The ride back was largely silent, other than the drone of the motor. Everyone aboard was alone with their thoughts. The deckhands were remarkably composed, but Indy had the suspicion it wouldn't last long. They'd be overrun by fear and superstition before too long, and they might well revolt or flee. He hoped the captain had a firm handle on his crew.
As for Murphy, Indy couldn't puzzle out the man's thoughts. He wasn't speaking either, just staring out at the river. There was fear in him—Indy could see that—but he was also thinking, calculating his next move. The man wasn't going to be deterred from chasing his fortune—whatever that would turn out to be.
They pulled up alongside the Rita, and Indy noticed the number of launches tethered to her stern was wrong. There was an addition. "The hell?" Indy wondered aloud. "Murphy, you know about this?"
"The rest of my men," he nodded. "I sent them later. They were supposed to rendezvous at the campsite and wait for us. I guess they got there early and saw…saw what happened."
"They had a motorboat?"
"I needed them to make time. These are the technical advisors. Their flight arrived after we put off."
Indy had a bad feeling about the whole scenario, but he kept his mouth shut. Murphy wasn't giving up anything useful, and he didn't intend to see where his lies and evasions led. His bad feeling expanded exponentially when he boarded and saw the group of six men standing in a group, smoking and eyeing their surroundings with suspicion.
They were all hardy and raw, with battered features and thick, powerful bodies. When they raised their cigarettes, Indy saw that most had large, knobby knuckles that spoke of countless brawls in taverns, saloons, and battlefields around the world.
"Doctor Jones," Murphy said with a surprising amount of bonhomie, "this is Kelly, Closterman, Schultz, Taylor, Blassik, and Friedman. My team. Gentlemen, this is Doctor Jones. Our guide and translator and all-around expert on the jungle."
The men grunted, seemingly in unison, and nodded perfunctorily. Indy tipped his hat. "I think you may have come a long way for no reason. The expedition is over."
"What? Jones, what are you talking about?"
Indy pushed past Murphy and headed toward the wheelhouse. "We're heading back."
Indy ignored him. The Collinsworths emerged from the galley and eyed him worriedly.
"Did you see the camp?" Chloe asked. "Did you see what happened?"
"Was it bandits?" Blake added.
"We're getting out of here. I'm sorry, but your expedition is finished."
"Now, just a moment," Blake blustered. "You can't just…you've no authority."
"The camp was decimated, Blake," Indy said. "The men were slaughtered. Something killed them while they were having breakfast. Something they couldn't fight and couldn't defend against killed them in minutes. Probably the same thing that attacked the deckhand. And we're in the middle of its stomping grounds."
"What?" Chloe gasped, covering her mouth daintily.
"I don't know what did it, and I don't want to find out." He kept walking to the wheelhouse. "We're turning this boat around before anyone else gets hurt."
"You…you cannot!" Blake stammered.
"Look, Doctor Jones," Murphy said testily, "If you want off this boat, feel free to take a launch. We are going to finish this thing. With or without you."
"No, you're not. I don't care about what you want or what you think you're going to find in that jungle. I'm letting anyone else get killed because you three are too blind to see the danger you're in."
He stepped into the doorway of the wheelhouse. Kirschner looked up from a water table, and puffed an old cigar. "You see the camp?"
"We gotta get out of here," Indy said. "Can you turn this thing around?"
"Yes," he nodded, "but it's better is we reverse. Faster."
"Fast is what we want."
"The men at the camp are dead?"
Kirschner scowled around the cigar. "All of them?"
"Yeah. I don't know what did it, but I think it's the same thing that attacked us last night."
"Ya. We go. I have the men pull in the launches."
"Good. How soon—"
"Now, see here!" Blake Collinsworth stomped up to the wheelhouse. "Captain, I have paid you good money for this expedition and Doctor Jones has not. I think it is clear who should be in charge here."
"Goddamn it, Blake!"
"Ach, Mister Collinsworth," Kirschner said patiently, "it is you I think who doesn't understand. The captain makes all decisions on his boat. And Doctor Jones tells me maybe my boat and crew are in danger, so we leave this place."
"I'm afraid we can't do that, captain." Murphy appeared in the opposite doorway, no longer smiling, but still smooth and unruffled.
"It's not up to you, Murphy."
"Actually," he said, "it is." He stepped away and was replaced by the man he'd called Schultz. The man now carried a German submachine gun.
Beside him, Blake gulped. "Who…Dale, what is all this? Who are these men?"
"Mercenaries," Indy growled. "And this whole thing is going from bad to worse."