By Lady Koneko
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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. Sefic 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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~ ~ Prologue ~ ~
Cold, it was so cold. So cold that it went beyond cold, freezing everything, even the soul. <no> Dark it was so dark. Not the darkness of space, so full of everything that all could not be seen, not a comforting blanket of darkness with a spill of shining diamonds watching. The darkness of nothing, and he was in that nothing <no please> The boy could feel them, the eyes, watching from the nothingness. Just watching. That was all they did. They never condemned, they never acted. The boy couldn't see them, but he knew that they could see him, see beyond his masks, his fears, And they watched. The nothing changed around him, and the boy shivered in dread resignation and growing horror of what he couldn't prevent. Of what has been. <please not again> An old church in ruin slowly formed around the boy. Most of the ceiling was gone, and the rafters rested in odd angles across the broken and tumbled pews. Though no light shown in from the open roof, there was plenty of light for the boy to see by. Stain glass windows, once works of art and inspiration and now shattered, glowed as though the sun shone through them. There was no sun, beyond the broken glass was more of the ever encompassing, ever present darkness. Off in the distance, softly, then growing louder, there was the sound of dripping. Not from any one place, but from everywhere and nowhere. The muted scent of copper and the sickening scent of death filled the air of the church. <not again> The boy crawled across the floor, to the front of the church. Hands and knees encountered pools of warm stickiness that he avoided looking at, knowing what it was, and not wanting to acknowledge it. He continued his desperate crawl to the front of the church, to the faint refuge that the alter would provide. Soft footfall from the back of the church, the sounds of boots on wooden floors, made themselves heard. The boy reached the alter, and leaned against it. <stop> The footfalls continued, not growing louder, not yet, but growing in numbers until the boy could not make out the sounds of individual footfalls. The boy's hand crept from the smooth wood of the alter to fumble at the neckline of his shirt. Clumsy fingers encountered a chain, and pulled on it until they encountered the comforting shape of a cross. With it grasped desperately in his hand, and knowing that what he did was pointless, the boy turned and faced down the isle of the church. <please stop> The double doors were in the same shape as the rest of the church. One door hung crookedly by a single hinge, the other was braced shut by a beam that had fallen against, then through the thick wood. The footfalls were getting louder now, as they approached, and the boy could see something in the darkness beyond the one door, something moving. The scent of death grew stronger, and a new scent made its entrance, the putrid scent of decaying flesh. The boy whimpered even as he braced his back against the alter, afraid of what he was about to see. <someone> They came through the door in pairs. Side by side they made their way up the aisle toward him. Grown men, soldiers, some were wearing the uniforms of Federation soldiers; others were wearing the more elaborate uniform of the OZ Specials. <stop this> The scent of death and decay grew as the soldiers grew nearer, and the boy's eyes were locked on the soldiers as they came to him. Solders of the dead. They came to him as they had died, bodies broken and torn from battle. Their eyes gleamed coldly as they shuffled and limped to the one who had killed them. The boy pressed back, unable to act, knowing that there was nothing he could do. Times before, he had tried to run from them, or hide from them. It had never worked. No matter what he had done, they had always found him, always caught him. The corpses grew closer, and the boy could see the changes time had wrought since the last time he had been here. The older corpses, those he knew the best, were decaying. The flesh was falling from their bones, and dark fluids dripped from them. Intermixed with them were new faces, fresh corpses, dripping blood and gore as they approached the one who caused them to be here. <someone> They surrounded him, grinning at him with twisted smiles of darkened teeth and rotted flesh. "Nooooo..." The scream filled the church as the dead closed in on the young boy, hands touching him, hands holding him, hands pulling at him... And in the darkness the eyes watched.
The Gundam Mummy
Chapter Two: The Land of the Living
Cairo - 195 AC
Duo woke the next morning in a near panic. He sat up in bed, gasping, wide eyes rapidly searching the room as he strove to calm his rapidly beating, fear driven heart. Empty. Not another soul, either living or dead, was present. <Hate those dreams, > Duo moaned to himself and lowered his head into his shaking hands. <Just hate them. > Dreams of the dead. Dreams of all those whom he had killed coming for him. And silently watching him from the darkness were all those who had perished in the Maxwell Church Massacre. Not condemning, but always there. He shivered. He hadn't had one those dreams since he and Heero became a couple. There was nothing like curling up against the warm body of the one you love to keep ghosts of the past at bay. With the wonderful fun and games of the day before, it was no wonder that the dream had returned in all its gory detail. Giving a resigned sigh, Duo fought his way out of the tangle of sheets and climbed out of bed. The interesting things had not ended once they left Hamanaptra either. Upon exiting the city, they had all boarded Treize's private jet (mainly because it was the quickest way to leave) and made for Cairo. Since Treize knew of their presence at The City of the Dead, he had to be neutralized. Surprisingly though, Treize had not made mention of the identity of the three teens to anyone. When Major Henderson had asked on the flight back just who these boys were, Treize had told him that they were three students on leave who had gotten lost exploring the desert and had stumbled across Hamanaptra. All three Gundam pilots were shocked, but schooled their expressions so that no one noticed. The two majors bought the story, and had left them alone. Wufei, quickly adopting the attitude of an innocent student, had asked if he could sit up in the cockpit and watch Treize pilot the plane. Treize had given Wufei a knowledgeable grin, and agreed. Heero had no arguments with this. Someone needed to keep an eye on Treize. Once in Cairo, Treize had them all taken to his current place of residence, Fort Brydon. Originally it had been a twentieth century British fort, it now served as a minor OZ base and living quarters for OZ officials staying in Egypt; its old time amenities being a charming difference from the modern bases that were far more common, making it more like a resort than a working base. As soon as they arrived at the fort and settled in, they all went their separate ways. Henderson and Daniels took Burns to the base's doctor. Professor Chamberlin quietly took note of the location of his room and left. He hadn't said a word since Hamanaptra. Wufei and Treize had left together, telling the others that they had discovered on the flight that they both had a mutual appreciation of the sword. They were off to have a duel. Duo had rolled his eyes and Heero narrowed his before he grabbed Duo by the braid and hauled him off to their room. Duo had still been upset by what had happened earlier, and as soon as he and Heero had reached the relative safety of their room, he had taken a long hot shower to calm his frazzled nerves, and to wash all the sand out of his long hair. It took the better part of an hour before he felt ready to leave. Bundled up in two Turkish towels, Duo went and sat on the bed to watch Heero while he dried his hair. Heero had summoned up his laptop out of somewhere (Duo had yet to figure out just where Heero kept it, just as he did not know where Wufei kept his sword.) and was busy typing on it. After drying his hair Duo retired for the day, mentally and physically exhausted. Heero had stayed up late into the night typing on his laptop. "Knew the curse was real, but would anyone listen to little ol' me?" Duo asked of the empty room. "Noo~o, of course not. 'Curses are not real Duo,' they said. 'Mummies do not attack people Duo.' Yeah right!" Someone was going to be eating his words; that was for sure. He stood up and went in search of his cloths. They weren't scattered across the floor, which was where he had left them the day before, so Heero must have picked them up. Who knew where they were then. "And I know Heero is planning on going back, haven't completed the mission yet," Duo grumbled. " 'Nimun ryoukai.' He has got to learn when a mission just isn't worth completing. Hm... Not in the dresser..." And Heero wouldn't have shoved them under the bed; that was something he would do. Lets see... he looked over at the wardrobe. The building was so old it didn't even have proper closets. "I am going to find him, convince him that this mission blows, and to tell the doctors that if ~they~ want the fucking book so bad, then ~they~ can go and get the damn thing themselves. Serve them right," he muttered, opening the wardrobe. "~I'm~ not going back to that pile of rocks, no way in hell!" His cloths were not here either, but a new chambre shirt of red silk was on a hanger, and on the shelf below that was a pair of black jeans, socks, under shorts and a pair of black sneakers. They were the only cloths present. "Guess I have to were these." Duo held the shirt up and looked at it. His size. Wondering just where the new cloths came from -he was pretty sure Heero hadn't gone off on a shopping trip- he quickly took a shower and got dressed. "Not bad Duo," he nodded to himself as he looked at his slim form reflecting back at him from the full-length mirror, spinning to see if the gun he had hidden at the small of his back was visible with the way he was wearing his shirt. It wasn't. Neither was the knife he had sheathed at his ankle. They may be unwitting guests here, but there was no way he was going to run around unarmed in an OZ base. The only problem he could see was that it was going to be damn uncomfortable to walk around all day with the gun pressed against his bare skin. How did Heero do it? And it would be a bit difficult to draw, he would have to pull his shirttails out to grab it, but it was the best he could do under the circumstances. "Not bad at all." While he preferred black, there was nothing like red to bring out the highlights in his hair. "No way Heero picked out this shirt." Heero wouldn't know fashion sense if it jumped out and bit him. Ah well, time to get going. First priority, find Heero... his stomach growled. Belatedly he remembered that he hadn't had anything to eat since yesterday morning. Okay, quick change of plans. First priority, find some breakfast. Then find Heero and Wufei, and head back to the safe house after picking up their Gundams. Then he was going to have a nice, long talk with the doctors...
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It was just his luck to find Heero and Wufei in the last place imaginable. He had grabbed a cup of coffee -heavy on the cream and sugar- and several bagels smothered with cream cheese and jam at the cantina and had then proceeded to turn the fort upside down and inside out looking for his fellow pilots. He had even hacked into the system and checked to see if they had been taken prisoner. No such luck, but he had found out that Trowa and Quatre had been successful in their mission. Deciding that, after two hours of searching, he was due a break he wandered out of the fort proper. He had noticed yesterday as they entered that there was a bar conveniently located right across from the fort's entrance. A quick cold drink or two, and he would return to his search. The bar was several degrees cooler than the outside, which didn't say much as Duo estimated that it was well over a hundred and ten outside, and that was in the shade. It didn't bother him though. L2 was a hot colony after all, not that it was intended to be so, but broken weather systems had a tendency to do that to colonies. Of course, Duo lifted his braid off his neck a bit, it wasn't ~quite~ this hot there either. Or dry. L2, while having hardly any rain to speak of, was highly humid. A breeze right about now would be nice. The air felt like a heavy, dry blanket. There was a ceiling fan rotating the hot air inside, keeping the air from smothering the patrons, but didn't do much to cool things off. In the center of the bar was an ornate fountain made of blue and white tile with little gold koi swimming in it, which added a bit of welcomed moisture to the air. He stepped around the fountain on his way to the bar, and stopped in surprise as he stared at two young men sitting in front of him. Heero and Wufei? Sitting in a bar? And it looked as if they had acquired new cloths as well. Heero was wearing a blue chambre shirt, sleeves rolled up several inches to expose his forearms and a pair of stonewashed jeans. He was still wearing his sneakers. Wufei, surprisingly enough, was wearing a long-sleeved oriental styled shirt of royal purple silk. His jeans were black like Duo's and he had a new pair of black sneakers as well. He watched them for a moment, then with a cheery grin on his face he approached. "Hey guys!" Duo exclaimed, laying claim to the barstool next to Heero. "How's it going?" He got a matched set of withered glares for his effort. "Maxwell, after what happened yesterday, how can you be in such good cheer?" Duo waved at the bartender to catch his attention. "Because I'm here, the mummy is there, and now that I have found you two, we can blow this hell hole and head back to Quatre's." The bartender made his way over and Duo placed his order, a virgin mai tai, to Heero and Wufei's surprise. While he wasn't averse to drinking alcoholic beverages, he knew that he was a bit dehydrated from the running around he had done earlier, and alcohol would just make it worse. Besides, he was not going to fuddle his wits while in an OZ base. He may be reckless, but he was a far cry from stupid. "The mission has not been completed," Heero predictably said as soon as the bartender had fixed Duo's drink and had left. "And it's not going to, either." Duo took a long swallow of his drink. Perfect. "I'm not going back. There is nothing there I consider important enough to go back for." "I agree." Heero and Duo turned to Wufei. "To go back would be to die a dishonorable death." "Yeah." Duo slowly nodded. Wufei's complete agreement with his idea was a bit unsettling. He had expected a little resistance. Not much, but some. Looks like Wufei had been rattled by what had happened as well. "Whatever. Mission failed. Lets put it behind us and go back to the safe house." "Hey, you three!" The Gundam pilots looked up as Majors Henderson and Burns approached. They looked as if they still hadn't quite recovered from yesterday's events. There was a haunted look in their eyes. The three pilots quickly looked at each other, then Duo turned to the OZ soldiers with a look of honest concern on his face. "How's your friend?" "Not good," Henderson said curtly. "How long are you three boys planning on staying here?" "Not long," Wufei replied, taking a sip of his drink. "Arrangements have been made for us to leave later this afternoon." Henderson and Daniels nodded, missing the look Heero and Duo cast Wufei at that bit of news. "You do understand everything you saw yesterday cannot be spoken about." "Not a prob., believe me." Duo assured him. "I am aiming on forgetting that yesterday ever happened." "Good," Daniels said gruffly. "See that all of you do." The bartender came back over and took the majors' order. Heero and Wufei were still working on their drinks, and Duo noted from the condition of the ice cubes in the drinks, had been working on them for a while now. His glass was nearly empty, so he ordered another drink. Henderson and Daniels had ordered bourbon and a whiskey neat respectively. When the drinks had arrived, Duo held his up for a toast with a cheeky grin. "May our paths never cross again." Henderson and Daniels both grinned and raised their glasses. Heero ignored them, and Wufei glared at Duo even as he lifted his glass of gin off the bar. "Kenpai!" Duo exclaimed, tossing his drink down as the others sipped theirs. Not even a second later, all four of them were spitting out their drinks. Around the bar other patrons were doing the same. "What the hell!" Henderson swore, wiping his sleeve against his mouth and glaring at his drink. "Blood!" Daniels mutely glared around the room; someone was going to pay for this. Wufei was swearing a blue streak; when Daniels had spat out his drink, it has splattered him. It was highly possible that if the bartender wasn't preoccupied, and understood Chinese, that Wufei would have been expelled from the bar. Heero was silently observing. It was a scientific impossibility for perfectly good drinks to spontaneously turn into blood. He glanced around the room, and noticed that even the fountain had turned red. Suspiciously he looked over at Duo. Was he somehow responsible for this? Duo didn't even notice the look. "Oh God," he whispered, staring at his drink in shocked horror. Wufei and the two majors turned to him. Suddenly Duo spun around on his barstool, his violet eyes quickly scanning the bar. He had gone quite pale, and there was a look of fear on his face that Heero and Wufei had seen only once before. Yesterday. "He's here, he's here," Duo murmured under his breath, still looking. "Who's here?" Heero demanded softly, his blue eyes burning. He had a bad suspicion he knew what his koi was about to say, and it wasn't going to be pleasant. " 'And the rivers and waters of Egypt went red... and were as blood.' " Duo quoted softly, turning to Heero and Wufei. "It is one of the ten plagues, like the locusts." Wufei's eyes grew wide and he quickly glanced around the bar. "And that means..." Henderson prompted, not understanding the plague reference but still having a bad, sinking feeling that he knew what was about to be said. Duo closed his eyes and shivered. "The mummy. The mummy is here." The four men stared at one another for a long second as Duo's announcement sunk in and took hold, then broke for the door in a dead run. Heero had paused long enough to grab Duo -who seemed to be frozen in place- by the wrist and hauled him after him. Thus encumbered, he and Duo were the last of the group to reach the doors. Henderson and Daniels had disappeared from view, probably off to a private hiding place or, more likely all things considered, off to the armory. Wufei was standing just outside the doors, looking up into the sky, an intent, worried look on his face. Heero and Duo both looked up, and saw dark, almost black clouds violently rolling through the sky toward them at an alarming rate. The three pilots looked at each other, and came to an unanimous decision to run like hell to their suits. They had barely made it across the road and into the courtyard of the fort when a crack of thunder broke above them, nearly deafening them. "Shit!" Duo yelled, no longer in the state of panic he was in earlier. "What the hell is happening?" As though Duo's question was the signal, the sky opened, sending a barrage of hail and fire crashing to the ground like all the fury of the Catholic hell Duo had learned about as a child. The three pilots ran for the nearest shelter, a metal awning, being pelted by hail and dodging exploding fireballs that were the size of basketballs. " 'And the Lord sent thunder and hail and fire unto the lands of Egypt.' " Treize intoned from behind them. Heero and Wufei turned and looked at the older man, who was solemnly watching as his soldiers ran in panic trying to find shelter. Duo, totally caught up in what he was seeing before him, didn't even notice. "Cool," he breathed out as a fireball hit a car parked on the other side of the courtyard from them. It burst into flames and exploded, sending the nearby people screaming as bits of flaming metal poured down upon them even as they dodged fireballs and hail. This was the most incredible thing he had ever seen. Heero, Wufei and Treize all turned and stared at the braided pilot. "Baka," Heero growled, socking Duo in the back of the head. "Be serious." "Hey," Duo complained, rubbing the sore spot and turning to Heero. He immediately saw the look in Heero's eyes. Pushing him right now just may result in a broken bone at the very least, and possibly a bullet hole to boot. "So this is another of the plagues?" Duo turned to Wufei, a Shinigami grin on his face, "Yeah, nice display, ne?" "Duo..." The hail and fire suddenly stopped falling. The four men blinked, and Duo, ever the curious one, stuck his head out. "Looks like the fun is all over, it's clearing up." And indeed it was. The rolling clouds seemed to collapse upon themselves and faded from view. Heero wisely avoided looking at Duo, Wufei ground his teeth, and Treize was totally lost as to what was going on with the three Gundam pilots. He quickly decided that he probably didn't want to know. A silence filled the courtyard, the sounds of the fire and ice storm gone, and all people now safely within the buildings, and the earth herself seemed to have stopped breathing. Even the crackling of the car fire was muted into silence. The only sound heard was the soft whisper of their breaths as they looked around, trying to figure out what to do next. Then an unearthly scream of raw pain and soul shriveling terror tore through the silence, sending shivers of ice running down the spines of all those who heard it. "Over there," Heero motioned with his head in the direction of some of the guest quarters, and the four men were off running to an outside staircase some thirty yards to their left. On the way up the narrow stairs they nearly ran over a man who was running down the stairs at a pace that matched theirs. He gave them a quick look, adverted his eyes and quickly ran the rest of the way down. Heero locked the man's features in his mind from habit and continued up the stairs. The doorway ahead of them on the balcony was wide open and he stopped at the entrance and cautiously looked in, gun in hand. He saw nothing from the doorway and entered. Once inside the room, his view was better, distressingly so. Now he was inside, he could easily see the desiccated corpse of Major Burns sitting in a chair, a look of intense terror frozen on his face. Duo rushed into the room behind him, eyes quickly scanning the area. He saw the corpse, and the breath caught in his throat. "Dear God," Treize whispered in shock. He and Wufei had entered the room right behind Duo. He, unlike the three pilots, was not staring at the remains of Major Burns. His gaze was locked upon, as the gazes of the Gundam pilots soon were, on the dark-cloaked form standing in a shadow on the far side of the room. The robe slid off, revealing the rotted form of the mummy they had left in Hamanaptra. Its skin seemed to roll, and his captive audience watched in horror as its rotted flesh began to renew itself before their eyes. New muscles filled out the skeletal form, the bullet holes in its upper torso vanished before their very eyes to be replaced by fresh, gray skin. "I'm gonna be sick," Duo said in a strangled voice, trying not to gag and failing as he hid behind Heero. The mummy gave one long stretch, as though waking up from a long nap, and turned to face its visitors. Its gaze quickly flicked from person to person, from Treize to Wufei, then Heero before stopping at Duo. Duo swallowed nervously at the recognition in the mummy's eyes at it saw him and grabbed the back of Heero's shirt tightly. "Heero..." The mummy started toward them, a bit shaky at first as its balance adjusted to its new bulk but more quickly with each step. "Omae o korosu," Heero said flatly, emptying his clip in the mummy as he had the day before. Unlike the day before, though, the gunshots did not affect the mummy. Duo released Heero's shirt and scurried across the room at an angle, getting out of the way. (And incidentally making his way toward the window for a fast escape should the situation called for it.) Behind Heero Treize was stepping back to the door and Wufei had drawn his sword. His gun obviously useless, Heero discarded it and attacked. With a move so swift that mortal eyes could not follow, Heero directed a fatal blow into the mummy's chest. His face twisted with disgust as his hand made contact, and then sank into the rotted flesh and bone. The mummy roared its displeasure as Heero withdrew his hand with a sucking sound. There was the sound of gagging as the assembled men watched as the area around the bloodless wound Heero made started to deteriorate, to rot and decay to the bone. Before anyone could act, the mummy roared its displeasure and grabbed Heero by the front of his shirt, and with surprising strength, threw him into the others, then turned its gaze to Duo.
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Henderson and Daniels were madly running to Burns' quarters. They had left the bar at a dead run, knowing that if the braided kid was right, and the mummy was in fact here, that it was going to be after them. If that was the case, they were not going down without a fight. Which was why they had braved hail and fire to reach their quarters, to arm themselves. It had taken mere minutes to grab their guns and stow extra clips in their pockets. By the time they were finished, the short, violent storm was over. By mutual, unspoken agreement, they went to get Burns. There was no way he could defend himself from the mummy in the condition he was in. They had picked up their pace when they heard the most horrifying scream they had ever heard, and from Burns' direction. Daniels reached for his gun as they spun around the corner, then stopped dead in his tracks. Ahead of him, staring up at Burns' room was a thin, weaselish man in black pajama type clothing and a red fez. "Slimy little son-of-a-bitch!" Daniels spat, raising his gun. "Daniels!" Henderson gasped, striking Daniels hand, sending his shot wild. "Dammit Henderson! Why the hell did you do that?" Daniels yelled. Henderson looked ahead and saw Benni looking at them in fear, before he spun and ran off. "Shit!" Henderson spat. Benni wasn't much to look at, but when he decided to move, he was gone. "Damn little weasel." Then they realized something. "Burns!" The two Americans sprinted across the road and pounded up the stairs to the open door ahead of them. They raced through the door, one after another, just in time to be knocked to the floor.
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Duo watched in growing fear as Heero flew though the air, crashing into Wufei and Treize, then into the two majors who just entered the room. Then, like a frightened deer, Duo's gaze turned to the approaching mummy. It was so much like his dream Slowly he backed against the wall, knowing that there was no way he could reach the window in time, and that in all likelihood it wouldn't have mattered if he had. He reached behind him and began tugging on his shirt, pulling it out of his jeans. The mummy smiled at him during its approach, giving Duo an unwelcomed look at its blackened teeth and fresh pink tongue and began to speak. Duo, while grown up on L2, had picked up a passing command of quite a few languages. Unfortunately, ancient Egyptian wasn't one of them. While the soft, musical words were incomprehensible to the American pilot, the infliction in which they were delivered was not. Neither was the soft look in the mummy's eyes as it gazed upon him. <Shit!> Duo swallowed and gripped the comforting weight of his gun. Heero's gun hadn't stopped the mummy this time around, but his was loaded with exploding rounds, which should cause enough damage to slow the mummy down long enough for him to make a break for the door. As the mummy started to lean over Duo, his intent seemed to be to ~kiss~ Duo, Duo kicked off the safety and started to bring his gun around. In the distance he could hear the others yelling as they tried to untangle themselves, predicable yells, 'Move your elbow, dammit! That's my face!' 'Watch what you are doing!' 'Careful of the sword!' and of course, 'Omae o korosu." The mummy whispered a name, the same one he had called Duo the day before, Anck-su-namun, as it leaned even closer, lips parted. Behind the mummy Heero and Wufei doubled their efforts to free themselves of the mass of humanity they were caught in. Duo braced himself, sliding the gun along his side and aiming it at the mummy. This was going to be nasty. He was going to have rotted mummy guts all over his new shirt. Softly he whispered a quick prayer to whoever was listening, and started to tighten his finger on the trigger. Then from the door came an unexpected sound. The soft questioning meow of a cat.
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Little Black, as she was sometimes called, was one of the several dozen cats that called Fort Brydon home. While none of them technically 'belonged' to any person, the permanent residents of the fort considered the cats theirs, and always set food out for them and made sure they were not harassed. In return, the cats soaked up hot Egyptian sun, looked pretty as they lay around the buildings, occasionally allowed someone to pet them, and ate any stray mice that had the misfortune to wander into the fort by accident. It was a good arrangement, one that all involved could live with. Today had not been a good day for Little Black. She had been the runt of her litter, and as a result was quite small, even for a half-grown cat. For her, getting food has always been a challenge. And she wasn't a very good mouser either, so no supplementing there. Today she hadn't gotten a scrap to eat for breakfast. Then came that weird storm, and one of the fireballs had nearly hit her! The indignity of it! At the moment, she was back on the major concern of her short life. Food. Since she was in the area, she decided to check and see if there was any new activity in the guest quarters. New guests were always an easy mark for a sad kitten. And right before her on the covered walkway, was an open door. The Great Lady must be smiling down upon her. Softly she padded over to the door and looked in.
* * * * *
The mummy spun around and faced the door as though the most terrifying thing in existence had just appeared. Duo just stared as a look of sheer horror swept across the rotted face at the sight of the small black cat standing in the doorway. Upon seeing (and smelling) the mummy, the cat arched her back and spat fiercely at the creature before her. The mummy gave an ear-piercing screech, nearly shattering eardrums and windows alike. A strong gust of wind suddenly tore through the room, circling the mummy, who had stepped away from Duo, to his great relief. The wind grew even stronger, and the mummy started to crumble, then to Duo's amazement, turned completely into sand and blew its way out of the window he had been heading for. Silence. Not a sound was heard, except for the muffled oaths and scuffs from the group at the door. Duo slid down the wall limply, his knees haven given away, his gun held loosely in his lap. Quietly he watched as the three men and the two teenagers finally separated themselves, everyone but Treize glaring furiously at each other. Then Henderson and Daniels stumbled over to their friend, the friend they had been too late to save. They stared at his body, the realization that this was probably going to happen to them as well sinking into their thoughts. Heero and Wufei, with Treize following close behind, walked over to Duo. "Daijobu ka?" Duo nodded slowly. "Hai. Daijobu." He rested his head against the wall and stared up at the ceiling. "Why the hell is that damn thing after me?" "I believe it has a crush on you." Heero, Duo and Wufei all turned to Treize, who had come up behind them. Unlike the rest of them, he had emerged from the scuffle at the door without even a hair out of place. Heero's shirt had lost half of its buttons during the struggle and was unbuttoned halfway down his chest, a nice display that Duo wasn't in the shape to appreciate, and Wufei had broke his hair tie, causing his hair to fall around his face. Both majors had ripped clothing, and Henderson was sporting what would soon be a dandy of a black eye. Daniels was favoring his injured shoulder, which by some miracle hadn't started to bleed from the rough treatment. "A crush," Wufei repeated, looking over at Duo, eyebrow arched. Only Maxwell. "Oooooohhhh..." Duo moaned, closing his eyes. Why him? Heero was not consoling his poor, suffering koi at this revelation, however. He was staring at Treize with ice-cold blue eyes. "You understood what it said?" His voice was as cold as his eyes. Treize turned to Heero, not at all phased by the look he receive or the tone of voice he was using. "Some. I am by no means fluent in the language, but I have passed time studying ancient Egyptian. "What will we do, General?" Daniels had left the corpse of his friend and came over to see what was happening with the teenagers. Not that he cared what happened to the teenagers, but it seemed that the mummy was not interested in killing at least one of them, while it was all out to nail him and his two friends. Treize looked around the room thoughtfully. His eyes skimmed over Major Henderson, who was slumped on the floor next to the corpse of his friend. Heero was standing -protectively it seemed- next to Duo. It wasn't noticeable unless someone was looking for it. He filed away that bit of information away. Not to use against them, he had great respect for the five pilots, just because he wanted to know them better, and knew that this would probably be his only chance before they became enemies again. Finally his gaze fell on Wufei, looking absolutely adorable with his hair down. The only pilot he knew well, and he knew that he had barely scratched the surface of who Chang Wufei really was. Wufei, despite how he acted earlier, cared about the other pilots and was worried about Duo. Treize couldn't blame him for that. He was worried about all of them. What to do? They had to stop the mummy, and he was reluctant to bring in any outside help. He had three Gundam pilots with him. It was a bit galling, knowing that if they couldn't stop this creature, that no one else had a hope to succeed. But they needed to know what they were up against, what they could expect, what weapons they could use against this creature. And there was only one way that he could find that out, only one person who could tell him what they needed to know. "I know of someone who may be able to aid us in this matter..." Treize said slowly. "Is there anyone who objects to a trip into Cairo?"
* * * * *
The Hummer pulled up in front of the Museum of Antiquities without encountering any difficulties. The Hummer had not been the first choice of vehicles to use, smacking of military and all; it had been their only choice. When Treize had commissioned a vehicle to use, he had found out that a good number of the vehicles belonging to the fort had been severely damaged or destroyed by the hail and fireballs. The garage had even been set on fire. The remaining vehicles were either not large enough to seat a party of six, not counting the driver, or were too conspicuous, which left as their only choice a topless Hummer. Splitting up into two different groups wasn't even discussed. The driver, a nameless private whose sole purpose was to drive the car, placed the vehicle into park and hopped out to open the door for Treize. Henderson and Daniels climbed out of the rear seats, and the Gundam pilots climbed out of the tail. "Sugee..." Duo breathed once his feet were on the ground. He was looking up at the two huge statues flanking the doors of the museum. "So this is where they keep all the mummies and gold, ne?" He rearranged the small cat perched on his shoulders to look over at Treize. "Where all the loot from the Valley of the Kings is stored?" Treize smiled softly at his enthusiasm. The American pilots actions were quite endearing and he was growing quite fond of the energetic young man. But it would be wise to remember that this young man was the pilot of Gundam 02, one of the most destructive and deadly Gundams his forces had to face. "Some of it." Only a small amount, actually. Most of the treasures were kept in a secure, underground vault several miles out in the desert. "Cool..." Duo breathed. "Lets go!" Duo, one hand supporting the cat, ran off to the entrance. The rest of the group, most who where sweating in the high heat, watched his enthusiasm and energy in disbelief. "That stupid kid is going to get us all killed." Daniels growled as the rest of the small group made their way to the entrance. Duo was no longer in sight. Heero and Wufei refrained from commenting, they had put up with Duo for so long that little things like this didn't bother them any, providing, of course, it didn't directly involve them. Duo was waiting for them in the foyer. He had been looking around impatiently, wondering when the rest would get there, and also wondering where all the tourists were. The building seemed empty, and he knew that this was a major tourist attraction. People love looking at dead mummies. Several minutes later, the rest of the group entered the building, sighing in relief as they entered the air-conditioned room. Duo bounced over to them. "Okay General, where to now?" he asked perkily, causing the two majors to glare at him. His joviality in such a dire, life or death situation was not improving their mood one bit. Treize glanced around the room, and then strode off toward a hallway. "This was, if you would," and Treize started leading the small party through the museum, past gallery displays of the Pharaohs of Egypt and their belongings. Heero grabbed Duo's braid halfway through the first display, using it like a leash, hauling Duo along as he paused to stare at this wonder or other. After quite a few twists and turns, the small group found themselves at the back of the museum, at the administration offices. The outer office was empty, not a soul in sight. The soldiers glanced around watchfully; the entire museum had a deserted feeling to it that was bothering them. Several of the more twitchy members of the group (Henderson and Daniels) placed their hands close to their firearms, in case they were needed. "Where is everyone?" Duo finally asked, his voice sounding unnaturally loud in the room. "Maxwell..." Wufei hissed; his voice fading away quickly at the sound of a slight creek to the right as the door to the curator's office slowly opened. Henderson and Daniels immediately pulled their guns out and aimed them at the figure that appeared in the doorway. Large gold eyes behind metal frame glasses grew wide as a soft gasp escaped from the teenage girl standing before them. Treize took in her youth and her outfit; a short sleeved white blouse with a lacy collar, denim Capri jeans that had just come back into style, and brown and white oxfords with lace trimmed socks. Her long blond hair was pulled back in a high ponytail, tied back with a green scarf and she was clutching an armful of papers to her chest. He lowered his head slightly; they had just pulled guns on a research student working at the museum. "Uhh... can I help you?" she asked in a small, nervous voice, eyes locked on the two guns. As Henderson and Daniels put their guns away, Treize gave the girl his most charming smile. "Pardon us miss, for this intrusion. We had not intended to surprise you so." "Ahh... I see." The girl gave the two majors and Treize a cautious look, noting their uniforms and rank insignia, then smiled faintly. The smile didn't last long, as a thoughtful look quickly replaced it. "How did you get in here, anyway? The museum is closed for the day." "The notice on the front proclaimed that closing was at eight," Wufei pointed out. The girl turned to him and smiled lightly him. "Well, we closed early today, due to... bad weather." "Oh yeah, I can see that happening," Duo commented. Unlike the others, who were still standing, Duo had made himself comfortable on a nearby desk. Heero was standing next to him, and Little Black was helping herself to the remains of a tuna sandwich that was on a plate at the far side of the desk. The girl turned to him, humor shining in her gold eyes. "Quite." She then gave them all a studying look, as though she was trying to see something about them. "Now, I don't suppose you can tell me why you braved such weather to come to the museum?" "A matter of grave importance, young lady." Treize said softly. "My companions and I must speak with Dr. Allen Collins." The girl walked forward and sat her papers on the desk next to Duo. "I'm afraid you made your trip for nothing, General. Dr. Collins is lecturing in Oxford this week. But I am his assistant, Sefic Carnahan. Maybe I can help you?" Silence filled the room as everyone stared at the girl. Could she know something useful? "My dear young lady," Treize gave her a steady look. "What do you know of Hamanaptra?" It was a loaded question. If she knew what was generally known, she would be of no use to them, and they would go on their way. If she did know something, however... Sefic blinked, then began to speak. "Hamanaptra is an ancient mythical city of the nineteenth dynasty, legendary resting place of the princes of Egypt and storehouse of the wealth of Egypt. Treasure hunters have been searching for it for thousands of years, but no one has even been able to prove that it exists, let alone a location." Treize sighed in relief inside. She knew nothing; he would not have to involve this innocent girl in such a grave matter. Duo did not let it rest though. "So, do you know anything else about it?" he prompted, not sure why he was asking. "Mummies hanging there, curses, plagues, little things like that?" "Wha..." Sefic started, and then quickly closed her mouth. She gave Duo a searching look, then her eyes flicked over to the kitten sitting next to him. Silently she rubbed the kitten on the head. Little Black began to purr. "You've been to Hamanaptra." It was a quietly spoken statement, not a question. She raised her hand and turned to them, a solemn look on her face. "It was you who awoke He Who Shall Not Be Named."
* * * * *
The six soldiers followed Sefic as she led them through the museum. After her startling statement, she had refused to say anything else on the subject until they moved to what she thought would be a more appropriate location to speak of such matters. Heero had not been happy about it, happiness being in short supply for him for the past two days, but under the Gundam pilots current disguise there was no way he could argue with her. A quick glance over at Treize showed that he, as well, wanted to know what she knew, but as a consummate gentleman he was following her desire. Heero grabbed tighter to Duo's braid as he once again began to lag behind. For some reason, he was drawn to all the ancient Egyptian artifacts on display. To Heero, it was just so much stuff. They were dead, what was so great about them that they and their belongings were put on public display. Heero cursed softly to himself as he nearly tripped on a small object running around his feet. That was something else that he wasn't happy about. Duo's insistence on bringing that scrawny, half-grown feline with them, saying that ~he~ had scared the mummy away. No one really gave much credit to Duo's claim, and the cat was insignificant enough that no one had wanted to argue with him about it at the time. He had started minding sometime during the drive to the museum, right around the time Duo started calling it 'Hee-chan'. Things had not gotten any better. He refrained from swearing once more as he nearly tripped over the kitten and gave it a good glare. The kitten, whom he was not going to refer to by the ridiculous name that Duo had given him, gave him a feline smirk, then ran up to the front of the group. "Here we are," Sefic announced. Heero looked around. They were in a well-lit, large room with a skylight. On display were several mummies, their coffins and various other items that they were buried with. She motioned to one of the mummies on display. "This is the Pharaoh Rameses." "Moses' school buddy." Duo added in. Sefic looked over at him strangely for a moment, and then nodded. "Yes. It was he who affronted the God of the Israelites, who sent the legendary plagues onto Egypt." She turned away from the desiccated corpse and came to stand next to another glass case, also displaying a mummy, before continuing on her history lesson. "And this is his father, Seti the First, one of the greatest Pharaohs of the nineteenth dynasty." The six men looked at the mummy, lying on a yellow cloth, face unwrapped, and generally looking like the old, dried out corpse that it was. "Can't even tell he got stabbed several dozen times, can you?" she asked lightly as she seated herself on an ornate throne once belonging to said mummy. "His death was quite dramatic," she wrinkled her nose, "and messy, but now he rests peacefully, unlike his closest friend and advisor, his ultimate betrayer, the High Priest of Osiris, Imhotep." "Really?" Duo asked, getting into this ancient history thing. "What happened to him?' Sefic lowered her head slightly. "For his crimes against Pharaoh and the Gods themselves, he was sentenced to endure the hom-dai, the most dreaded curse known. The Med-jai," she lifted her head and stared straight at them, "Pharaoh's bodyguards, swore that they and their descendants would guard his resting place, so that none would disturb it, so that the creature he had become would never walk the land of man again!" She gave them all an accusatory glare. "Then you came along and released it!" "They did it!" Duo quickly, and accurately, put the blame on Henderson and Daniels. This was not something he wanted to take the fall for. "The rest of us were innocent bystanders who got sucked into this mess. It is all ~their~ fault!" "It does not matter to whom the blame falls at this point," Treize stated softly, giving the majors, who were glaring at Duo, a speaking glance. "What has happened has happened. What we must do now is find a way to stop this creature and prevent it from taking any more lives." "Well, I wanna know why it's afraid of cats." Duo looked over at his kitten, which was playfully batting around Sefic's shoelaces. "The mummy made like a bat out of hell when he showed up." "Hmm..." Sefic bent over and picked up the kitten, which immediately started to purr. "Her," she murmured. "She is a female kitten." Duo shrugged. "As to why he fled, cats are the favored animal of Bastet, daughter of Ra. They are the guardians of the underworld. He Who Shall Not Be Named shall fear all cats until he has fully regenerated and is whole. Then He shall fear nothing, and nothing will be able to stop him. "No shit!" Daniels stepped forward, gesturing with his gun. "And we don't need some schoolgirl decedent of a bodyguard to tell us how that dead bastard is doing that!" "Yeah," Henderson said softly, playing with his gun. "By killing everyone who opened that God damned chest!" "By sucking us dry!" Daniels finished in an angry rush. "Quick on the uptake for OZ soldiers, aren't they?" Duo said to Heero, earning him another hard glare from both majors. Treize cleared his throat and gave them both a look that said that they had better toe the line, or else. As Duo had said, they were both quick on the uptake. "I am curious about something as well." Wufei hid a sly smile from everyone. "Why would Imhotep be interested in Maxwell?" "What?" Sefic said in alarm, looking from face to face. "What are you talking about?" Henderson snapped his fingers, "Yeah, that's right. The mummy did seem to be on a very ~friendly~ footing with the kid." Both Heero and Duo glared at Henderson. Sefic was still frowning, looking from person to person in hopes of an explanation. "Friendly? What do you mean by 'friendly'? Would someone please explain?" "It seems that the mummy has developed a bit of a fascination for Duo," Treize explained. "When we encountered it earlier, it displayed a marked show of affection. Gentle looks, endearments, and I do believe the creature was about to kiss Duo when the kitten appeared." Sefic shuddered, and then frowned in thought. "And it called me some name too," Duo grumbled. "Anac-su-namune or something like that." Sefic stiffened. "Anck-su-namun?" she repeated, changing the pronunciation slightly. Duo nodded. "Yeah, that's it. The mummy called me that twice now." Sefic leaned back in the throne, a sad, faraway look in her eyes. "Unbelievable. After all these years, after suffering unspeakable torture and torment, he still loves her." "What?" Heero demanded. "Anck-su-namun was Seti's favored mistress, and the love of Imhotep's life. For her he betrayed Pharaoh and gods alike, for her that he was cursed." Wufei snorted. "For his acts it is justice that he was punished." "You can always involve justice into something, can you Wu?" "Without justice there is nothing." "Uhh..." Henderson stared at the teenagers. "What about the mummy." "This is just what we needed." Everyone turned to Sefic, whose eyes were gleaming with excitement. "He Who Shall Not Be Named shall try to raise Anck-su-namun from the dead again. This will give us the time we need to find a way to stop him." "How will he do that?" Heero demanded suspiciously. From what he had gathered from the available information, Duo was apparently going to be playing some part in the mistress' rebirth. He had a bad feeling he wasn't going to like what Sefic was going to say. He was right. "By human sacrifice, to replace the organs secreted in the five sacred canopic jars." "Human sacrifice?" Wufei whispered, appalled. Sefic nodded. "Yes, and it seems that," she turned to Duo, "He Who Shall Not Be Named has already chosen his sacrifice." The room fell silent as everyone turned and stared at Duo. "Tough break kid," Henderson said, not sincere in the slightest bit. "Nani!" Duo squeaked, his skin a chalky white. "Me!" "As if things could not become any worse," Treize murmured, giving the American pilot a sympathetic look. "No," Sefic shook her head. "As I said, this just might be lucky for us." "Nani!?" all three Gundam pilots exclaimed. "Yes," Sefic nodded thoughtfully, lost in thought. "You see, it will take time for the creature to prepare for the sacrifice, time that we can use. Time to find a way to stop him." "What about The Book of the Dead?" Daniels asked Sefic, almost politely. "It brought that slimy bastard back, can we kill him with it?" "Hmmm..." She gave him a thoughtful look. "Possibly; if we had the book. But I must tell you, nothing has been written that I know of that actually states that it can do so." She shrugged. "Most of those who know of the book don't even know that it can bring the dead back to life." Everyone was silent as they thought about it. It was a slim chance, but it was the only one they had. They had to get the book. While they were thinking, one by one they noticed that the room was growing darker. The light bulbs still lit the room, but the light from the skylight was dimming rapidly. They looked up, and watched as the moon swallowed the sun. " 'And he stretched forth his hand toward the heavens, and there was darkness throughout the land of Egypt.' " Sefic whispered softly, her fingers unconsciously reaching to her neck where her fingers started to play with an Egyptian style cat amulet. "He is getting stronger," Heero noted in a low voice. "We will have to hurry."
* * * * *
For the umpteenth time since their arrival, Quatre looked out of the window overlooking the courtyard. From the sky above, faint rays of sunlight were slowly beginning to reappear; the eclipse was apparently over. "I do wish I knew what was going on," he fretted, his fingers playing with the thin material of the opaque curtains. "Eclipses do occur," Trowa was seated at the settee, watching Quatre fretting and wondering just why they were called here. "Not unpredicted, they don't," Quatre pointed out, turning to Trowa. "The next full eclipse for this area is not for another ten years. And nothing I can think of can explain that storm when we arrived." Trowa said nothing, what could he say? Storms that showered fire and ice were not something he knew of. "I have this bad feeling." The delicate Arabian placed his hand on his chest. "My uchuu no kokoro is telling me something is dreadfully wrong." He turned and looked back out the window. "Maybe I shouldn't have disregarded Duo's worries about the mission. Maybe something has happened out there. Something had to have happened, for Heero to send for us." Trowa repressed a sigh. Quatre had been worried about their three friends since yesterday afternoon, sure that something had happened with their mission. His certainty had only grown stronger as time went by. There hadn't been much that they could do the day before, immersed in their own mission, but Heero had a message waiting for them when they arrived back at the safe house. As was typical of a message from Heero, it was blunt and too the point. The mission had been compromised, and they needed backup. They were to immediately to leave for Cairo, disregarding any missions from the Doctors, and meet with them at Fort Brydon. The message created more questions than it answered, and what could have happened that was so urgent that it preceded any other mission? They had arrived at the fort in mid-afternoon, after leaving their Gundams in an underground hanger near the Winner's Cairo mansion. Heero had left them a message at the fort, telling them to wait in his and Duo's suite, and not to leave until he, Duo and Wufei returned. That was well over an hour ago. "OZ," Trowa said flatly. Quatre turned away from the window again. "Hmm?" "OZ may have recovered the book first. Why else gain access to the fort?" "But as guests?" Quatre protested. That had surprised them both when they found out about it, and they still could not figure out the why or how they had managed it. The sound of a vehicle coming to a stop outside the window drew Quatre's attention to it again. He pushed aside the curtain slightly and glanced out, then gasped. "Treize Khushrenada!" he exclaimed softly. "What is he doing here?" "A good question," Trowa replied calmly, coming to stand at Quatre's side. Fort Brydon was not strategically important, not like the two bases Wufei had pointed out as they went over this mission. Also, all intelligence stated that Treize was in France, and was going to remain there for the next two weeks. They watched as Treize dismissed the driver and turned to watch as two OZ majors exited from the Hummer. "Do you think that they know that we are here?" Quatre whispered, his hand going cautiously to his gun. Before Trowa had a chance to answer his koi, the sight of Wufei exiting the vehicle caught both him and Quatre by surprise. Their surprise was more because of how he was dressed and how his hair was hanging loose than him apparently being taken captive. Still in silence, they watched as Duo and Heero exited the vehicle, following Wufei up to the front where the three OZ officers were standing. "They have not been captured," Trowa commented after several moments of watching the scene below. He frowned slightly. No guns were in evidence, nor were their friends being restrained in any way. It looked to any who cared to look, that they were there of their own free will. The two pilots watched in puzzled silence as their three friends and the three OZ officers conferred with each other for several minutes. After what looked to be a slightly heated discussion and an order from Treize, the two OZ majors marched off. Treize, Heero, Duo and Wufei watched them until they were out of view; then started for the stairs to the second floor. "They are coming up here," Quatre whispered, letting the curtain fall back in place. "Ah," Trowa said in reply, drawing his gun. Even if it didn't look as though the others were prisoners, there was no need to take chances. Quatre quickly glanced at the gun in Trowa's hand and nodded, drawing his own. Silently they took their positions, listening to the soft sounds of approaching footsteps and muted voices.
* * * * *
"Those jerks had better not screw up," Duo muttered darkly. "If they can't get Chamberlin and the book here, we're all fucked," "Do not worry Duo," Treize said, wincing slightly at the teenager's choice of language. "They have a great motivator driving them to do their best." "Hmph! They fear only for their own lives," Wufei said scathingly. "Imoteph's plans for the world mean nothing to them." "Hey!" Duo protested. "I am rather fond of my life as well, you know. Getting sliced up to bring back a mummy's dead girl is not how I planned on going." "It won't happen," Heero said shortly. He glanced at the door, nodded to himself and opened the door. "He will be stopped." The four men entered the room, closing the door behind them. A soft click off to one side, a near imperceptible sound, caught the attention of the three Gundam pilots and they all made for their assorted collection of concealed weapons. "Heero," a soft voice came from the shadows. They turned and watched as Trowa appeared, gun drawn and pointed at Treize. He glanced at each of the pilots, acknowledging them silently. "Are you guys okay?" a second voice asked. Duo and Wufei were not as surprised to see Quatre step out of the bedroom as they had to see Trowa. It was almost expected, in fact. Quatre, like Trowa, had his gun drawn and pointed at Treize. This did not seem to bother Treize any, as though he was use to having guns pointed at him all the time. He arched an eyebrow and glanced over at the silent pilot of Gundam 01. "Reinforcements?" Heero and Trowa were the only two to hear the softly spoken question, as Duo had yelled out Quatre's name and lunged at him. Little Black bailed for the floor, and it was all Quatre could do to keep from dropping his gun as a frantic Duo latched onto him. "Man, am I ever glad to see you! You have no idea what we have been through, and the next time you make cracks about stupid curses I'm gonna knock your lights out!" "Nan desu ka?" Quatre urgently turned to Heero and Wufei, all the while trying to pry the American pilot off of him. "I see they have yet to be briefed on the situation." With a soft sigh, Treize gracefully seated himself in a chair. "It would be advisable for them to be brought up to date on the current situation before Major Henderson and Major Daniels return with Professor Chamberlin." Trowa glanced away from Treize to lock eyes with Quatre, who was getting nowhere with removing Duo. Puzzled green met confused blue. Just what was going on here? "What is going on here?" Quatre commanded. "There's a mummy out to get me!" Duo wailed, clinging harder to Quatre. "Hamunaptra is cursed, and OZ released a mummy, and it wants to rip my guts out!" "Duo," Quatre said gently, his smile slightly strained. Duo clinging to him like this brought back unpleasant memories of the last time Duo clung to him in a panic, babbling wild stories. "Curses are not real. All that talk about Hamunaptra being cursed are old stories to scare children. It is just an old ruin." Wufei snorted and Quatre turned to him, recalling Wufei's reaction on first hearing about the curse. "Don't you agree?" "Only children are frightened of stories," Wufei intoned softly. "But even grown men can fear the living undead." That was not the response Quatre had been looking for. And it was highly unexpected as well. His blue eyes hardened slightly. "Did something happen that you want to tell us about?" "Duo pretty well covered the situation," Treize announced, much to Quatre's surprise. "In its direct relationship to him, of course. There are a few other particulars, but those can be gotten into at a later date." Quatre and Trowa stared silently at Treize for a moment, then as one turned to Heero. He didn't believe in curses, he would tell them what was going on. Heero's Prussian blue eyes were deadly serious as he began to speak. "A fraction of OZ has brought the High Priest Imhotep back from the dead. He is in the process of hunting down those who did so, and has chosen Duo as a human sacrifice to bring his dead lover back from the dead so they can take over the world." Everyone was silent for a moment, then Quatre's knees gave out and he sank to the floor, bringing Duo with him. "Not again!" he moaned, covering his face with his hands, trying to block out flashbacks from several months ago. "I can't take going through another situation like this again." He raised his head and gave Duo an accusatory glare. "Duo, why do these things keep happening to you?!?" "It's not my fault!" Duo wailed. "I didn't ask for a mummy to make passes at me. I didn't even want to come here, remember?" "So we fight a mummy," Trowa said softly. Sometime during Quatre's collapse, he had put his gun away and had come to aid Quatre in pealing Duo off of him. "I take it he is responsible for the strange occurrences?" "Yes," Treize said, curious eyes on Duo and Quatre. What did they mean, a similar situation? What have these boys been involved in? "With his reawakening, he has brought with him the ten ancient plagues of Egypt. We have already experienced two of them." "Three," Wufei corrected, thinking of what had happened at the bar earlier. "Four," Duo whispered from where he was seated on the floor next to Quatre. He had finally released the blond Arabian. Just then the door burst open, sending the five Gundam pilots reaching for their guns. It was a move that only an idiot or someone highly preoccupied would have missed. The new arrivals qualified on both counts. "He is gone! His room is empty and no one has seen Professor Chamberlin since last evening!" Henderson exclaimed as he rushed into the room with Daniels right behind him. He stopped abruptly upon seeing the two new additions to the group. "Who are these kids?" he demanded. Duo glared up at him. "Our friends." "They come to pick you three up?" Daniels asked, closing the door behind him. He gave the two boys quick looks. "Kids, you have bad timing." Treize frowned, looking at those assembled before him. "This is no good. Chamberlin and The Book of the Dead are our only hope of stopping Imhotep." To one side Quatre mouthed 'The Book of the Dead' to Trowa, who shook his head slightly. "We will have to find him and bring him and the book back to the fort." Henderson glared around the room, eyeing each of the five teenagers before taking a seat. For some reason, they made him nervous. "Professor Chamberlin has an office here in Cairo, off of one of the alleys in the bazaar quarter. He could have gone back there to hide out." "Fine," Treize murmured. "Then you and Major Daniels shall go there and retrieve him and the book." "No sir." Daniels stood up straight. "No disrespect meant sir, but there is no way I am leaving the safety of this fort." "Real safe for your friend, wasn't it?" Duo pointed out. He promptly received two glares for his efforts. Wufei snorted. "You are one to talk, Maxwell." Duo paled slightly at the reminder, and slid a little closer to Heero. Quatre and Trowa exchanged quick looks at Duo's action. Meanwhile, Treize had been giving the two majors a thoughtful look. "You may be correct. Sending the two of you off base would not be a wise course of action." As Wufei had stated earlier, the two majors were interested only in their own well-being. They might go off on their own and try to stop the mummy themselves. Or, more than likely, flee with the book to their master. As one of the two sacred books hidden at Hamunaptra for safekeeping, it would not do to take chances with it. The book falling into the hands of the Gundam pilots would be preferable over the book falling into certain fractions of OZ. "As the two of you are potential targets for Imhotep, we should keep you where you would be the safest." Under his and the Gundam pilot's watchful care. "Trowa and I will go," Heero announced, which didn't really surprise the rest of the pilots. "What is the address," he demanded of Henderson. Somewhat surprised at the tone of voice that Heero was using, he told the teenager the address. "Are you sure it's safe for you kids to do this?" Henderson asked with belated concern. They were kids after all. "The mummy will make short work of you if it catches you." Heero locked cold blue eyes on Henderson. "It has no reason to come after Trowa and I." He did a quick mental review of the location of Professor Chamberlin's office. "We should return in little over an hour."