• Published 18th Mar 2012
  • 21,497 Views, 622 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 6: I Hate These Guys

The common room of Penny Wise’s inn was every bit as dark and smoky as it had been when Indiana Jones had rushed through a short while before. The only real difference was the size of the audience that greeted the archeologist and his canine shadow as the two stepped through the door. Apparently most of the inn’s patrons from the night before had woken early and were already breaking their fast. Some sat silently, eyes focused on the meals before them. Others were slightly more active, their heads bent in quiet conversation with their fellow travelers. A general feeling of ‘sweet Celestia, it’s too early’ hovered over the room like a heavy, depressing cloud.

Heading straight for the unattended counter of the bar, Indiana banged his fist on the long-unpolished wood until someone called, “Just a minute!”

The sherbet green pony who had been at the bar earlier that morning cantered out from the kitchen, trying to balance a tray and several steaming bowls of porridge on her back. As she rounded the corner, the tray started to slide. The pony groaned and desperately tried to compensate. Indiana reached to steady the load—and jerked his hand back as a glowing silver field snapped over the entire tray.

“Thank you,” wheezed the weary mare, standing still for a moment to catch her breath.

Silver Trowel lowered the tray again and steadied it on her back. Smiling indulgently, the unicorn nodded and deftly levitated one of the bowls of grayish porridge onto the bar in front of him. “No thanks are needed, my dear. Better I help that than that my breakfast is delayed even further. No offense meant…”

“I’m really sorry, sir. We’re a bit short-staffed this morning,” the mare explained, ears drooping apologetically.

“Where’s that red pegasus? Where’s Starfire?” Indiana demanded.

“In bed, I think. He can’t work today. And at a time like this!” wailed the overworked pony. She shot Flint an orange-eyed glare as she added, “Something about an injured wing and not being able to move very well.”

“Oh dear,” sighed Silver Trowel as the inn’s frazzled employee hurried off to serve other customers. “That’s unfortunate. I was hoping for his help again in repacking my things.”

“Yeah, too bad. Have a safe trip anyway,” Doctor Jones replied dismissively as his mind spun furiously. He had bigger things on his mind than the doings of the somewhat posh pony archeologist. The green unicorn looked put out for a moment, but shrugged and turned back to his porridge. He prodded it with a floating spoon, barely disguising a look of faint distaste as the liquid seemed to shy away from the probing utensil.

Indy turned to Flint. “All right, Flint. Where’s Starfire’s room?”

“Er… Starfire’s room in side building near north wall. Why?” queried the diamond dog, head cocked to one side in puzzlement. But Indiana was already up and headed back out the door. “Hey, wait for Flint! We not get breakfast?!”

When the door had slammed behind the two and they were on their way across the graveled courtyard once again, Indiana glanced over his shoulder. “Flint, what do you know about Starfire?”

“Starfire a mule,” Flint growled. “He worst! Always kick Flint when Flint scrubbing floor, and—”

“Flint, I think he might have stolen the Medallion of Shadow,” interrupted the archeologist before Flint went off on another rambling tangent.

The diamond dog gaped. “Medallion stolen?! Oh no!”

“I just told you that fifteen minutes ago!” snarled Indy.

“Oh. Right. Flint got distracted.” Floppy ears drooping, Flint hung his head. After a moment, he brightened. “Well, that explain why Starfire in rush, earlier…”

Grabbing the door to what was supposedly Starfire’s home, Indiana turned back to Flint. “So which room is—wait, what? Who was in a rush?”

“Starfire in rush. Hurried out gate before Indiana talk to Flint,” Flint explained slowly. “H-hey, wait, Indiana! Where Indiana going?!”

It was entirely possible that Starfire hadn’t taken the artifact. Maybe the pegasus pony had been in Indiana’s room for entirely honest reasons that had nothing to do with the missing Medallion of Shadow. For that matter, maybe Starfire didn’t have anything to do with the snake Flint had eaten. And speaking of snakes, maybe it was just a coincidence that there were supposedly snake cultists to the north of the inn, in the direction of the temple Indy had escaped when he’d first come here. Maybe. Maybe Doctor Jones should hurry the hell up and get after the winged thief before it was too late and the medallion was lost once again.

On the bright side, Doctor Jones didn’t have to worry about Starfire getting too far ahead. Indy winced with the memory of the pegasus’ wing bones popping out of place during the fight in the darkened room. That would slow the pony down a bit. The archeologist remembered the time he’d injured his own wing in that crash a few years back. He’d been forced to go on hoof for a few days. That had been awful. But at least in this case it was somepony else, and Starfire’s grounding would give him the chance to… what was that again? Shaking the strange and alien thoughts out of his head, Indy turned to Flint.

“Flint, we’ve got a pegasus to track down. How good is your nose?” Not waiting for an answer, Indiana set his jaw determinedly and strode quickly out the gate. He was going to catch up with Starfire and get back the Medallion of Shadow if it killed him.

Loping along behind the human, Flint grinned toothily. “Oh, Indiana want Flint find Starfire? That easy. Flint know Starfire’s stink anywhere! Hah!”

“Good. Then go get ‘em,” Indy ordered.

The smiling diamond dog hurried to comply, going to all fours and snuffling at the ground. An instant later his ears perked up and he barked out, “This way! Indiana not worry! Flint has best nose of anypony at Mister Penny Wise’s inn!”

“Heh. Sure, Flint. I bet you… do…” Indiana said, trailing off as he looked up.

Flint took a few more steps and glanced back at Indiana Jones. The archeologist was still standing in the inn’s open gate, looking up the mountain slope beyond the excited diamond dog. Flint’s wagging tail slowed. “Indiana coming? Flint find Starfire extra quick!”

“No need, kid.” Indiana pointed. There at the top of the ridgeline was the small shape of a pegasus pony, one wing bound tightly to his side with bandages. Starfire glared down at the archeologist and his canine companion.

“Wow, Flint’s nose better than Flint thought!” commented the diamond dog. “Starfire found. No trouble at all!”

“Yeah,” the archeologist agreed half-heartedly as a wave of green-robed cultists poured over the ridge and towards the inn. “No trouble at all.”

* * *

“Daring? Daring Do?” Brooks’ voice tickled Daring’s ears, wrenching her out of fitful sleep. Judging by the wan and grayish light filtering down from the sky, it was near what passed for dusk here in the Hindu Kush. That meant the pegasus had been asleep for the better part of an hour.

“Huh?!” Sitting up quickly, Daring waved her forehooves as she tried to straighten her pith helmet with fingers she didn’t have. Ugh, another one of those weird dreams. Something about sitting in an office and… grading papers endlessly? The corners of the adventurer’s mouth curled in disgust. Yech. She’d never enjoyed scholarly pursuits even at the best of times. And now she was having nightmares about being a teacher?

The bone-shaking vibration of the truck’s engine was gone, its basso rumble no longer there to lull Daring Do back to sleep. They must have stopped. Fighting back a yawn, the treasure hunter peered around to orient herself. “Are we there? Is this Kisaba?”

“No, we’re not there yet. We’re still a few miles away from the town,” replied the cartographer. The truck was parked on the precariously narrow road winding through the mountains. Here, the rushing river alongside the track had cut deeply into the earth. Its foaming, frothing surface churned far below. An empty gulf yawned on one side of the road, promising a long fall for the vehicle and its unfortunate passengers if Brooks’ steering was anything less than perfect.

“Why have we stopped?” Fumbling with her seatbelt until she managed to unbuckle it, Daring climbed back onto all fours and stretched. The gold-pelted mare flared her wings and flapped them slightly to flex sleep-numbed muscles. The truck’s seat had been surprisingly comfortable in comparison to lying on the rocky ground, but sitting upright had left her with an awful crick in her back and had put one of her wings to sleep.

The cartographer leaned his head out the window and looked up the valley for a moment. Brooks nodded and turned back to Daring. “I think we’re far enough away from our brown-robed friends, now. Time for you to get in the back of the truck.”

Daring Do blinked. “What? Why?”

“I don’t want to attract any more attention than we need. A pegasus is not exactly a usual sight,” Brooks explained with a chuckle. “The villagers might not react well.”

Frowning, Daring thought back to the treatment she’d received so far. “What, you mean the way everypony but you has tried to kill me?”

“…Not so extreme. I think. But better safe than sorry. I’ll let you know when we get to the airport. It will be dark by then, so I think we’ll be able to sneak you on the plane no problem.” With that, Richard Brooks slid out of the driver’s seat and walked around to the canvas-covered bed of the truck.

“Look, that’s another thing. Why are we going to Kisaba, again?” called Daring Do, hopping out of the cab and following the cartographer to the back of the vehicle. “We’ve gotten you away from that Jägermeister guy. Far as I’m concerned we can… go… home.”

Daring trailed off, her words turning to ashes in her mouth. An ancient artifact was in her hooves and she’d shown the villains once again that she was not a pegasus to be taken lightly. Sure, it was the wrong artifact and a new and different set of villains, but still. Usually this was the point of the adventure where she would fly off into the sunset, make her way back to Canterlot, deposit her latest find in the royal vaults for safekeeping, and maybe spend a week or two lording it over her more sedentary acquaintances in Canterlot or Cloudsdale before flying out to do the whole thing over again.

But now, where would Daring go? Back to the strange ‘Marshall College’ and ‘United States,’ two alien places increasingly prominent in the confusing swirls of her unwanted extra memories? The treasure hunter sagged. Adventuring was fun, but normally there was the certain knowledge that she had a home to go back to, albeit one where she wasn’t going to spend much time.

Kneeling down, Brooks rested a hand on the distressed pegasus’ withers. “Daring, I can’t even imagine what it must be like for you right now. But it’s important to keep this artifact away from Hans Jägermeister and his ilk. I promise we’ll find a way to get you home, but first we need to get out of this country entirely and back to safety in the States.”

“All right,” sighed Daring Do. It wasn’t like she had a better plan at the moment, anyway. It might even be interesting. Every step she took, she’d be treading on terra incognita. Wasn’t that what she liked to get out of her adventures, anyway?

Brooks stood up again and lifted the canvas flap leading to the truck’s covered bed. The pegasus flitted up and landed inside. When the human chuckled, Daring speared him with an annoyed look. “What? Don’t think I’m all soppy just because I was thinking about things for a minute there.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” the cartographer said, laughing again. “I was just thinking. I wonder if sending you home will bring Indy back to us. That would almost be too bad.”

Daring Do’s head cocked in puzzlement. “Really? I thought you were friends.”

“Well it’s not that I don’t want Doctor Jones back. But I must say, you’re a lot more interesting to be around than he ever was,” the human confessed with a grin.

“Hmph,” Daring grunted uncertainly. How was she supposed to take that?

When Brooks closed the flap, the pegasus settled down and tried to get comfortable. The truck roared back to life and soon it was rolling down the road, jolting the grumbling mare with every unseen rock or pothole.

The texture of the sound outside changed and bone-jarring bounces became fewer in number as the truck entered what must have been Kisaba. Daring Do’s ears perked up as she listened closely to the sounds of normal life going on around her. She could visualize it all: the blocky mud-brick buildings, the little colts and fillies laughing and playing in the cool shadows of the evening, the older stallions sitting by the side of the road and watching the world go by as they waited for their wives or daughters-in-law to finish preparing dinner… It was hard to believe she wasn’t back in the borderlands of Equestria—at least until she peered out from a small rent in the canvas cover of the truck and spied the humans going about their evening activities just like the ponies in her mind’s eye.

Abruptly, the truck stopped. Daring climbed back to her hooves and flicked road dust off her utility shirt and out of her mane. What was going on out there? Straining to hear, the mare moved quietly over to another hole in the canvas.

Night was coming rapidly; it was a struggle for the pegasus’ dark pink eyes to see in what little light remained. She briefly caught the outline of oddly shaped helmets, and Daring could hear Brooks’ nervous voice as he conversed with somepony else. She also caught a smattering of a harsh and guttural language she’d quickly come to associate with gunfire. Everything pointed to one conclusion.

“Nazis,” groaned Daring Do. “I hate these guys.”

A/N: Okay, come on. You knew I was going to use that line sooner or later.

A bit of a short chapter today. That's just how it worked out. What's that? Shortest chapter on the day of a new episode? It's almost like I planned it or something. (Note: I didn't).

Also, guess what I just found out? Apparently it's considered archaic to put two spaces at the end of a sentence instead of one. I'm actually pretty surprised. Then again, I did learn to type on a typewriter rather than a computer, and that's where the "two space after a sentence" thing originated, so... Eh. I'm still going to do it when I type normally (like here), but I suppose I had better start doing it the "right" way in my stories. Dern kids and their new-fangled computer boxes. Why in MY day...

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