Indiana Jones and the Creature From the Black Lagoon

Chapter 1

Santarem, Brazil

The expedition was dead, but it wasn't until his head went through the side of a food cart that Indiana Jones realized just how foolish he'd been for entertaining the proposition anyway.

It had been a gamble from the outset, and Indy had spent a lot of his credit with the department heads getting approval. Brazil was being a lot friendlier to Nazi Germany than to its Norte Americano cousins, and the politicians of both countries were, predictably, rattling the diplomatic saber every chance they got.

An American archaeological expedition to unearth a Akuawa Indian burial site was the perfect opportunity to thumb their nose at the increasingly-interventionist Washington DC.

They could have denied permission for the expedition from the outset, but allowing Marshall College to lay out the funds for the guides, translators, and initial hiring wages made the slight sting that much more while putting some foreign money in the pockets of their people. In retrospect Indy should have seen it coming—he'd been around the block a few times wrangling with local governments-but he'd let his enthusiasm get the better of him. And now all he could do was think arrange to have his personal items sent home and drink his troubles away while he mentally composed what he would say to the department chair.

He'd been trying to do just that, had found a small café off the zocalo and was raising a glass of the local whiskey to the expedition that wasn't, when Abreu's men found him.

There were three of them, all big bruisers, each carrying a signature weapon. The one with the machete was the one that spoke. "You come, Doctor Jones. Mr. Abreu want talk."

"I speak the language," Indy replied in Portuguese.

Machete spoke again. "Come with us now. Mr. Abreu needs to talk. He's very unhappy."

"I'm busy." Indy replied. "But if he wants to join me for a drink, I'll buy."

"No, you must come with us. He is not patient. He waits now. Come with us or we'll make you come." With those words, the second man—standing at Indy's ten o'clock—gently swept back his threadbare suit coat to expose the cracked wooden grips of a Luger pistol tucked in his waistband. The third flicked out the blade of his stiletto.

"Well, if you're going to be rude about it…" Indy made a show of standing, wobbling a little bit to look drunk. He thought about the .45 Smith & Wesson revolver with the four-inch barrel back in his room (he didn't make a habit of going armed in the city centers of unfriendly countries—not until he had to, anyway). He made his way out from behind the table, only to be flanked by the gunman and the stiletto man.

"Do you want to pay my bill?" he asked. The men scowled at him. "All right…" He went into the pocket of his light khaki pants, jingled the coins in the deep pocket…

…and whipped out the detective-issue blackjack he carried when he left his guns behind. The leather-bound bundle of steel wire came up in a brutal arc and made a resounding crack! against the gunman's cheek while his elbow shot out and buried itself into Stiletto's kidney. As the gunman dropped like a sack of dirty laundry, Stiletto huffed and doubled over, his knife clattering on the cobblestones. Machete jolted in surprise as if hit with an electrical current as fight and flight briefly struggled in his reptile-brain. It was a fraction of a second—a moment before his brutal nature took over. Indy used it to throw a haymaker into the man's jaw, sending him reeling over a chair that broke into kindling.

Indy spun to put Stiletto down for the count, but the man had recovered quickly (his fat had apparently cushioned the blow) and he lunged, grabbing Indy by the shirt and throwing him head first into the side of a cooking cart which had set up nearby the bar's tables. The wooden panel gave way, and Indy found himself staring into a sizzling skillet of paella. The intense heat made his eyes water.

Stiletto had let go of him and was trying to recover the rest of his wind, giving Indy time to dislodge his head. It was then that he realized just how stupid an idea this expedition was. On top of the diplomatic wrangling, he'd had to deal with the local gangsters to line up his workers. A bad idea all around.

He swung the blackjack, but the heat of the skillet and the adrenaline coursing through his veins had made him sweat and the blackjack slipped out of his hands. It broke a window someplace. Damn, he'd have to pay for that, too.

Stiletto rushed him, but Indy had enough time to throw a solid punch straight into his jaw. Stiletto was knocked off his feat and landed on the cobblestone street with a sound like a car tire deflating.

Machete was on his feet now, and drawing back with his weapon. "Enough! You come with me now or I'll butcher you here like a hog!"

"Like hell," Indy snarled. Machete moved into slashing range. Indy spun, grabbed the skillet that had nearly pan-seared his mug and flung the sizzling contents into Machete's face. The killer howled and dropped the weapon as his arms went up to swab the boiling oil off his face.

Stiletto was rousing himself groggily like a prizefighter who'd just met the end of his run. Indy tensed to throw another punch, then bent down and plucked the Luger out of the gunman's belt.

"All right, enough of this shit," he barked, gesturing with the Luger. Machete stared at him with raw fury contorting his reddening features. "Tell Abreau if he wants to talk to me, we do it face-to-face. Better yet, if he wants his money then he can go to Government House and get it himself." He nudged the now-disarmed gunman with his boot. "Now take your gorillas and get out of here. Before I decide to see how much it costs to bribe the local cops to overlook shooting three people."

As it turned out the amount to make the cops look the other way at a brawl in the zocalo was fairly modest. The bar's waitress was surprisingly understanding about the chair—Indy got the impression these sorts of altercations were far from uncommon—and the street vendor asked a fair price for the damage to his cart, but charged Indy the foreigner price for the plate of paella. Indy had settled back into his chair, his whiskey, and his self-pity when the Collinsworths found him.

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