• Published 18th Mar 2012
  • 24,721 Views, 625 Comments

Whip and Wing - Fernin

Daring Do & Indiana Jones battle each others' enemies in a race to save their worlds and themselves.

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Ch 1: Found

Loose rocks and fine gravel crunched underhoof as Daring Do alighted as softly as she could on the mountain path. The adventuring pegasus wheezed for a moment, glad of the chance to catch her breath after her harrowing flight through the mountains. She stood stock still, waiting cautiously for any sounds of alarm from the gray, squat shape of the nearby temple. The mare’s dark pink eyes searched the empty windows of the forbidding edifice, but she saw nothing—no sign of watching guards, no sign of surprised cultists, and most importantly no sign of Ahuizotl or his minions. Excellent.

Daring Do started forward, treading lightly to keep the sound of her hoofsteps masked under the moaning of the mountain winds. The skies boiled with high, churning clouds and occasional flashes of lightning. It was not a good night to be out for anypony, and especially not for anything on the wing.

While thunder growled through the heavens, the golden-pelted mare flashed a quick grin at the helpful storm brewing above her. Nopony would think that even a brash and reckless adventurer would brave the skies on a night like tonight, but nopony else knew what Daring knew about the nature of her current search. If Ahuizotl got his claws on that medallion before she did, getting slammed into the unyielding side of a mountain by vicious gusts of wind or blasted from the sky by a bolt of lightning would be the least of the pegasus’ worries. Taking advantage of another peal of thunder, she cantered forward and reached the temple’s main gates.

Forty hooves tall and made of unyielding and weathered oak, the doors to the Temple of Shadow loomed over Daring Do as she trotted up the last few steps. She passed through the forbidding space between the gate’s guardian statues, ignoring the frozen snarls of the grotesquely twisted griffins. Reaching the threshold, she paused. The doors were slightly ajar, open just wide enough to admit a single pony. Perhaps the adventurer was not as unexpected as she had hoped?

After a quick scan to ensure that the opening was free of any obvious trap, the pegasus vaulted through the door in one fluid motion. She landed on all fours, wings flared as she readied herself for the attack—but nopony was there. The wind whistled through the partially open doorway as if following Daring inside, but nothing else stirred save for the thick cobwebs waving gently in the breeze.

“Hmm,” Daring grunted, adjusting her signature pith helmet and folding her wings back to her sides. The pegasus knew she couldn’t relax yet—not until she and the Medallion of Shadow were both safely back in Canterlot.

A long, dark corridor matched the carefully memorized diagrams in Daring Do’s mind. She took a step forward, straining to see through the omnipresent gloom. A quiet chuckle escaped the pegasus’ lips as she murmured, “I guess they really do take the name ‘Temple of Shadow’ seriously.”

Every book Daring Do could find about the mysterious temple and its fabled artifact told of terrible curses to anypony who brought lights into the temple’s inner sanctum. Of course, such ancient curses were unlikely still to exist without a unicorn or other spell caster to renew them from time to time, but stranger things had happened. Besides, Daring was a professional adventurer. She’d make ‘do.’

Chuckling mentally at her pun, Daring Do crept along quietly, scanning the area around her for the usual nasty surprises that awaited any treasure hunter in places like this. The rough-hewn gray stone of the floor was filled with suspicious cracks and holes, all promising a world of pain for anypony unlucky enough to trigger the booby traps waiting within. She nimbly sidestepped a carefully concealed pressure plate. Not for the first time, the pegasus wondered if there was somepony out there crawling through tombs and dungeons to ensure that the hinges on the spike pits were in good working order. What would a trap maintenance cutie mark look like..?

The idle thoughts did nothing to ruin Daring’s concentration as she vaulted over a pit and landed lightly on the other side—dodging out of the way just in time as a hidden bronze blade sliced through the air where she’d stood and retracted back into the ceiling. Nasty. She’d have to remember that one for later.

A dim yellow glow at the far end of the corridor suggested that somepony in the temple was more interested in watching his step than in ancient threats of dire curses against bringers of light. Daring Do moved closer, glad of the extra illumination despite the grim warnings. Hey, it wasn’t like she was going to get cursed for using the lights somepony else had brought. She peeked around the corner, muttering softly to herself. “Hmm… I wonder if that’s the trap maintenance pony?”

If it was the theoretical trap maintenance pony, he’d brought friends. Lots of friends. The wide, vault-ceilinged room was full of a milling press of bodies flickering and shifting in the dim torchlight. Ponies and diamond dogs and other creatures all faced the center of the room. The crowd may have been unidentifiable in their long, flowing green robes, but Daring Do could identify them instantly from the droning, atonal chanting and the rhythmic, synchronized swaying.

“Cultists,” Daring Do groaned to herself. She’d suspected as much. It was a horrible thing, being right all the time. “Why always cultists?”

“Brothers and Sisters!” shrilled a thin, reedy voice from the gathered throng. “The conjunction is near! Soon, if we are worthy, the Old Ones will return for us…”

Tuning out the rest of the crazed ranting, the pegasus glanced around the room and tried to plan her next move. Cultists all said things like this. Sometimes they were even right. But was this even the right place..?

As Daring Do surveyed the green-robed congregation, something caught her eye. Glittering dully on pedestal in the center of the cavernous room was the Medallion of Shadow. There was no question about it. The plate-sized half disc had a strange metallic sheen unlike anything the adventurer had ever seen before. Even from this distance, she could tell that she’d finally found the object of her quest. And the minions of Ahuizotl were nowhere to be seen. She’d won the race. Daring allowed herself a quiet smile.

Even if the cultists were the only thing standing between Daring Do and victory, they were still a problem… but one that the experienced adventurer knew how to deal with. A quick glance around the darkened entryway to the temple’s inner sanctum revealed a few extra robes folded neatly off to one side. Like the ones on the cultists in the ceremony, they were a vibrant green with an embroidered snake emblem slithering across the fabric. Daring’s smile widened. She tugged on the foul-smelling robe, flipping up the hood to conceal her charcoal mane and signature pith helmet.

A few moments later, another robe-swathed cultist joined the massed throng. Groaning the atonal chants slightly slower than everypony else, the newcomer followed her brethren in their languid, swaying dance around the raised dais and its artifact. Each rotation brought Daring closer to the middle of entranced congregation and closer to the dark gray treasure on full display at the center of the mob. Soon, the Medallion of Shadow would be hers.

* * *

Doctor Henry “Indiana” Jones winced as an incautious step sent a baseball-sized rock spinning across the path. The stone reached the edge of the precipice to his right and dropped, clattering loudly as it struck various outcroppings on its trip down the windswept mountain. The archeologist froze for a moment, listening for any sign that his approach might have been detected. Fortunately, there was none.

Indiana Jones started moving again before the frigid gusts of wind ensured that he was frozen in more ways than one. He’d been forced to leave his thick wool-lined coat behind in his room at the inn. Under the circumstances, a stealthy and unexpected exit was worth more than the comfort of cold-resistant clothing. This was hardly the first time that the archeologist had braved frostbite, and it likely wouldn’t be the last. As long as he kept moving, he’d be fine. Pushing his fedora down a bit against another blast of icy wind, the shivering man trudged up the slope, crested the ridge—and saw it.

White, polished stone glittered by the faint and fleeting light of the storm-crossed moon. A faint smile ghosted across Indy’s wind-burned face as he examined the tableau below him. There it was… the Temple of Light. If the manuscripts and clues he had painstakingly collected were right, that was where the archeologist would find what both he and Hitler’s lackeys sought: the Medallion of Light.

Creeping slowly down through sharp-edged rock formations and onto the path leading up to the temple, Indiana Jones made a careful search of his surroundings. The area seemed safe enough, but it was by no means uninhabited. Flickering torchlight streamed out the slightly open door of the white stone structure.

Who would the archeologist find inside? It could be temple monks, busily performing rituals that had lasted through the centuries. It could be common traders or bandits, taking up shelter on an unpleasant night during their travels through the Hindu Kush. It could even be some of Himmler’s butcher boys, lying in wait for Doctor Jones and already in possession of the second half of the artifact that would let Hitler’s eager armies simply appear out of nowhere in the streets of Paris, Washington, D.C. or London. There was only one way to find out. Readying himself for a fight, Indiana stepped through the door.

Warm yellow light from the flickering torches greeted Indiana Jones as he looked around the entryway. Despite its remote location and advanced age, the ancient monastery was entirely innocent of dust or cobwebs. Stepping through the door was more like walking into the foyer of a museum kept up by accuracy-obsessed caretakers rather than the dilapidated ruins Doctor Jones was used to seeing. Despite himself, the archeologist started to relax.

The faint hiss of steel slicing through the air sent Indiana into motion, adrenaline burning in his veins. By the time the viciously sharp blade slashed through the spot where the archeologist had been, he was already diving forward and tumbling across the cold stone floor. Doctor Jones rolled to his feet, pistol sliding out of its holster as he finally caught sight of his foe.

The brown-robed man closed the distance with his scrambling victim before the surprised archeologist could bring his pistol to bear. One foot whipped out and sent the partly raised firearm skidding across the smooth floor. Indy ducked sideways and heard a metallic clank as the descending double-bladed knife wedged into a crack between two of the stone slabs. Swearing in some unidentifiable tongue, the man jerked desperately at his trapped weapon.

Surging upwards, Doctor Jones slammed one swinging fist into his opponent’s chin. The swarthy man’s teeth clicked together as his head jerked backwards. He stumbled, giving the archeologist time to get his footing.

Still gasping for breath, Indiana followed up his punch with a brutal knee to the man’s stomach. He threw his opponent hard towards the floor and turned to sprint for his pistol. The dazed fighter went down, falling forward past Doctor Jones. As the robed man crumpled to the floor, he let out a strangled scream. Panting, the archeologist reached his firearm and turned to squeeze off a shot—but there was no need.

Indiana Jones’ fallen opponent lay still. Too still. Moving carefully, the archeologist approached his foe and turned the man over with one cautious foot. Somehow, the guard—or whatever he was—had fallen onto the raised end of the double-bladed knife. It was still stuck firmly in the floor, stained with the blood of its former owner. A bright red pool was already sliding into the cracks between the stones as the smooth floor eagerly drank the fallen man’s lifeblood.

Re-holstering his unfired pistol, Doctor Jones started a careful search of his vanquished foe. The man had very little on him: a bit of the local currency, a small bottle of some foul-smelling alcohol, and… “Oh, great. Reichsmarks.”

Indy looked around, seeing the Temple of Light with new and even warier eyes. He’d given his pursuers in town the slip, but their agents had gotten here ahead of him after all. He was expected.

Any sensible man would have turned around right then and there. The archeologist sighed, rubbing one hand across his stubble-coated chin. He couldn’t turn back now. According to the government agents who had contacted him, the Nazis were making no effort at all to search for the Medallion of Shadow… a sure sign that they already had it, or didn’t think they needed it. Indiana Jones ground his teeth. He had to do this, foolish as it was. Well, he’d been in worse spots.

Moving quickly, Indiana began to strip the body of his former opponent. Thanks to the dark color of the robes, the stain of its ex-owner’s blood should pass without notice, hopefully helping its new owner to do the same as he snuck through the temple.

Doctor Jones walked down the corridors of the Temple of Light as quietly as he could, head down and hood shrouding his face. He strode down a dimly lit hallway, turned a corner—and nearly ran straight into two brutish thugs clad in robes much like the man who had attacked him. It took Indiana a split second of frozen surprise before he remembered himself. Bobbing his head and grunting a hasty greeting, the disguised archeologist hurried past and continued on his way. One of the guards made an unintelligible comment about raw recruits. The other laughed. Both continued on their way, oblivious to the outsider in their midst.

Finally after what felt like hours of twisting, turning passages, Indiana Jones reached the center of the temple. According to the texts, the innermost shrine of the Temple of Light was a large, circular room with a high ceiling that opened at the top to let in the light of dawn. The archeologist looked up. The domed ceiling stretched up into a circle of black nothingness, almost too high for the anemic, jaundiced light of the torches to reach. The distant howling of the wind seemed slightly louder here, and the torches’ flames guttered slightly in a breeze that had been mostly absent during Doctor Jones’ quiet trek through the temple. This certainly seemed like the place.

The curved white stone of the room’s walls seemed to focus all illumination into the center, where an ornate pedestal sat on a raised dais. The pedestal seemed to glitter as reflected torch flames danced on the surface of the plate-sized silver emblem that lay there. Even from this distance, Indy could identify the Medallion of Light. It was here. Nearly within his grasp. But something had to be wrong. Something always went wrong at times like this.

Doctor Jones swept the huge room carefully with his eyes, trying to pick out any signs of the ambush that had to be waiting for him. Nothing was there. The chamber was entirely innocent of guards. There were no obvious traps—although of course, the archeologist knew from painful experience that ‘no obvious traps’ did not mean ‘no traps.’ There weren’t even any snakes. Had the stealthy journey from the mountain inn to the temple gained him the element of surprise after all?

Delay was getting the increasingly suspicious archeologist nowhere. A clock had started ticking the moment he’d failed to find an adequate hiding place for the dead guard’s body. Hell, a clock had started ticking the moment he’d left the inn. If he wasn’t back soon, someone would notice. If Indy’s vanishingly small number of allies noticed his absence, well, that wasn’t a complete disaster. But if his enemies found out, he would be fending off attacks all the way back to the United States and likely beyond. Better to go in now, while he was ready, than to get caught sleeping later.

Footsteps ringing unnervingly loud in his ears, Doctor Jones started forward. He moved with apparent lack of hurry, keeping up the pretense of nonchalant belonging for as long as possible in case some easily deceived watcher was waiting for him to make his move. He was across the floor and stepping onto the dais now. He was at the pedestal.

Indiana Jones paused for a moment and looked down at the shining half-disc of gold before him. The design seemed almost to swirl and change as the light of the torches flickered on the Medallion of Light’s raised surface. The archeologist scrutinized the pedestal, looking for signs of hidden mechanisms. He needed a repeat of that incident with the boulder in Peru like he needed an extra hole in his head.

Astonishingly, the stone pedestal and its priceless treasure seemed entirely un-trapped. Doctor Jones could hardly believe it. All he had to do was reach out and—

“Ah, Doctor Jones, I presume.” In contrast to the soft and unthreatening tone of the German-accented voice, the metallic click of the safety on the Nazi agent’s pistol was very loud and threatening indeed.

Indy raised his hands. He sighed and turned around slowly, already suspecting whom he would find pointing the pistol at him. He was right. “Guten tag, Herr Jägermeister.”

Guten tag,” the tall German replied with a chuckle. Keeping his pistol trained on the waiting archeologist, the man in the long black coat waved with his other arm. Brown-robed guards by the dozens filed into the room, brandishing pistols, rifles, and the cruelly double-bladed knives that Indiana’s first assailant had used.

The Nazi agent smiled. Everything was going according to plan. All was in order. “Oh, Doctor Jones. Surely you did not think we would not notice you taking leave from that cozy little inn? The Reich’s eyes are everywhere.”

“I should have guessed. Well, Hans, you’ve got me. The Medallion of Light is yours.” Indiana talked slowly, stroking Jägermeister’s ego and playing for time. Moving his hands cautiously, he dropped his hood. The archeologist was going to need his field of view clear for what came next, and it wasn’t as though the bloodstained robes were of any use as a disguise now.

“The Medallion of Light is mine? Of course it is, Doctor. It was mine all along. I simply wanted to make sure that I had you as well,” Hans agreed. His grin widened. “Well? Aren’t you going to take the medallion?”

It should not have been possible for Indiana Jones to become more suspicious than he already was. Somehow he managed. “What? Why don’t you take it?”

The German’s laughter echoed in the high-ceilinged chamber. “Oh no, Doctor Jones. I think you should do the honors. After all, you led us here. Besides, do not forget who has the pistol in his hand, and who has it pointed at his head.”

Indiana Jones turned around again and faced the pedestal. The mirror-like glitter of the Medallion of Light seemed somewhat less alluring now if the Nazi agent didn’t want to snatch it up just yet. Taking a deep breath, he reached out with his hand… and stopped a mere hair’s breadth from the artifact. What the hell was that?

Strange shadows swam before the astonished archeologist’s eyes. The room seemed filled with vague, moving shapes all swirling in a circle around the dais. There, immediately opposite Indiana, was a shape clearer than the rest. Crouched low on the far side of the stone pedestal, it wavered and grew more distinct. Slowly the shape sharpened into focus, and Indiana Jones saw—

* * *

Daring Do stared up at the hulking creature on the opposite side of the pedestal. She’d managed to sneak to the center of the cultists without anypony noticing. Trusting her luck to hold, the pegasus had taken a few steps out of the crowd onto the dais. The congregation of cultists droned and swayed around her, their unnerving liturgy rising to a fevered shout. She needed to hurry. Soon, one of them might notice that the adventurer’s hurried movements were more than just the over-enthusiastic devotion of a recent convert.

But now this… thing was there, floating threateningly on the far side of the Medallion of Shadow with one clawed arm outstretched. Could Daring risk getting closer to the strange ethereal beast? She hesitated.

Behind Daring Do, a diamond dog cultist caught sight of her and howled a warning. Others took up the cry and soon every eye in the room was focused on the adventurer. The pegasus’ breath quickened. No! Not when she was so close! She had to get the artifact before Ahuizotl, and nopony—nothing—was going to get to it first!

* * *

Indiana Jones felt his heart thudding in his chest as he watched the four-legged apparition approach the Medallion of Light. It seemed to be staring up at him, gleaming eyes peering out from under some sort of hood. The archeologist’s teeth grated. He hated dealing with the occult. Why couldn’t legends be content to stay legends? Why did they have to become real?

When the dark creature lunged forward, Doctor Jones reacted. Almost without a conscious decision on his part, Indy’s arm shot out and grabbed the Medallion of Light. He grasped it firmly and began to jerk it away, ready to throw himself out of the shadowy thing’s path.

* * *

When the towering dark shape stretched forth its arm, Daring Do leaped into action. No weird shadow-creature was going to get her prize. She bounded forward, teeth clamping firmly onto the metallic half-disc of the Medallion of Shadow.

For both adventurers, the world exploded. Indiana Jones threw up his free hand to shield his face. Everything was brilliant white. He swore and squeezed his eyes shut. When it made no difference, he opened them again. At least, he was sure that he had. The only thing that felt real was the heavy feel of the artifact in his hand. Looking down his arm, he could somehow still see the Medallion of Light—and the creature on the other side of it.

Daring squeezed her eyes shut against the sudden flash of searing white light, but it didn’t seem to matter whether she had her eyes closed or not. She felt like she was floating… not the normal feeling of weight perfectly balanced on her wings that she got in flight, but as if gravity simply wasn’t a concern. The only real sensation she had was the feeling of the Medallion of Shadow between her teeth. She looked up—and stared at the tall biped on the other side.

“Who are you?” Indiana asked.

“Who are you?!” Daring managed to ask around the edge of the artifact between her teeth.

As soon as the questions were out of their mouths, both adventurer and archeologist felt an unpleasant pulling sensation. The twin medallions seemed to be sucking at them, pulling them in. There was a feeling of speed and falling. Both artifact-holders felt the sudden yet not painful impact of their bodies crashing together. There was another flash of brilliant light, and then nothingness.

A/N: Thanks to dragozon for catching my error on "Reichsmarks" vs " Deutschemarks"