Mummy Fanfic by Katie Sullivan
Rated PG-13 for innuendo, mild cussing and mature themes
Disclaimer: Meela/Anck-su-Namun, Imhotep, and all other characters besides Jeffrey are (c) Universal and are used without claim to copyright as a fan tribute. I maketh no money from this fic. Sueth me not.
Chapter Seven: What Lies Beneath?
Lock-Nah's men scoured the desert around Cairo in search of some trace of Hamunaptra, but to no avail. The stubborn descendants of Pharaoh's bodyguards, the Med-Jai, hampered their search whenever possible. The Curator's academic approach yielded similarly void results. There were plenty of myths about Hamunaptra, but nothing credible surfaced. Attempts to glean further information from the survivors of the last expedition also failed. Much to Meela's jealousy, Evelyn married her lover from her previous life as Nefertiri, now known as Rick O'Connell. They moved to London along with her loose-lipped brother, Johnathan, and surveillance became vastly more difficult.
The only small victory came when, while excavating the ruins of Seti's temple, she uncovered an ancient necklace that she recognized as having belonged to Anck-su-Namun. The Curator had dropped his initial skepticism and completely believed her. She happily hired a jeweler to make a replica of the golden necklace before it was shipped off to a museum. The modern copy was a tangible connection to her past life, and she wore it nearly every day, whether it went with her outfit or not. However precious, though, the necklace was a dead-end in the search for Imhotep.
Weeks turned into months; months turned into years. The Year of the Scorpion was fast approaching, and if she couldn't find Imhotep by then she would lose the help of Lock-Nah and the others seeking the Scorpion King.
Meela was discouraged but didn't lose hope. Destiny, Hathor, luck...one of them would lead her to her true love, sooner or later. The key was finding Hamunaptra.
Finally, early in 1933, Meela got fed up with the failures of others and decided to take matters into her own hands. She bought a pair of the best-trained camels she could find, gathered an outfit of supplies, and convinced Lock-Nah to come along for help and protection. It was difficult not to look upon this expedition as her last hope, but she tried to stay optimistic as she set out from Cairo with Lock-Nah. They rode into the desert in a random direction, keeping conversation to a bare minimum. She needed to concentrate.
It had been several hours since the last sign of civilization. Waves of heat danced on the horizon, giving the illusion of water in the midst of an endless ocean of sand. Meela closed her eyes and swayed with the camel's monotonous gait, trying to shut out all distractions.
Help me find my true love, Hathor... Help me find you, Imhotep... Where are you, my love?
The warm, dusty smell of the desert tickled her nostrils. The equatorial sun warmed her skin through her black clothes. It had only been ten minutes since her last drink from the canteen, but already her mouth was dry. The heat of the desert... The heat of passion? Imhotep?
The swaying of the camel made her sleepy, like the rocking of a docked ship. Drowsiness... Surrendering to sleep in Imhotep's arms?
There had to be a connection. Something she was missing. Some clue. Some instinct. Something. Anything!
She closed her eyes more tightly and tried to fix an image of him in her mind. Other details from her previous life were hazy, but her mental picture of Imhotep was agonizingly clear.
The scarab pendant gleaming against his chest. A gold-trimmed black robe enveloping his stately frame. An aura of authority, self-control and confidence. His lips twisting into a sardonic smile. A rare chuckle from deep in his chest. Body smooth, shaven, oiled, shining in the torchlight. Muscles not exaggerated but statuesque. His husky voice in her ear, whispering promises of a life together that could never be. His hands moving over her body at just the right speed, in just the right places, igniting blazes of passion that burned away the corrupt control of the outside world, if only for a time. His deep brown eyes gazing into the core of her soul. His strong arms surrounding her, holding her tight and secure as she wept at the impossible horror of her bondage to a cruel Pharaoh. His hands bathing her wounds, tending to her bruises, soothing aches both physical and spiritual. His heart beating in time with hers, both surrendering to her and accepting her surrender. Protecting, comforting, loving, listening...
"What?" Lock-Nah said.
"Imhotep. Hamunaptra. South-east of here." Meela's eyes were still closed, and she barely recognized her voice. She had no idea how she knew, but something was pulling her in that direction, and she certainly wasn't about to question it.
Lock-Nah shrugged and nudged his camel in onto a south-easterly course. Meela's camel followed automatically.
Renewed hope coursed in her veins. Please...
After a few hours Lock-Nah gave up trying to ask her how she knew where she was going. She wouldn't or couldn't explain, and remained deep in thought. Her eyes were never more than halfway open. She hardly dared breathe for fear of breaking the spell that was guiding her.
Her eyes finally snapped open. "Did you say something?" she asked Lock-Nah.
"No." He shook his head.
She looked around at the featureless desert and surrounding cliffs. No one was there. Had it been the wind?
It wasn't the wind, although it sounded much like it. It was a voice that apparently only she could hear.
The feeling of being watched swept over her again, and she twisted around in the saddle to look to the side. There, poking out of a dune, was a stone pillar covered in hieroglyphics. "Look! Look look look!" she shouted, nearly falling off the camel in her excitement.
"What? Where?" Lock-Nah swung around to look.
"There, in the sand! A pillar! This is it!"
"Yes!" She vaulted off her camel and began brushing sand from the stone, tracing the hieroglyphics with a chipped fingernail. "This is it! Hamunaptra!" She could have hugged that stone column. "At last! And he's here! I can sense it!" She pressed her cheek against the baked stone and inhaled the scent of eons.
It was the faintest psychic whisper, like the sighing of a breeze through the palms, but she knew without a doubt what it meant. That silly drunkard had been correct. In some form, somehow, Imhotep was here. Her soul recognized the imprint of his.
She stood up and put her hands on her hips, beaming with a wide smile. "Lock-Nah?"
"Yeah?" he said from atop his camel.
"We've got some digging to do."
After years of frustration and failures, everything was suddenly moving very quickly. The Year of the Scorpion was here. They--no, she-- had found Hamunaptra, where without a doubt Imhotep lay. Aside from finding his body, it was now essential to locate the two books. One black, one gold, each with unimaginable powers. The black Book of the Dead would bring Imhotep back to life. The golden Book of Amun-Ra was also vital to find, since it could do quite the opposite to him.
The Curator handled most of the sticky details, getting excavation permits and hiring locals to do the digging. Lock-Nah provided security in the form of heavily-armed red-robed men. The workers were in fear of them, and in awe of Meela. There were murmurs that she had some dark powers, as she knew simply by wandering through the site where they should dig next. Without use of a divining rod, she pinpointed the main entrance to the city and other landmarks. She still had only a vague sense of where Imhotep was resting, however...if a man in the throes of the Hom-Dai could be said to be resting.
The workers kept toiling in the excavations until late at night under the glare of torches and spotlights. Meela surveyed their progress ceaselessly, hoping for some clue to her beloved's position. She retired only when the lights went off and the workers trudged to their tents. One night the Curator managed to convince her to take a break from her vigil, and they joined Lock-Nah by the campfire.
The hulking warrior looked up as they approached. "Are we getting close?" he asked impatiently.
Meela's brow creased in frustration. "I don't know. I think so." She dropped into an Indian-legged position beside him and closed her eyes to soak in the firelight, welcoming the respite from the night's chill. Outsiders found it odd that a place as notoriously hot as the desert became so cool at night.
The Curator lowered himself onto a cushion beside her and prodded the fire with a stick. "There is plenty of time left in the year."
"And the Bracelet?" Lock-Nah pressed.
"We've traced it to a certain temple in Thebes. Now we just need to get it in our possession."
"An important little detail," Lock-Nah said grouchily.
If there was anywhere in the world Meela wanted to be, aside from here with Imhotep, it was Thebes. "I should go for it. I remember that temple, where the vault is. Little Miss Perfect Nefertiri did an adequate job of seeing to its protection. I'm sure the Bracelet is still there."
The Curator shook his head. "No. You're needed here. We can't have you getting distracted. I've contacted a few other...gentlemen...to handle it."
She raised an eyebrow, well aware of his shadier acquaintances. They probably could "handle it," and he was right. Her place was here, at the dig. She was both Meela and Anck-su-Namun, but she couldn't be in two places at once. "Very well," she said at last.
"And we're agreed on the details once all this is over?" Lock-Nah asked sternly.
"Yes," Meela said with an impatient sigh. It was all in writing, but she knew it well enough to recite, "Once we take control of Anubis' Army and take over the world, Imhotep will be emperor of the earth, I'll be his queen, and we'll restore Egypt to its former glory. We'll delegate the operation of the Army to you, Lock-Nah, to keep order as you see fit..." She smirked at his dark grin and the bloodthirsty glint in his obsidian eyes. "And you, my dear Hafez, will have every museum and university in the world as your playground." The Curator closed his eyes with a dreamy smile, imagining the possibilities. "A more than satisfactory arrangement, don't you agree?"
Lock-Nah nodded, and the Curator rubbed his hands together in an embarrassingly theatrical expression of diabolical anticipation.
She stood and brushed sand off her khakis. "Now if you'll excuse me, gentlemen, I have workers to yell at. It seems someone thought it was time for a break," she growled.
It was well into the night before she finally allowed the workers to quit. If she had her way they'd work through the night and the hottest part of the day, but they were only human, after all.
Meela collapsed face-down on her sleeping bag in her tent, near tears with frustration. He was so close! But where?
Once again insomnia took hold of her, and rather than toss and turn for hour after miserable hour she got up, laced her leather boots, and strolled through the site for the millionth time.
"Anck-su-Namun..." It sounded like the wind, but definitely wasn't. Was it? She was exhausted, and wishful thinking could play tricks on the mind...
She stopped in her tracks. "Imhotep?" she whispered. "Is that you? Where are you, my love?"
"Imhotep? Please, help me to find you," she pleaded. She dropped to one knee and spread her palms on the cooling sand. Eyes closed, she inhaled deeply to clear her mind. Once again she brought her mental image of him clearly into focus, painting details right down to the curve of his ears, his nose, his lips, his chin--
"Anck-su-Namun..." The voice was louder this time, more insistent.
"Imhotep," she murmured in reply.
Again the ghostly voice whispered her old name inside her head, and she crawled a few feet in the sand toward its apparent source. She repeated the process each time she heard it, until she seemed to be right above where the sound was emanating.
"Anck-su-Namun..." This time the voice sounded relieved, confirming her location.
"I'm here, Imhotep," she said softly, touching her forehead to the sand. "Hang on, my beloved. I'm here, now."
The sand beneath her shifted, and at first she thought it was an earthquake or the start of a sandstorm. But no, it was localized, only moving directly under her body. As she sat in stunned silence, a thick column of sand spun slowly upward and--it seemed impossible--hugged her.
"Anck-su-Namun..." The voice was fading now, not with distance, but as if the speaker were losing strength, falling asleep. The sand slid back into its natural position, now ordinary and lifeless.
She smiled sadly. "Soon, my love," she whispered. "I promise I will free you, no matter what it takes. I love you." Disregarding the absurdity of it all, she lowered her face and planted a light kiss on the sand. "Soon, Imhotep."
At the first hint of dawn, Meela set the laborers to work digging in the spot where Imhotep had led her. By nightfall the next day they had uncovered both the black Book of the Dead and the golden Book of Amun-Ra, and it seemed like only a matter of time before their ultimate goal was met. Meela felt like a child at Christmas, yearning to tear open a giant box under the tree. So close, now. Soon. His proximity sent a tingling feeling like incipient lightning tickling down her spine.
She and Lock-Nah milled around inside a lean-to tent away from the heart of the diggings. The Curator had advised her to stop hovering, since her constant nagging--he had used a somewhat more diplomatic word--was making the workers nervous and annoyed. The dark rumors floating around about supernatural dealings and curses were already more than enough to instill nervousness, and annoyed workers were never a good thing.
She compromised by staying away for awhile to study the Books instead. Lock-Nah helped her unpack them from their storage crate. "The Book of the Dead," he said, setting the unnaturally heavy volume on a table cluttered with maps and paperwork, "gives life."
She picked up the golden companion and blew dust off the cover. "And the Book of the Living," she said, well aware of the irony, "takes life away." She set it beside the other and resisted the urge to read from either just yet.
"I thought that was my job," Lock-Nah joked grimly, and she afforded him an amused smile.
The electric feeling in her spine grew stronger. "We're getting close..."
Moments later, what appeared to be a small earthquake shook the camp. Meela knew better than to judge by appearances. Soon screams of terror erupted from the main pit, accompanied by a loathsome clicking, chittering sound. Meela watched impassively from a distance as some of Lock-Nah's men broke out the flame throwers. Even if the shoots of fire failed to contain the man-eating insects, she was unconcerned for her own safety; the scarabs obeyed Imhotep, after all.
The gruesome discovery in addition to the tingling in her body lead her to one inescapable conclusion, and she grinned even more widely. "We're getting very close..."
So close in fact, that if she started walking over there now, she'd be just in time for--
"We've found him!"
With the scarabs under control, everyone ran toward the location of the shout. A crane was lowering an oddly-shaped rock onto the sand. Meela momentarily stopped in her tracks, and Lock-Nah rushed on without her. The sight of it brought a giddy rushing to her head, but she wasn't about to faint now. She'd waited too long for this moment. She pushed past the excited workers and reached the scene just as the Curator announced, "Imhotep! It's him! It's Imhotep!"
"Now we must raise those who serve him," Lock-Nah said.
She strode up to the rock. It was oddly translucent, and although she couldn't see the figure inside clearly, her heart recognized him. Ancient instinct took over, and she made a sweeping gesture over the face of the rock with one hand, just as they had greeted each other countless times in the distant past. At last, my love, she silently exulted.
There was a commotion behind her, breaking the spell of the moment--not that there was much more she could do with a rock at the moment, anyway. She turned to see the approach of Hafez's three "gentlemen": scruffy, unwashed mercenaries.
"Give it to me," the Curator said, and it was clear they knew was "it" was.
The shortest of the three, Red, shrugged a little. "The, uh, opportunity passed us by."
The Curator scowled. "We need that Bracelet."
"And we need it before it opens," Lock-Nah snarled, his short temper snapping. He raised his gun at the three, who responded in kind, as did everyone in the vicinity with a firearm.
"Enough!" Meela said in disgust, and like chastised children they all lowered their guns. She leaned in to speak to the Curator. "My dear Hafez, I told you, I should have handled it."
"I did not want your...past history to cloud the issue," he said discreetly.
"Don't you worry none," Red interjected. "We know where it is, we'll take care of it."
"No," the Curator said immediately. "We'll take care of it. I have a different chore for you now."
Of course, Meela thought. The Chest. A relic of even more importance, as far as she was concerned. She and Hafez had discussed that wrinkle before.
"Where is the Bracelet?" she asked impatiently.
"It's on its way to merry old London."
The Curator inhaled as if preparing himself for the long journey then and there. "Then London is where we must go," he said with firm resolve. He led the way through the crowd of workers with Meela and Lock-Nah behind him. There was no time to lose.
"They have it?" Meela screeched. "Why didn't you tell me?"
The Curator withered under her scathing glare. The others in line with them at the airline ticket counter turned to look. "These particular, er, gentlemen, have served me well before."
"You sent a trio of incompetent grave robbers to steal some under the noses of Nefertiri and that boy-toy of hers? What were you thinking? You know what they did to our lord last time! Did you really think those three morons could outwit them?"
"You thought. I find that hard to believe," she sniffed. "They aren't your average run-of-the-mill archaeologists, Hafez. He's a chosen Med-Jai warrior and she's the Bracelet's official protector! Those stooges didn't have a prayer against the two of them!"
"Now, Meela, please. Calm down. We'll get the Bracelet back. And haven't you always wanted to see London?"
"That's not the point and you know it." She crossed her arms on her chest and turned away from him. "I'm very disappointed in you."
She turned back to face him and leaned in to whisper, "I'll get the Bracelet back myself, and see Nefertiri's corpse at my love's feet as a bonus. And someday soon when I'm the queen of the world, I'll make idiocy punishable by death. Oh, and you can forget about Oxford."
The Curator's face fell. He had been looking forward to meddling with that particular institution. "But Meela--"
"Don't make me take the Louvre away."
He gasped and tightly shut his mouth.
"And to think a few years ago you were begging me for extra credit on your term paper," he said under his breath as they reached the ticket window.
"Oh, hush," she said before pulling out her wallet and turning her attention to the ticket seller. "I need information about group rates for round-trip flights to London, please. In fact, we may need to charter a plane. We have some rather heavy cargo..."