Through a Mummy's Eyes
A Mummy fanfic by Katie Sullivan
You know the drill: Roses are red, these characters aren't mine, please don't sue me, your copyright's fine
~~ Chapter Four: Oasis Fracas ~~
They were nearing Ahm Shere. Both Alex's directions and Imhotep's instincts said so. They camped briefly in a deep gorge along a tranquil stretch of the Nile. The travelers were more than ready for a rest after hastening across the desert. Anck-su-Namun was exhausted--for various reasons--and had spent most of the morning snoozing in a tent upwind of the camels.
Imhotep let her sleep as long as he could, but it was time to get moving soon. Time was, after all, a rather important factor at the moment. He poked his head into the tent where his beloved dozed. She was gorgeous and peaceful, sleeping amid a nest of cushions and pillows. For a few luxurious moments he just stood there, watching her delicate chest rising and falling with steady breaths. Finally, he forced himself to awaken her with a soft kiss.
She mumbled something in greeting and tried to pull him down beside her, but he resisted. "We are nearly there, Anck-su-Namun. We are very close to Ahm Shere."
The haze of sleep disappeared from her eyes, and a more alert grin took shape on her lips. "Truly?"
"Yes, my love."
She stood up with a devious expression. "Then what are we waiting for?"
While his soul mate readied herself for the next leg of their journey, Imhotep serenely waded out into the Nile in the rocky gorge, concentrating his mental powers. He sent out a psychic search beam like a lighthouse, sweeping the area in search of the hostile group following them. He sensed them somewhere nearby. If he could just pinpoint their exact location...
He half-closed his eyes, attuning his senses to the subtle forces around and within him. Water could be a very powerful force when used correctly. His breathing slowed as he sent out probing thoughts, using the innate power in the river to amplify and guide his search. The life-giving Nile lapped at his knees. Aha! A thin smile crept onto his face. They were in the air. That's why they had been so difficult to find. Now that he had found them, though, it was all clear in his mind.
Behind him on the riverbank Lock-nah and Alex were bickering over something again. Imhotep pulled himself out of his semi-trance and looked over his bare shoulder to learn what the matter was. It seemed the boy had been leaving markers to help his parents follow him. Lock-nah picked him up, ready to do a number of unkind things.
"Put the boy down," Imhotep called out in ancient Egyptian. Then, knowing Alex could undersand him, he said, "I hope your parents enjoyed their journey, for it is about to come to an end."
The boy quivered with anger and fear, but between Imhotep's powers and Lock-nah's muscles he was utterly helpless.
Imhotep inhaled slowly. His powers were back to their full strength now. Yesterday he would never have dared attempt such a feat, but today he felt up to the challenge. He raised his arms, and the Nile obediently surged upward in a solid wall before him, towering nearly to the rim of the canyon. It hovered tremulously for a moment, as if someone had hit a metaphysical "pause" button. Imhotep's muscles coiled as he centered himself, reaching out with his mind to pinpoint the enemies' dirigible. He drew a deep breath and punched forward with the palms of both hands, hissing with malice. The wall of water rushed forward, leaving the riverbed exposed, covered only with mud and a few surprised and annoyed fish.
He was in two places at once. He saw the drying riverbed in front of his physical body, felt the mud around his ankles and heard Alex's panicked voice calling out behind him--and yet he simultaneously saw from the vantage point of a ghostly face within the tsunami, felt the abrasive rush of the canyon walls on either side, and heard the surge of water and energy. There it was, drifting in the air in front of him like an odd, round bird. He sensed them there...O'Connell and his wife, the Med-Jai leader, an unknown, and one other...the one who had stolen command of his solders at Hamunaptra and ordered them to destroy Anck-su-Namun! He ground his teeth in an attempt to keep his emotions in check. Any distraction could make him lose control of the tidal wave. At least Anck-su-Namun knew enough not to kiss him in the middle of such a trance, unlike that O'Connell woman. That was such a dirty trick, playing on his loneliness for Anck-su-Namun like that just to save her friends!
Now he'd gone and done it. Allowed himself to get distracted. The dirigible managed to duck away around a curve in the canyon, causing his tidal wave to crash awkwardly into an adjoining gorge. He grimaced and braced his feet in the slippery mud, gathering his resources for a second attack. He quickly managed to re-form the tidal wave and was soon in pursuit again. This time he allowed no stray thoughts or emotions to interfere, and the dirigible was soon blasted out of the sky and out of the canyon...straight into a rainforest.
A rainforest? Oho! Ahm Shere! A fortuitous discovery!
Imhotep finally let his hands drop to his sides. This time he was barely winded by the great psychic exertion. This was more like it! He allowed himself a wicked smile before walking out of the riverbed.
The O'Connell boy looked stricken. He knew by Imhotep's satisfied expression that his parents were no longer coming to rescue him.
Imhotep almost felt sorry for the child. It wasn't his fault he was embroiled in this big mess. As the mummy passed by, he ruffled the boy's golden hair in a playful manner, but the gesture only brought a scowl.
He headed back toward where the others were camped. He gestured to the curator to prepare the caravan to begin moving again.
Imhotep's followers bore guns and torches as they marched warily though the creepy oasis of Ahm Shere. There was no obvious sign of danger, but the place had an uneasy aura about it that caused the hair on the back of their necks stand up.
Imhotep--who had very little body hair of any kind--was confident and unafraid. Creatures of darkness had enough mutual respect not to attack each other. Even if some evil critter lacked this basic courtesy, his fully regenerated powers would protect him and his beloved. Sensing this, Anck-su-Namun stayed close by his side, clinging to his arm through his black cloak. She soon regained some of her usual swagger, emboldened by his presence.
Then they came upon the first of the corpses. Most had been there a long time, by the conditions of the bodies. Imhotep held up a hand to halt the procession, frowning at the gruesome tableau. Human remains were displayed in every barbaric way imaginable: hanging in nets, impaled on spikes, left dangling over long-cold fire pits... The men were horrified, the boy was terrified, a wide-eyed Anck-su-Namun pressed in close to Imhotep's side...but the mummy himself was nonplussed. He had seen much worse.
They pressed on, further into the jungle. There was a glint through the trees, high on the horizon. Anck-su-Namun followed her lover's gaze and saw it. Both knew what it was: the diamond beacon atop the golden pyramid. The resting place--at least for now--of the legendary Scorpion King.
The others noticed it now, too, and an awed, nervous murmur ran through the line of red-robed men.
"My lord," the curator said in the Old Tongue, finally forcing Imhotep to tear his gaze from the distant pyramid, "now there is no further need for the O'Connell boy."
He turned and found himself looking straight into the terrified eyes of the tow-headed child. "Yes, but we need the bracelet. The bracelet is the key."
He didn't particularly want to give the order to have a child killed. Let the others interpret his words as they wished. Imhotep watched out of the corner of his eye as Lock-nah did just that.
The dark warrior strode purposefully toward the boy, relishing the long-awaited moment. Before he could make use of his shining scimitar, however, a sudden gust of wind hushed everyone in the caravan. It was not a particularly strong wind; they had encountered stronger gales already in the desert. But this wind was chilly, eerie, and carried with it an almost palpable sense of dread. This was no ordinary wind.
Anck-su-Namun clung to his arm so tightly that it was nearly painful. Imhotep peered into the shadowy jungle, wary but not particularly concerned.
The curator spoke the thought that was on all their minds: "Something...something is coming."
This, of course, did nothing to calm the epidemic of jitters sweeping through their ranks. The wind increased. So did the overwhelming feeling of danger.
Imhotep hadn't thought it possible, but Anck-su-Namun grasped his arm more tightly. He put his hand atop hers, gently urging her to lessen her viselike grip, and put his other arm snugly around her. "Do not fear," he said calmly. "They cannot harm me." She gave him a questioning look. They?
There was a scream from somewhere behind them. They watched in curious horror as random men began disappearing into the thick grass as if something small but vicious were dragging them down. Then another sound burst out, one that was quickly becoming Imhotep's least favorite noise in the world: gunfire. But from whom? Somehow he knew it was O'Connell, or the Med-Jai, or some combination thereof. Apparently his tidal wave hadn't been as effective as he thought.
Things started happening very quickly at that point. One group of assailants were absurd-looking pygmy mummies, bloodthirsty little imps who were apparently the cause of the display of corpses they had passed earlier. As if this wasn't enough trouble, O'Connell and the Med-Jai warrior were suddenly among them, blasting bullets in all directions. A pair of snipers in the cliffs added to the fray. Imhotep's followers were dropping like the proverbial flies. Lock-nah was killed, the curator disappeared, O'Connell escaped with his son slung over his shoulder, and Anck-su-Namun was going to leave a massive bruise if she didn't let up the pressure on his arm!
Before he could make her ease her grip, a group of the pygmy mummies charged toward him. Unfazed, he raised a hand and glowered at the tiny undead. Instantly recognizing him and the power he wielded, they stopped in their tracks and bowed meekly before rushing off to kill somebody else.
Anck-su-Namun breathed a sigh of relief and finally relaxed her hold on his arm.
At his urging, she grabbed the precious Book of the Dead from a fallen red-robed figure. Then, unnoticed by nearly all of the others, he whisked her off into the trees, away from the fray. The sounds of death and angst behind them slowly faded away, and once more they were alone. Panting and shaking, Anck-su-Namun used him for support as she caught her breath.
"What were those things?" she asked.
She rolled her eyes. "I can see that much," she snapped. "But why are they attacking us?"
"They're the guardians of this oasis."
She shuddered and clasped the Book of the Dead to her chest.
He embraced her for a moment until she seemed calmer, then gestured toward the golden pyramid glinting in the pre-dawn light. "We have an appointment to keep," he said.
She nodded, recovering her nerve.
"That is...unless you've given up this 'take over the world' idea..."
"I most certainly have not!"
"All right. Then let's go. The Scorpion King is waiting."
On to ChapterFive: Hanging by a Heartstring