|Brother of My Soul
Author: Xanthia Morgan PM
Following the events of TMR, Ardeth Bey and Rick O'Connell find out they have more in common than anyone could have imagined. COMPLETERated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Ardeth B. & OíConnell, R. - Chapters: 9 - Words: 35,686 - Reviews: 106 - Favs: 98 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 12-04-01 - Published: 05-18-01 - Status: Complete - id: 287826
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
First of all, let me say that I LOVED The Mummy and The Mummy Returns! Great flicks and I hope there is a third one at least. Having said that, there was far too little of MY favorite character, Ardeth Bey, in the movie. There were also some holes I felt needed filling in regard to him. Like, what happened after he got slashed by the mummy on the bus? Those were some pretty nasty wounds in my mind but nothing was said. I decided to take the road not traveled and fill in that particular gap. If you haven't seen The Mummy Returns, you probably won't get it. The first scene takes place after the incident on the bus and you should be able to keep up from there. I didn't really go into any details with the movie scenes cause I figure you already saw it.
DISCLAIMER: "THE MUMMY", "THE MUMMY RETURNS", AND THE CHARACTERS PORTRAYED THEREIN ARE THE SOLE PROPERTY OF STEPHEN SOMMERS AND UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. THIS AUTHOR DOES NOT OWN THEM NOR IS ANY MONEY BEING MADE FROM THIS STORY.
Brother of My Soul
by Xanthia Morgan
Chapter One - Saving Alex
Ardeth Bey leaned heavily against the bathroom sink, watching with dazed fascination at the sight of his own blood swirling down the white porcelain drain. After the attack on the bus and Alex's kidnaping, they'd come back to the O'Connell's home to gather what they might need before heading out again. Jonathan had helped him as far as the guest bath and, grimacing at the blood on Ardeth's clothing, he'd backed away, muttering something about Evy needing his help. Ardeth was actually relieved to him go. He didn't need Jonathan fainting on the floor. He just might need that space himself.
When Carnahan had left, he'd managed to free himself from the slashed robes and got the first good look at the damage in the mirror. Taking in the torn and bleeding flesh, he had to agree with O'Connell on one thing - he hated mummies, too. The stripes on his chest throbbed with fire. He knew from experience that the mummy's razor sharp fingernails had left more than a trail of blood and ripped flesh. Centuries of rot and decay were imbedded deep within the wounds and they needed to be tended with more than just water and disinfectant. "Allah," he prayed silently, "give me the strength to finish this." He needed to hang on until they reached Cairo. Then his people would be able to help him. They could at least see him back on his feet. After that, if he survived, he knew that the wounds would have to be reopened and debrided, then cleansed with healing salves. A decidedly painful process he was certain, although no one had sustained such injuries in centuries and lived.
He hoped O'Connell would be able to charter them a flight to Egypt tonight. The sooner he returned home to prepare his troops, the better. If anyone could prepare for the fight they faced. Their battle with the undead ten years ago almost killed them all. Now they must battle the Creature, the Scorpion King, and Anubis' army, for Bey knew that there was little chance they would reach Alex O'Connell in time. If there was one thing he'd learned in his years as Med-jai it was this: Expect the worst and you may survive. Everyone outside of his tribe thought him grim. Bey did not think of himself as grim. He was, in his mind, realistic. When you dedicate your life to keeping the dead buried you must expect that sooner or later the dead will win. He hoped fervently that this would not be that time.
His thoughts were broken by a commotion in the hallway. "Hey, you about ready to go?" he heard Rick O'Connell say just before the bathroom door flew open. Rick's mouth hung open and he stared at the Med-jai leaning heavily against the vanity, a bloody washcloth in his hand. Four deep gashes stretched across Bey's chest from his shoulder to his just below his ribcage. Three of them still oozed blood and Rick swore that he saw a glint of white bone showing out from at least one of them. "Ardeth, old buddy, tell me those look worse than they are," he said quietly as he slowly walked over to the sink.
Ardeth laughed, a dry rasping sound that was more a hiss of pain that of mirth. His eyes met Rick's in the mirror in front of him. "I was hoping you would tell me."
Rick came up behind his friend and with a gentleness that surprised the hardened warrior, pried the bloody cloth out of his clenched fist. He then helped him to sit on the small sofa in the bath's outer room. "Lean back," he said, trying to help Ardeth recline. "No, don't help. Let me. You'll just open those up again." Ardeth's face was a controlled mask of agony as he tried to relax and lean on Rick's arm. After what seemed like days, he felt the sofa's cool upholstery against his aching back. Rick frowned as the wounds began to bleed freely again. He pressed a folded towel against Bey's chest and put the man's hands on top. "Hold this," he ordered. "I"ll be right back."
Ardeth pressed as hard as he could against the folded towel, vainly clenching his teeth against the cry of pain that threatened to break free. "Allah," he prayed again, "give me strength."
Evelyn O'Connell stood in the bathroom doorway, a look of stunned horror on her face. Ardeth's normally tanned face was pale and his shallow breathing gave testament to the fact that he was suffering. As she watched, his face contorted in an agonized grimace and a low cry of pain escaped his lips. She ran forward and sat next to him.
"My God! Ardeth!" she said with a hitch in her voice.
Ardeth opened his eyes and tried to smile at her. "Evy. It looks worse than it is?" His attempt at humor would have broken her heart if it hadn't already been shattered into bits by her son's kidnaping. She looked into the hall behind her. "Jonathan! Hurry up, for heaven's sake!" She placed a cool hand on his face. "He's bringing some sheets for bandages," she explained. "We'll get you fixed up enough to make it to the hospital and then . . ."
"No." Bey's quiet voice stopped her. "There is no time. We must leave in time to meet the plane."
Evelyn shook her head. "You need a doctor. The cuts. . . Rick says they're bad, Ardeth."
"I know," he said plainly. "However, time is of the essence. I will seek help from my people in Cairo. Until then, I must be ready to travel." He could see the disbelief in her eyes. "Just bind the wounds tightly. We must find your son." The command in his voice could not be ignored. She nodded.
"Let me see." Evy swallowed and peeled away the towel. Her eyes widened in shock at the damage. "These wounds should be cleaned first," she said practically, willing herself to stay collected.
Ardeth Bey nodded. "A wise decision," he said, leaning back and trying to relax.
"It's going to hurt like hell." Rick said from the doorway, his hands full of linens. Evy raised a questioning eyebrow at him. "Jonathan didn't seem to be up to this," Rick said ruefully. Evy shook her head. Rick laid down the linens and pulled a full bottle of whiskey out from under the pile. He nudged Ardeth's shoulder. "This'll help."
Ardeth shook his head. "No, my friend. I cannot."
Rick frowned. "Why the hell not?"
"Allah forbids it."
Rick snorted. "Allah isn't the one having mummy fingernails pulled out of chest now is he?" He caught Evy's frown of disapproval. "No disrespect intended, of course," he added hastily.
Ardeth's hands fisted as Evy pulled another piece of cloth from one of the wounds. "None taken." He looked over at Rick who was, himself, drinking deeply from the bottle.
Rick smiled a hangdog smile. "Allah didn't forbid me."
"Rick!" Evy sounded like a schoolmistress scolding a naughty boy. She turned to Ardeth. "Shall we?" She pursed her lips and began to clean the wounds.
Rick had said it would hurt like hell. And it did. Bey knew Evelyn was trying to be as gentle as possible but it didn't help. Even the whiskey would have done little to dull the agony that laced across his chest like lightning strikes with every stroke of the cloth. With relief, he felt the last of the blood and filth wiped away.
"My God!" Evelyn's soft whisper and Rick's low whistle made Ardeth open eyes he hadn't realized he'd closed.
They were looking at his chest, the center of which was covered with an elaborate set of tatoos, reminiscent of hieroglyphs on his skin. "What are these?" she asked, running her finger over them without touching his skin, trying to decipher the meanings.
"They are who I am," Bey said quietly. He closed his eyes again.
"Are all Med-jai marked so elaborately?"
Evelyn looked the tatoos over, chewing on her lip, this new puzzle sending any other thought out of her scholarly mind. His wrists and upper arms were circled with marks similar to those she'd seen on other Med-jai. But his chest! A glowing sun was emblazoned around his left nipple, a crescent moon over his right. A straight path of symbols traced from the top of his breastbone to his stomach where they fanned into an elaborate arc over his navel.
"Suns, moons, scimitars," she mumbled. "I can identify those readily enough." They were all clearly outlined against his dark skin. "What's this one?" She leaned closer to study a particularly elaborate set of markings. She recognized one symbol in particular and after a moment she realized she was looking at a rendering of their last encounter with Imhotep.
"These markings tell the story of your life!" she said breathlessly. "Each of these represents something that has happened to you or some task you've performed, isn't it?" Evelyn leaned in to look closer at one that sat by itself on his right shoulder. It was marred by a long sword cut, still oozing blood. "Oh, no! That man, the one in the turban, he cut through this one! I can't make it out. . ." Bey's hand shoved hers away from where it hovered over the artwork. "Leave it," he commanded in a low voice. "It is fitting that Loch-nah marked it. He is the one who put it there."
"That giant is your tattoo artist?" Evelyn was puzzled.
"No," Bey said quietly.
"Evy," Rick said from behind her where he was ripping sheets into bandages, "done sightseeing?" He felt terrible considering the circumstances, but watching her show interest in another man's bare chest sent a pang of jealously stabbing through him.
Evelyn blushed, remembering what she'd been doing in the first place. "Right. I forget myself sometimes, I know." Evelyn knew she was rambling. It helped take her mind off everything. And if she let herself dwell on the situation, she knew she'd go mad. Besides, lecturing always made her feel better. "I've done some reading since we last met. There's very little written about the Med-jai. You aren't supposed to exist, after all, but I did come across some interesting references, very ancient, of course. I'd love to know if they are still true. For instance, are there still 12 clans, each with a chieftain?" She spoke as she worked cleaning little bits of Ardeth's clothing from the wounds.
"I imagine in ancient times it was hard to coordinate them all."
"Not so difficult as you may think," Bey smiled slightly and cut off the question he could see forming in her mind. "You will see when we return to Cairo. Some of the old ways are still the best."
Evelyn smiled back. Glad for an appreciative audience, she warmed to her topic as she continued to work. "I also read that the tribes were governed by one ruler. More than just a chieftain, we would consider him a king. And although the line usually ran from father to son, it was not passed on solely as a birthright. Anyone who would be king had to endure many dangerous trials to be considered worthy and any one of the tribe could challenge the king's heir for rule. This also meant he took on the role of general as well, as he was usually the best trained among them. The book I found said the Med-jai kings were all elaborately marked. Each king's markings were unique and the longer the king lived the more markings he had. One king purportedly had markings over his entire body, even the soles of his feet, he lived so long. Can you imagine?" She looked up into his face and laughed, a little embarrassed. "I guess you could." Her eyes fell once again to the work her hands were doing. Ardeth Bey counted the heartbeats it took for her hands to still. Twenty. "Evelyn is a little slow tonight," he thought. Ten more heartbeats for her eyes to reach his once more.
"Oh my God," she breathed.
Bey said nothing, did nothing. He let the thought sink further into her brain. He was aware that Rick had stopped what he was doing as well
"You're their king." It was a statement, not a question.
Bey's voice was quiet. "I am."
"Why in the hell didn't you tell us?" demanded Rick, obviously not too happy with this news.
Ardeth raised an eyebrow at him. "Would you have believed me?"
Rick grinned mischievously . "No."
Evelyn was confused. "Why do they let you. . .?"
He did not let her finish the question. "There is no one else who knows these things as I do."
"But you are their king!" She truly did not understand.
Ardeth painfully pulled himself forward and laid a hand on her shoulder. "I have sworn to protect my people, to protect mankind, from the Creature. I know it must sound arrogant and self-righteous to your ears, but I ask you, can you think of any others who would do what we do? What we have done diligently for centuries?" His eyes met Rick's. "I would not ask any of my people to do that which I would not do myself. They can survive without me for a time. Forever, if need be. Right now I am where I must be. It is not a choice. It is my sworn duty. It is my life.
Rick studied him for a few moments in silence. Then he nodded.
"How could we have missed it?" Evy wondered aloud to herself.
"You were not looking," Ardeth replied. And then he smiled at her. A true smile. Not one brought about by danger or sarcasm, but a genuine smile that touched his eyes. It was the first she'd ever seen from him and she knew, in that instant, why his people followed him. "But now, I must ask you to keep silent about what you know. The identity of the Med-jai king is not known outside our tribe and there are those who would use this information against us."
This having been said, Bey sank back against the chair, unable to hold himself upright any longer. Evy watched him collapse and mentally chided herself for forgetting what she was supposed to be doing and got back to work. She removed the remaining bits of cloth as best she could. "It looks like the damage to the tatoos will be minimal," she said brightly, trying to change the subject.
"I am relieved to hear it," Bey said. "I would hate to have to go through having them done again."
Evelyn's forehead creased. "Does it hurt much?" she asked innocently.
Bey and O'Connell exchanged a look over her head. "I used to think so," Ardeth quipped. "Finish."
Evy nodded. "Rick," she asked, her eyes boring into Ardeth's, "I think we're going to need Jonathan now."
"I'm here," her brother said from the doorway. "Ardeth, old man, how are . . . Oh, I say!" Jonathan Carnahan paled significantly as he surveyed the bloody stripes. Bey would have laughed if he hadn't felt like the underside of hell.
Evelyn waved him closer. "Jonathan, I need you to hold his shoulder. Just there, that's right. Rick?"
She smiled tightly at her helpers as they restrained the warrior from behind. "Ready?" she asked. They nodded. She looked at Ardeth Bey, silently asking him for permission to proceed. He nodded and tightened his jaw. She then looked back at her husband, a silent plea in her eyes. Rick's eyes told her he understood and he tightened the restraining hand on Bey's shoulder. "Hang on," he murmured.
With a quick dash of her wrist, Evelyn poured the contents of the whiskey bottle over Ardeth's open wounds. Ardeth felt as if his entire chest were being ripped away. The pain was excruciating. He surged against the hands holding him down, his subconscious willing him to escape the terrible pain. He heard a loud roaring in his ears and then, blissfully, blackness claimed him.
"Rick!" Evy cried, raising her voice above the terrible cry emanating from the Med-jai's throat.
"Got him! Jonathan, hold on!"
"I'm trying!" Carnahan said, as he fought against Bey's sudden burst of strength.
Without warning, Ardeth lost consciousness and slid sideways. Rick caught him before he could fall and propped him up on the couch. Evy gasped and grabbed for the rest of the linens she'd brought. "What!?" Jonathan asked, startled. He looked down and saw whiskey diluted blood running from the four deep gashes across Bey's chest. "Oh, my!" Jonathan muttered, then his eyes rolled back in his head and gracefully passed out.
"Terrific," muttered Evelyn as she pressed the folded cloth firmly against Bey's wounds, quickly stopping the flow of blood. Her hands were shaking. When the bleeding had stopped completely, Rick lifted Ardeth's limp body and Evelyn bound his chest tightly with the long strips of linen. She deliberately ignored the tatoos on his back. When they'd finished, Rick gently lifted Bey under the arms and, with Evelyn supporting his legs, carried him into the adjoining room.
Evelyn struggled under the heavy weight and was relieved when they finally lay Ardeth on the bed. Now that his wounds were bandaged, the realization of what she'd just done crashed in to her. She found she could still hear Ardeth's cry of pain still echoing in her ears and she put her hands to her head as if to shut out the sound. Rick turned and saw his wife's stricken expression. He went to her and wrapped his arms around her shaking body. "I know," he said plainly, reading her thoughts. "I know." The warrior's cry had effected him deeply as well. He never really considered Ardeth human before. Now he knew better. And it worried him because he needed Ardeth Bey to help him find his son. He'll be alright," he said quietly, as much for his own benefit as Evy's. "He has to be."
With blade, blood, and bone I will honor the sacred vow of my anscestors.
from the Med-jai Rite of Passage
"As of this moment, the Med-jai alone stand between eternal evil and the next sunrise."
Words spoken by the captain of the Med-jai at the invocation of the Homdai
Ardeth Bey woke as the plane touched down in Cairo. He felt somewhat stronger, but knew that was just an illusion. He needed to seek out a healer among his people immediately. He stood up slowly, using the wall to steady himself. Bey lurched slightly as the plane bumped over something on the runway and would have fallen if O'Connell hadn't been there to catch him. Ardeth closed his eyes for a second, willing the pain to recede. Finally, he looked up at Rick. "Thank you, my friend."
"You gonna make it alright, buddy?" Rick was genuinely concerned. Bey found himself oddly touched by that and smiled tightly. "I will live." He pulled away from O'Connell's grasp and headed for the plane's now open door. He turned, the light behind him turning him into a dim shadow. "I will meet you tomorrow as we agreed. There are many preparations to be made."
"Ardeth. . ." Rick didn't finish. He didn't need to. The Med-jai knew what he was thinking.
"I will be there, O'Connell, whatever it takes. Upon my oath, I swear it."
Rick nodded and Ardeth Bey disappeared into the light.