“So, Doctor, how do you know the president,” Indy asked as the Doctor worked the controls beside him.
“I’ve done him a favor or two,” the Doctor said, very nonchalantly.
“Oh? I’ve never met the president, but I have gone on missions for the government myself.”
“Is that so?”
“They’ve asked me to find the odd artifact. I am an archaeologist, after all. It’s kind of what I do.”
“I see,” the doctor said. He turned to face Indy, taking his last statement as a challenge. “I found mummies… on Mars.”
“Oh, please. I’m an archaeologist. I eat mummies for breakfast.”
“Really? That seems unhygienic,” the Doctor said plainly. “Fine. I found an ancient Ice Warrior frozen on a Russian ship.”
“The Ark of the Covenant,” Indy said smugly.
“I saved a little girl from being consumed by an alien posing as a sun god.”
“I freed an entire village of child slaves from a Tuggee cult who was using them to find the lost Sankara Stones.”
“I met the Devil,” the doctor said, leaning in.
“So did I,” Indy said, leaning in just as much. “He signed my Dad’s grail diary. And, oh yeah, I found the Holy Grail, too!”
“Ugh, someone open a window,” Vranea said as she leaned casually on the railing. “A girl could gag on all the testosterone in here.”
With their contest cut short, the Doctor focused on the controls and landed the ship in short order. After the ship had settled, a satisfying “thud” resounding through the control room, the Doctor opened the doors and his companions followed him through. The trio found themselves face to face with nearly half a dozen White House security personnel.
“Stand down,” an authoritative voice boomed from across the room. “That’s an order, Captain.”
“Sir, are you sure,” the security captain asked.
“Of course I’m sure,” the president said, stepping in front of his desk. “I called these people here. You’re dismissed, Captain. And, Captain, this incident never happened. Are we clear?”
“Crystal, Mr. President. Clear the room!”
At the captains word the other security personnel vacated, leaving only the President.
“Hello, Doctor,” President Roosevelt said, extending his hand warmly. “I’m glad you could come.”
“Don’t be like that, Frankie,” the Doctor said, holding his arms wide. “Come on, give us a hug!”
Eagerly the Doctor embraced the president who, for his part, looked singularly uncomfortable at the gesture.
“Oh, yes... indeed. It’s good to see you as well, Doctor.”
“Mr. President, allow me to introduce my companions,” the Doctor said as they parted. “This is Dr. Jones. He’s a doctor of archaeology, if you’ll pardon the oxymoron.”
“Dr. Jones,” the president said, a look of astonishment on his face. “The same who helped us discover the ark?”
“Yes, sir,” Indy said extending his hand. “At your service.”
“Ah, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Dr. Jones,” the President said, taking Indy’s hand and shaking it firmly. “We had thought to contact you for this mission but Mr. Brody said you were away on other business and not due to return soon. Otherwise I would have called you first.”
“Is that so,” Indy said, shooting another smug glance at the Doctor.
“And this young lady,” the Doctor said, changing the topic as quickly as he was able. “Is my other companion, Vranea Ch’syko.”
Vranea felt quite naked, realizing for the first time that she was without her perception filter. She crossed her arms before her as the President scrutinized her closely.
“My dear, are you not human as well,” the president asked.
“No, I’m not,” she replied. “I’m Roni, from Cheldana.”
“I see. Does everyone dress like this on Cheldana?”
Vranea sighed, stomping her foot impatiently.
“We just came from Woodstock.”
“Woodstock? My dear, I have been to New York. Many times, in fact. And I have never known the women there to dress quite as tart as this.”
“Yeah, well… ugh! You’re all a bunch of prudes,” she exclaimed as she stormed back into the Tardis.
“Excuse me, Mr. President,” Indy said after Vranea slammed the door behind her. “But I’m sure you’re busy, so perhaps we should get down to business.”
“Yes, Dr. Jones, you’re right. Please have a seat.”
Indy and the Doctor each took a seat in front of the Presidents desk and he took his own seat facing them. Then he picked up the phone on his desk and spoke to his secretary.
“Missy, could you bring in those documents I had you prepare? And have someone bring in an extra chair while you’re at it, would you? Thank you, Missy.”
After setting down his receiver, he focused on the doctors before him.
“Now, Dr., as you may know the Nazi’s have been highly concerned with gathering together occultic artifacts from all over the world for five or six years, now…”
“Yes, that’s a matter of public record,” the Doctor said, nodding.
“Yes, uh… actually, Doctor, I was speaking specifically to that Dr.,” the President said, pointing to Indy.
Indy looked to the Doctor, once again smiling smugly.
“Ahem, yes. Well, anyway,” the President continued, noting the tension between the two. “For nearly a year we have been intercepting German chatter which indicates that they may be on the cusp of discovering another.”
At that moment a woman entered the room holding an armful of maps and other documents. She was a stately looking woman with her graying, brown hair tied back to reveal a face of the most serious demeanor. She was followed by a member of security carrying a chair who set it between Indy and the Doctor.
“Is there anything else I can do for you, Mr. President,” she said as she laid the documents before them. “Would you like some coffee?”
“Please,” he said, accepting the documents from her. “And some for our guests. Three cups.”
“Three cups,” she said quizzically, eyeing the two men before her.
“Yes. The third is in there,” he said as he drew her attention to the Tardis. “She’s changing into something a little less tawdry.”
“I see. I’ll be back shortly, then.”
“Thank you, Missy,” he said as she closed the door behind her. “As I was saying, we’ve been following German communiqués for nearly a year. The reports are unusually well encrypted and, if not for a cipher we obtained from the Doctor a few years back, we mightn’t be able to decipher them at all. That’s part of the reason you are on our shortlist of contacts, Doctor. Apart from being an important artifact of Earth’s history, we believe this artifact may be extraterrestrial in nature.”
“So what of the artifact,” the Doctor said impatiently. “What do you know about it?”
“We know very little apart from what is recorded in these clay tablets.”
The President rifled through his documents until he produced a sheaf of papers. It was a collection of photographs and rubbings of some 13 clay tablets, along with their translations. He passed them off to the Doctor who studied them closely.
“What you see before you,” the President continued. “Is what appears to be a rather obscure and ancient variation of Vedic Sanskrit, dated to about 2000 B.C. The tablets reference something called ‘The Eternal Crypt.’”
“Doctor, may I?”
Indy held out his hand, hoping to examine the documents himself. Vranea emerged from the TARDIS as the Doctor handed the papers to Indy.
Vranea had ditched her flower child costume in favor of something a little more comfortable. She now bore a red, slim fitting, silken tunic which hung about her hips. The entire tunic was laced with a kind of black webbing which bound it roundabout even down to the short sleeves, which ended at the elbows. Below the tunic she wore a pair of black leggings and a pair of tightly bound leather tabi boots on her feet. She took a seat between Indy and the Doctor. She crossed her legs, with her dominant leg pointing toward Indy, as Mrs. LeHand returned with their coffee.
She set the coffee down before them and they received it with thanks. Vranea, having never tasted it before, brought it to her nose and sniffed carefully. She crinkled at its pungent aroma before taking one careful sip. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she shivered as its bitter notes tickled her senses. Then she tilted the cup back and downed nearly two thirds of the entire hot cup in only a few short gulps, not flinching once.
“Who translated these tablets,” Indy said as he flipped from one to another.
“We’ve had top experts in the field look at them,” the President said. “Why? Do you dispute the translation?”
“The translation reads more like folklore and superstition, rather than the writings of intelligent people describing actual witnessed events.”
“Dr. Jones, are you saying it isn’t folklore and superstition?”
“We have a certain conceit in our culture,” Indy said, settling into his chair. “We believe that we are the best and brightest that has ever been. We are entirely close minded to the possibility that perhaps ancient people were as intelligent and sensitive as the best of us. Maybe even more so. Have you considered, Mr. President, that maybe all of the great advances that we have made over the last hundred years aren’t that advanced? That, just perhaps, we are only just now recovering a greater knowledge that was lost?”
The Doctor regarded Indy closely. He was clearly impressed, for his own part. Indy had broken nearly every dogmatic rule the Doctor had come to expect from archaeologists in a few short sentences. Vranea was less interested in the conversation and more in the coffee. She downed the last of hers before Indy had finished speaking.
“Can I have some more,” she asked, licking her lips.
“That seems a little difficult to believe, Dr. Jones,” the President said as he reached for his phone. “Missy, could you bring us in a pot of coffee?... Yes, a whole pot.”
“It wouldn’t be if you had seen the things I have,” Indy replied. “For supposedly ‘simple’ people, I have seen them craft some absolutely ingenious traps to ensnare intruders in their temples. What’s more profound is that these traps still work after thousands of years. That belies an intelligence that we have yet to master to this day.”
“Indeed, Dr. Jones. So then, if the work of our translators is so conceited and false, what is your interpretation?”
“Well, you’re right that the dialect is obscure,” Indy said, turning back to the first tablet. “It’s Vedic Sanskrit, alright, but almost a primitive form…”
“Primitive, Dr. Jones?”
“Sorry. Force of habit.”
Mrs. LeHand returned and set a pot of coffee before them. Vranea eagerly thrust her cup out and Missy filled it. Once again Vranea downed nearly half of the hot cup in only a few, mighty gulps.
“So then what does it say,” the President asked, somewhat distracted by how greedily Vranea was inhaling the coffee.
“The literal translation is correct,” Indy said. “It literally does say ‘The Eternal Crypt.’ But the context is all wrong. It’s as though someone 4000 years in the future was to read the term, ‘Fred kicked the bucket.’ Without cultural context they might infer that someone named Fred literally kicked a bucket. But we understand that this colorful term means that Fred died. The correct translation of this artifact should be ‘the bounded realm of time and space.’ Hmm… Doctor, do you read Sanskrit?”
“No,” the Doctor replied. “But the TARDIS reads just about everything. It can translate for me.”
“Then perhaps you should look at this,” Indy said, passing the papers to the Doctor. “I think you could make more sense of this than I could.”
The Doctor accepted the papers back from Indy and studied them closely. He flipped slowly from one tablet to the next, becoming ever more engrossed as he did. About halfway through his speech became a stuttered symphony of “ooh’s” and “ah’s” punctuated by various short intakes of breath.
“Doctor, do you have something,” the President asked.
“Well, I can certainly see why you don’t want the Nazi’s to have this artifact,” the Doctor began. “And, Dr. Jones, you were quite right that their translation was off. If I’m reading this right, and I would like to think I am, it could be described as a type of energetic quantum disassembly device.”
“And what does that mean,” Indy asked.
“It’s a time/space manipulator thingy.”
Indy said nothing at first. The Doctor regarded him in the silence and saw the vacant look still set upon his face.
“It makes time and space do whatever you say,” the Doctor said slowly. “And I really can’t make it any simpler than that.”
Indy shot the doctor a look with a definite, yet silent, “go screw yourself” attached to it. The Doctor kept reading, oblivious to the waves of ire rolling off Indy. Vranea, meanwhile was entirely lost to them. She happily finished her fourth cup of coffee and, somewhat sloppily, poured her fifth. She inhaled its acrid vapors blissfully as her face flushed.
“My dear, are you quite alright,” the President asked, noticing how her eyes had also glazed over.
Vranea said nothing in return but only giggled childishly as she began inhaling her fifth cup.
“Oh, yes, I should have warned you about that,” the Doctor said without taking his eyes off the tablets. “Roni are highly susceptible to caffeine. It’s like catnip for them. She’ll be fine. Just don’t expect her to do algebra or remember her own name any time soon… Oh, my word!”
“Doctor? Have you found something?”
The Doctor said nothing as he studied with focused intensity the second last tablet in the series. He flipped to the last tablet and began scanning the text with his finger, an expression of dread deepening on his face.
“Doctor, are you alright? Is it bad?”
“Oh, yes,” the Doctor said with a nod. “It’s bad. It’s quite bad. It’s unbelievably bad!”
“Spit it out, then! What is it?”
“It’s a tardis,” the Doctor said, meeting the Presidents gaze. “The Nazi’s aren’t just looking for another artifact. They think they’ve found another tardis here on Earth.”
“Well, that should stand to reason, shouldn’t it, Doctor,” Indy said. “After all, if your people have been visiting Earth then it should only be a matter of time before we find evidence of it…”
“No-no-no. The last time ship was destroyed in the Time War against the Daleks.”
“The Daleks? What are they, Space Nazi’s?”
“If the Daleks are Space Nazi’s then the Nazi’s are Catholic school girls. Sometimes it’s best if you don’t know what horrors snarl at you from the dark, Dr. Jones. Let’s just say they were big, bad and my people gave their lives to keep them at bay. The Time War destroyed everything; every Dalek, every Time Lord, every tardis… or so I had thought. I only knew of one that might have escaped.”
“Could this be it?”
“Unlikely, I think. That one belonged to an old enemy of mine and was lost to the time vortex. It’s probably still there, I would imagine. No, this tardis must belong to someone who crashed during the Time War.”
“How bad is it, Doctor,” the President asked, leaning in. “What can we expect if Hitler acquires his own tardis?”
“Nothing short of the end of life as you know it, Mr. President,” the Doctor replied solemnly. “With a working tardis he could change history and sculpt it as he sees fit. He could slip back in time and create his own religion, complete with prophecies of himself as Messiah, so that the people will fall in line when they see him coming. He could go back in time and decimate anyone who troubled his beloved Aryan race before they ever became a problem. The Jews? Just go back 3000 years and murder Moses in his crib. The Americans? It would be nothing for him to slip back and destroy the entire First Continental Congress. The British Empire? Just stop Arthur from pulling that sword from the stone and the empire dies in utero.”
“Doctor, you realize King Arthur was just a myth, right,” Indy asked.
“Yeah, whatever,” the Doctor said dismissively. “Remind me to take you on a field trip when this is all over. But even if the tardis isn’t functional the technology within could drastically alter the course of humanity if even the least of it is back engineered. Imagine an entire army outfitted with perception filters! Such a force could walk into any country unchallenged. They could walk into any city, any military base and just execute the soldiers and police. No one would stop them and no one would even care. They could quite literally walk into Mordor!”
A deafening silence followed while Indy and the President regarded him curiously, that last being entirely over their heads. All but Vranea, that is, who was nursing her seventh coffee and being entirely lost in bliss.
“No? Nothing? Yeah well… whatever. In 70 years that’s going to kill! The point is if that thing falls into the wrong hands then life as you know it is over. And the Nazi’s are definitely the wrong hands. But even that is secondary to if they accidentally destabilize the tardis core in their tinkering.”
“What happens if they destabilize the core, Doctor,” the President asked.
“Do you know the Big Bang theory?”
“I’m familiar with it.”
“It’s a little bang compared to a destabilized tardis core.”
“I see. In that case, Doctor, on behalf of the American people and the people of the world, I hereby commission you and your companions to retrieve The Eternal Crypt before it falls into Nazi hands.”
“Oh, well now that I have your permission,” the Doctor quipped as he began thumbing through some of the other documents and maps Mrs. LeHand had brought in. Again he brought that little wand out of his pocket and pointed it at the papers one at a time. He clicked various buttons on its surface and it hummed a series of musical tones at his command.
“What is that thing, Doctor,” Indy asked.
“It’s my sonic screwdriver.”
“A sonic screwdriver?”
“Yeah. It’s a screwdriver. And it’s, you know… sonic. Look,” the Doctor said as he held it to Indy’s ear and it chimed happily.
“Okay, so why are you holding a screwdriver while reading the papers?”
“Because… just… well, do I criticize how you read? Just let me do my thing.”
Indy shook his head at the crazy little man before turning his attention back to the President.
“Mr. President, do you know who the Germans are sending after the Crypt,” Indy asked.
“Yes, in fact,” the President said. He brought out a dossier and handed it to Indy who thumbed through it as the President was speaking. “It appears that Der Fuhrer has recruited a new adjutant. A warrant officer known only as Oberst Raemsteht.”
“Oberst? A high rank for an adjutant, don’t you think?”
“Indeed. But Hitler thinks quite highly of him, all the same.”
Indy couldn’t help but laugh as he read the dossier, which was remarkably sparse.
“First name, unknown. Age, unknown. Height, unknown. Race, unknown. Nationality, unknown. This isn’t much to go on, Mr. President.”
“No, certainly not. This man seems to have come out of nowhere. We’re not even able to furnish you with a picture, I’m afraid.”
Indy leaned his head in his hand and furrowed his brow, concentrating on what little information he did have.
“Raemsteht… that’s an odd name, don’t you think?”
“Yes, we thought so, too.”
“Not German or Scandinavian, but it’s close. Ukraine, perhaps? No, I don’t think so. I suppose it could be an obscure dialect of Russian but…”
“Honestly, this is why I point and laugh at archaeologists,” the Doctor interrupted. “You people quibble and fret over such trifles as a name while there’s work to be done. Alright, I think I’ve seen everything I need to see. Frankie, thanks for the coffee but we should be off.”
“Oh, but Doctor, there is so much more data to go over in these documents,” the President said.
“No need, Frankie. No need. It’s all in here,” he said, flashing his screwdriver before replacing it in his pocket. “Don’t want to dally. We’ve got artifacts to find, insane armies to stop and all that. Dr. Jones, kindly throw Vranea over your shoulder and escort her into the Tardis.”
The Doctor rose from his chair and the President with him. He again removed the key from his pocket and fit it into the lock, which was again being stubborn.
“Oh, come on, baby,” the Doctor pleaded. “You’re ruining Daddy’s big exit!”
Indy, meanwhile, had thrown an arm around Vranea and hefted her to her feet. She slumped loosely in his arms and threw her arms around his neck.
“Well, hello there, Dr. Jones,” she said, playfully touching his nose. Indy couldn’t help but smile at the inebriated young woman in his arms.
“Just call me ‘Indy’,” he said as he began escorting her to the Tardis.
“Oh, ‘Indy’,” the Doctor exclaimed excitedly. “I love it! So curt and manly. Indy. Indy! Indy! Brilliant! Now, if only your curt and manly name could help me get this door open we would be in business.”
Remembering how the Tardis had responded to the Doctor before, a coy smile arced on Indy’s lips as he gently reached up and knocked on the door. Immediately the key gave way and the door swung ajar. The Doctor stepped back, stunned, while Indy gave him yet another smug glance.
“Yeah, well… whatever! And you,” he said, pointing an accusatory finger at the Tardis. “I suppose you think that was incredibly clever!”
“Well, thank you for having us, Mr. President,” Indy said with Vranea’s arm draped over his shoulder for support. From within the Tardis the Doctor could be heard tearing it a new black hole. “I’m sorry our meeting couldn’t have been under more normal circumstances, but I get the feeling ‘normal circumstances’ don’t really exist with the Doctor.”
“Indeed, they don’t,” the President agreed with a smile. “I have come to know that dealing with the Doctor’s… eccentricities, is the price of dealing with the Doctor himself. Safe journey, Dr. Jones. And you as well, Miss Ch’syko.”
“G’bye, sir,” Vranea slurred. “Thanks for the coffee. I had a lot of caffeine today. I’m glad I didn’t puke on your carpet.”
Then she puked on his carpet.
“I had a lot of caffeine today. I’m sorry I puked on your carpet. ‘Kay, g’bye!”
Indy offered the President an apologetic look of contrition as he led Vranea, still happily blissful, into the Tardis. The President never responded with scorn or rebuke as Indy had expected, but rather with an apologetic look of his own. Indy was beginning to understand why. After he had helped Vranea into the Tardis and closed the door behind him the Oval Office filled with that familiar mechanical wheezing. Within seconds the Tardis had vanished, leaving only the chaos of their meeting in its wake.
And so, with that insanity done, the President picked up his phone to speak with his secretary.
“Missy… yes it’s over… Could you clean up the cups and have someone remove the extra chair from my office?... Thank you, Missy. And could you have someone from the janitorial staff come to my office to clean up some vomit… yes, I said vomit… Actually, Missy, I would rather not discuss the particulars of that event. Ever.”