'Verse/characters: The Mummy/Raiders of the Lost Ark; Indiana Jones, Doctor Professor Evelyn O'Connell, Rick O'Connell (briefly)
Word Count: 1664
Notes: So this is youraugustine's fault.
I said "Terrifying thought? Indiana Jones meets Evelyn Carnahan O'Connell." She said "OMG YOU HAVE TO WRITE THAT." And was then echoed by everyone else in the room. =|
This is after The Mummy but assumes some minor context from The Mummy Returns, and before Raiders of the Lost Ark but assumes context from it.
This is somewhere around 1931, five years after both the Marion Ravenwood and Imhotep Incidents. The Tehacni are Nonsense.
"Well," says Doctor Professor O'Connell in the sudden darkness, before Indy can even get his breath back, "we know where we are standing right now is not immediately fatal." She takes a deep breath as Indy's fumbling for the lighter he'd pocketed earlier, shouts "RICK!" at ear-splitting volume, then sneezes at the dust she just stirred up.
He gives her a look by the glow of the lighter in his hand. He's not sure it adequately expresses... Well. The tomb's wall just collapsed, taking out the old-fashioned torches and new electrical bulbs in one fell swoop along with their way of getting out.
She'd been talking about the inscriptions carved on the wall they were now backed up to, indicating symbols with the end of a brush, delicate as a pointer on a chalkboard.
And now she's talking about immediate fatalities. She can't be that crazy, isn't she a Bembridge Scholar or something?
"Ow," he yelps as the lighter overheats and he drops it between his feet. "God da--" he cuts himself off before he can finish the curse. He'll never hear the end of it from Dad if it gets back to Doctor Jones that he'd cussed in front of a lady.
Thinking of Dad leads to thinking of Abner, and from Abner . . Well. There's a reason he's working on his doctorate in England. He's lucky they took him, after Abner--
"Oh, for goodness sake," comes Dr O'Connell's voice again, and he hears fumbling and rustling. "Here--" a rag meets his fingers "--do pick that back up and light the torch I've got here. We can hardly make do in the dark."
"What?" he says, even as he's doing what she said. The torch flickers as it ignites, and she holds it up, squinting at the ceiling.
"Air movement--" she indicates the torch with her free hand, "which is good, we needn't worry about suffocating. Now, pick up my rucksack and don't step anywhere I haven't."
He takes an automatic step as he's going for the rucksack, and she elbows him hard in the solar plexus.
"What part of 'anywhere I haven't' did not get through?" she inquires, and that's pure Professor voice, speaking to a slow student. If it wasn't for the nearly invisible dust in her hair and the sturdy boots he can see under the hem of her old-fashioned skirt, he'd think they were in a classroom.
He snaps to automatic attention anyway, wincing as his diaphragm screams. "I stepped there eighteen times this morning!" he protests when he gets his breath back, rubbing at his chest.
"Yes, but that was before someone--and it may have been me, I wasn't expecting to run into problems in such a plain tomb--triggered a trap that would keep a grave robber confined," she tells him seriously.
"You think that was deliberate," he says, wondering if she really is crazy and the Scholars either haven't noticed or don't care as long as she keeps translating for them. "One of the tunnel props probably slipped--"
He breaks off as she tosses a pebble onto a hexagonal tile in the middle of the room without really looking away from him. A piece of the ceiling breaks off, dropping a boulder the size of his torso onto the tile.
When she holds the torch higher, he can see the shaped space the boulder had been slotted into.
"That was deliberate," he repeats himself, rather less disbelievingly this time.
"They did tell me you were quick," she replies. "And quite talented--let's see if you live up to it."
He bristles at her tone, but can't help but rise to the challenge. "One of the primary aspects of the Tehacni culture was beekeeping, with a corresponding emphasis on the importance and sacred nature of hexagons and honey-comb shapes," he begins, verbally recalling the lecture she'd been giving him before the wall came down, wishing he had access to the library. He always thinks better when he can flip pages and compare texts--oh, there's something-- "Since grave-robbing is frowned upon in almost all cultures that practice entombment, someone stepping on a sacred tile..."
Trailing off, frowning in thought, "Not every tile is going to be trapped. The traps had to have been activated as the priests were leaving the tomb--they wouldn't trap their own people--"
"Exactly!" she tells him, beaming, "In the more elaborate traps of this kind, there are several triggers that must be set off before the walls come down, to prevent accidental responses. We don't have very good examples, sadly, as frequently we discover the traps by, well--"
"Triggering them," he says, and she nods. "Do we know how to fool the tomb into thinking this was an accident?"
"Doctor Terfel keeps managing to avoid being caught in this sort of thing," she says in a thoughtful tone, stooping to catch up another few pebbles. "I had previously assumed his taste for middle-class tombs was to blame, but our example rather puts paid to that theory. Do see if you can arrange an internship with him once we get out of this."
She drops another two boulders while he's still working that one through, and they both sneeze at the newly-raised dust.
"Once we get out of this?" he repeats, and she doesn't give him the withering look Abner would have. He's a little grateful for that. He's been trying not to think about Abner.
"Well, yes. We just need to get all the traps dealt with before my husband gets through that pile of rocks blocking our exit, otherwise he will never let me hear the end of it. Would you prefer to hold the torch or work on translation? I've run out of pebbles, and I do confess I don't trust the prospect of walking out to fetch more just now."
" . . Does this happen to you a lot?" he can't help but ask, and is a little surprised when she laughs, handing him the torch as she turns back to the inscribed wall.
"Everyone asks that," she explains once she stops laughing and has started running her fingers over the symbols, keeping her place with the press of her fingertips. "My husband included, though that was before we were married. Ah! Move the torch just--perfect!"
He leans in, keeping the torch where it belongs, and frowns at the wall. "Is that a beer?"
"Technically I believe it's meant to be an offering of sacred mead to the keeper of the dead, but it does resemble--Indiana Jones, do not move your left foot."
He freezes, thinking inanely 'At least she doesn't sound like Marion' before he looks down and sees the sheaf of wheat inscribed on the tile, more than half obscured by his shoe. "Professor . ." he starts, not sure of where he's going with the sentence. He can't remember how the Tehacni treated wheat.
"Our final trigger for the trap," says Doctor O'Connell, and she's emptying her rucksack. "How much of your weight is currently on that foot?"
"Half?" he hazards, and she frowns.
"I'll need a rather larger rock, then. One moment." And she stands up, rucksack in one hand, and the hem of her skirt in the other, and tiptoes out into the room.
Once he's no longer blind with terror he can see she's carefully stepping on the edges of tiles, never across the center of any individual one, and sticking close to the places where she's already dropped boulders, gathering pieces of the stones into her rucksack. Nothing she can't lift one handed and a little offbalance, because she still isn't coming down off her toes, but the rucksack looks like it's getting heavy fast.
And then she's back, kneeling down on the bare section of rock by his left foot, the rucksack tucked up against her leg to avoid the tiles. She examines his foot, the tile beneath it, then reaches into the rucksack and removes one fist-sized chunk of rock and six pebbles. Then she scoots it up in front of her knees, picks it up so it's just barely brushing the ground, and says "On my mark, slide your foot off the tile as smoothly as you can. We want to fool it into thinking you're still there."
"I got that," he replies, a little sharply, and she swats his calf.
"Having watched it happen," she informs him, "I can tell you I derive very little enjoyment from watching colleagues die. And since I have no idea how you've been trained, and you are manifestly not my husband, I am speaking my process aloud. Do keep up. Ready?"
She waits for him to nod before she says "Now" and they hold their breath.
The roof fails to cave in.
They breathe. She sneezes again from the dust, then stands up, pebbles and rock in her hands.
"I believe I have never been so grateful for the University's policy on children at dig sites," she says conversationally, passing him a pebble and pointing at yet another hexagonal tile, most of the way to the caved-in wall.
"What?" he says back after the boulder's dropped. He can't believe he's getting accustomed to casually destroying a dig with its own booby traps, but something about her matter-of-factness is catching.
"My son turned four several months ago, and he is an extremely tactile child. I suspect we would not have made it to the invocation and curses panel before he hit the final trigger--" she breaks off as crashing noises start coming from the wall. "Rick?" she inquires.
"I should have believed your brother when he told me 'Yes, she's always like this'," an American accent grumbles. "Anything I need to know about?"
"I want to have a very pointed talk with Doctor Terfel about with-holding information. Ooh! The Tehacni associate wheat with blasphemy, and--"
"Sir?" Indy says over the professor's babble, "I think we got them all, but try not to step on anything with a hexagon pattern."
Thank you all for wandering by to read this. I hope it pleases; there are three more (much shorter) pieces available here, written as a winter's gift for M, if you'd like to see more.
Comments are always appreciated. :)