By Jaguaro 

Chapter Two:  Fred’s Just The Man For The Yucatan

The small blue Lockheed Vega crested the clouds as a red line mad its way across a map of the United States. After a brief stop in Miami for fuel, the red line banked west toward Southeastern Mexico and their destination: Merida.

While the plane continued across the Caribbean, Fred got up and walked to the back of the plane to talk to Norville Rogers. He was surprised when the graduate assistant showed up at the private airfield with a great dane. Not only would he have to play bodyguard for two women and nursemaid for a wet-behind-the-ears student, but now he’d have lug around a dumb animal. This was just great. He half-considered having a private word with General Donovan after the conference, asking to go solo. He would be out of his element, having to rely on Dr. Dinkley for information, keeping Mr. Rogers out of trouble, and possibly fending off Daphne Blake’s advances. At least she seemed to be flying the plane well. And without Velma, he probably wouldn’t even know where to start looking in the Yucatan. Now it was time to figure out what Norville could do.

“Hey dude, like, what’s up?” said the shaggy-haired student. This was not going to go well, thought the famed archaeologist.
“So, can you tell me some Spanish phrases I should know when talking to the locals when we get to Merida?”

The graduate assistant thought for awhile, then said “You mean, like enchilada, tortilla, gordita tostada, flauta, and tamale?”

“Ron’t rorget rurrito rand rijoles!” barked the dog sitting next to him. 

“How’s that going to help me find the Mayan artifact?” Fred said, feeling his blood beginning to boil.

“Like, that’s all the Spanish I know, man.” said Norville with a sheepish grin. “But at least you won’t get hungry while searching for the Mayan artifact if you know those words!”

Fred spun around angrily and headed for the front. He needed a serious talk with Dr. Dinkley. Wait a minute…had that dog tried to talk, he thought? But he put that thought out of his mind as he approached the brunette, reading a copy of Ancient Artifacts of the Mayan People.
Through clenched teeth, he spoke. “Why…did….you….lie…to…me?!”
“About what?” asked Velma. Her tone sounded genuine.
Fred huffed. “Norville Rogers is only capable of ordering food from a restorante in Mexico. I’ll bet he doesn’t know any Mayan either!”
Velma gave a sheepish smile. “Okay, okay. I exaggerated a little…well, a lot about Norville, I mean Shaggy. But he really needs field experience or he’ll never get his doctorate degree. I though this trip might help him.”
Fred contemplated grabbing a parachute and jumping out over the rapidly approaching Mexican coastline. How could she have lied to him? Darnand would eat him up for breakfast on this adventure. He was stuck leading a team of know-it-alls and know-nothings.

Velma read his expression correctly. “Don’t get all preachy with me about field work. I know your tactics. Without someone else’s map, you couldn’t find Peru if you were in downtown Lima.”
“What do you know about field work?” snapped Fred. “Besides, I don’t always steal someone else’s map. I found the Throne of Atahualpa without someone else’s map.”
“Who do you think wrote the report that Professor Hyde-White gave you before your trip, showing you exactly where the Incan capital of Cuzco was, and where the temple could be found?” Velma shot back, showing a temper of her own.

That stopped Fred in his tracks. The trip through the Peruvian mountains was so harrowing he didn’t think about how he found the temple in the first place. Without that report his colleague gave him, he might still be tramping abound Bolivia without a clue. “Okay, ‘Shaggy’ can stay with team. I’ll teach him everything I know. But make sure he and that dog stay out of my way and do everything I say.”
“Sure, Dr. Jones.” Velma said in a slightly annoyed tone. “Just make sure that your rule doesn’t apply to me as well.”
Fred scowled at his assertive colleague, then returned to his seat. Women, he thought as he considered his clash with Velma and Daphne Blake going toe-to-toe with one of the most powerful men in America. What will they demand next?
“Ladies and gentlemen” Daphne chirped over the loudspeaker. “Fasten your seatbelts. We’re cleared for landing in Merida.”

Fred flumped onto the bed and closed his eyes. Since their landing outside Merida, it had been a difficult day. First, he found himself lugging the incredible number of suitcases Daphne Blake had brought on the trip. He wondered if she had packed for a year. Then, he, Velma and Daphne had pooled their garbled Spanish together to find a hotel and transportation to the Mayan ruins. He discovered that Shaggy and his dog “Scooby” seemed more intent on eating every item of the local cuisine than helping with the mission. No sooner as he started to drift off than there was a knock on the door.
“Hullo, Dr. Jones,” said Velma. “Sorry to bother you – were you trying to sleep?”

Not anymore, he thought, but decided he didn’t need to pick a fight with his feisty colleague. “No, I was just resting. What’s up with you?”
“Daphne’s busy unpacking, which should take the rest of the hour,” Velma sniffed, showing a similar displeasure with her roommate’s extensive wardrobe. “I thought we’d talk strategy, about where to start looking for the artifact.”
Fred perked up. For the first time since the mission began, it sounded like a plan. “Okay, what are our options?”
Velma wriggled her nose momentarily, then began. “There’s the ancient city of Uxmal. Most of the previous searches have focused there. Then there’s Chichen Itza. It is a little newer and not as well explored, but a French team did take a good look at it years ago.”
Fred scratched his square jaw. It sounded like Velma was actually letting him make the call. He expected to fight her for leadership of this group.
“I know what you’re thinking, Dr. Jones,” she said, interrupting his thoughts. “I’m providing the information, but you’re the leader. This isn’t some Tarzan-Jane thing. You have the outdoor experience, while I’ve just got book smarts. I know my place – I’m the junior colleague.”
He thought back to their earlier fight on the plane, and felt a little sorry for it. “Without your knowledge, we’d never know where to start. Why don’t we try Chichen Itza first? Based on what you said at that meeting with Donovan, the Mayan empire lasted a long time. I’ll bet this newer city is a lot more likely to have it than the older one.”

Velma’s jaw dropped slightly. Not only was he thinking like an academic, but he had actually listened to what she had said. Her colleagues rarely paid much attention to her lectures and presentations. It was her figure that seemed to bother them, not her figures. “Sure, Dr. Jones, Chichen Itza it is.”
“Call me Fred,” he said with a warm smile.
“You can call me Velma,” she said calmly as she returned the smile.
“Who said something about Chicken and Pizza?” inquired a voice behind her.
“Oh, Shaggy!” she said, with her voice changing to a sigh of resignation. “You’re incorrigible!”
“See you, Velma,” Fred said as his partners left, vowing to look up the word “incorrigible” when he returned to Hanna College.

Early the next morning, Fred woke and glanced over at his roommates to see if they were sleeping. Both had disappeared. Probably taking advantage of the complimentary “all you can eat breakfast,” he thought. He made his way out to the pool for a morning swim. As he arrived at the pool, he found Daphne reclining on a chair. What a knockout, he thought, forgetting the extra luggage of her’s that he hated to lug the previous day.
Daphne eyed Fred. She had guessed right at the conference. This one was definitely worth watching, the redhead thought. “Out for an early dip in the pool?” She giggled at her colleague’s lack of swimwear.
Fred found himself temporarily tongue-tied. “I, uh, you know,” was all he could manage. He couldn’t take his eyes off her skimpy swimsuit.
“Mind if I get a private interview with you?” she coyly pleaded.
Thoughts of a swim dove deep into the back of his mind. “Okay. Fire away.”
Daphne whipped out the pencil and pad she had strategically placed under her towel. The girl doesn’t miss a trick, Fred thought. “So, Dr. Jones….”
“Please, call me Fred,” he said, with a slightly deeper voice.
“Okay, Fred. How did you get into become a famous archaeologist?”
Fred pulled up another chair by the pool. “When I was in college, I got to travel to Australia. There I met the legend -- ‘Melbourne’ O’Reilly. He taught me everything I know. He took me on his expedition to recover the staff of Osiris.”
“Wow,” she remarked dreamily. “I’ve seen that in the Metropolitan Museum. It’s the prize piece in the Egyptian collection.” She changed her tone quickly. “Did you know that my dad funded the dig?”
“Really? I guess we share something then,” Fred grinned.

Velma sighed. Finally, she met someone who treated her like a professional and a lady. He listened to her theories. He valued her opinions. He hadn’t ignored her like most of her colleagues did. She had begun to take an interest in this dashing figure. With his brawn and her brains, they could make the greatest archaeological discoveries. But that floozie reporter, who could have any man she wanted, had to make a move on her man. Wait a minute, she thought. Dr. Jones, I mean Fred, wasn’t her man. This was an artifact hunt, not a manhunt. Besides, if Fred was going to fall for some other dame, he wasn’t worth chasing. 
She heard a girl’s giggles from the patio. The “interview” was still continuing, she sighed. Shaggy and Scooby were stumbling back from the restaurant with full bellies. I may as well get some research done while everyone else is busy. She opened her second book Secrets of Chichen Itza, and turned to the section on temples.

“You’re related to Henry Jones and Indiana Jones?” Daphne exclaimed. “No wonder you’ve got digging in your blood!”
Fred provided an embarrassed grin. “Yeah. But you must know how tough it is to make a name for yourself when you’ve got a famous family.”
Daphne sighed. It was true. While the money was no problem, she dreamed of making a sensation herself, and not simply be known for being her father’s daughter. Lots of jealous reporters claimed her looks and family ties got her the job, not her brains and talent. Well, this trip would show them.

“Now that you know how I became an archaeologist, how about you telling me how you became an aviatrix-reporter.” The young man was flashing the pearly whites again, Daphne thought.
“When I was a young girl, I read a lot of…hey, don’t look surprised!”
Fred replaced his look of amazement with one of embarrassment. “Sorry…you just don’t meet too many pretty girls who know how to read, much less fly.”
Her expression darkened for a moment, than was replaced with a wry smile. “Sorry to be mistaken for some bimbo. Hope you’re not disappointed!”

“No, no,” Fred said, backtracking from his original mistake.
After making sure Fred’s expression showed that he got the point, Daphne continued. “Anyway, I read a lot of biographies. I loved reading about Nelly Bly and all the adventures she had. I also followed Amelia Earhart’s career. That’s why I had daddy get me a Lockheed Vega. It’s the same kind that she flew across the Atlantic.”
Fred whistled. He didn’t know what intrigued him more, her beauty or her story.
Across the pool, in the hotel room, Velma again rolled her eyes, trying madly to concentrate without eavesdropping on the interview. But she couldn’t help it. “I can’t believe something like this petty is distracting me from my research!”

Stepping out of their modest Merida hotel, Fred noted the lime-green van with a bright floral design. “That must be our ride to Chichen Itza,” he announced. “I’m driving.”
“Shotgun!” shouted Daphne.
“No guns!” Shaggy protested. “I hate violence!”
“Shaggy, that just means that Daphne wants to sit on the right front seat,” Velma explained. “Since the van is wide enough, I’ll take the middle of the front seat.”
Daphne sighed. If she had to be outwitted in her pursuit of Fred, at least it was someone who was a pretty smart cookie.
“Scoob and I will take the back,” Shaggy said in relief. “That way, I can serenade everyone with songs on my guitar.”
Now it was Velma’s turn to sigh.

After hours on the bumpy makeshift road, the team approached the outer edges of Chichen Itza. Fred’s mouth dropped as he saw the amazing Temple of Kulkukan rising from the jungle cover. But something else rising from the treetops became a more pressing concern. “Looks like we’ve got company.”

“No kidding,” Shaggy moaned, observing the puffs of smoke rising. “Looks like a big camp of some sort.”
Fred sighed, knowing they were a step behind. Darnand got his support a lot quicker than he expected. His fears were confirmed by the presence of numerous makeshift tents, soldiers in light gray uniforms, and the red flag with the black swastika. “Nazis!” he spat angrily.
“They seem to be everywhere.” Daphne wailed. “What’ll we do?”
“We could give up this site and head to Uxmal,” offered Velma. “At least we’d have a head start.”
This was a tough decision. “No, I’m sure the artifact was moved here,” Fred said. “Velma, when did the Bigmec battle occur?”

Velma gave a knowing nod. “After Uxmal.”
“We just have to hope that they’re digging in the wrong place,” Fred exclaimed. “We need to come up with something they haven’t thought of.”
Fred backed up slowly and hid the van among a grove of trees. Fred, Shaggy and Scooby scouted around the area, while Daphne stayed inside, poring over maps. Velma joined her a minute later, reading her book on Chichen Itza. After an hour, the professor turned to the reporter and said “I think I got it! Go get the guys and let’s huddle.”
After Daphne rounded up the others, Velma explained her strategy. According to this book Secrets of Chichen Itza, the Mayans had attempted to build a new temple just a few miles from the ball court. It seems that they were inspired by Amazonian visitor reports of a great creature called the Jaguaro. It was half Jaguar, half bear. Jungle natives feared and worshiped it near modern-day Brazil.”
“Don’t others know about this Jaguaro temple?” offered Daphne.
“Not only was the Jaguaro temple never finished, but it fell into disrepair. Spanish conquistadors already looted it, so treasure hunters tend to ignore it,” replied Velma.
Shaggy scratched his head. “If the Mayans kept the artifact there, wouldn’t the Spaniards have the artifact?”
“Good thinking, Shaggy” the professor praised her student. “But I’m not looking to find the artifact there.”
The group exchanged puzzled glances. Sensing their confusion, Velma continued “I think that’s where we’ll learn where the artifact is. It’s better than walking into the middle of the Nazi camp and asking Darnand what he knows!”
“So why doesn’t Darnand know about this Jaguaro temple?” Fred noted, rubbing his chin. 
“This book Secrets of Chichen Itza was written by a little known archaeologist,” Velma beamed. “Because it was published by an obscure university press, hardly any copies sold. I only have one because we served on the same Mesoamerican panel.”
Fred navigated the van as close to the location provided in Velma’s book. Even then, they had to abandon the van, skirt a green water cenote, and hack their way through the last mile, thanks to Fred’s trusty machete.

“I hope this pile of rocks was worth it,” said the group leader, nearing exhaustion.
The group spent the next two hours canvassing the Jaguaro temple ruins, looking for any sign of answers about the artifact. As Fred brushed the sweat from his brow, he heard Daphne’s panicky voice ring out “Hey gang, where’s Velma?”
After a ten minute search, Shaggy pulled Velma from a small tunnel. “I’ve got great news,” the bespectacled archaeologist beamed. “Not only do I have a good idea where the artifact is, but what it is kept in. That should help us spot it!”
As the group ran back to the van, Velma filled them in on the clues. “Inside the temple, there was one antechamber with a completely different set of hieroglyphs. It was a Toltec account of them capturing the artifact from the Mayans and destroying the Temple of the Jaguaro. Luckily, I know some Toltec….”
Fred could hardly contain himself. “So where is it, Velma? What does it look like?”

“In due time, my dear Fred…In due time,” panted Velma, nearly breathless from the running. Gotta get out more and jog, she thought. Such cardiovascular activity was a little too much. “The Toltecs supplanted the Mayans in this region. According to the symbols, they took it back to their capital city of Tula. But this is where it gets confusing. The signs claim that it was taken back in a rectangular object to a great temple, no drawing of a temple was shown. There was just a pair of hills shown.”

Fred beamed, seeming to ignore the humidity and mosquitoes. “That’s okay Velma. Thanks to you, we’re gonna beat Darnand to the Mayan artifact!”
The gang reached the van and jumped in. The green vehicle roared off in a cloud of dust. “Okay, gang, here’s the plan,” Fred announced as the reached the main road back to Merida. “We’ll drop you off at the airstrip, Daphne. You get the plane ready while the rest of us gather up our belongings from the hotel.”
“Fine by me,” smiled Daphne. “I may carry a lot of luggage, but this girl packs early. Better one of you big strong boys gathers up the suitcases for me.”
The rapid departure of the van did not go unobserved. A man in a light gray uniform with a red and black armband watched the vehicle drive off into the distance, then picked up a large radio and spoke softly in German.

Will Darnand and the Nazis get to Tula first?
Will Fred get to fly Daphne’s plane?
Will Velma become a tomb raider?
Will Shaggy and Scooby say “Zoinks!” and “Relp!”?



Find out in Chapter 3, Now Online !


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