Fred Jones and the Lost Crusade
Chapter 1: High Noon
Fred Jones cracked his whip as loudly as he could in a vain attempt to deter the menacing figures in black, who continued to circle him. Their scimitars looked as if they could turn him into Swiss cheese in seconds. He was all alone; Velma had disappeared and he had no idea where Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby were. The Egyptian vendors in the Cairo marketplace began to back away nervously, taking their wares with them, while others gathered to watch the brewing fight. This is definitely not what I had in mind when I gave up teaching in order to work with America’s spy service, Fred thought grimly, as the masked figures moved in for the kill.
The day had begun innocently enough. Fred and his members of the newly named “Mystery Inc.” were told by OSS General “Wild Bill” Donovan to get gear to prepare for a desert expedition. After getting word to their superiors concerning their whereabouts, the five headed for the middle of Cairo to do their shopping for clothes and equipment. Daphne Blake, a redheaded journalist, tagged along with Hanna College graduate student “Shaggy” Rogers and his dog Scooby to get some backpacks while fellow archaeology professor Velma stayed with him, to look for a book about Egyptian history.
As Fred turned his back to select a canteen, he heard the sound of metal grinding on metal. Instincts kicked in and he ducked, just as a masked figure slashed at where his head was mere seconds before. Fortunately, the attacker’s blade accidentally sliced another would-be assailant. The shock the slasher exhibited at cutting his own partner gave Fred enough time to throw a powerful elbow into the man’s side. As the man crumpled next to his bleeding ally, Fred whirled around and yelled “Velma!” But the girl with glasses was nowhere to be seen.
Velma grunted in anger. She had just chosen Martin Palmer’s book about the Pharaohs of Egypt from a stall when two pairs of hands roughly grabbed her. Another hand jammed a rag into her mouth. The two claw-like hands picked her up and rudely shoved her into a large basket. She pushed at the top of the basket, but her abductors were evidently tying the lid to the handles of the basket. This kind of thing is supposed to happen to Daphne, but not me, Velma thought angrily. As the two lifted the basket, Velma stopped pushing at the lid and pulled the cloth from her mouth. “Fred! Fred!” she yelled.
Four more masked attackers came at him from a corner of the city square, swords drawn. As they circled Fred, he thought about going for his revolver. But while he might gun down one or two of the attackers, the others might run him through with their swords. Instead, he drew his whip. After snapping it once by his side, he whirled the rope-like object overhead and brought it down with a loud CRACK. Just as the attackers momentarily stopped in their tracks, the blond archaeologist heard his colleague crying his name. Velma! The sounds appeared to be coming from a basket, which was being lugged away by two masked men. She’s being kidnapped, he thought!
Fred moved in the direction of the basket. He fired four times at the two attackers between him and the rapidly moving container holding Velma. Once clutched his chest while the other lay motionless in the sand, his eyes facing the sky. As he gave chase to the men running off with the basket, the other two swordsmen ran after him. When he reached the edge of the square, he saw the basket being carried down a narrow street. As he headed down the alley after the helpless anthropology professor, he heard only one pursuer following him. He turned and fired. A scream of pain, followed by a sharp clang indicated that the man had been hit in the arm, and had dropped his sword. Rather than continue pursuit, Dr. Jones’ would-be assailant clutched his wound and started moaning. Fred hated to shoot these men, but their attacks gave him little choice. He holstered the weapon and continued the foot race.
As the alley emptied into another square, he saw what became of the fourth attacker. The man had obviously taken a shortcut. Unlike the others, who wore dark turbans and cloths covering their faces, while dressed in white kaftans, this man wore all black robes with a red sash at his waste. As the crowd gaped, the bearded man in black put on a dazzlingly display of swordsmanship, whipping his saber all around his body, then clutched it in his right hand. The crowd cheered, then looked at the blond archaeologist for a response.
Worn out from his pursuit, Fred thought he knew a simple way to end this game, and maybe impress the crowd with a little technological upgrade. As he reached for his holster, he found it empty. With horror, he realized it must have fallen out as he ran down the alley. Perhaps it was snatched up by a beggar. At any rate, the attacker laughed menacingly as he advanced upon his unarmed prey.
Fred had to think quickly. The swordsman closed the distance rapidly, making the whip unfeasible. His moved his hands behind him, in hopes of finding some sort of pole or other instrument to parry the attack. All he could manage was some sort of bowl. Maybe he could perhaps throw it at the fighter, distracting him just enough to get some distance between his enemy and go for the whip. As he tossed the bowl toward his attacker, the man screamed in rage and pain. The swordsman’s face was covered with some kind of red sauce that had been in the bowl. He dropped his scimitar and clawed at his eyes, which looked as though they were burning. Fred ducked past the attacker while the crowd gasped, unsure of whether or not to clap. But praise wasn’t on Fred’s mind. It was the basket being loaded into the back of a truck at the end of the alley.
Fred ran until his lungs felt as though they were about to explode. The truck began to lurch forward, after a noisy backfire. He could see the basket holding Velma in the back of the open panel truck, while her kidnappers jeered at his attempts to board the truck. At the last minute, Fred dove and grabbed a rope dangling from the back of the truck. For several seconds, the truck pulled him along his belly through the dusty streets, before he lost his grip. Though he continued to slide for a few feet, he came to a halt as the truck sped on.
That’s when he heard the loud dog bark. It was the familiar sounds of Scooby, yelping angrily at the truck. The driver swerved to avoid hitting the dog. It was a fatal mistake, for the driver struck a pole at the street corner and crashed into a store which appeared to sell fuel. The result was a powerful explosion that ripped the truck and store apart.
“Noooo!!!!” yelled Fred, watching his Hanna College colleague perish in the flames of the burning truck, while several Egyptians fled from the store through a door.
Velma gave up trying to find a sharp object to cut through the basket, but focused on looking for anything else she could use as a weapon, if given the chance to defend herself. Unfortunately, the majority of items crammed in with her were clothing, but just as she was about to reach the bottom, she felt a familiar object. It wasn’t much, it would have to do.
Just then, hands began to unfasten the ropes that held the basket lid down. Better adopt the scared, helpless girl look, Velma thought, as the lid came off and a masked figure looked in. But she geared her legs to spring out like a cat.
The masked man laughed at her plight and seized her by the scarf wrapped around her neck. As he pulled her to a standing position, his eyes widened momentarily, then he saw stars. The man fell to the ground and did not stir.
The man’s partner had his back to the basket, gathering ropes to tie up the professor. The loud clang got his attention. As he turned to face the sound, he saw a blur, then blackness.
As the attacker fell to the ground, Velma stepped out of the basket, triumphantly holding a frying pan. It wasn’t an awe-inspiring weapon, she thought, but it was effective. Now it was time to get out of this rat-trap and find the others from Mystery Inc.
“I…I’ve lossstt her!” Fred moaned into his seventh beer, as Daphne rubbed his shoulders, looking for anything to distract her partner from his self-destructive behavior.
“Fred, I understand how you feel…” Daphne began.
“DO YOU?” Fred responded with a loud outburst that caught the attention of the other bar patrons. “HAVE YOU EVER KILLED ANYONE?”
“Well there was that time in Mexico….wait, it wasn’t your fault,” Daphne ventured.
“If’n I hadn’t…uh…dropped my gun, I’d a could’ve plugged dat swordsman fasser, den pulled Thel-I mean Velma’s basket from da truck,” Fred said, then downed the last of his drink and waved his glass for another refill. When Fred looked the other way, Daphne desperately tried to gesture the bartender not to honor Fred’s request. She hoped her looks and pleadings would win out over money.
At the next table, it was Scooby who cried inconsolably, joined by Shaggy, whose grief matched that of his pal. “Scooby, old buddy, you were just trying to slow the truck down. The crash wasn’t your fault.”
Scooby howled loudly in response. At that moment, Velma stood behind them, wondering what had happened to make everyone so depressed. Had she missed something?
“Did….someone die or something….” she started.
“Velma, it’s so terrible that you died in that horrible crash,” Shaggy said, continuing to hug the dog whose tears were beginning to gush over the whole table.
“Guys!” she said, raising her voice.
“Hey….Velma, you’re alive!” Shaggy said, stopping his sobbing. Scooby jumped into the bespectacled girl’s arms. Daphne jumped up from her table and said “Fred, look! Velma’s alive!”
The barely sober Dr. Jones staggered to his feet, lumbered toward Velma, and put her in a vice-like hug, nearly squeezing the life out her. He then clumsily planted a slobbery kiss on her mouth and mumbled “Thass great. You ur ahliiiive.”
With her last remaining ounce of strength, she unlocked his grip around her chest, stepped back, and wiped her face much as she would have if Scooby had smooched her. Daphne and Shaggy caught Fred before he crashed to the ground.
“Yeah, it’s great to be alive,” Velma said sarcastically, hoping somebody would fill her in on the details.
Fred Jones and the Lost Crusade
Chapter 2: Three Kings
“…and then Scooby barked at the truck. When the driver swerved to avoid him, the truck crashed into a fuel shop. Then the vehicle exploded, including the basket we thought you were in,” Fred explained, holding an icepack to his head. Despite the sensation of several gremlins applying jackhammers to his head, he was handling the hangover rather well, all things considered. “We were all drowning our sorrows in a bar when you showed up.”
“Speak for yourself,” Daphne said wryly. “Some of us were trying to keep a cool head in OTHER ways.”
The double doors opened to the conference room and three men in military gear entered. While OSS director General “Wild Bill” Donovan led the way, he was flanked by General Nessmeyer. The final figure, Sergeant Payne, stepped away from the two to guard the doorway outside the room.
“Feeling better Dr. Jones?” General Nessmeyer asked, indicating Fred’s icepack.
“Uh, yeah!” Fred said nervously. “I must have banged my head when I was being pulled by that truck.”
General Donovan stepped forward, sniffed the archaeologist’s breath, and skeptically “Sure…that must be it.”
“Where’s Colonel Thorwald?” Shaggy inquired.
“Henry will not be joining us at this briefing,” Donovan said, then abruptly changed the subject. “Daphne Blake, how charming to see you. I’m sorry to hear that you have been relieved of your editorial duties at the New York Chronicle. Guess your family influence wasn’t enough to save your job,” he said sardonically.
“For your information, General Donovan, I resigned that position so that I could get into the field,” Daphne snapped back. “Now I’m a war correspondent. I may just write a story about how ‘military intelligence’ is a contradiction in terms.”
Donovan took a step back, but remained defiant. “One day you’ll find yourself in the military, and your family connections won’t save your skinny….”
Velma slammed the thick Palmer text she was reading, which reverberated loudly through the conference room. “Can we get to the point of why we’re here?” she growled.
Silence filled the room. The tension was broken by the entrance of several individuals into the conference room. Sergeant Payne stepped aside to admit them, then left the room.
“May I introduce Dr. Najib?” General Donovan said as he gestured his thumb at the tall mustachioed Egyptian with thick black hair and a gray suit. “And this is….”
“Sallah!” Daphne exclaimed, indicating the bulky man with the bushy beard, friendly eyes and flowing robes. “Indy…I mean Dr. Jones told me so much about you.”
The Arab giant smiled as he hugged the redhead reporter. “And Indy told me a lot about you too!”
“He did?” Daphne beamed, rolling her eyes and producing a dreamy expression. Fred merely scowled. General Donovan harrumphed.
“And from the British military, we have two people you might be familiar with,” General Nessmeyer said. “Major Portsmythe and…”
“`Melbourne’ O’Reilly!” Fred said has he jumped to his feet. He swung his hand toward the big Australian adventurer’s hand and was rewarded with a vigorous handshake. “Good to be working with you!”
“Crikey…Fred Jones!” the Aussie boomed with equal enthusiasm. “Good to see ya, mate. We’ve been takin’ a beatin’ in the field.”
“Wha…” Fred resonded.
“Those Jerries, led by the Desert Fox, have our lads on the run!” Major Portsmythe said mournfully. “And it’s only going to get worse.”
“What’s he mean…‘get worse’?” Shaggy moaned. “How much worse could it be with a giant fox and a bunch of guys named Jerry chasing us all over the desert?” A series of groans of disbelief and faces greeted his words.
Fred guided Melbourne over toward his colleague. “I’d like you to meet Dr. Velma Dinkley from the Hanna College Department of Archaeology.”
“Sure, I remember you,” Melbourne said as he kissed the girl’s hand. “We met in Mexico. You were the real smart one.” And so no one but Velma could hear him, he added “and a real cute sheila.” She giggled and blushed in response.
After a few minutes of introductions and pleasantries, the topic turned to military and political affairs. “In addition to our military setbacks against the Nazis in Egypt, there’s trouble back home in Great Britain,” Major Portsmythe admitted. “Our losses in the desert have increased the power Malcolm Hawkes, the Marquess of Black Ness wields. He’s leading a faction of disgruntled Tories and peace-minded Labour supporters and Liberals who wish to end our country’s participation in the war.”
As the group reacted in dismay, Portsmythe continued. “In fact, the Marquess of Black Ness has called for a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the Winston Churchill government. That’s where Professor Hyde-White is…desperately trying to rally support for our beleaguered Prime Minister.”
“If the Muslims revolt here in Egypt, we’ll never beat their numbers as well as the forces of General Rommel,” Melbourne muttered. “We’ll lose the Suez Canal….and our supporters in 10 Downing Street!”
“Our Russian allies are already on their last legs against the Nazis,” Fred winced. “We could have to fight the fascists all alone!”
General Nessmeyer stepped toward the smaller British military man, looking him square in the eye. “There’s more to worry about than just a change of government or Britain withdrawing from the Allied forces. If these reports are correct,” he said, waving a series of white papers with many black typed letters and occasional black smears, “The Marquess of Black Ness might also try to push his country into the Axis Powers’ camp!”
Nessmeyer’s announcement generated a chorus of loud shouts, cries of disbelief, and angry gestures. After a minute, General Donovan clapped his hands to interrupt the outcry. “I have an additional guest,” he said in a tone indicating great importance, pointing out a man who had quietly entered the room. “He’s with the Free French forces.”
“Professor Jacques Poisson,” Velma said excitedly. “I’ve read your articles about the relics you discovered on Napoleon’s fleet that was sunk at the Battle of the Nile.”
“And you must be Velma Dinkley,” Professor Poisson responded. “You are the one who discovered the Templo de Jaguaro.” She nodded excitedly.
Professor Poisson opened the large box he had been carrying, then laid it out on the conference table and opened its contents. A medallion lay among the straw. Under the rusted object was a stone shield with a symbol on it.
“Well,” Fred began, examining the medallion. “It has a lion and a crescent on it. That must mean it represents some union between England and Islam.”
“Good show old boy,” Major Portsymthe said enthusiastically, slapping the American on the back. Then, he looked at Professor Poisson for confirmation.
Poisson raised an eyebrow. “Er…yes. More specifically, it deals with two individuals who had this medallion made.”
“Do you mean you found the Medallion of King Richard I and Saladin,” Velma exclaimed with shock. “I thought that was lost forever.”
Poisson nodded vigorously, then began to explain how he found the old French ship Anjou while helping the allies search for German submarines off the coast of Egypt.
“What we need to know is why this matters,” Nessmeyer said, his body language displaying even more impatience than his tone.
“It all goes back to the ‘Crusade of the Three Kings’ in 1189, which began when the Muslim leader Saladin captured Jerusalem,” Velma began. “The mission to retake Jerusalem included Richard the Lionhearted of England…”
“Hey…I’ve heard of him,” Shaggy noted. “He was in the Robin Hood movie.”
Velma paused, then continued. “Joining Richard I was King Philip II of France and Frederick Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire. Barbarossa drowned along the way. Richard and Phillip feuded after they captured the port of Acre. King Philip Augustus pretended to leave after the battle due to illness, but he went back to France to plot with Prince John and to capture English held lands in France,” Velma continued.
“Prince John was also in the….”
“We know!” growled Donovan. “Please continue, Velma.”
“Back to the story of the Third Crusade,” Velma continued. “Richard the Lionhearted fought his way to the gates of Jerusalem, but lacked the army size to take it. He was running low on food and water, and appealed to Saladin for help. The Muslim leader sent frozen snow to the English army, saving them.”
“Wow,” Fred said, sounding incredulous. “Why’d he do that?”
Velma shrugged. “It’s part of the true Islamic way,” she responded. “Charity is one of the pillars of Islam, even for their enemies. Such kindness to a foe actually led both leaders to sign the “Peace of Ramla” treaty, which gave the Christians the coastal lands while Muslims would rule Jerusalem and allow Christian pilgrims to enter.”
Portsmythe interjected “Yes, yes…English poets wrote epics about Saladin while Richard is a revered figure in the Middle East.”
“Nice history lesson Velma,” Donovan said, his chin hardening its position. “But we’ve got a war out there that isn’t going so well. We’re also on the verge of an Islamic revolt. Tell me something I can use with this finding!”
Velma exchanged glances with Poisson, before continuing. “Well…the story goes that Richard and Saladin agreed to more than just a peace treaty that day. Some believe that the two actually signed an alliance, stating that the England and the Muslims would forge a permanent bond of friendship.”
“But this was never proven, because the ‘Pact of Ramla’ treaty was stolen by Marcel Dumas, a French military leader who stayed behind to work with Richard, on orders of King Philip Augustus, who heard about the alliance,” Poisson said sadly, as if embarrassed by the actions of his countrymen. “After taking the treaty, Dumas brought it to Alexandria, where he and the Fatimid leaders hid it in one of the pyramids.”
“Fatimid….” Melbourne began uneasily, desperately trying to follow Velma’s lecture.
“It was an Arab dynasty in Egypt that Saladin, a Kurd, had displaced from power when he became Sultan of Egypt and Syria,” Sallah explained. “They hired ‘assassins’ to do their dirty work by hiding the treaty and nearly killing Saladin.”
“Sounds like the folks that attacked us in the marketplace,” Velma grumbled.
“So if we find the pyramid, we find the treaty….and stop the Islamic uprising?” Fred asked, hoping he was right.
“Exactly,” Poisson added.
Donovan took a moment to light his pipe. “And this shield will tell us where the pyramid is?” he said, after a few puffs.
“It should,” said Velma, closely examining it with a magnifying glass. After a few minutes, she brought it to the blackboard, and sketched a symbol on it. “Dr. Najib, does this symbol look familiar to you?”
The mustachioed gentleman frowned. “It does not.”
Sallah stared closely at the symbol and said “I have seen this before, in the museum of Cairo. It is the symbol of Ankha.”
“Please tell me he has a pyramid,” Nessmeyer said, hoping for a positive answer.
“He does,” Sallah announced. “It is to the south of us along the Nile….”
Dr. Najib broke into the conversation. “Forgive me, but I did not recognize it earlier because this girl’s drawing was very vague,” he said to Donovan, shooting Velma a nasty look. “However, I would advise against opening the Tomb of Ankha.”
“Why is that?” Fred inquired.
“There is a curse on the Tomb that affects anyone who enters it,” Dr. Najib began in an ominous tone. “It is guarded by a mummy. He walks the corridors of the pyramid, seeking a bride. He also kills anyone else who trespasses within.”
“Ho no…we’re not going, no way!” Shaggy insisted.
“Rummy….. Ruh Roh…Rummy!” Scooby barked, cowering and covering his eyes.
Melbourne shook off their cowardice. “If there’s a treaty that would keep us from fighting the Muslims, we need it now,” he said solemnly. “We barely have enough to check Rommel, much less stop riots in Cairo and Alexandria.”
“Well put, my good man!” Portsmythe interjected. He gave the Aussie a hearty backslap.
Dr. Najib turned and left the room. Before departing, he turned back and offered “Good luck on your mission. I only hope, for your sakes that none of you are turned to stone or disappear to live with the Mummy for all eternity.” It only made Shaggy and Scooby wail louder.
“Curse or not, we have to get that treaty before the Nazi army overruns the world!” Fred said in a determined voice.
“Philip Augustus must’ve been a horrible man,” Nessmeyer observed.
“He can’t be entirely bad…after all, he built Notre Dame,” Daphne offered, bringing the conversation to a surprising halt. “See…French club pays off!”
“And he constructed the Sorbonne and made many reforms for the people of France,” Poisson concurred. “He was merely trying to rid his country of the English. After they left, he made my country into a great European power.”
“What happened to Dumas?” Donovan inquired.
“He was on the Anjou when it sank,” Poisson noted.
“It’s settled,” Fred began. “We leave tomorrow morning for the Pyramid of Ankha. We’ll take Sallah to guide us and Melbourne to help defeat the Mummy if we find him.”
Sallah bowed, while Melbourne beamed. “Happy to help!”
“Glad you’re coming as well,” Velma thought to herself, noting that the guy with ruddy handsome looks had been paying very close attention to her presentation on the Third Crusade.
Fred Jones and the Lost Crusade
Chapter 3: The Prince of Egypt
A shadowy figure slipped out of the darkness later that night, glancing up and down the army base for signs of guards. But he knew their routine by heart; he had a four minute window of opportunity before the next sentry would make his rounds past the briefing room. When it was evident that he was in the clear, he quietly jogged from the safety of the buildings and into the unknown desert. Even as he was clear of the base defenders, he still looked for signs of others following him.
Relieved, he continued upon the rarely used path toward a series of rocks less than two miles away. The rendezvous point was close enough to his position, but far enough away to avoid suspicion. At any rate, his contact would not be waiting long. He needed to pass the word to his new friends that the Anjou had been located, and an expedition would attempt to find the Ramla alliance. Though he had merely served as a bodyguard outside the meeting, his inside source filled in the rest.
Up ahead, in the moonlight, he spotted his contact, wearing a fedora and garbed in a jacket. The spy thought of not only the message he would be relaying, but the handsome payoff he would receive for delivering the plans. Additionally, after the war, his backers would surely find an important position for him in the new regime.
“Mars?” the spy began, a little nervous and unsure of himself as he issued the code word.
“Don’t you mean….Fred?” the contact began, offering a throaty chuckle.
A flashlight shone into the spy’s face from another source, momentarily blinding him. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he saw it was a big man holding the source of illumination. In an Aussie accent, the holder asked “Well who do we have here?”
“He’s Sergeant Max Payne,” barked General “Wild Bill” Donovan, stepping forward into the light. “And he’s a regular ‘Benedict Arnold.’”
“Or William Dumont or Major Andre,” Velma observed.
General Nessmeyer drew his service pistol. “I ought to gun you down right now…save the rest us the expense of a trial.”
“General,” Donovan ordered. “You’ll do no such thing. We need to learn more about who he was going to meet tonight.” Then he turned to Sergeant Payne and added darkly “Perhaps you care to enlighten us…you know…to save your own skin.”
“I’m not talking,” Payne snapped.
“We’ll see about that in the next few days,” Donovan griped. “Fred, Melbourne, did you see anyone earlier?”
Fred shook his head. “Not a sign. We even had Shaggy and Scooby do recon work, but we didn’t see anyone. Payne’s contact probably watched us arrive and set up a perimeter, then slipped away.”
“That’s not all we have to figure out,” Daphne interrupted, pulling a slip of paper with details of the day’s meeting from the disgraced military man. “Payne couldn’t have had first-hand knowledge to pass on, because he wasn’t in the briefing room when we planned the mission. We have to figure out who leaked this to him.”
Melbourne threw a sleeper hold on the army man. “You’re responsible for the deaths of a lot of my mates,” the Aussie said, tightening his hold on the man’s neck until he slumped into unconsciousness. “We’ll see if you talk after I get through with you.”
As they returned to base with Payne on a makeshift stretcher, Donovan turned to Velma. “Tell me how you figured out who was the source of the leak.”
“Before we went to get supplies, we gave three different locations of where we would be,” Velma began, eyeing the head of American intelligence. “We told Nessmeyer that we were headed for Alexandria. We told Captain Treesdale that we would stay here and requisition the items from the quartermaster.”
The young female archaeologist continued after a pause. “As for Colonel Thorwald, we told him that we were headed for the Cairo marketplace. After the Fatimid assassins attacked us, we knew the leak could be traced to him.”
“He’ll lose at least a rank for sharing classified information with an unclassified source,” Donovan muttered.
“This afternoon we confronted Colonel Thorwald,” Fred said, surprising himself at the anger in his tone. “He swore he wasn’t the leak, but he did admit sharing the information with Sergeant Payne. We tracked Payne this evening to the location.”
“But how did you know where Payne would go,” Nessmeyer insisted.
Fred shrugged his shoulders. “Uh…Velma reasoned that it was just about the only place for a secret meeting that was close enough to the base, but far enough from it. In other words….we took a guess.”
Donovan smiled, then turned to head back to the officer’s quarters. “Don’t worry,” said Nessmeyer in a reassuring tone. “By tomorrow, we’ll learn who Payne’s source was, and who he was meeting.”
“Fred, wake up! Wake up!”
With a panic, Fred bolted upright and smacked his head into the bunk above him. He began to swear at Shaggy for rousing him so early…what time was it anyway…5am, until he caught the nervous tone in Shaggy’s voice.
The two ran into the early morning dawn toward the brig. Sallah, Melbourne, Velma and Daphne were already there, along with Generals Donovan and Nessmeyer. Fred could see that everyone looked visibly upset. Had something happened to one of the others? Had Payne escaped?
“What happened?” Fred said breathlessly.
No one spoke, as if in shock. Sallah jerked his thumb in the direction of a cell. There, Payne lay, slumped over his small cot, unmoving. Though his eyes were wide open, he remained motionless, as if frozen.
Velma stepped in next to Fred and pointed out three sets of small red pinpricks; one was on Payne’s neck.
“Vampires?” Shaggy said, quivering in fear.
“I’m not really sure, but I have a hunch,” Velma said in a worried tone.
“Whatever happened, someone didn’t want us finding out who Payne was going to meet,” Daphne reasoned. “Or who leaked the information to Payne in the first place.”
Melbourne snarled and stormed away, feeling cheated at his opportunity to beat the information about of Sergeant Payne. Scooby shrank away, unsure of which was scarier: Payne’s untimely demise or the Aussie’s fury.
“You’d better leave this morning,” Nessmeyer insisted. “Between the Islamist revolt and Payne’s death, the clock is probably winding down on our chances to find the Alliance of Ramla.”
Fred nodded, having assembled his team after breakfast. As Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby departed the Mess Hall for the airstrip, they were joined by Sallah and Melbourne, who listened to instructions near a plane.
“Good morning,” Donovan began. “I found you a plane…on loan from the United States Army, of course. It’s done its share of transporting people for us.”
“What a piece of junk,” Daphne whispered to Fred.
“It’s a Ford Trimotor,” Donovan continued, evidently not hearing Daphne’s criticism. “It’s made the ‘Cairo Run’ at a speed of 90 miles per hour. It fits 12 passengers comfortably, so it should meet your needs.”
“Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out how to fly it….” Melbourne began, eyeing the silvery plane.”
“Ahem,” Daphne interrupted. “You won’t have to figure it out because I’m going to be the pilot.”
Melbourne eyed her skeptically. “No offense, lady, but I’ve had a little experience flying planes. I’ve been a bit of an aviator, you see.”
“Have you ever flown one of these before?” she asked in a snappish tone. “Do you know how three Pratt & Whitney engines fare in wind shear? Do you?”
“So you’re an aviator too?” Melbourne responded, surprised by her outburst.
“Aviatrix,” Daphne corrected, but in a softer tone. “And I’ll need a Flight Engineer who can also navigate.”
Melbourne’s expression brightened. “I’d actually prefer that.”
As everyone busied themselves with loading the plane with gear, Fred pulled Daphne aside. “Hey… I thought you said it was a piece of junk.”
Daphne laughed. “The ‘Tin Goose’ is just that. It’s actually the first plane my daddy let me fly. He wanted something junky, in case I crashed it. I was also joking about the ‘junk’ term – it looks a lot like the German Luftwaffe’s Trimotor called ‘the Junker.’”
As the metallic plane lumbered down the runway and took off with its wings wobbling, Melbourne showed Daphne the location of the Ankha pyramid. “Looks like a Northern approach is best,” he told the young pilot.
She nodded in approval, sharply banking the plane in the direction he indicated. “Looks like there’ll be plenty of places to land nearby. The ground seems pretty flat all around.”
“I’ll let you know when we get a little closer,” Melbourne responded.
In the rear of the plane, the remaining members of the expedition gathered in the wicker chairs. “Do you have a plan, Dr. Jones?” Sallah asked.
“You mean ‘fly in, grab it, and fly out’ isn’t enough of a plan?” he responded.
Velma frowned. “I think he wants something a little more detailed….with a little more foresight.”
Fred frowned. Why did women have to make things so complicated, he thought. He didn’t want to get tripped up by details. “Don’t worry, I’ll think of something more elaborate when we get there,” he said to a skeptical audience.
“Hey Velms…what’re you doin’ with the medallion?” Shaggy asked.
“We know that the front with the lion and the crescent represents the partners in the alliance,” Velma lectured. “But I’m trying to figure out what the symbols on the back are for.”
With permission, Sallah took the item from her. “They appear to be Roman numerals.”
“But what are they for?” Fred demanded.
“Don’t worry, I’ll think of something more elaborate when we get there,” Velma said sarcastically.
“Oh…Wombat puckey!” Melbourned cursed. “Look up ahead!”
Daphne felt like adding a more sophisticated curse to Melbourne’s crude statement as she saw the brown swirling clouds, prematurely darkening the late afternoon skies. She had flown through cold and hot temperatures, but never through a sandstorm, she thought.
“Maybe we can fly around it,” said Melbourne, checking his map.
“Too far,” Daphne said, “And I’m sure we don’t have time to turn back. Look for a place we can put down and ride it out on the ground.”
Sallah ran up the aisle. “If you are looking for a place to land, I suggest you look for a caravan.” When his statement was greeted with surprise, he answered. “A friend of mine is staying near here. He can help us.”
Melbourne looked at Daphne and shrugged. Then, he bolted up in his chair and said “I think I see Sallah’s mates!”
“Good thing too, ‘cause we were running out of time,” said Daphne, as the plane started to tremble. The plane’s shaking increased as the outer fringes of the sandstorm began to buffet the airframe. There wasn’t a true airstrip to land, but a flat spot that could serve as an emergency landing loomed ahead. After warning the passengers to brace for an emergency landing, Daphne brought the Ford Trimotor down sharply. Though the plane hopped once and skidded slightly on the makeshift landing post, it was a good touchdown, all things considered. The group sat in the Tin Goose, waiting out the treacherous sandstorm, which legends say could strip a man’s flesh from the bone in seconds.
As the remnants of the storm began to pass, the sun started to dip below the horizon. Already, robed figures moved from the nearby tents toward the strange airplane that flew in without warning.
Melbourne eyed the fierce looking warriors dashing toward the plane. “Uh, who are these guys?”
“They are members of the Ayyubid tribe, a bold and proud people,” Sallah boasted.
“Are….are they friendly?” Shaggy stammered.
“They have been known to engage in….cannibalistic practices, and they have a taste for white meat,” Sallah noted, as if this didn’t seem to bother him.
The robed figures opened the door, yanked Shaggy from his wicker chair, and dragged him off the plane. None of the other members of the Scooby group moved, primarily out of shock at the turn of events. As they ran, the Ayyubids held Shaggy above their heads while the gangly graduate student screamed for mercy. Recovering their wits, Fred Jones led the others off the plane where they sprinted after the warriors in an effort to save their friend. But there was another shock waiting for them, as Shaggy had been placed at a table at the seat of honor.
“What the….” Fred stuttered.
Sallah gave a hearty laugh, which was echoed loudly by the Ayyubid men. “They are not only a warrior tribe, but they love playing practical jokes on outsiders,” he explained. Clapping a relieved Shaggy on the back, he observed “Besides, you’re far to skinny to eat.” Scooby giggled, earning a frown from his friend at the table.
The Ayyubids gestured for the group to sit down at the table. “Prince Qasl al-Famir will join us shortly,” Sallah said, translating from the words spoken by the Ayyubids. “We are to be his guests of honor.”
“The Prince of Egypt?” Daphne exclaimed. Suddenly she began fixing her hair in the reflection of her goblet. She adjusted her outfit slightly, to the grins of several young Ayyubid men. Several of the veiled women rolled their eyes.
Sallah stood up and walked to the entrance of the tent. May I present to you, his highness, Prince Qasl al-Famir of the Ayyubid tribe….”
Fred and the others rose to their feet and clapped as a handsome man in a turban and robe entered the tent and surveyed the guests. Daphne shot him a flirtatious smile.
“….and his wife, Chantal Ney!” Sallah boomed. Daphne’s smile disappeared as an attractive blonde entered the tent, then joined hands with the Prince as they sat at the table. Sallah enjoyed a quiet chuckle at seeing the redhead’s reaction.
When introductions were completed, several of the Ayyubid women entered the tent with platters of food. As the dinner was set in front of a drooling Shaggy, Sallah announced the meal. “The snake specialty,” he said, indicating the long stringy pieces of meat.”
Shaggy and Scooby’s face fell as they viewed the entrée with horror. Daphne let out a frightened squeak. Velma turned an interesting shade of green. A fork dropped from Fred’s hand. Seeing their discomfort, Sallah explained the meal. “Don’t worry, the poison has been removed from these asps.”
“You mean there used to be poison in these things?” Fred spat.
“If you do not desire this item, some soup may be available,” Sallah answered. A woman passed a bowl down the table. Shaggy hungrily picked up a spoon, but reacted in horror at the sight of a floating eyeball. Daphne clapped a hand over her mouth and ran from the table.
“Then perhaps the boiled camel hooves,” Sallah asked, which led Shaggy and Scooby to duck out of the tent and run as fast as their legs could carry them. Velma held a hand to her head as Fred asked. “Do…do you really eat this stuff?”
Prince al-Famir laughed. “I apologize. It seems that some of women were playing a ‘practical joke’ on our visitors.” He eyed Sallah sternly. “I hope you told them that our people love to tease guests.”
Melbourne grinned. “I don’t know what everyone was getting upset about. The snakes and soup were delicious!”
Velma reacted by fainting. Several of the young Ayyubid women screamed and ran from the table. “What?” the Aussie said in surprise. “I was just trying a joke of my own!”
The Ayyubid men and several of the older women laughed harder than they ever had. Fred desperately tried to revive Velma while the servers brought out plates of falafel, tabouli, hamour, couscous, and baba ghanoush.
“So what is your purpose here,” Prince al-Famir asked, when the meal was finished and the he was alone with his wife, Fred, Velma, Melbourne and Sallah.
“Don’t worry, he can be trusted,” reassured Sallah, to the three hesitant group members.
“We’re on a secret mission to find if there was a pact between Richard the Lionhearted and Saladin,” Fred began.
“You are referring to the Alliance of Ramla,” the Prince answered.
Melbourne looked at him in surprise. “How do you know about this treaty?”
The Prince smiled. “The Ayyubids are descendents of Saladin’s tribe. We are well aware of the existence of this treaty. Our people have been searching for it for many years.” Then he rubbed his beard and frowned. “What makes you so certain that you will find it, where others have failed?”
Velma held up the medallion. “This,” she said coolly, tossing it onto the table as if it were a valuable chip in a power game.
Prince al-Famir snatched up the medallion and examined it eagerly. “It has the mark, of course.” He continued his study. “Do you know what these Roman numerals mean?”
“No idea,” Velma admitted. “Hopefully we’ll figure that out when we reach the treaty’s location.”
Prince al-Famir frowned. “While this medallion is an important piece of the puzzle, without knowing where to look, I’m afraid you may not be able to accomplish your mission.”
Fred spread out a sheet of paper onto the table, with a symbol on it. “This was taken from a stone shield near where the medallion was found.”
“The symbol of Ankha,” the Prince al-Famir beamed. “I’ve been searching for this information all of my life! Where did you find it?” he gasped.
Sallah looked uncomfortably at Chantal and said, “on the French ship ‘Anjou.’ It seems the French King Philip had this stolen from Richard and Saladin.”
If Chantal was upset, she didn’t show it, hiding her face behind a mask of stoicism. “My countrymen have not always acted with this region’s best interests at heart.”
“Cheer up Chantal,” Melbourne grinned. “It was a countryman of yours, Professor Poisson, who found the Anjou and this information.”
As Chantal exhaled a sigh of relief, she excused herself to check on Daphne. Her husband asked “but why do YOU seek this treaty?”
Fred and Velma explained the situation, starting with the attack in the marketplace and the serious Islamist revolt brewing in Cairo, and ending with the implications for German control of North Africa, the vote of no confidence, and the possible destruction of the Anglo-American alliance.
Prince al-Famir shook his head. “These people you speak of who attacked you sound like ‘Fatimid Assassins.’ They are enemies of the Ayyubid people. Those who are leading the revolt are no doubt aligned with the Fatimids. Rather than support the true pillars of Islam, they seek to use the religion to further their own power in Egypt. Unfortunately, many who resent the British colonial rule will join their cause.”
The Ayyubid leader considered the issue. “But if you were to find the treaty, peace can eventually come to the British and Egyptian peoples. Perhaps our differences can be worked out. The British could grant the Egyptians their full independence, if the Egyptians were to guarantee British access to the Suez Canal…”
Fred interrupted the Egyptian Prince “How far is it to Ankha’s tomb?”
Prince al-Famir could hardly contain his excitement. “It is only a short ride from here. It is late now, but in the early morning, we will arrive at the Tomb of Ankha. Then we shall find the treaty and prevent the Fatimids and their so-called Islamist Revolt from disrupting the British military.”
“This treaty could eventually save the Suez Canal, Winston Churchill’s career, and the whole alliance designed to stop Adolf Hitler in his tracks,” Fred reminded the others, as they prepared to retire for the evening. As the last of the group left the tent, he ducked back in, took an item from the table, then headed out. This could help him with his evening plans, he thought to himself.
Fred Jones and the Lost Crusade
Chapter 4: The Purple Rose of Cairo
A short time later, Fred walked into the large tent at the edge of the caravan and saw Daphne dressed in a purple and pink dancing girl outfit, consisting of a bra, veil and harem pants, lounging casually upon the bed of cushions. At the sound of him pushing back the tent flap, she flipped onto her side to look at him. Though her outfit would make any man pause, the fiery expression her eyes wore indicated that caution would be best for this situation.
“I can’t believe that dinner Prince Qasl provided… snakes, soup d’eyeballs, camel hooves,” Daphne fumed. “What kind of reception was that?”
“Sorry I couldn’t do anything about the meal, but maybe these will cheer you up,” he smiled, revealing the contents hidden by his left hand behind his back. Daphne’s eyes widened when she saw the apples, oranges, pomegranates, and grapes. Without a second thought, she bounded from her cushiony bed and swiped the bowl from him. “My hero,” she said, partially sarcastic, but with enough of a genuine nature to convince him to stay.
“Love your outfit,” Fred said, trying to kick-start the conversation.
“Thanks…Chantall loaned it to me. And yours makes you resemble a Valentino sheik,” she added, out of amusement, but kept a beaming smile as she peeled an orange.
He took her hands. “You remind me of a gorgeous harem girl.”
Her smile faded rapidly. “A harem girl?” she snapped. “I’m supposed to be a princess. What kind of woman do you take me for… you think I’m easy?”
Normally, Fred would have backpedaled rapidly from his original statement and apologize profusely, but perhaps that would make the situation worse. Instead, he thought of what all the men did in the classic movies when confronting a beautiful but feisty woman. He pulled her to him, lifted her veil, and kissed her passionately.
After a few seconds, Daphne broke the embrace and glared at him. “How dare you kiss me!” she demanded. Actually, she had to admit to herself that it was surprisingly good, even though she wasn’t expecting it. But he had no right to silence her lips with a kiss like that, especially after he implied that she was some kind of concubine.
Sparks seemed to be flying, which may have clouded Fred’s judgment. He continued with the tough guy routine patented by his favorite actors. “Admit it Daphne, since you met me, you haven’t been able to get over me. You’ve been flirting with me since Mexico, nearly driving me out of my mind. You’re the one who thinks I’m easy!”
His answer was met by a “hmmpf” from Daphne. As the redhead folded her arms over her chest, she said “You’re the one who came to my tent. You’re the one who kissed me. You’re the one who can’t get over me.”
He held up five fingers in front of her face. “Five minutes, Daphne. In five minutes, you’ll be in my tent in my arms.”
“Ha,” Daphne called out as Fred headed back toward his tent. “Don’t let the flap hit you on your way out,” she added haughtily. His response was simply “five minutes,” to which her reply was “In five minutes, you’ll be back for me… Dr. Jones!”
He confidently strode across the clearing to his own tent. He was glad that Daphne’s tent was slightly apart from the others, so that he did not have the entire group at the oasis listening to his little spat with Daphne. In five minutes, she’d come crawling back to him. Whether they were in Mexico, Egypt or Europe, she always cast her eyes toward him. Sure she toyed with Indiana Jones, but that was just to make him jealous. Like all beautiful women, she was playing hard to get. Well he was through playing games. If she wanted him, she’d know where to find him. And he knew she’d be at his tent. He took off his jacket and tossed it over a chair. Then he set his hat on the seat and awaited her arrival.
Daphne rolled over onto the silk sheet bed and stared toward the tent entrance. Of course the arrogant archaeologist would be back. Since Mexico, he had always pursued her. There was that incident in Darnand’s tent, but since then, he had never stopped apologizing or trying to win her back. When she set her sights on a man, she never lost him. At a minimum, she certainly was never going to his tent.
Fred began pacing the tent. What was keeping Daphne? Perhaps, like all girls, she was taking her time with her hair, makeup, or something like that. But whatever was keeping her, he was running out of time. He began to have doubts – how could she resist a tough guy like him who could have any woman he wanted. Girls would wait in line to go out with him. Was he losing his touch? Had he finally met a woman who could resist him? He anxiously checked his watch, then the tent entrance.
“He loves me, he loves me not…” Daphne continued, plucking at the petals of a flower. She sighed. It was nearly five minutes and Fred hadn’t returned. Did he really think she would walk all the way across the camp to his dusty little tent with his flimsy cot, when there was a soft bed and satin sheets in hers? Her true feelings began to overcome her temporary anger at the harem girl comparison and that surprise kiss he planted on her lips. Mmmm…where did he learn to kiss like that? She had expected a rougher, forceful experience, but this one balanced passion with tenderness. Suddenly, she had the wildest desire to give in, to dash to his tent and into his arms. Sometimes love conquers pride, she thought.
At that moment, Fred could hardly bear it. He was making the biggest mistake of his life, all to prove a point he no longer believed in. None of those movie stars knew what they were talking about, he glumly observed. Undoubtedly, he’d endure a smirk from Daphne, and maybe a few taunts, but it would be worth it. Suddenly, a rustling came from the tent entrance and he nearly jumped for joy… she came here for me, he thought. But it was only the cruel wind, teasing him by blowing the tent flap with its soft gentle breeze. He could barely stand it.
It was time to make up her mind, she thought as she lay on her chest on the bed, idly swinging her feet above her back. Just as Daphne willed herself to go to Fred’s tent, she heard a rustling from behind her. “Oh I get it,” she said quietly. “You’ve come around the back to surprise me.” But before she could turn around, a hand reached under her veil and stuffed a cloth into her mouth. What was Fred doing? But as a pair of hands pinned her arms behind her back, another set of hands reached under the veil and pulled another piece of cloth made of Egyptian cotton over her lips. After pulling the cloth tight, her attacker tied the ends of her gag under the purple silk that covered her head like a shawl. He then let the veil return to cover her face. “I’m being kidnapped,” she thought with a panic as she wiggled around, trying to slip away from her abductors. But the other pair of hands had grasped her arms firmly. Having silenced her, the person who gagged her now used a rope to bind her wrists securely behind her back.
Though she could not do much about the bonds on her wrists, she was determined to get free. She pulled in a knee, then let fly with an amazing kick that sent the one who originally pinned her flying off the bed with a heavy grunt of pain. The satisfaction at having kicked her opponent hard into the solar plexus was short-lived, however. The one with the cloth and ropes patiently waited until there was a break in Daphne’s repeated kicks, then grabbed her legs with both hands. She squirmed several times before her legs went limp, apparently exhausted in the effort to break free. Her captor smiled has he reached over to grab the rope to tie her ankles together. But letting one arm go to reach her bindings was his big mistake, as one of Daphne’s legs broke free and kicked him in the face, breaking his nose. He slid off her, roaring in pain as blood spurted across his face. It gave her the opportunity to swing off her bed and get to her feet. Even though her wrists were tied behind her back and she was gagged, she was not necessarily helpless. While his partner clutched his face, the other kidnapper pushed off the floor and got to his knees. He was rewarded for his effort with a painful kick to the jaw. Momentarily stunned and enraged, he warded off her second kick and hit her with a flying tackle. Their momentum carried them into a table. A lamp fell off the table and shattered into several pieces. Daphne rolled onto her side, opened her eyes and came face-to-face with the man who tried to pin her. Before he could grab her legs, she brought her knee into his groin.
The man bayed like a wounded animal, clutching his midsection and writhing in pain. That gave Daphne the opportunity to grasp a shard of the broken lamp with her hands to cut her bonds. Within seconds, the sharp glass had cut the ropes, freeing her wrists. As she scrambled to her feet, she spotted the blond archaeologist standing in the doorway of her tent, slowly clapping in a somewhat sarcastic fashion. Her eyes blazed with fury over her veil as she pulled the gag from her lips so that it was still tied, but instead settled loosely around her neck. She then pulled the stuffed cloth from her mouth, sputtering “And just how long have you been standing there watching, Dr. Jones?”
His wide smile of admiration at her impressive fighting skills began to falter somewhat. “Uh, I just popped in a second ago,” he lied. In reality, he had been watching her ever since she kicked the first assailant in the chest to knock him to the floor. He had drawn his gun, but the way Daphne fought resembled a caged panther. Even if he could have got a shot in edgewise, it was more impressive to see Daphne fight in her flattering costume, bound at the wrists and face obscured by the gag and veil. She resembled some beautiful, yet mysterious comic book heroine. He was definitely turned on.
As if reevaluating her earlier hostility, Daphne’s angry expression began to soften. She set her bindings on the table, then pulled the gag from around her neck and also set it on the table. Fred holstered his gun and moved toward her. As he opened his arms to embrace her, a devilish smile crept across Daphne’s lips. Before he knew what was happening, Daphne had slipped from Fred’s grasp and spun an arm behind his back.
“Ow! Hey…what are you doing?” Fred gasped.
“Now you know a little of what it feels like,” Daphne smirked.
“I must warn you…I don’t like fast women—ow!” Fred winced.
“And I hate arrogant men,” Daphne said, beaming in triumph. “But I’ll let you go if you be a good genie and grant me three wishes.”
“Okay, what?” Fred spat angrily.
“First, be a good boy and take the trash out,” she said, gesturing to the two would-be kidnappers whose plot had failed. One was still clutching his face with both hands, while the other looked incapable of walking, or carrying on the family name.
“Next, apologize for not coming over here sooner.”
Fred grunted in dismay. After all, he had come to her tent. Had she followed him, none of this would have happened. But his arm was beginning to hurt. “I’m sorry,” he said, muttering something unpleasant about women under his breath. “Anything else, your highness,” he said in mock deference.
Daphne responded by pulling the gun from Fred’s holster. Then she released his arm and stuck the gun into his newly-freed hand. “Guard duty,” she said sweetly. “I need my beauty sleep. She pushed him toward the wounded intruders, then slipped into her silk bed, turned her head toward the archaeologist adventurer, and winked. An angry Fred considered whether he wished the attackers had succeeded in tying her up and silencing her. He could have detained them at gunpoint while Daphne would have to rely upon him for help. Then he could have made a few conditions of his own. Sometimes, it seemed that romance was hopeless for them, he thought, as he dragged the two men toward the tent housing Prince al Famir and his guards. It would be a long night outside Daphne’s tent.
Fred Jones and the Lost Crusade
Chapter 5: A Simple Plan
Fred Jones scuffed his shoes outside Daphne’s tent and fumed about his guard duty. Why did she have to put him in an armlock, and when he wasn’t even ready for a fight? If it were a fair fight, he’d pin her without any trouble. Besides, he hadn’t done anything wrong. She was supposed to come to his tent. Then she had to get all miffed just because he watched her take down those two attackers. She’d probably think he was being overprotective if he came to her rescue. Women, he thought. Can’t…
Light footsteps heading from the center of the camp in his direction interrupted his thoughts. He drew his pistol, expecting more attackers to be heading for Daphne. But it was only Sallah. He gestured frantically for Fred to join him. The archaeologist hesitated. “Uh, I promised Daphne I’d guard her tent.”
“Bring her and come with me,” Sallah whispered. “I’ve already summoned the others. It cannot wait.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Fred ducked inside the tent. He saw his sleeping friend nestled snuggly in her regal bed, wearing that fetching costume. She sensed his presence, opened her sleepy eyes, then frowned. “The answer is no,” she hissed. “You had your chance earlier and you blew it.”
“C’mon Sleeping Beauty,” he said gruffly. “Sallah’s called us to a meeting. It sounds pretty serious.”
Reluctantly, the redhead rose, swung her legs around to a sitting position, and reattached the purple veil to her costume. Then she strode past him out the tent to follow Sallah, while Fred trailed her moves.
As the trio made their way to Prince Qasl al-Famir’s tent, Fred could see that Velma was tugging Shaggy and Scooby over to the meeting as well. Before they could reach the tent, Prince al-Famir and his wife stepped out of their tent and led the group to a smaller tent. Inside, they saw two men lying sleeping on their beds, each chained to a bedpost by one wrist and one ankle.
“Who are…” Shaggy began.
“These are the two who assaulted me in my tent,” muttered Daphne venomously.
“They look like they’re still asleep,” whispered Fred. “Are we waking them for an interrogation?”
Sallah shook his head. Prince al-Famir began “A few minutes ago, Chantall was bringing them water when she discovered them like this. I confirmed their deaths and got Sallah to bring everyone in for a meeting.”
Velma examined their faces. “It looks as though they were poisoned. I’m not a toxicologist, but it looks like they died of the same thing Sergeant Payne did.”
“It would seem so!” Sallah noted, bending down for a closer look.
An uneasy silence hung in the air as the group struggled to make sense of the recent events. “Perhaps when they realized their mission to kidnap Daphne failed, they killed themselves, just as the American must have taken his life when you captured him,” Prince al-Famir observed.
“Too bad,” Velma admitted. “We might have learned who was behind the attacks on us in the marketplace and in this caravan.”
“I’ll bet it’s the Mummy!” Shaggy bellowed. Scooby followed with a “Reah, Rummy!”
Velma clenched her teeth. “Mummies are just a myth. We’re dealing with something flesh-and-blood. Do these two look like Mummy minions?” she said, gesturing to the deceased men on the beds.
Fred scratched the small stubble on his chin, and then exclaimed, “I got it!”
“You know who’s behind all of this?” Sallah exclaimed.
“No, but I have a plan,” the blond man replied. “Prince Qasl, how far away is Ankha’s tomb?”
“Only about an hour’s ride,” the Prince responded.
“Okay, it’ll work,” Fred beamed. To answer the many questioning eyes, Fred began. “Why don’t we have Prince Qasl and Sallah dress like these two men, ride back to the pyramid, and impersonate the assailants so we can figure out who sent them.”
Sallah hesitated. “My friend, what if we return to Ankha’s tomb empty-handed? The sender may not let us back in, or might even have us killed for failure.”
“I’ve thought of that,” Fred went on. “Well, you know how these attackers came after Daphne tonight. They were probably looking for a ‘bride’ for the mummy.” He ignored Velma rolling her eyes. “You can take Daphne along for the ride.
The redhead’s eyes grew wider over her veil. “You want me to be….mummy bait?”
Fred continued over Daphne’s protests. “The rest of us will follow closely behind and catch our enemies by surprise. What do you think of the idea?”
Shaggy and Scooby froze in place. Prince Qasl bowed toward Fred. “I like the idea,” he beamed. Sallah’s look showed tentative approval, while Velma shrugged her shoulders. “Whatever. I can’t think of any ideas myself.”
Daphne, however, refused to budge. “No way!” she said defiantly. “I’m not going to be some ‘Bride of the Mummy.’”
“Please,” Sallah begged. “It may be the only way to overcome our adversaries.”
Even through her veil, Fred could see her bite her lip. “She shouldn’t have to if she doesn’t want to,” Velma said, defending her friend.
“I promise on my family’s honor that no harm will come to you,” pleaded Prince al-Famir. “Sallah and I will be armed and can defend you if there is no element of surprise.”
“I can take care of myself!” Daphne snapped. After all eyes continued to stare at her, she slowly added “Alright, I’ll go along with this little scheme.”
“Good,” Sallah clapped his hands. “You see Freddie, she is very brave!” Daphne gave him a half-hearted smile, then moved toward the entrance of the tent. Velma followed her while Shaggy and Scooby ducked out the back flap, hoping their absence would not be missed. Both were secretly relieved that they were not chosen to be bait.
As Chantall brought three horses up, the Prince, Sallah and Daphne headed towards the Frenchwoman. Fred ran up, having dashed back from the direction of the other tents, and held up his hand. “Before you go, we need to do something.”
While Sallah and the Prince put on the attacker’s robes and turbans, Fred brought several objects out of the bag. “Daphne has to be made a prisoner.”
“What?” Daphne exclaimed.
“C’mon…nobody’s going to believe that you went willingly with your attackers,” Fred responded. He ran the rope that had bound Daphne earlier through his hands.
“There’s no way I’m going to let you tie me up Dr. Jones,” Daphne snarled.
“Please, Miss Blake,” Prince al-Famir. “If it doesn’t look realistic, they probably won’t let us into the pyramid.”
Daphne glanced from face-to-face, wishing Velma was there to help her wiggle out of her predicament. But none of the men seemed to object to Fred’s plan. Of course they think it’s a good idea, she thought, they’re men! She was going to be treated like some movie damsel in distress. Reluctantly, she turned her back toward Fred and crossed her wrists. “Okay,” she said in a miffed tone. “But don’t get any ideas that I like this plan!”
As Fred bound her wrists together, she added “But just the wrists, okay buster?”
When the wrists were tied, Fred produced a cloth from the bag. “Oh no! You’re not putting that over my face!” Daphne hissed angrily. “I’ll allow the wrists, but there’s no way you’re gagging me.”
“Why not? It’ll look more realistic,” Fred insisted. “If you aren’t gagged, the leader of the attackers will wonder why you didn’t shout for help.”
“You just planned it this way,” the redhead muttered. “You like seeing me bound and gagged. First it was in Mexico. Not only did you retie the gag on me, but you left me with that Frenchman and Nazi goons to do whatever they wanted to me. Then tonight, instead of helping me fight my attackers, you watched me have to fend for myself all tied up, unable to cry for help. Now you want me trussed up again and silenced! You don’t want a relationship, Dr. Jones. You want a captive audience!”
While Daphne was berating him, Fred folded the cloth into a triangle. As she finished her spiel, he stepped around her, lifted her veil. As she realized what he was doing, she managed a “You jerk….” before he slipped the gag over her mouth and chin and tied it so that the knot was behind the silk covering much of her hair.
“Now that you’re silent, let me get a few words in edgewise,” Fred began, ignoring the withering stare she gave him. “We need you to look like a convincing captive so that the whole plan isn’t shot. Besides, I owe you for pinning me in your tent.”
Daphne fired back a reply, but all she could manage was a “mmpphh.”
“Be a good girl and don’t give these guys trouble,” Fred added. Then, he said to the impatient Egyptians “She’s ready now.”
Sensing her anger so strong that if looks could kill, only his dentist could identify the remains, he kissed her gag where her lips were and whispered. “Don’t worry, I’ll come back for you. Trust me.”
Though the kiss did little to soften her blazing eyes, she did not fight him as he swept her up off her feet and lifted her on top of her horse. He then handed the reins of her horse to Sallah, who led Daphne’s pony along. Fred watched until the three disappeared out of sight, then watched Chantall and Velma each lead two camels toward him, with Shaggy and Scooby slinking behind reluctantly.
Had a nomadic traveler happened upon the scene, he would have thought he was walking into one of Scheherazade’s Arabian nights tales. Three figures rode atop ponies, one woman clad in dancer garb had her horse led by one of the two robed characters. Four camels with riders hunched closer over the humps of their beasts followed the three riders, along with a dog trailing the camels. In the distance, a pyramid loomed large, a dark space puncturing the horizon where thousands of stars provided a sparkling contrast.
Under her gag and veil, Daphne’s lips were pursed. She had only reluctantly agreed to the plan, and without the understanding that she would be restrained. Whereas she could’ve had a delightful conversation with her Egyptian companions, Fred had seen to it that she couldn’t even whisper. What was it with him? First he’d sweet talk her, then walk out of her tent, then watch her struggle with her would-be captors, then bind and gag her, then kiss her. While she had to admit he wasn’t anything like the stuffy sons of New York City society that bored her at parties, she began to wonder if they had any kind of future. It wasn’t that he didn’t fancy her, but she felt like he cared more about the mission or the artifact or some dusty paper than her life….or at least her livelihood she thought as she struggled against her bonds, trying to loosen them (she’d given up trying to work her gag off twenty minutes ago). If Fred didn’t show her a little respect, well, she might go back to the prospects of being a rich man’s bored wife.
As he led Daphne’s horse, Sallah glanced back at the pretty reporter. He was starting to feel sorry for her. As Prince al-Famir continued to ride on, the big Egyptian circled around to face her. As he raised her veil and began to untie her gag, she pulled away from him, lowered her eyes and shook her head. As he reluctantly lowered her veil, he caught her expression. It was as if she was showing gratitude for his concern over her. He was glad Fayah was not around to catch the silly grin on his face as he led her horse back to Prince al-Famir, who was approaching the tomb of Ankha.
Fred looked ahead at the trio of horse riders. Though it was dark, he could not see any guards posted around the pyramid, even though an entrance was clearly marked. What was going on? It meant that Sallah and Prince al-Famir didn’t have to do any fast talking, but if attackers had been sent from the tomb…..
“What do you think, Velma?” Fred whispered.
“They may be walking into a trap,” the professor of archaeology responded. “We should have seen other guards or somebody else by now.”
“Maybe they’re all inside or something, you know, guarding whatever we’re looking for,” he offered. “Perhaps we should drop back some so they don’t spot us.”
“I don’t think so…we need to catch up with them,” Velma insisted. “I don’t think we should be splitting up like this.”
But it was too late. Sallah and the Prince dismounted, and helped Daphne down from her pony. The three walked through the pyramid’s entrance.
Rather than race the camels toward the entrance, Fred convinced the others to leave their beasts behind, then use approach the entrance with stealth. Though Fred felt more confident that they approached unseen, it increased the distance between them and the trio. Despite Velma’s misgivings, they entered Ankha’s tomb and headed down the narrow passageway.
As Daphne and her allies marched down the passageway, they spotted a yellowish light down the hall. It came from an open door to a room. Each exchanged glances, but the two guided the young reporter into through the open door. A stone façade ominously creaked from the top of the door frame, sealing them in with a dull thud.
The girl’s eyes beamed at the room full of Egyptian treasures. Statues, jewelry, jars and other relics littered the room. The source of the glow was revealed by the presence of several lit torches fastened to the wall. Standing before them was a large sarcophagus with a figure colored in blue and gold on the front. A loud creaking sound filled the room as the tomb’s door began to open. Shuffling out was a ghastly, heavily bandaged figure, whose only observable features were a sharp mouth and piercing eyes. He gave a deep throaty chuckle.
After a moment’s hesitation, Sallah began. “We brought you…”
“I know who you are,” he boomed in a deep toned voice. “You are not the men I sent on my little errand. Isn’t that right…Sallah.”
The big man gasped and pulled Daphne toward him, as if for protection.
“Prince Qasl al-Famir,” grunted the Mummy. “Aren’t you a little far away from your people?”
“Now that you know our names, perhaps you will give us the pleasure of telling us your name!” the prince responded.
“I am Ankha, the most feared Mummy in all of South Egypt,” the bandaged figure growled. “And I’m grateful to you for bringing Daphne Blake to me. I’ve been looking for a suitable bride. She is appropriately dressed. You even thought to gift wrap her for me.”
Sallah drew a pistol from under his robes. “You won’t take her without a fight,” he growled.
As if in response, four men garbed in black turbans stepped out of the sarcophagus, armed with Schmeiser sub-machine guns. Prince al-Famir smirked “I thought a supernatural creature had no need for mortals and their military weapons.”
Ankha disregarded the prince’s words. “My Fatimid warriors are not very bright, but they are loyal,” the mummy laughed. “Your gun, Sallah, if you please.
Sallah gripped his pistol and pointed it straight at Ankha, but the armed men trained their weapons upon the burly Egyptian. With incredible reluctance, he let the pistol drop to the ground and drooped his head in submission. One of the gunmen snatched the pistol from him, while the others each trained a Schmeiser on a member of the trio. As Ankha made a signal with his hand, two of the gunmen slung a weapon over their shoulders and grabbed Sallah and the Prince while the other gunmen covered their mates.
Ankha marched toward the unprotected Daphne like a predator before his prey. He grasped her by the arm and led her away after her two bodyguards.
“Mmph…..mmphh!” Daphne shrieked into the cloth that sealed her lips. She began frantically tugging at her bonds.
Sallah managed a look of helplessness and sympathy toward Daphne as all three were pushed inside the Sarcophagus, which was really an entrance to a secret passage. The door closed with a clang and a snap of a lock.
Fred Jones and the Lost Crusade
Chapter 6: Legend of the Mummy
As Fred peered down the dark hallway, he heard a loud thump from somewhere inside the pyramid. But in addition to the lack of light, there was no indication where the sound came from.
“If we only had….” Shaggy began.
He was interrupted by a quiet scratching sound, then suddenly part of the hallway was lit with an eerie glow. “A torch, Melbourne…you think of everything!”
“No problem mate,” O’Reilly said graciously. “Scooby, can you pick up their trail?”
The faithful hound began with a “Reah,” then sniffed up and down the hallway until he came to a doorway sealed with a giant slab of stone. He shrugged his shoulders.
“We lost them,” Shaggy groaned.
“Just as I thought….they fell into a trap,” Velma observed.
“We don’t have time to throw the blame around here,” Fred answered. “We need to find a secret entrance or something.”
The gang began running their hands up and down the walls. After fifteen minutes, Scooby bumped into a statue of jackal-like creature. As the base was knocked back a few inches, another portion of the stone wall slid back to reveal a large room bathed in a white light. As the gang stepped forward, Melbourne pointed toward the ceiling. Far above the group, the ceiling sloped upwards toward what appeared to be the original capstone of the pyramid. As the moon was the source of the light, it was apparent that capstone had been removed.
“How come we’re the only ones to find this sacred room,” Fred asked.
“Scooby bumped into a statue of the Egyptian god Anubis,” Velma said, incredulous that Fred had never heard of the deity. “Given that he’s the god of death and the underworld, I doubt many locals would feel brave enough to touch his statue.”
The four humans and their dog cautiously moved around the room. It contained many smashed and broken relics, except for hieroglyphs on the walls and moonlight from above spreading out over the center of the floor. Fred looked at the symbols and frowned. “Uh, Velma, I think this is your department,”
“Already on it,” snapped Velma, closely examining the Egyptian markings. Melbourne shrugged his shoulders and stood in the light, looking up at the stars. Shaggy and Scooby peered out again down the hallways, nervously monitoring them for signs of a mummy.
After a few minutes of scribbling notes in her pad, Velma turned to the others and began her lecture. “Well, there were a few hieroglyphs I couldn’t decipher, but here’s the gist of what I could figure out. We have to get the moonlight somehow to hit this circle over the sun god Horus’ head.”
Melbourne shook his head skeptically. “Yeah, right, but the light’s hitting only the floor, mate, not the wall.”
Fred took a deep breath. They had come so far, yet were no closer to solving the mystery than they were at the start of the adventure. “Well maybe the medallion might have some answers for us,” he offered.
Velma smacked her forehead. “How could I be so stupid? Of course! Now I know what those Roman numerals were for.” She grabbed the medallion from the bag and started frantically sketching a map.
“How about giving us a clue, Velma?” Shaggy asked.
The bespectacled professor just waved her hand at them. “Just gather up some of those plates and shields from the debris.”
As the others continued to search through the rubble for the items, Velma took out a protractor, then mentally made some calculations. When each had the required object, Velma turned to them and said. “Those Roman numerals will help us get the moonlight on the Horus sun,” she said, pointing from the floor to the sphere above the hawk-like creature’s head. “Each Roman numeral is an angle we use to bounce the moonlight from the floor. If we each stand at one of these positions,” she gestured to her makeshift drawing, each “X” with a label on it, “we can have the moonlight strike the wall, opening the secret passage.”
Each character looked at Velma’s sketch, then took a position in the room. “I think we only get one chance at this,” Fred speculated, “so make sure we get the angles right.”
While Fred, Melbourne, Shaggy and Scooby each took a position, Velma ran from person to person, making minor calculations, then repositioning Shaggy and Scooby. Finally, she looked at Melbourne near the floor and said “It’s up to you to start it.”
As the light bounced from Melbourne’s shield to Fred’s breastplate, it then bounced from Shaggy’s plate to Scooby’s armor, striking the center of Horus’ circle at last. A loud grinding sound began to rumble through the building. The new room sprang open, but revealed only darkness.
“Congratulations, Doctor Jones,” hissed an evil sounding voice. All whirled around to see a mummy entering the room, pulling a bound and gagged Daphne by the arm. She unsuccessfully tried to break his grip. Meanwhile, two masked men entered, holding Sallah and Prince al-Famir’s hands behind their backs. Two more attackers entered the room, nervously fingering the triggers on their sub-machine guns.
“I want to thank you for leading me straight to this secret room,” the mummy continued, his menacing eyes searching them up and down. “I desire its contents as much as you do.”
“Oh man, it’s a mummy,” Shaggy whined as he backed away. “This is real, like in the movies!”
The creature barked a command at his minions, who left the Egyptians and moved toward the dark room. Ankha still kept Daphne by his side. She gave a muffled protest. A few seconds later, the four men screamed. Only one managed to crawl from the room. He staggered on a few feet, then collapsed to the floor. His shirt had rips and his face had several tiny puncture wounds.
“Give me your torch, Melbourne,” Fred demanded. He tossed it into the center of the small room. A loud hissing sound complemented a frantic slithering movement from many large snakes. Many of them moved from one of Ankha’s men, who had been covered with the creatures.
“Snakes,” Fred muttered angrily. “Why did it have to be snakes?”
Sallah nodded. “Asps. Very dangerous. You go first.”
Fred looked at him, then turned his gaze back to Ankha. The mummy produced a pistol that Sallah had previously been holding, then pointed it at Daphne’s abdomen.
“Dr. Jones, you will retrieve the treaty for me, or your friend Daphne will not live to see the sunrise.” Fred met the reporter’s eyes over the veil. She was trying to appear calm, but she trembled slightly.
Scooby whimpered as Fred moved toward Melbourne. “You always carry a backup torch, don’t you?” he asked. The Aussie nodded, lighting a torch and handing it to the American archaeologist.
As Fred prepared to enter the small room, Velma grabbed his arm and pointed. A faded leather case lay upon a raised altar along wall, not far from where Fred threw the other torch. “That’s the case with the treaty,” she said earnestly.
Fred nodded and moved into the room. He waved his large torch at the Egyptian Asps, which made them shrink back. Though they hissed angrily, the snakes made sure they kept back from the heat and light. He nearly tripped over the third body of one of Ankha’s men, but made it to the small alter and grabbed the case. Velma and Sallah peered in. His co-worker from Hanna College clenched her hands together while Sallah knelt, as if in silent prayer. Shaggy and Scooby merely covered their eyes.
To avoid being bitten, Fred began to wave his torch more frantically. The Asps cowered unhappily, looking for an opportunity to strike the man who entered their room. But Fred was careful and stumbled from the room. The mummy’s mouth broke into a grin.
“The case, Dr. Jones, if you please,” he began.
“What’s your interest in this treaty, Ankha?” Velma asked in a menacing tone. “Or should I say…Dr. Najib!”
“Wha…” Shaggy began.
“Roctor Rajib?” Scooby asked.
“How did you know, Velma?” Melbourne inquired.
“First, Dr. Najib was one of the few people who knew we were headed here,” Velma began, as if she were back in her classroom teaching her students. “Second, he claimed he didn’t recognize the symbol of Ankha, even though Sallah had seen it in the Cairo museum. Third, he came up with that silly story about the mummy and its curse. No serious man of science would believe in such a superstition. He was trying to scare us off.”
The mummy slowly unwrapped the bandages around his head, keeping his other hand holding the gun on Daphne. “Very clever, Dr. Dinkley. Yes, the mummy is just a legend. As to your other question, I am being paid handsomely by a Nazi agent to turn this treaty over to him, he said, pointing to the leather case.”
“But why not just destroy it, if it can quell the Islamic revolt against the British Empire?” Fred questioned, waving the case holding the treaty. “Isn’t that what the Nazis want?”
“You’re such a fool, Dr. Jones,” Dr. Najib said, mocking the blond American. “You lack the imagination to understand the game of politics. All you know how to do is steal other people’s objects.”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Velma countered. “He wants to hold the treaty long enough for the Islamic uprising to stop the British forces and Prime Minister Churchill to lose the no confidence vote. Then the Nazis will give the treaty to the Marquess of Black Ness, so he can use it quell the uprising himself. With an Anglo-Nazi alliance, the Axis Powers would rule Eurasia and Africa.”
Dr. Najib swore and spat at the ground. “I’ve underestimated you, Velma Dinkley. But that won’t stop us. I’m leaving with the treaty and my pretty prize. The case, Dr. Jones, if you please.”
Fred took two steps forward. Daphne shook her head. Her eyes pleaded with him not to turn over the case. He could almost hear her stifled words telling him not to do it. “Sorry Daphne, for once I can’t let the mission get in the way. Your life is worth more to me that this old treaty.” With great reluctance, he handed the leather object to Dr. Najib’s outstretched hand.
“Thank you, Dr. Jones,” Dr. Najib laughed. “Not only have you made me a rich man, but a happy one as well. I will be able to buy a palace to keep my new bride in it.” As Daphne murmured her disapproval through the cloth, Dr. Najib said “Perhaps it will be better if that gag remains over your lips for awhile, until you learn to respect my power.”
That was all the angry redhead needed to hear. Disregarding the gun he held in his hand, Daphne raised her right foot and brought it down hard onto Dr. Najib’s bandaged foot. Normally, the reporter’s slippered foot would not have caused much damage, but she was able to get the heel to smash hard into the Egyptian’s foot. Protected only by a thin shoe and some cloth covering, the sound of breaking bones filled the room.
Dr. Najib howled in pain. As he swung the gun toward Daphne, Fred drew his own pistol and fired. His shot did not hit his adversary, but knocked the gun from the man’s hand. Daphne jumped onto the gun flying on the floor, covering it with her stomach. Unarmed, and sporting a broken foot, the Egyptian professor stumbled from the room.
“I’ll help Daphne…get the treaty back!” Fred yelled at the others.
Melbourne sprinted after Dr. Najib, followed by Velma, Shaggy, Scooby, Sallah and Prince al-Famir. The Egyptian professor quickly hobbled down the hall, and pushed a button than led the stone slab to rise. Lacking the time to close it, he sprinted toward the sarcophagus, opened it, and ducked inside. Melbourne had just enough time to see him close the tomb behind him. The Aussie and the Egyptians tugged at the lid, struggling to pry it open.
As Dr. Najib ducked down a narrow passageway, he came out into the tomb’s mortuary temple on the other side of the pyramid’s entrance. A shadowy figure waited for him. “Do you have it?” hissed the voice.
The mustachioed man handed the figure the case. The silhouetted individual took the leathery object, and handed Dr. Najib a satchel. “Here is your reward.”
He may have lost the girl tonight, but he would receive enough to buy many female slaves to serve him, Dr. Najib thought. As his fingers opened the satchel, he felt a strong stab of pain. Rather than being filled with money, the figure had handed him a bag with a large asp. Before he could react again, the angry snake struck the Egyptian doctor’s chest. Dr. Najib crumpled to the floor.
Just then, the others burst into the Mortuary Temple of Ankha. The scene before them came as a shock. A bespectacled individual holding the leathery case in one hand pointed a Luger at them with the other hand. At the person’s feet lay the inert body of the man they were chasing. Sallah raised a gun, but flew backward as the figure’s first shot caught him high in the chest. The figure turned and fired, hitting Prince al-Famir in the abdomen. Shaggy and Scooby spun around and fled back into the hallway. Two shots chased after them, producing screams from the pair.
As Velma bounded over to save Sallah, Melbourne viciously pulled her down behind a broken pedestal. A fifth shot whizzed over her head, narrowly missing her skull. “There are only a few shots left in the gun,” Melbourne warned.
But Velma hardly heard him. She couldn’t believe who the figure was. “I know who that Nazi spy is, Melbourne!”
“You may know who I am, but that won’t stop you from foiling my plans,” the figure laughed. “Britain will now join Germany, as Der Fuhrer predicted in Mein Kampf. With Italy and Japan as allies and France and Russia as colonies, America will be given a choice. Join or die.”
With that, he mounted a motorcycle and zoomed through the temple entrance. As Melbourne and Velma gave chase, the figure sped across the desert, leaving them far behind. Velma glanced down at the body of the one-time mummy and said “Now we know what happened to Sgt. Payne and Daphne’s attackers. They were killed with asps.”
Fred pulled Daphne to her feet by her shoulders. He then picked up the gun she had pinned underneath her body and tucked it into his coat pocket. He turned her around and untied her bonds holding her wrists behind her back. As she rubbed her wrists to get the circulation back, he raised her veil and slipped the gag from her mouth. He was rewarded with a passionate kiss from her red lips.
When they finally stopped, she began to stammer “Fred…I was wrong about you...you chose to save my life…you gave Dr. Najib the treaty. I tried to signal you not to do it but I couldn’t say a word. I’m so sorry about our fight earlier tonight! Can you forgive me?”
“Daph…I realized I was wrong those other times,” the blond archaeologist said, choosing his words carefully. “You mean more to me than that treaty…even if it could change the course of history!”
Daphne licked her lips. “Maybe we could change a little history ourselves.” She pulled his head toward her, and they fully embraced.
“Hey guys, get a room!” a nasal voice said, entering the room. Fred and Daphne turned to see Velma entering the room, while Melbourne helped provide a shoulder for a bleeding Prince al-Famir to lean on.
“Did you retrieve the treaty case?” Fred began, hoping desperately that they were able to do so while Daphne sprang forward to help care for the Egyptian Prince. “And where are the others?”
Velma shook her head. “Shaggy and Scooby are bringing Sallah in. He also was hit. We lost the leather case. You’ll never guess who took it.”
“Enlighten me,” Fred said as ran to the doorway to help Shaggy and Scooby bring in Sallah.
“It was Mr. Wickles, the museum curator of Hanna College,” Velma said, not believing it herself.
“What?” Fred yelled out, nearly dropping the wounded Egyptian. “You’ve got to be joking!”
“Actually, it makes sense,” the girl with glasses said, with a pause. “He’s the only one who knew where and when we were going on missions, since Professor Hyde-White always kept him informed so that he could cover our classes with adjuncts.”
Fred’s head shook in disbelief. “I still can’t believe that ‘Old Man’ Wickles was really a Nazi mastermind.”
Daphne looked up. “By the way, Prince al-Famir was lucky. The bullet passed through his body and didn’t hit any vital organs. He’s going to make it.”
Fred, Shaggy and Scooby did their best to bind Sallah’s wounds. As grave as they looked, the big Aussie would pull through with a serious wound. The bullet would remain in his shoulder as a reminder of the adventure.
“I have another surprise,” Velma said as Fred finished with Sallah’s first aid. “Wickles doesn’t have the case containing the real treaty.”
This time, it was Shaggy’s turn to scream “What?”
“That leathery case would have never held an authentic treaty in it,” Velma pressed on. “The contents would have faded away. A few French additions to the Egyptian hieroglyphs indicated that the case would be made out of bone. That’s the only way the treaty could be preserved.”
Fred took a torch and peered into the room again. The asps shrank back from him again, hissing their anger. On a tomb on the far side of the room was indeed a bone case. As he did previously, he waved the torch at the snakes, moving closer until he grasped the bone case, and retrieved it.
As he brought it out of the room, Velma took it from him and opened the case. At the top of the scroll were the twin symbols of a lion and crescent. It was the alliance treaty between Richard the Lion-Hearted and Saladin.
“So, we can still save Britain and the world,” Melbourne observed.
“If we can get out of here pretty quick, yeah,” Velma responded.
“So you lied to me, thinking I would trade the treaty for Daphne?” Fred said slowly. Velma provided a faux look of innocence.
A sly grin came to Daphne’s lips. “But Fred thought he was ransoming me with a document that could change the world. The fact that Fred rescued me and we can still save the world is enough for me.” Her hands went to Fred’s face, pulling him in for another kiss.
Fred Jones and the Lost Crusade
Chapter 7: Flame of Araby
Prince al-Famir and Sallah both made complete recoveries. Prince al-Famir brought the treaty back to Cairo, reading it over the radio airwaves and revealing it to mass audiences. Support for the Islamist rebellion tapered off. By not having to worry about an insurgency, British forces were able to halt General Rommel’s advance at El Alamein.
The resounding victory boosted Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s domestic standing, and he easily prevailed in the parliamentary vote. Shortly after his failure to bring down the Tory cabinet, details of the Marquess of Black Ness’ ties to the Nazi Party were leaked to the press by an anonymous academician. The former candidate for the position of prime minister was arrested in Belfast, attempting to slip into the Republic of Ireland.
Prince al-Famir’s speeches were widely received and applauded. Many Egyptians begged him to pursue a position in the local government. But he and Chantal boarded a ship on the Red Sea. He wished to return to his native Kurdistan, to lead the people against an Iraqi leader who had aligned himself with the Axis Powers.
Sallah replaced Dr. Najib as the Director of the Cairo Museum, while Major Portsmythe agreed to serve as the British liaison for the acquisition for antiquities.
Still, the mission was not a 100 percent success. Despite a massive search throughout the Egyptian deserts, the spy Wickles was never seen in North Africa again.
A few months later, the British Army, led by General Bernard Montgomery, prepared a counteroffensive against the German Army’s position, where Rommel had been stalled at El Alamein.
“I tell you, we stopped those blokes cold in their tracks,” Melbourne beamed, explaining his Australian division’s success at El Alamein to Fred, Velma and Daphne at the restaurant in the Im-Ho-Tel Lodge. “The Brits and New Zealanders counterattacked. The Desert Fox lost twice as many men and tanks as we did!”
“That’s great Melbourne!” Fred exclaimed, unable to get enough of the war stories.
“That’s the only bad news,” sighed Melbourne. “Monty wants everyone back to chase Rommel out of Egypt. I’m already running late.” He doffed his hat and strode toward the hotel doors.
“I can….can see you to the door,” Velma said timidly, not really sure whether he would accept.
Fred laughed. “Don’t worry about it Velma, I’ll see our friend off,” Fred said magnanimously, until the steely grip of Daphne’s hand on his arm pulled him back to the table.
“All right,” Melbourne nodded to Velma, seeing Fred pulled back to his chair, as if by some invisible force. Velma tossed a gracious glance to Daphne, who countered with a knowing wink.
Velma skipped over to Melbourne, who graciously crooked his arm out for her to take. They headed down the stairs and through the lobby. As the couple walked through the blue doors with ornate gold colorings, she stammered “Melbourne, I, wanted…uh…” her words trailed off. She wished she had Daphne’s confidence when dealing with men in romantic situations.
The tall Aussie fixed her with a solemn gaze. “There’s a war going on…I may not make it…and I don’t want to break your heart.”
Suddenly, fire leapt up into Velma’s speech. “Hey, the stuff I do for American spy agencies is no easy task either mister! Did you ever think of that?”
He looked at her sadly now, and she could tell he was haunted by the thousands of casualties he had witnessed only a week ago. “Let’s say that if we both make it by the end of the war, we promise to search for each other.”
Agreed, said Velma, her mind spinning out of control. It was what she wanted, but not what she expected. He took her right hand and lightly kissed it, with what seemed to be one foot already turning in the direction of the railway center he had to go to.
Velma responded by fiercely grabbing the big Aussie and pulling him to her. All she could manage during her impromptu bear hug was “Stay alive…..I will find you!” Then he dashed away, attempting to chase down the train packed with British troops slowly creeping away from the station. A few tears came to her eyes, but she angrily brushed them away. “It isn’t fair,” she thought, stamping her foot on the wooden walkway as Melbourne bounded to the last car on the train and was successfully pulled in by his mates. But she knew that if both could last through the terrible war, there was a chance of a future for them.
As they looked out from their hotel balcony over the Nile, Fred and Daphne took in the
radiant sunset over the desert landscape. They once again exchanged long kisses as the sun dipped below the horizon.
“Ahem!” Velma announced her presence loudly as Daphne giggled and disentangled herself from her new boyfriend. Shaggy and Scooby entered the room. “Compliments of Professor Poisson,” the gangly graduate student smiled, producing a bottle of wine. As Velma set the glasses on a nearby table, Shaggy shot Scooby a glance. The Great Dane held up a block of cheese, then hid it behind his back. The two would later share Professor Poisson’s other gift in secret after the celebration.
“What an adventure!” Daphne announced. “Not only did we save the Anglo-American alliance from a Nazi plot, but we helped stop the German army from capturing the Suez Canal and ruling the world.”
“That mummy sure had me weirded out for awhile,” Shaggy admitted.
“Now that we know the mummy is a phony, I wonder how many other mythical monsters are really people just dressed up in costume, covering up some nefarious plot,” Velma contemplated.
“Maybe Mystery Inc. can solve these cases,” Fred announced. “We can investigate Frankenstein’s Monster….”
“And werewolves….” Shaggy added.
“And Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Velma offered.
“And witches and zombies,” Daphne interjected.
“Rand rampires,” Scooby noted.
“Then it’s settled,” Fred concluded. “When the war is over, we’ll get in a truck and drive from place to place, unmasking creeps in costumes attempting to commit crimes.”
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