Chapter One: The City of the Dead
Disclaimers - Gundam Wing and all characters associated with it belong to Sunrise, Bandai and Sotsu Agency. The Mummy and all characters associated with it belong to Universal Pictures. Sefice and any characters not belonging to Gundam Wing and The Mummy belong to the author, Lady Koneko.
Questions, C&C are welcome.
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The Gundam Mummy
Chapter One: The City of the Dead
Hamanaptra - 195 AC
Going from tales told in ancient myth and legend, a splinter group of OZ had sent three of their top majors on an expedition deep in the Sahara desert to find an ancient treasure left by the Ancient Egyptians. It was their hope that this treasure would help them to help them win the war and to destroy the Gundam Pilots that stood in their way at every turn. Following the myths and legends, Majors Henderson, Burns and Daniels, with the aid of Egyptologist Professor Chamberlin and their dubious guide Benni Gabor, had found a city lost to legends. As was the great city of Troy, Hamanaptra did indeed exist, and all in the party were eager to see what treasures laid withing.
While the main force of the expedition and Benni had thoughts of gold and jewels, and the professor of the history to be discovered the three majors were there for something specific. A treasure so valuable it made all the treasures found in the Valley of the Kings insignificant. A book, a book believed to be myth, a book that held the power of the Gods, the power over Life and Death. Major Henderson had commanded the workers to seek out and find a statue, the statue of Anubis, once camp had been set up, and to find him, Major Burns and Major Daniels once they had. According to twentieth century documents by the Bembridge Scholars, underneath that statue would be the treasure they sought.
The first day of exploration had left them highly unsatisfied. All the explorers had found were dusty, cobweb encrusted passages full of sand and empty chambers. In one of these chambers a group of three OZ soldiers had made what they thought would be a worthy discovery, a granite sarcophagus that had apparently fallen into the chamber from the floor above. Greed filled their hearts at the discovery, which changed to chagrin when they discovered that the sarcophagus was locked, an eight sided keyhole with a winged scarab mocking them.
One of the soldiers, a bit brighter than the average private, quickly speculated that maybe, just maybe, they should tell the majors about the discovery. All knew that the Majors were sent from a higher power from within OZ to this ancient city to look for something, maybe this was it. With promotions in mind, one of the soldiers rushed off to inform the Majors of their discovery while the other two stood watch.
Majors Henderson, Burns and Daniels were quick to come, once they were told of the discovery, as was Professor Chamberlin and Benni. The Professor examined the sarcophagus, a small frown on his face.
"Well, what is it?" Henderson demanded of the professor. "Some prince or what?" While they were after the 'other' treasure, Henderson, Burns and Daniels were not above a bit of treasure seeking for themselves.
"It is most strange Major," Chamberlin murmured, his fingers running across the single hieroglyph on the cover. "It says . . . 'He Who Shall Not Be Named'." Chamberlin stood up straight, a small frown on his face and a bit of worry working its way through him. To go into the afterlife nameless . . . it was not a promising sign. "I will need to see the inner coffin inscription to know more of this."
"No problem there Professor," Burns said, reaching into his jacket pocket. "We will have this stone box open for you in no time." He pulled out a small octagonal gold puzzle box liberally decorated with hieratics and hieroglyphs. Chamberlin's thin eyebrows rose as he gazed at the box curiously. Burns maneuvered his fingers around it, and with a soft click, the top unfolded into eight jagged petals. With a smirk, Burns placed the key over the lock and turned.
It made a soft clicking noise as Burns turned to the right, the sound of hidden gears joining in. Then a loud hiss was heard as the airtight seel was broken, followed immediately by a gust of warm air blowing into the room. All eight men froze, and Benni glanced around nervously.
"Just a draft," Daniels announced, and everyone was eager to agree with him. None wanted to think about how strange it was that a draft of warm, moist air was blowing through still tunnels. He stepped forward, taking a deep breath. "Okay men, lets get this damn top off and see what we have here."
The other men came forward to help, all taking a hold on the granite sarcophagus lid. With a great deal of heaving and moaning, they managed to remove the top and drop it on the ground several feet out of the way. Chamberlin rushed forward, right behind him the Majors and Benni, in order to gaze inside. It was almost anticlimactical. Inside was a plain wooden coffin. Frowning, Henderson ordered the three privates and Benni to remove the coffin and prop it up against the wall.
"Hmmm . . . " Chamberlin murmured as he pulled a handkerchief out and dusted off the front of the coffin. "Highly unusual," he informed the others. "The sacred spells have been chiseled off. Whoever is inside this coffin," he placed his hand on the lid, "was condemned in the afterlife as well as in this life.
"Tough for him," Burns commented, not really caring about whom the luckless stiff had been. He had been looking at the coffin, noticing that it also had a lock on it. "Is it normal to lock up mummies?"
Chamberlin shook his head, pursing his lips in thought. "I have never heard of any locks on sarcophaguses or coffins before."
"Maybe there is something inside then, something that the ancient Egyptians didn't want anyone to have." Henderson grinned boyishly at his two friends, who grinned back. All had the same thought running through their minds. "Burns," he prompted.
Burns nodded and approached with the key again. A turn to the right, and a hissing was heard, and a second gust of wind blew into the room.
"I do not like this," Benni murmured to himself. The others ignored him.
"Ugh!" The men stumbled back from the coffin. "What the heck is that stench?" Daniels growled out. "You three," he motioned to the privates. "Open that damn coffin."
The three men took deep breaths of fresh air and approached the coffin. They pried their fingers into the cracks and pulled. "It's stuck," one of them said.
"Pull harder," Burns commanded. Nodding, they did so. They had a moment of warning that the lid was moving, when the coffin lid popped open, and out sprung a rotting corpse wrapped in oozing black bandages.
The corpse fell back into the coffin, its open mouth grinning hideously at them. On the other side of the room the majors composed themselves. It wasn't seemly to be seen screaming like small scared children. The three privates had fled out the door into the corridor. Cautiously, with guns raised, they looked back in. Benni peaked his head out of the sarcophagus, which was where his flight had taken him, and stared at the mummy. Bad idea. Coming here had been a bad idea after all. His many times ancestor had warned that this place was cursed. Once he got his share of the treasure, he was never returning to this place.
"Incredible . . . " Chamberlin whispered in awe. Out of the eight men present, he had recovered first. He had unearthed mummies before and knew that sometimes they sprang up at you. You got use to it after a while. Well, sort of. "He has been buried here for over three thousand years, and look at him."
The others did not really want to. "Uh . . . tell me Professor," Henderson approached gingerly and looked at the mummy. "Isn't he rather . . . gooey to be a mummy?"
Chamberlin nodded. "Exactly. It looks as if he is still decomposing. I have never heard of this." What a discovery! If he could figure out how such a thing could happen, and get the paper published, he could get tenure anywhere he asked. This was almost as good as finding Seti's treasure. That would be nice as well, the treasure, but nothing made a name faster than discovering and solving an ancient mystery.
"Henderson, Burns, would you look at this." The two majors and the Professor turned to Daniels, who had bent down to examine the coffin lid. The three men approached and looked. The soft wood on the inside of the coffin was covered with deep scratches. "What do you make of this?"
The others bent down as well. Henderson, on some impulse, ran his fingers across the scratches. They fit perfectly. "Fingernails," he murmured softly. "Someone tried to claw their way out." A shiver ran down the spines of everyone in the room.
"What's this?" Burns pointed out some crude hieratics written in a reddish-brown substance, dried blood. "Professor, what does that say?"
The Professor shone a flashlight on the markings. "It says, 'Death is only the beginning'."
Winner Estate - Arabia
Heero read the mission statement a second time. Normally he would have had it memorized at the first reading, and he had, but what it said made so little sense to him he had to read it again. The message was still the same. His blue eyes narrowed, then he hit the return key, acknowledging his acceptance of the mission. Heero turned off his laptop and went to find Duo and Wufei to inform them of their mission. He found them both in the Winner family room, Duo channel surfing and Wufei sharpening his sword.
"We have a mission,"
Both Duo and Wufei sat up and looked at the Japanese boy. Without preamble, Heero told them what the mission was. Once he was finished, he fell silent.
The same couldn't be said for Duo, of course.
"We have to do ~what~?" Duo demanded, incredulous. "We have to hike out into the middle of the Sahara to some lost city and find a ~book~? Are you out of your mind?"
Heero stared at Duo.
"A book. Hidden in Hamanaptra." Wufei laid his whet stone aside and looked blankly at the wall behind Heero. He didn't ask Heero if the doctors gave them any other information about the book, what it was and where exactly it could be found. If Heero had that information, he would have given it to them. He was pretty sure he knew what the book was, however, and as to where it would be found . . . "This book, it would have to be The Golden Book of Amun Ra. It has been said to be a book out of myth."
Duo latched right on to that. "A mythical book? We have to go to a lost city and prevent OZ from finding a mythical book?" Duo's voice rose with each word. "Somebody is off their fucking rocker!"
Wufei turned to Duo. "It is said that this book holds the power of their gods. Magic," Wufei shook his head, "doesn't exist. As historical find the book would be quite valuable, but I believe that OZ is searching for a different reason." At both Duo's and Heero's looks, Wufei elaborated. "Hamanaptra is said to have been the resting place of the wealth of Egypt in the nineteenth dynasty."
"An unlimited source of funds. The Romafeller Foundation wouldn't need backers anymore," Duo said softly. "But why tell us to retrieve the book? We should be after the treasure."
Wufei shrugged and turned his attention back to his sword. "The Golden Book of Amun Ra is made of solid gold." Duo's eyes widened.
"Sugee . . . "
"And the book may have locations of other treasures mentioned within."
Heero nodded, already planning the mission, which now made sense to him. The book, and the treasures that it could lead them to, could not fall into OZ's hands.
"Hamanaptra is said to be cursed, you know," a soft voice said from behind. The three pilots turned to the new speaker. Quatre, with Trowa right behind him, had entered the room. "It is said that Hamanaptra is home to a great evil. That there is a mummy's curse upon the place, and none who find it shall ever leave alive."
"What about dead?" Duo quipped. Then he grew serious. "The place is cursed?"
Quatre nodded, sitting on the sofa. Trowa sat next to him. "That is what I have heard about it. The Tuaregs and Bedouin both avoid the place. In their language Hamanaptra means 'Passage to the Underworld'."
Wufei snorted, ghost stories. Heero had a very similar reaction. Duo was giving Quatre a wide-eyed look. Heero, with a sudden thought, turned and gave Quatre a penetrating look. "You know where Hamanaptra is." It wasn't a question. Quatre gave Heero a quick look, then shook his head.
"No, I don't. But I do have an ancient map that has the location of Hamanaptra on it. It belonged to one of my ancestors."
"Your ancestor?" Duo gave Quatre a dubious look. "I thought you said that everyone who went there ended up dead."
"That is what the rumors say," Quatre corrected. "My ancestor was there centuries ago, early in the twentieth century. He was in the French Foreign Legion at the time. His garrison went to Hamanaptra hunting its treasure." Quatre's features took on a serious cast. "Out of two hundred men, he was the only survivor. The map is the one that his commanding officer had found, leading them directly to the City of the Dead."
"City of the Dead?" Duo repeated softly. No one heard him.
"Where is the map?" Heero demanded. The Doctors hadn't provided a map, they had no idea where Hamanaptra was, or how OZ had found the ancient city.
"It is kept in a secret safe." Quatre got to his feet. "One moment, and I will go get it."
It took Quatre ten minutes to retrieve the map from its secure hiding place and return to the others. While he was gone, Quatre missed out on Duo giving the other three Gundam pilots his personal view of the mission he had been assigned to.
"What the hell kind of place is called 'The City of the Dead'?" Duo demanded, his voice easily carrying down the hall. "Doesn't that say anything to anyone, like going there is a major downer on a person's life expectancy?"
Heero glared at his koi. Trowa stared off into space, blatantly ignoring Duo. He was an innocent bystander in this one. Wufei tightened his grip on his sword.
Still halfway down the hall, Quatre winced at Wufei's yell. Wufei was going to go horse if he kept yelling at Duo like that. He quickly made his way down the hall and entered the room, before someone decided that the mission could be preformed by two pilots, or a switch might be a good idea. "Here is the map." He walked over to Heero and handed him a folded piece of papyrus and a yellowed piece of paper. "And this is a translation of the hieroglyphs and hieratics on the map."
"Nn . . . " Heero spread the map carefully on the coffee table before him. The others gathered around. It was an old looking map, the hieroglyphs written in bright colored inks. Wufei picked up the translation and started going over it, comparing it to the map and his knowledge of the area.
"It will be a moderate flight." Wufei commented several minutes later. "We will have to fly low and slowly to avoid radar. There are two OZ bases present. Here and here," he pointed at two random looking spots on the map, there were no OZ bases to be put on the map three thousand years ago. Both spots were in their path. "We will have to avoid them."
"Ah." Heero nodded. The terrain around the city was mountainous. A good place to hide Gundams. "We leave at dawn."
"But what about the curse?" a low voice asked. Heero, Trowa, Quatre and Wufei turned to their fifth member, who was holding onto his long braid for comfort. "What if the curse is real? I don't wanna met up with any mummies."
"Curses are not real," Heero said in a cold voice, the temperature in the room almost seeming to drop several degrees. "They do not exist."
"That's what you said about monsters," Duo muttered under his breath. The temperature seemed to drop even more as a deadly silence filled the room. Duo's eyes widened as he realized that he had spoken that last little bit out loud. Uh oh. He looked up at the faces of his four compatriots. "Oops?"
"Omae o korosu."
Duo eeped. That had ~not~ come from Heero. Before Wufei's hand could tighten on his sword, Duo had bolted to the nearest door, his braid flying behind him. Wufei was after him a bare second later, with Heero, Trowa and Quatre right on his heels.
Henderson, Burns and Daniels, along with Professor Chamberlin, Benni and the remaining twelve privates stared up at the lower portion of the massive statue before them. The predominantly bad mood that the majors had woken in that morning had vastly faded in lieu of this discovery.
After their discovery and abandonment of the gooey mummy, three privates had ran, spasaming and screaming, down the dark corridors before madly crashing headlong into the walls. All three had died, and brief examinations showed each had deep bite wounds on the sides of their feet. No other discoveries of any sort were made after that, and the remaining seventeen privates were eager to go back to camp.
Several hours after sunset the encampment was attacked by a small band of desert warriors, numbering twice their present number. They had the superior firepower, and a defensible position, but before the brief, violent confrontation had ended they had lost five more privates. Major Daniels had also taken a shot in the left shoulder, which had not impeded him in firing on the enemy, but had really ticked him off. What rest they got during the rest of the night was uneasy at best. They had risen with the sun, tired and cranky, and after three hours of searching they had discovered what the majors had came here to find, the statue of Anubis.
Professor Chamberlin knelt on the ground, studying the base of the statue. He used a small stable-hair brush and dusted off the hieroglyphs, translating as he went.
"Well?" Henderson demanded. "What does it say?"
Chamberlin started using his brush to clean the sand out of the near invisible seams around the block of hieroglyphs he had been translating. "The hieroglyphs say that there is a valuable treasure resting at the feet of Anubis," he said thoughtfully, and a bit distracted.
That is what the majors had been waiting to hear. "Then get out of the way," Henderson snarled, grabbing a crowbar and smashing it into one of the seems.
"NO!" Chamberlin jumped up and grabbed Henderson, preventing him from prying open the base.
"You had better have a good excuse for touching me, Professor," Henderson growled threateningly.
Chamberlin rapidly released the major. "This seems to be a secret compartment, so consider this. The hieroglyphs all but dare a person to do what you were about to do. Why do you think that is?"
Henderson gave Chamberlin a studying look and lowered the crowbar. "Any suggestions then, Professor?"
Benni stepped forward at that moment, giving the privates a nasty smirk. The majors had given him a small measure of respect, he was their living map, but the privates had treated him lower than dirt. He had an idea.
"Majors, you are high in your organization. It is beneath you to do manual labor as such." Benni's smile grew wider, and a bit nasty. "Should you not have those of a lower station than you dirty their hands?"
"I do believe our guide has come up with an excellent suggestion." Burns said to Henderson. Henderson nodded, already convinced by Chamberlin's words.
Daniels, who had been studying the secret compartment, turned to the assembled group of privates. "I want three of you over here now!" he commanded, eyes narrowed and his hand uncomfortingly near his sidearm. The privates looked amongst themselves nervously, they all feared Major Daniels, and then three of the braver ones (coincidentally not the three who had discovered the mummy the day before) strode forward. They each took up a crowbar and positioned them in different cracks and started prying.
While the privates pried at the heavy stone, Benni -images of the day before still fresh in his mind-took several precautionary steps back toward one of the two doors in the chamber. Henderson noted this, and as his memories of the day before were just as fresh, also took a step back. His two friends were quick to follow suit. Chamberlin noted this with some amusement, but that amusement did not prevent him from stepping away from the statue as well.
It seemed, after a couple of minutes, that the panel was loosening, and then the seams widened to a half inch . . .
. . . and a spray of milky liquid sprayed out from all around the seams, drenching the three privates.
The privates screamed, hitting pitches that men normally couldn't reach as the liquid stripped their cloths from them, making their flesh seem as liquid wax as it melted off of their frames, muscle and sinew quickly following. The corpses were near skeletal when they hit the ground, mere seconds later.
Everyone watched in shocked horror, frozen in place. The remaining privates started to shuffle toward the nearest exit, this was not why they had joined OZ, and the soft shuffling of their feet on the sandy floor snapped the majors out of their trance. Before the privates knew it, there were three desert eagles pointed at them.
"You men aren't going anywhere," Henderson growled. Without taking his eyes off of the potential deserters to glorious OZ, he growled at Chamberlin, "What the HELL was that!"
Chamberlin had approached the three corpses, giving them a quick once over before going to the statues' base. The panel had closed itself perfectly. "An ancient booby-trap. A very interesting one. Do you wish to move on, or explore this further?"
"We are not going anywhere," Daniels growled. He turned to the privates, waving his gun at them. "Move these corpses out of here!" Despite their reluctance to step forward, Daniels holding a gun on them was good motivation. A half hour later the corpses were in some remote chamber, buried under several inches of sand. All had reassembled in the shadow of Anubis, where the majors had made clear their desire to attempt the secret passage once again.
Henderson frowned as he stared at the secret panel. "Do booby-traps reset themselves?" he asked Professor Chamberlin. The Professor was also studying the secret panel. He was sure there was a trip lever somewhere, but it would probably take days to find, and their search for it might uncover another booby-trap, one as bad or worse than the last one. It was rumored that some curses used deadly plagues and viruses. He cleared his voice.
"I do not believe so. Now that this one has been set off, it should be safe to open it." He neglected to mention, while that particular booby-trap had been set off, there might be a secondary booby-trap.
"Get over here!" Daniels waved his gun at the remaining privates. "Three of you, now!" He kicked off the safety and aimed. Three privates immediately stepped forward, more due to the help of their ever-so-helpful friends than their own will. After a quick glare behind them, the three men stepped forward and picked up the dropped crowbars. With trepidation, they set them in the cracks, and hesitated.
Henderson aimed his gun at them, Daniels still pointing his at the others to keep them from running off. "Well, what are you waiting for?"
The three men looked at each other nervously, then as one started to pry out the massive stone. After a minute of prying, the stone started to give. They hesitated again.
"Go ahead," Burns said in a soft, menacing voice, "keep working at it."
With a quick prayer to God above, the men took a deep breath, and gave their all. The stone moved, and fell to the floor with a dull thunk.
A soft wind blew through the chamber, causing the hair on the backs of necks to rise. Three privates looked longingly toward the nearest exit. If anything else weird happened, they were out the door, guns or no guns.
"Move!" Henderson shoved the privates, who were surprised to see that they were still alive, out of his way and shone his flashlight into the darkened apartment. "There is a box in here."
Burns quickly rushed forward with Professor Chamberlin. Daniels stayed where he was, just to make sure that his men didn't decide to wander away. Chamberlin reached in, and pulled out a beautifully decorated box, covered with hieroglyphs and hieratics, decorated with brightly painted cartouches of winged sun disks and griffons. The gods were present as well, falcon-headed Horus, jackal-headed Anubis and cat-headed Bastet . . .
Chamberlin knelt down and pulled out his ever trusty handkerchief and dusted off the lid. What treasure did the Ancient Egyptians value so much, or fear, that it was intrusted to Anubis to watch over? The Egyptologist began translating, softly whispering long dead words to himself. The hair on the back of his neck began to rise, and a cold prickle raced down his spine.
"What does it say?" Daniels demanded, turning his head, but not his gun, in the Professor's direction.
His voice somber, his tone low, Chamberlin began to speak, not once removing his eyes from the deadly story before him. "There appears to be a horrid curse on this chest . . . "
"Curse? Like hell! Does it say what is in the box?"
Chamberlin looked up at the three majors. "Gentlemen, please. As we saw earlier, we must proceed here with caution. Things here are not like they are in our world."
"Caution is fine and dandy," Henderson growled. "But this old guy," he motioned at the statue, "has given us this box, so cut all the curse crap and tell us what the hell it says."
Professor Chamberlin gave Major Henderson a long look, then recited the phrase he had translated, and was now engraved in his mind. " 'Death shall come on swift wings to whomever defiles this chest.' "
A strong gust of warm, moist air blew through the chamber, and three privates bolted out the nearest door. Daniels swore gruffly as the others made suit to follow their compatriots. Less than a minute later the three majors, Chamberlin and Benni gazed down at the two remaining privates.
"Your aim is getting bad," Burns commented idly, taking off his glasses and peering at them, then taking out a handkerchief to wipe them off. "And here I thought I needed glasses."
Daniels sneered at Burns, who wasn't affected at all, and turned to the Professor. "Open the damn box."
His heart beating rapidly in fear, Professor Chamberlin stared down the major. He would get his say first. "The curse goes on to say that there is a mummy within this city, a mummy -should he be brought back to the world of the living- is bound by ancient and sacred law to consummate the most appalling of curses."
Silence filled the room as the five men recalled the discovery of the day before. Benni glanced at the exit nearest to him, then over at the three majors, measuring the distance.
"Well," Henderson said with false bravado -there was no way in hell he was going to let the others think he was afraid- "we will just not bring it back to life." A short pause followed that statement, and then Henderson turned to Burns. "Did you . . . um . . . lock the coffin when we left?"
Burns shook his head and put on his glasses.
With some effort, Daniels ignored his two lifelong friends. "Open the box," he repeated, his voice getting softer and more menacing.
"The undead mummy shall kill all those who participate in opening of this chest, and shall assimilate their organs and fluids. By doing this, he shall regenerate and be undead no more, but a plague upon the world such as that has never been seen before."
Burns snickered. "Makes him sound almost as bad as those damn Gundam pilots."
Henderson turned his head. "Benni get over here . . . " He rapidly looked around, accompanied by Burns, Daniels and the Professor. The little ground-grubbing fink was gone.
"Damned little bastard must have snuck out when we weren't looking," Daniels growled. The next time he saw the little vermin, he was sporting a bullet hole in the forehead.
"Is that thing booby-trapped?"
Blinking in confusion, Chamberlin turned to Henderson. "No, that would be a defilement of a sacred object. The curse is the booby-trap."
Henderson snorted and grabbed a crowbar and jammed it under the lid. "Then this box is open!"
"Major Henderson, don't!"
With a sharp crack, the lid popped open, spraying the four men in a spray of three thousand plus years old dust. After the dust settled, and the wheezing and coughing subsided, Professor Chamberlin crawled over and peered into the chest. He ignored the three majors, all of whom had their sidearms aimed at the chest. What they were expecting was something the Professor did not want to waste time speculating on.
Inside the crate, was a square object wrapped in white Egyptian cotton. With reverence, he reached in and pulled it out. Carefully he unwrapped the cotton, revealing for the first time in thousands of years the object within.
"That isn't The Book of Amun Ra."
Chamberlin shook his head, stroking the obsidian cover, reading the sacred inscriptions. "No, it isn't. It is the Black Book of the Dead." A second later what Henderson said sunk in. "You were seeking The Book of Amun Ra?"
The three majors scowled at the small Professor. "Then you should be interested in this book as well. It is as valuable and revered as The Book of Amun Ra."
"And locked," Burns grumbled. "Why is everything here locked?"
A silence filled the room as they all realized what the last lock they encountered was on. Then they looked at the book.
The other three men gazed at Daniels, who was holding out the key to Chamberlin.
"Hey! That's mine," Burns protested, his hand patting the empty jacket pocket where he had put the puzzle box that morning.
"You are aware that by opening this book, all responsibility and blame for what will come from that action will fall to us?"
"Who gives a damn, we are opening the God-damn book!" With a quick motion, he was down on his knees next to Chamberlin. With a sharp twist of his wrist, the lock gave a loud click, and a strong burst of wind, the strongest yet, rushed through the room.
"Okay, I have had enough," Burns holstered his gun. "Close the book and lets get it to the Commander and go on leave."
"Chickening out?" Daniels mocked.
"I think Burns might have a good idea there, Daniels. Maybe we should listen."
While that little conversation was going on, Professor Chamberlin, driven by a burst of curiosity and the longing to read a book long believed to be a myth, had started reading the book.
" 'Amun kum ra, Amun kum dei.' "
The three majors stopped bickering and turned to the Professor as he repeated an incantation that had not been spoken for thousands of years, and incantation that was never meant to be read again . . .
. . . and in the chamber below, within the wooden coffin, eyeless eyes opened, and rotted vocal cords vibrated as the mummy was finally able to let lose with the screams that had been unheard over three thousand years ago.
The scream echoed through the passages, chilling the blood of all that heard it. The seven privates, who had long split up in their mad dash, picked up the pace in their desperate search for the exit. Benni, the blood leaving his face, scurried around desperatly in his search for a hiding place. While so occupied, he had time to reflect on why he had disobeyed the warning of his many times ancestor, the lone survivor of a garrison of Foreign Legionnaires who were massacred here.
In the chamber with the stature of Anubis, Burns hastily closed the book, interrupting the Professor's recital of the incantation.
"Ahh-chuu!!" Heero, Duo and Wufei all sneezed at the same time. The three Gundam pilots glanced at each other then went back to what they were doing.
"Someone must be talking about us," Duo said casually a second later, rubbing his nose with one hand, the other leaning against a metal disk set in a frame. His weight tilted the disk skyward "Probably OZ."
"Maxwell, watch what you are doing!" Wufei hissed as he positioned a gleaming bronze disk. Duo snorted and angled his disk in the position that Wufei wanted.
"Why are we doing this?" Duo asked, stepping back. For the past half hour, Wufei had made him clean and position six disks set in frames around a crevice in the ground. Not to far away, seeming to be watching them was a huge statue, buried up to the shoulders, of a man with the head of some sort of dog, a jackal if Duo remembered his history correctly.
"For light," Wufei stated in a slightly strained voice. Heero looked up from the rope he was tying around a nearby pillar. Duo snorted.
"How are a bunch of old disks gonna give us light?"
Wufei sighed. There were times, every once in a great while, when he was sure that Duo was a lot smarter than he let on. Now was not one of them. He was contemplating explaining the theory behind the mirrors when Heero spoke.
"Do you hear that?"
Both Duo and Wufei paused in what they were doing and listened. Off in the distance, a soft buzzing noise, like a far off plane, getting louder, more intense.
"Over there!" Duo exclaimed, pointing to the horizon. A huge black cloud had risen, and was rapidly approaching their position.
"Sand?" Wufei asked, shading his eyes, trying to see better. Heero shook his head, doing the same.
Duo gave a soft gasp as the strangely pulsating cloud grew closer and the buzzing grew louder. He spun around and leaped off the shelf he was standing on. "Get into the crevice, now!"
Heero and Wufei watched in surprise as Duo threw the rope in, gave it a vicious tug to be sure it was fastened securely, and started repelling down. They turned to the cloud, and now they could see it wasn't a cloud in the true sense of the word, but a mass of dark insects flying through the air, heading straight toward them! Wufei leaped down from where he was and quickly slid down the rope. Heero was right behind him. He waited as long as he could for Wufei to be clear, and, instead of grabbing the rope, he slid his legs into the crevice and jumped just as the first of the insects reached him!
Heero landed a bare three feet from Wufei, who had just touched the ground himself. Duo was several yards away, his flashlight already out and on, looking around the room.
"What was that?" Wufei demanded, his voice shaken.
"Locust," Duo said softly. "A swarm of locust. In the bible they were one of the ten plagues visited on the Egyptians when the Pharaoh refused to free Moses and his people." Heero and Wufei both blinked in astonishment and stared at Duo. "Huh?" Duo said, feeling their looks on him. "Hey! I do know things, after all!"
"Where are we?" Heero asked, changing the subject. Wufei pulled out his flashlight and shone it around the room then looked up at the crevice. The dark cloud of insects was gone. Nodding to himself, he walked toward a bronze mirror on a stand much like the ones they had found above. He tilted it slightly, catching a ray of sun streaming down, and the ray bounced off and hit another mirror. In seconds, the beam of light had made its way around the room, shining off of a dozen other mirrors, providing more than adequate light to see by.
"Neat trick," Duo murmured. Then he looked around. "Sugee . . . " Heero and Wufei looked around the room, trying to see what Duo had seen. Their gaze fell onto walls, showing them the intricate carvings of geometric designs and figures of gods and goddesses that had been painstakingly carved into the walls.
"Wondrous," Wufei breathed in reverence as he looked up, all of his scholarly instincts taking over. This was the discovery of a lifetime. The ceiling was even carved. His fingers itched to touch something, anything, just to reassure himself that this was real. "No living man has walked into this room for over three thousand years."
"That is nice," Duo commented. "But what is this room, and how far away is the treasure from here?"
Wufei closed his eyes in deep pain and sighed. The history of this place called to him, the wonders of discovery of an ancient race, and he was stuck with a treasure-hungry American loud-mouth and a suicidal bent perfect soldier. There was no justice in the world. "We are in a Sah-Netjer," he finally said in defeat.
"Ah!" Duo nodded, as if he understood what Wufei had said. "Which means . . . "
This hurt, badly. "It is a preparation chamber, Maxwell." Wufei bit out. And if he asked what ~that~ meant . . .
"Ah!" Duo exclaimed again, looking around the room at the various devices that looked a lot like instruments of torture. "A mummy room! So, what kind is it, first class, second class or steerage?"
Heero and Wufei both stared at Duo for a moment, before deciding not to bother with him. Heero, because whatever Duo was babbling about, as usual, had nothing to do with the mission, and was thus not worth paying any attention to. Besides which, he was pretty sure he didn't want to know what he was talking about. Mummies were something that ranked way down on the bottom of the list of things he wanted to know about. Way at the bottom. And it was going to stay there too. Wufei because he was beginning to have the sneaking suspicion that Duo knew much more about Ancient Egyptian culture and history than he was letting on to. Which mean there was a good chance he knew exactly what the mirrors were used for. Which meant he made all that fuss about setting them up properly just to harass him. And if that was true, he did _not_ want to know!
"So," Duo, unaware of what the others were thinking, sat down on a pedestal-like altar not far away from the opening of the crevice. "What do we do now?"
Wufei was giving Duo a slightly sick look. "Do you have any idea what you are sitting on was used for?"
"Eh?" With a wicked grin, Duo looked over at Wufei. "Whoever last used it is long gone, and why fear the dead?" He patted the granite block. "Besides, just think. I am probably the first living body ever to be on this table!"
A greenish tinge shadowed his normal caramel skin tone at the imagery Duo's words summoned. Before he could say something derogatory about how morbid Duo was being, probably for his benefit, Heero gave them both cold scowls and snorted. Without waiting for them, he quickly marched out of the room. With a smile and a shake of his head, Duo hopped down and walked after him, Wufei right beside him.
The four men shook like small children. "What was that?" Henderson demanded in a shaky voice. "Someone tell me that it was natural, whatever it was."
"It sounded like it came from beneath this very room," Professor Chamberlin looked away from the book, which had locked itself the moment Burns shut it, down at the sand-covered stone floor.
"Does it matter?" Daniels asked.
Obviously Burns thought so, for he had pulled out a battered notebook from one of his jacket's pockets at the Professor's observation. "I think," he murmured, running his finger across the paper, following this passage and that, his own hand drawn map of the City of the Dead. "That beneath us is," he flipped several pages down, his finger following the mark of his pencil until he came to an area marked as a chamber. "The room we found the mummy in . . . " his voice trailed off as he looked to his feet. The other three followed his gaze, then looked at each other.
"The sarcophagus must have fallen through the ceiling into the chamber below," Chamberlin whispered. "He was buried at the feet of Anubis." That meant nothing to the three majors, but it said a lot to the Professor. Whomever the mummy was, he needed one of the Gods to keep an eye on him. This was getting worse and worse.
"We should be leaving now," Burns said hastily, cramming his notebook into his pocket and grabbing the key from where it was sitting on the floor. "Go back, make our report, forget this place ever existed."
"Sounds good to me Burns," Henderson quickly said. While it was not acceptable to admit to cowardice, prudence did dictate a retreat at this point in time. "Daniels?" Daniels nodded sullenly. He agreed, but he wasn't happy about it.
"All this damn way," Daniels growled, "and we leave without the damn book!" Driven by frustration and rage, Daniels savagely kicked in the side of the small chest, much to the chagrin of the Professor. The force of the blow splintered the ancient wood, but underneath the sound of the chest breaking was the soft chiming of glass objects knocking against each other.
"What is this?" Chamberlin reached out and cleared away the wood from the broken panel. Hidden in a special compartment at the bottom of the chest were several canopic jars.
"Oh!" Henderson bent down and pulled out one of the jars, one with a falcon on the lid. "Treasure."
"Canopic jars," Chamberlin duly informed the majors as Henderson pulled out the rest of the hidden jars. "They contain the preserved entrails of a mummy." He grew silent as he watched Major Henderson hand out the jars, one to each of them. A fifth jar had been broken sometime during the thousands of years it had been in hiding, and the site of that jar sent a frizzle of dread down his spine. Normally there were only four sacred jars, one each to contain the liver, stomach, lungs, and intestines. The presence of a fifth jar, for the heart, was unsettling, for the Ancient Egyptians believed in leaving the heart in the mummy, so it could stand before Osiris and be judged.
Before Chamberlin could comment on this, a shrill scream echoed through the corridors. A second scream quickly followed, and abruptly cut off. Then there was silence.
"Definitely time to leave!" Burns announced, clutching his jar tightly in one arm, his hand going to his gun. This time there were no arguments, hard feelings or recriminations. The men quickly gathered themselves and rapidly left the room.
"Did you hear that?" Duo hissed sharply, shining his flashlight rapidly up and down the corridor they were walking in. "Screaming."
Wufei snorted as he walked past Duo. "Nothing to worry about Maxwell. Someone probably found a weak spot and fell through the floor . . . " Wufei then realized what it was he said, and stopped walking right before he ran into Heero, who had stopped as quickly as Duo had behind them.
"Thanks a lot Wufei," Duo said sarcastically, crossing his arms and glaring at the Chinese pilot. "That makes me feel ~sooo~ much better, knowing that the floor is going to cave in on me before the curse gets me." He was then the recipient of two sets of glares, one icy blue, one burning black.
"Duo . . . " Heero growled warningly.
"Urusai," Wufei hissed. Neither of them wanted to hear about curses anymore.
Duo, as he always did, ignored them. "Who would have believed that I, the Great Duo Maxwell, would perish in some ~stupid~ hole in the ground looking for some ~stupid~ book!"
"Shh!" Heero held out his arm, motioning for Duo to keep quiet, his eyes locked on the passage before him. Reflecting off the wall at a bend in the passage, was a moving spot of light.
"OZ," Duo whispered, suddenly serious. As one the three Gundam pilots switched off their flashlights. The dim light of the corridor was barely fit to see with, but they had been trained to preform in complete darkness.
Silently they crept forward, what little sound their shoes made muffled by the inches-thick layer of sand. As they approached the bend, the light grew more prominent, and they could hear the whisper of a pair of shoes walking toward them. Heero listened for a moment, then turned to his two companions and held up one finger. Duo and Wufei nodded, understanding what Heero was telling them. Only one person was in the corridor before them. Heero reached into the front of his shorts and pulled out his gun, as did Wufei. Duo pulled out his flashlight, aiming it at the bend. Once whomever it was came around, Duo was going to blind him.
The soft whisper of shoes grew closer and closer, and then, right at the bend, it stopped. The three pilots remained still, as only trained terrorists could, and waited. After a short pause, the footsteps began again, and the light swept around the corner.
Duo flashed on his light, blinding the person, who surprisingly did not call out. Heero jetted forward, sweeping the person to his feet, and grabbed the flashlight, flinging it hard against the wall. The man had been unarmed. Wufei, who had trained his gun on the person, was the one who first realized who it was they had captured.
"Treize Khushrenada!" he blurted out in shock.
Heero and Duo both gave the prone form astonished looks. For Heero, this translated to his eyebrows arching and his eyes opening wide. What was the leader of OZ doing running around buried corridors of an ancient city?
Treize looked up at the three young men who had surprised him. Gundam pilots? Here? And his Dragon was one of them. "It is quite surprising to find myself captured by Gundam pilots in this city. I do not suppose you are at liberty to say why you are here."
"Hnn." Heero raised his gun, pointing it at Treize's chest.
"I don't suppose you can say why ~you~ are here, can you?" Duo asked. Treize gave Duo an amused smile, shaking his head. "As I am apparently your captive, I don't believe I have much in the way of a choice. But first, may I please stand? I am unarmed and at your mercy, and the sand is quite uncomfortable."
Heero's eyes hardened, but Wufei nodded. "You may get to your feet." Treize nodded, and slowly rose.
"I am here to prevent a great tragedy from happening." Treize announced, brushing off his cloths, acting totally unconcerned that he was being held at gunpoint by three of the most wanted young men on or off the planet. "It came to my attention that a certain individual, high in the Romafeller Foundation, has came across the means to gain access to one of the greatest books of antiquity."
"The Golden Book of Amun Ra," Wufei stated, earning him a nod from Treize, a hard look from Heero, and a quizzical one from Duo.
"Correct. There have been others before him that knew of this book, of where it was and of what it contained, but it has always been considered too dangerous a risk for what one would achieve from it."
"Hold it!" Duo held up his hand. "You mean, you came here to ~stop~ them from getting the book?"
Treize looked over at the American pilot. "Yes, Duo Maxwell, I did."
"Why?" Duo demanded, then his eyes widened in realization. "The curse, it ~is~ real!" Treize nodded. Unseen by the others, Heero and Wufei winced. Great. Duo was getting encouragement. Just what they did ~not~ need.
"Indeed it is. Which is why, in over three thousand years, no one has ever successfully left this city alive."
"Curses are not real!" Heero growled, sighting down on Treize. He didn't know what to make of the General's claim, and didn't really care. His mission was to retrieve the book, and to eliminate any obstacles that stood in his way. He aimed carefully, with this bullet he would end one of the major problems in OZ, then the floor shook.
"Hey!" Duo yelped, flashing his light around them. "What was . . . that . . . " his voice faded off as he stared behind them. Wufei, Treize and even Heero looked to see what had caused Duo not to end his sentence. From the direction that the three pilots had came from, a mound of sand was rising up in the middle of the corridor, nearly reaching the heigh of a grown man. Duo's mouth was working rapidly, his voice straining to work, but nothing would come. Then the top of the mound seemed to spill open, and a wave of black, chittering beetles came pouring out toward them!
Duo, being a true red-blooded American who has watched one to many B rated horror movies, screamed, turned and bolted down the corridor. He paused in his flight just long enough to grab Heero -who for the first time in his life was gaping at something- and haul him after him. Wufei, who would most definitely protest if someone brought up the fact that he had reacted the same as Duo, also decided in a split-second of time that running was a damn fine idea. Much as Duo had, he turned tail and ran, pausing to grab Treize by the wrist, who -being a well-bred European noble- was staring in amazement at the wave of carrion beatles pouring toward him, much the same as Heero had been.
The four men ran down the dim corridors, running madly in the dim light as Duo had dropped his flashlight before he bolted, the chittering mass of man-eating scarab beatles following.
"Run for your lives!!!"
In another part of the City of the Dead, Professor Chamberlin and the three majors had encountered their own mass of wriggling, hungry insects. During their mad flight, in which they joined up with two of their missing privates, Major Burns had gotten separated from his friends. In normal conditions this wouldn't have mattered much, and even in this situation it wouldn't have been tragic, if it wasn't for the fact that Burns had tripped over a fallen stone, and knocked his glasses off, rendering him blind. Not blind in the sense that he couldn't see anything, however. Blind in the sense that everything was now indistinct colored blurs. And with his vision being on the wrong side of legally blind without corrective lenses, he was indeed in a spot of trouble.
And that wasn't even the half of it. "Daniels? Henderson! Where are you!" An indistinct figure separated itself from the wall ahead of him. Burns narrowed his eyes at the silent figure, trying to make out who it was. "Henderson, is that you?" The figure shambled toward him, and Burns had the sensation that something was wrong. If it had been one of his friends, or one of the privates or Benni, wouldn't they have said something by now? Then a sickeningly sweet sent reached him, one of decayed flesh. A choked scream made its way up his throat, the last sound he made as the figure, now close enough for Burns to see the decayed flesh and eyeless sockets of the mummy they had unearthed the day before, grabbed him.
The three Gundam pilots and the leader of OZ ran as if all the demons of Hades were after them. Which, if they had been given time to reflect, they probably would have chosen over the scarabs that were chasing them. Better odds of survival. As it was, they ran. Duo had finally released Heero, mainly because Heero could run faster in his tennis shoes than Duo could in his riding boots on sand. Behind them Treize had also made the discovery that fast exits and boots did not mix well with sand. Wufei, in his slippers, was not doing much better. After zigzagging through corridor after corridor they entered a large moderately well lit chamber with a set of stairs carved into the wall, several empty pedestals, and some deep open space between it all. As there was nowhere else to run, they made for the stairs. Halfway up the stairs Heero leaped for one of the pedestals, one to the left surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. Duo, not crazy enough to leap over six feet of long drop, dove for an alcove to the right which was positioned a safe yard above the stairs. Wufei, still holding onto Treize, jumped for a pedestal several feet below the one Heero was on, it being the last available space to jump to. Wufei made the jump with no problem, but the slick soles of Treize's boots slid on the sandstone and only Wufei's grip kept him from sliding into the waiting abyss.
As one, the four pilots watched as the wriggling mass of insects flowed up the stairs and out the door. They watched as several stragglers raced after the others, and then while they gave the beatles time to travel away from them, Duo leaned back against the wall in relief. He had never been so scared before in his life. Dying in battle, or being shot by an OZ soldier was preferable to be eaten alive by beatles. Even being captured by Lady Une was preferable, and that was saying a lot. He rested his full weight against the sandstone blocks, and suddenly they gave away on him. Before he had a chance to yell out, he was gone from view and the trap-door shut without a sound.
"I believe it is safe now," Wufei whispered, shaken. Having a hoard of flesh-eating scarabs chase you was a sobering experience.
"Nng," Heero nodded slightly, eyes still locked on the head of the stairs. Then he turned to where his koi was. The alcove was empty. He frowned, looking around. "Duo?" Wufei and Treize looked across the stairs at the empty space where they had last seen the pilot of Deathscythe Hell at the sound of Heero's question. In a moment Heero had easily leaped to the stairs and had rushed over and jumped up to the alcove. No sign of Duo anywhere. He ran his fingers across the wall, and his fingers encountered fine seams in the sandstone.
"Secret passage?" Wufei asked, coming up behind Heero. He gave a curt nod, and pushed against the wall.
"It looks as if Duo accidentally found the lever," Heero's eyes narrowed and he turned his head. Standing behind Wufei was Treize, who was studying the wall himself. "It shouldn't take much time to find it, if he found it so easily."
Wufei closed his eyes. Treize had no idea . . .
"Baka," Heero growled, turning his attention back to the wall. Stupid braided idiot. Couldn't he keep out of trouble for ten minutes consecutively? And this mission was not a good mission for him to go running around and getting into trouble. His fingers ran across the sandstone wall. The lever had to be around here somewhere.
A scream came from the corridor beyond the head of the stairs. The three pilots turned and looked up, just in time to see four men rush in. Three were OZ soldiers, two of them majors and they were running as though their lives depended on it.
"Get out of the way you bastards! Run for it!" Henderson yelled as he raced for the three pilots. Behind them came the highly familiar, unwelcomed sound of chittering. Wufei and Treize flattened themselves against the wall as Henderson and Daniels rushed past before they were knocked off the stairs, then started running themselves. Heero gave the wall one last, futile shove then jumped off himself and chased after the others. Ahead of him one of the OZ soldiers tripped over his own feet, sprawling down the rest of the stairs and landing on his face on the sandy floor. Heero hurdled over him, not even considering saving him. The beatles closed in.
Treize had stopped and turned around upon hearing the man's panicked scream, and watched as Heero leaped over the fallen man. He started to go back and help the soldier, when Wufei grabbed his arm.
"He is dead."
Heero shoved Wufei, and Treize as well, down the corridor just as a screech came from behind him. The two Gundam pilots turned, and Treize paled as the scarabs massed over the fallen man, consuming him.
"Run," Heero growled, starting to run down the corridor. The other men had disappeared from view, and Heero chose a corridor that looked as if no one had traveled through yet. With the beatles occupied by their meal, they should be able to get away. Wufei grabbed Treize and hauled him after them.
"Damn, fucking, stupid DOOR!" Duo banged his fists against the wall where he had fallen through. "Open the hell back up and let me through!" But the door, like a certain princess he was acquainted with, did not listen.
"Shit!" Duo growled, kicking up sand. Now what the hell was he supposed to do? "Go to the city, find the book, no problem," Duo growled under his breath. "I'm gonna kill someone for this." Who, he was not sure of yet. But someone. He peered around in the darkness. There seemed to be a glimmer of light ahead of him. At this moment, running across OZ wouldn't be bad. It sure beat the beatles, and he could flinch a flashlight off of them and go in search of Heero and Wufei. And the exit. The exit was very important to Duo. At this point, the mission could go to hell in a handbasket as far as he was concerned. He just wanted out.
He walked toward the light, it didn't seem to be a flashlight, too diffused. Probably a natural source, maybe another network of mirrors was providing it. He rounded a corner, then froze. Ahead of him his back toward Duo, was an OZ soldier. Duo tilted his head to one side, watching the man. He was acting weird, his hands held out in front of him, shuffling slowly across the sand, making strange choked moaning sounds.
'Hell,' Duo thought, walking toward the man. 'Grab his gun and make him lead you out of here. They found the damn place, they've got to have a map of the joint.'
With fingers skilled with years of practice, Duo flinched the gun and pointed it at the man's back. "Okay man, you are leading me out of this hell-hole, so march!" Duo stumbled back as the man spun around, his arms waiving for balance. Then he gasped as he looked at the man.
"God!" Duo gagged as he backed away, the gun still pointed at the soldier. The man had had his eyes ripped out! Empty gapping sockets stared at Duo, blood dribbling down the man's cheeks like vampire tears. The man made motions as though to speak, and a frothy bubbly burble came from his lips. Duo realized in horror that the man's tongue had been ripped out as well. He placed his hand over his mouth to keep from retching.
The man continued to come toward him, making desperate sobbing sounds deep within his throat. Duo continued to back away, wanting to run, but unable to look away. He took several more steps, he should be coming up on a passage way any moment now, when he ran into someone. Duo spun around, hoping that it was Heero, and gazed upon a three thousand plus year old mummy, who was gazing at him with fresh eyeballs.
The mummy blinked and peered at Duo, his new eyes not being the best. It made out a delicate face, huge eyes, and long hair pulled back into a braid. Could it be?
Duo gagged back vomit as he watched a fresh pink tongue shape unfamiliar words in a face that had definitely seen better years, and screamed. Unable to do anything coherently, his body acted on automatic and Duo stumbled backwards until he encountered a wall. The mummy started shuffling toward him, a rotting hand held out to him. It was like one of Duo's worst nightmares coming true. Scratch that, it was his worst nightmare come to reality.
Off to the side there was a low wailing as Burns, recognizing the voice of the monster that had attacked him, tried to crawl away. The mummy gave Burns a brief glance, but turned away. All its attention was on the frail form braced against the wall before him.
"Kadeesh pahros Anck-su-namun!" Imhotep called out, reaching toward Duo.
Shivering with terror, his blood running like ice in his veins, Duo valiantly tried to escape the living nightmare he was immersed in. He hugged the wall, knowing that if he stepped away that his knees would give away, and inched his way along the wall. The mummy slowly shuffled after him, rotting muscles and ligaments struggling to work, and Duo realized that if he could only get his legs working right he could outrun the living corpse and get away. With force of will, Duo kept up his stumbling slide along the wall, neither gaining nor losing ground to the approaching horror. Then one questing hand ran out of wall and encountered open space. An exit. With a low whimper of relief, Duo spun into the doorway as well as shaky legs could manage, and ran into a body.
"AHHHHH!!!" Duo yelled, nerves finally snapping.
"Baka!" a low voice responded. Duo froze, looked up, and lunged into his koi's arms.
"Save me! It's gonna get me!"
Heero shook his head. "Quit fooling around," he growled, peeling Duo off of him, which was by no means a simple task. It seemed as if Duo had been taking lessons from an octopus, or Relena. As he tried to remove the desperately clinging Duo from his person, he realized that his partner was shaking like a leaf, and that there was a sheen of sweat on his chilled skin. He grabbed Duo's arms and thrusted him away to arms length. "What is it?" Heero's blue eyes met wide, terror-stricken violet ones. Duo shook his head, unable to say anything. Behind Heero, Wufei and Treize finally caught up with them. They saw the two pilots, then looked into the chamber beyond.
"Dear God!" Treize gasped out. A low moan came from Duo as he saw the looks on Wufei and Treize's faces, and realized that the mummy was probably still approaching.
Heero glanced up and beyond Duo, then paled. In one move he had thrown Duo protectively behind him and pulled out his gun. With dead-on accuracy Heero placed six bullets through the creature's chest. The mummy stumbled, then collapsed onto the ground.
"M . . . mu . . . mummy!" Duo finally forced out. He had curled his arms around his knees and was holding himself in a shuddering ball.
"Who is here . . . holy shit!" Henderson yelled out as he, Daniels and Professor Chamberlin skidded to a halt on the other side of the room. They gazed at the putrid mass of rotting flesh and oozing bandages on the floor. "The mummy!"