple of Shadow loomed over the rescue party. It was only just dawn, but the dark stones of the temple seemed to drink up what little light was filtering over the ridgeline. Two stone griffins snarled mutely from their perches on either side of the heavy wooden gates. Somehow, Indiana remembered the doors being taller… Had he ever seen them before now? The archeologist wasn’t even sure any more.

Save for the pale yellow light of the morning, the scene seemed disturbingly familiar. Indiana started up the steps, eyes fixed on the slightly ajar gates into the darkness of the Temple of Shadow. He drew his pistol, holding it cautiously before him as he edged up to the door. Indy glanced back at his companions. The tiger watched his progress with boredom in its too-intelligent eyes. The feline paused to wash one paw with a long tongue, lapping up crimson flecks of blood off orange fur.

“All right. Doctor Trowel, tell the cats to go in quick and scout the room,” Indiana ordered. “And leave at least one alive this time.”

“Er... Based on previous performance, Indiana, I think you may want to go in and get the cultist yourself,” Silver Trowel said with a nod towards the big cats’ still-bloody paws.

The hairs were rising on the back of Doctor Jones’ neck, but time was of the essence. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Fine. You three come in right behind me. We’re going to do this fast and if we’re lucky, we’ll be in and out before the cultists know we’re here.”

Not waiting for a response, Indiana Jones darted through the slightly open door. Immediately he knew he’d made a mistake when the door slammed shut behind him with a heart-stopping boom. Damnit. The archeologist whirled and tugged at the heavy iron ring of the handle, but the door stubbornly resisted his efforts.

“Good morning,” called a reedy voice. Indiana turned slowly to see a genuine smile on Starfire’s muzzle.

The pegasus was resplendent in vibrant green robes and stood in the middle of a large half-ring of cultists. There were diamond dogs. Earth, unicorn, and pegasus ponies. Even a smattering of griffins. All were garbed in green robes and, more importantly, everything capable of doing so was holding a loaded crossbow. The archeologist slowly raised his hand, ready to let his pistol drop.

“Good morning,” Starfire repeated again, trotting slowly forward with his eyes locked on Indy’s.

“Yeah. Morning,” Indiana agreed. It was a trap, and he’d walked right into it like the idiot that he was. Now the pegasus was going to…

…Bow to Indiana? Sweeping his wings with a cape-like flourish, Starfire dipped his head and murmured, “You do us honor with your presence… My Lord.”

* * *

“You’re taking me to Germany? When?” asked Daring Do. She tested her bonds again. Even on a good day, it would have been hard for the pegasus to break out of her current restraints… and after days of steady action and her recent none-too-soft landing, she was definitely not at her best.

“Why, as soon as the next aircraft arrives, Fräulein Do. It should be about a day. Then you and our other prize come back together with me,” Hans Jägermeister replied with a satisfied grin. The Nazi agent patted one pocket of his coat meaningfully, pleased at the heavy weight of the medallion contained within. For this, he would get the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves—and much, much more.

“I… ugh… think that’s a little soon after my last plane ride.” Daring Do winced as an incautious movement sent a serrated knife of pain dragging across her nerve endings.

“Do not worry, little pony. I will be there for you.” Almost tenderly, Hans stroked his prisoner’s mane and relished the way she squirmed under his grip. She was just like an unruly puppy now that she’d been defanged with some sturdy rope and deft knot tying. Trussed up like an oddly shaped fowl, Daring Do was finally in one place long enough for the German to appreciate how adorable the little creature looked in her miniature pith helmet and green cotton shirt. To think she’d managed to do such damage. Now she reminded the Nazi agent of one of his sister’s dolls. He smiled remembering how he’d set the toy alight in front of her for a laugh. Ah, good times; good times.

Daring Do thought quickly, powering through the lingering ache behind her eyes. If she didn’t find some way to escape soon, she was probably doomed. She wasn’t going to get the Nazi simply to release her, but maybe there was another way. Her gaze followed the German’s hand as Jägermeister patted his pocket again in an almost unconscious movement. That must be where he was keeping the Medallion of Light. This might be her only option. “The artifact. Why do you want it?”

“You don’t know?” Jägermeister laughed. “You mean you were just helping Herr Brooks out of the goodness of your heart?”

Of course Daring knew why the Nazis were looking for the medallion. She still writhed a bit mentally at the sensation of the alien memories in her head. Hopefully this would work, though. “Well you didn’t give me a lot of time to ask questions, Hans.”

“Fascinating. Well, good. That gives us something to talk about on the long plane ride, Ja?” The German nodded with mock satisfaction, as if topics of conversation to use when chatting with his prisoner had actually been a concern.

“Do you actually know how to use the Medallion of Light, Jägermeister? Or are you just hoping that your little goose-stepping pals back in the Fatherland will be able to figure it out?” the mare snapped. Daring crossed her eyes to stare at her muzzle. ‘Goose-stepping?’ ‘Fatherland?’ What the hay did those even mean? Fortunately, the unfamiliar words seemed to have the desired effect.

“I—! I am certain that we do not need the help of a little pony to discover the powers of the weapon that will help the Reich to reign supreme,” the Nazi snapped, suddenly petulant as he contemplated the probable long delay between his return to Germany and the actual success that would follow the artifact’s use. And more importantly, the probable long delay between Hans’ theoretical triumph and glory and the realization of the same. He glared down at Daring suspiciously.

“Sure. But wouldn’t it be easier if I just told you how to use it? You need both halves you know,” Daring said, inventing desperately as she talked.

“How would you know…” Hans trailed off as the obvious occurred to him. How could the pegasus pony not know? After all, nothing like her existed on Earth outside of ancient myths. Jägermeister remembered the way that Daring Do had appeared suddenly in a bright flash, medallion clutched between her teeth.

“That’s right. I used the artifacts to come here. Hans, how would you like not to fly to Berlin? How would you like to appear there?” Reading the humans’ odd, flat faces was getting much easier. Daring Do tried not to think about whether that was due to several days’ experience with them or due to the ever-increasing number of memories of them that were being shoved into her head by unknown forces. It didn’t matter—she was getting through to the man regardless.

A grin broke slowly across the Nazi’s face as he imagined the glory that would be his. It was perfect. But the glee quickly faded, replaced by clouds of suspicion. “And I am to trust you, pegasus? You who have tried to thwart me since you came here?”

Daring didn’t even have to fake the way she squirmed under Hans’ scrutinizing gaze. If this didn’t work… Well, she’d have to think of something else. But hopefully it would work. “Ah… Heh heh… Good point. But you’ve got me now. Maybe we can work out a deal?”

The human leaned close, trying to root out any sign of duplicity on his captive’s face. “What kind of deal?”

“I teach you how to use the Medallions of Light and Shadow and you get me back home,” Daring Do stated flatly.

Jägermeister seemed to consider it for a moment. Finally, he nodded. “Daring Do, I know you are only trying to escape. But have no illusions, I am in complete control. You have no chance, now. So we shall put your words to the test. And when we have found that you are lying to me, I will make you regret it.”

“Good, I think. Shake on it?” asked Daring with a nervous grin.

“I am not a fool,” the German hissed. “Do not mistake me for one.”

“It never entered my mind,” lied Daring Do. “Anyway. Take me—and the medallion—to the Temple of Light. We’ll have to start there.”

Hans crossed his arms doubtfully. “Was? Warum..? Why?”

Daring was equally uncompromising. “Hey! Who’s used this artifact before, you or me?”

“All right. I will make arrangements. But Fräulein Do? If you try to double cross me, it will be the last mistake of your life.” With that, the Nazi agent stalked out the door and slammed it behind him.

Aaaand that was step one. It had worked. Breathing a sigh of relief, Daring Do worked a bit more on her restraints. If she was lucky, she would be able to escape on the way to the temple. She just hoped that her captor didn’t think of anything too effective at keeping her grounded or, for that matter, anything too humiliating, like…

“A leash,” Daring muttered to herself, glaring up at the impassive face of her brown-robed guard. Her tail swished angrily. “I can’t believe he actually put me on a leash.”

The mare felt her cheeks flushing as she was practically paraded in front of the combined force of German soldiers and local mercenaries. Being tossed in the back of a truck with half a dozen armed guards for the long ride back to the Temple of Light had been bad enough. That she’d endured the entire thing hogtied and with some of the Germans laughing at her plight or scratching her behind the ears as if she was a dog had made it worse. And now, the ultimate humiliation: the leash. At least her legs were free now. If she picked her moment, she might even manage to escape before—urk!

With a jerk on the leash, the local mercenary tugged Daring Do up the steps of the Temple of Light. The pegasus glared at everypony as she passed until, finally, she was at the gates. Black coat flapping slightly in the early morning breeze, Jägermeister pushed open the doors himself and waved the pony inside with false chivalry. “After you, Fräulein.

The entryway was just as Daring remembered it—which is to say, the way her mind recalled it despite knowing intellectually that she had never been to this part of the temple. But there were differences. A few industrious spiders had already started building cobwebs, and the only illumination now was the post-dawn light of the sun streaming in through the door. As she watched, a few mercenaries brought in torches, lit them, and placed them in holders on the wall. The weak and flickering light of the torches cast strange shadows on the wall.

Daring Do blinked and looked closer, squinting into the gloom of the recently abandoned Temple of Light. It felt almost inappropriate that a place so named was mostly dark. But more importantly… Was it her imagination, or were some of the shadows moving of their own accord? In fact, that one looked almost like a pegasus stallion!

The insubstantial pegasus approached, moving silently in a flowing robe. He approached the transfixed Daring Do, standing roughly in the center of the room. The apparition bowed low, flourishing his wings dramatically like some sort of cape. She could faintly hear the sound of hoofsteps and the swish of a robe on the floor. Daring licked her lips, feeling her restraints even more acutely than before. “Hey, does anypony see those shadows moving?”

Hans Jägermeister looked at the empty room, filled only with a steadily growing number of his men as they filed into the entryway. Shaking his head in disappointment, he sighed. “Really, Daring Do? I knew you were going to try to escape. But trying to scare me and my men away with bogeymen? Surely you are joking.”

“You can’t see them?” Daring asked. She looked up to see if the Nazi was joking—and stared. There, almost right next to her, was a nebulous yet unmistakable form. She’d know that face anywhere, especially since it was the first human she’d ever seen and the one whose appearance had started her on her latest adventure. The pegasus did a double take, but the apparition was still there. The form was indistinct, but there was no doubt in Daring’s mind: that was Indiana Jones!

* * *

‘My Lord?’ Staring down at the cultist, Indiana felt his brain kick into overdrive. He managed, “Oh. Good. Rise, oh faithful one.”

“My Lord,” Starfire said again, bowing even lower before straightening to his full (if diminutive) height. “I must apologize. You see, at first we mistook you for a simple demon from the Spirit Realm. We believed that the Old Ones would return to us, but I confess that after so long we had lost hope. And this despite the favorable signs of conjunction with your blessed plane.”

Indiana Jones remained silent, his arms crossed and his face impassive. The pegasus pony obviously wanted to talk—and that was better than being the cultists’ pincushion. The archeologist kept an eye on the half circle of crossbow-wielding creatures as Starfire all but groveled at his feet.

“But now you are here, Lord! As it was prophesied, you have come back to us to decide who is worthy and to take us with you to the Spirit World!” Starfire was practically dancing, his eyes shining with holy zeal.

The obvious response came to mind and was out of Indiana’s mouth before he could stop himself. “You attacked your Lord? I know that snake was from you, Starfire. And the assault on me at the inn. And the river…”

Some of the cultists looked nervous. Crossbows started to drift off-target or to droop towards the rough-hewn floor. Strangely, it was the near-genuflecting Starfire who stood strong. “Mere tests, my Lord! Tests that a demon or lesser spirit could not pass. We first suspected you were more than a demon when you escaped us by vanishing into thin air. It became even clearer when we could find no trace of the thief, Daring Do!”

“Uh-huh.” Indiana used his free hand to surreptitiously tug on the door behind him. He probably wasn’t going to be able to keep up this ruse much longer. If he could get back out the gates fast enough, they would have to come at him a few at a time. And hopefully Silver Trowel and the big cats would be there to help. Assuming they weren’t in on all this.

“Yes! We realized that you had delivered her to a fate worse than death in the Spirit Realm… doomed as an unbeliever to be tortured by demons for the rest of eternity! Truly a fitting punishment, my Lord,” the beaming pegasus said with an appreciative laugh. “…And that was something only an Old One would know how to do.”

Indiana Jones nodded hesitantly. “Um, right.”

“But yes, Lord. To our shame, we tested you.” Starfire drooped a bit, but recovered. “And yet in all you were victorious, putting to rest any doubts! Now, you can choose us, the worthy!”

Are you worthy?” asked the archeologist, warming to the role of Lord High Old One or whatever the cultists thought he was. The door behind him wasn’t budging despite his quiet efforts to wrench it open again. What was taking Indy’s so-called allies so long to get the door open? If Silver Trowel and those stupid cats weren’t being attacked outside, they were next on his list of things to do after these cultists.

“Y-yes! We have kept your teachings, my Lord! We have trained in the sacred arts. We have studied the Sibilant Scriptures. We have even retrieved the Gate of Souls from the unbelievers who took it from you, and we have secured your chosen companion. He awaits you with the Gate.” Starfire gestured through the darkness of the hall. Indiana followed the pointed hoof and recognized the path to the Temple of Shadow’s inner sanctum.

“Flint is in the inner sanctum?” Indiana asked. “Waiting for me?”

A pained expression crossed the pegasus’ face, there and gone as fast as lightning. “Y-yes, Lord. But please. I have known this… Flint… for years. He is nothing. You may see his devotion as pure faith, but he is not clever enough to value your ways truly. There are others—others who would be perhaps better suited. So perhaps you could reconsider?”

“Reconsider?” Indiana repeated, keeping his voice harsh as he glared down at the pleading cultist. He’d just found Starfire’s lever. If he could approach this correctly… “You think yourself more worthy, pegasus?”

“L-let me prove myself, my Lord,” the pony begged, bowing again until his muzzle scraped the floor.

Glowering, Doctor Indiana Lord of the Cultists’ Jones let his suppliant debase himself a little longer. Finally, he broke the ominous silence. “Perhaps you are worthy… Take me to Flint, and we’ll see. Actions speak louder than words.”

“Why thank you Lord… Actions, Lord? Yes… Yes of course!” The pegasus was nearly dancing for joy as he turned to the crossbow-wielding cultists.

Indiana began to tug at the door in earnest. He’d said something wrong. He could tell by how excited the homicidal maniacs looked now. Starfire shrilled, “Brothers! The Old One calls us to action. Let us show him that we are worthy! Attack!”

“Damnit!” Giving up on the tightly fastened gates, Indiana Jones readied his pistol as the cultists eyed their ‘Old One,’ sizing him up cautiously as each planned an assault to demonstrate his or her worth. The room seemed to swirl as the archeologist’s would-be worshippers circled him, casting strange shadows on the room and each other. For a moment, some of the shadows almost looked human—but Indiana had no time to watch the shadows. One of the cultists rushed forward. Indy leveled the revolver and fired.

The griffin cultist cringed and looked down at his white-feathered chest. There was no blood spot. He was entirely unharmed. And in front of Indiana’s astonished eyes, a man-shaped shadow stumbled and slumped slowly to the ground.

* * *

The shadowy form of Indiana Jones aimed his pistol and fired. Daring Do jerked at her leash as the distant crack of a gunshot made her jump. It was as though she could hear the report, but from a long ways away.

With a strangled groan, Daring’s brown-robed handler looked down. A dark stain was spreading on his chest. Breath bubbling in his throat, the mercenary dropped the leash and collapsed. Every eye in the room was on the suddenly prostrate man and the spreading pool of blood… Every eye but Daring Do’s.

Daring watched as the shade of a diamond dog reared up behind the unprepared Indiana. He was turning, but it wouldn’t be in time. The pegasus leaped into action, hooves clattering as she accelerated and leaped.

* * *

Indiana Jones grunted as a dark, half-seen shape bowled into him and knocked him to the ground. A green-robed diamond dog howled in frustration and tumbled over his head, its attempted strike thwarted by the human’s sudden fall. As the near-transparent thing that had tackled him leaped off the archeologist’s chest, Indy gasped in surprised recognition. “Daring!”

Doctor Jones had only seen his counterpart once, but recognized her instantly. Daring’s transparent and blurry form wheeled, dodging out of the way. As if from a mile away, Indy could hear the sharp crack of a Mauser rifle. Indy raised his revolver and fired at the silhouette of a coalscuttle helmet.

* * *

Daring Do laughed in relief as the German attempting to gun her down cried out and pitched forward, his helmet clattering across the floor. “Thanks, Indy!”

Was war das?!” screamed Jägermeister, wild blue eyes staring around the temple entryway in confusion. “What is happening?!”

* * *

Indiana Jones’ fist lashed out, catching a charging diamond dog across its sensitive nose. The creature whimpered, stumbling back a few steps and clutching at its bleeding muzzle. The archeologist grinned savagely. “Who’s next?!”

The cultists closed in en masse now, all eager to prove themselves. Indiana grimaced… and the doors behind him exploded.

* * *

Daring Do rolled out of the way as the doors of the Temple of Light suddenly tore themselves off their hinges. Bowling over soldier and mercenary alike, the heavy wooden gates slammed to the ground. Hans Jagermeister stumbled, barely missing being crushed like several of his compatriots. He screamed and fired a few rounds ineffectually into the doors as if they were some sort of living creature.

* * *

Silver Trowel smiled savagely, horn still glowing from the residual magic of his forcible entry. With eager yowls his allies leaped into the dust clouds, snarling for blood. This was perfect. With Doctor Jones and the cultists already savaging each other, his entry into the fray would be just the thing to… to… The unicorn gaped.

As expected, the tiger had landed on one of the cultists. His muzzle was already dripping with blood as he roared and dropped the lifeless pony after giving it one last shake. The orange killing machine turned and pounced again, claws stretched out to slash at a diamond dog who was desperately grabbing at a crossbow on the floor.

The panther, however, had collided with some invisible shape mid-air. Clinging to the unseen enemy, the big cat snarled and dug in its claws, holding on relentlessly its imperceptible foe thrashed.

What sort of sorcery was this? Silver Trowel glanced to Indiana Jones. The archeologist was kneeling, knife out as he sawed at thin air. The unicorn shook his head and blinked his eyes several times. Had he gone mad, or had the world...?

* * *

Ergreift den Pegasus! Schnell! Do not let her escape!” Jägermeister shouted. A soldier started forward, but collapsed as something invisible crashed into him from the side. Grinding his teeth in frustration, the Nazi agent started forward to follow his own orders. If Daring Do thought she was going to lead Hans Jägermeister into a den of invisible monsters and get away, she was sorely mistaken.

Daring’s head jerked up in surprise as Indiana's shadowy hands seized her. Her eyes widened when a near-transparent knife appeared in his hands— but the mare relaxed when she felt his blade slice through the collar around her neck. The archeologist's shade began working on the ropes around her wings, his voice a distant shout. "Daring! Head for the shrine!"

“Got it!” Daring Do breathed free once again as the collar and the cords binding her wings snapped under the ethereal edge of Indiana’s knife. Looking up to thank the human, she turned the move into a rapid roll to one side as Jägermeister dove forward to grab her.

* * *

Indiana Jones grunted and went sprawling as the lunging Nazi’s shadow bowled into him. The archeologist lashed out with his knife hand as he fell, slashing across Jägermeister’s chest and arm before the knife went skittering away across the rough stone floor. Before Indiana could deliver a more final blow, he was forced to react to more immediate threats. Bringing up his pistol he fired at a swooping griffin. The creature squawked and dropped from the sky, its lifeless body crashing into the half-seen shapes of a few Germans.

* * *

Hans Jägermeister groaned, his head swimming with confusion and pain as he struggled to regain his footing. His skin burned as though a blade had sliced through fabric and skin, but no one had even come near him. He touched his hand to his chest—when it came away it was wet with blood.

The Nazi agent’s gaze spun over the room, taking in the red-tinged chaos: a Feldwebel trying desperately to rally his panicking soldiers tumbled to the ground, shrieking in pain as invisible claws tore bloody streaks down his back. A mercenary flailed as if possessed, swinging his double-edged knife through thin air to ward off an enemy he could not see. What was going on?!

Seeing her chance, Daring Do hurried forward and made a short jump, landing on the dazed German with all four hooves and slamming him back to the floor. Before he recovered, she nosed into a pocket on Jägermeister’s coat and pulled out a small, cloth-wrapped bundle. Quickly slipping it under her pith helmet for safekeeping, Daring gave the human a sharp kick for good measure and leaped skyward. She winced as sharp pains shot through her abused wings, but managed a few flaps and a short glide as she hurried down the long corridor towards the Temple of Light’s inner sanctum.

Jägermeister pushed himself up to see the mare’s retreating tail. He felt the pocket of his coat. She’d stolen the Medallion of Light again! The German struggled to get up and waved to his men, hoping they would heed him despite the apparent collapse of sane reality. “Get her! Sie darf nicht entkommen!

* * *

Indiana followed Daring Do’s shade down the hallway. He moved as quickly as he could through the dark passage, feet moving in a complicated dance as he avoided pressure plates and tripwires. The archeologist’s breath caught in his throat as a pit trap suddenly opened in front of him. An indistinct shape plummeted into the spike-filled darkness with a scream that suddenly cut off. Indy winced and jumped over the trap as it closed again.

* * *

A smattering of German soldiers and local mercenaries responded to the Nazi agent’s command, sprinting forward to follow the fleeing mare. She wouldn’t get far. Just as Jägermeister started to smile, the brown-robed thug in the lead of the group screamed and pitched forward, vanishing through the solid rock of the floor. The other men stopped short. Hans felt himself start to hyperventilate. His gaze went to the reassuring shape of a submachine gun a few steps away in the blood-covered hands of a dying German soldier. With a slightly crazed smile, the Nazi agent hurried towards it, arm outstretched.

* * *

Silver Trowel trotted forward into the carnage, holding his head high in an attempt to avoid the worst of the smell of spilled blood and rent-open viscera. He smiled. The tiger snarled down at the struggling shape beneath its claws. The unicorn bent down. “Hello there, Starfire. I’m here for your precious medallion.”

The red pegasus spit out blood and tried to push himself up, but the big cat’s weight bore him back to the floor. He hissed, “Thief! Betrayer of the Old One… I will destroy you! I will prove myself worthy!”

“Kill him,” Trowel directed.

“I will—Hurk!” Starfire’s breathless tirade trailed off into an inarticulate gurgle. The tiger chewed thoughtfully and made a face as he swallowed. The tough flesh of the mountain pegasus could have used some seasoning.

Silver Trowel chuckled as he looked down at the cultist’s quickly cooling corpse. “Oh, dear. And to think Doctor Jones probably thinks you were his biggest enemy here.”

The unicorn turned to the two large cats. Both seemed ready enough—not that Trowel was any judge of the finer points of feline body language. He nodded to them. “Let’s go show Jones how wrong he is.”


Hmm. Kind of ran up a body count in this one. Muahahaha, blood for the Blood God!

Oh and... I debated about whether to mention the "Hans burned his sister's doll" thing. But in all frankness? Like I said in the comments below, that wasn't to make him seem evil. That's TOTALLY something I would have done if I'd had a sister and thought I could get away with it, ha ha ha. Come on, you mess with your sibling's stuff to torment him/her if you can get away with it. IT'S REQUIRED! It's like, sibling law or something.

...Why are you all looking at me like I'm a monster?