Idahet, Egypt 1945
Sand swirls through the air as a strong wind cuts through an otherwise non-descript and quiet part of the desert. Millennia ago, the barren terrain had been known for its quarry of dark stone; now, after years of quiet, the area is an archaeological dig buzzing with activity as wooden crates are hammered shut and placed on stripped-down Canadian Military Pattern Ford 15s and Chevrolet WB 30 trucks. A couple of the vehicles bear faint, scratched-through symbols of a scorpion within a wheel, but, other than that, there are no distinguishing markings.
Small groups of archaeologists, assistants and locals work in several marked off areas edging wooden fences that have been placed around a large hole in the ground. Sand-covered steps lead down from the boarded surface to a pillared entrance with paraffin lamps lining the walls of the corridor beyond it.
The ground shakes and animals begin panicking and braying. There is a massive explosion and a thick cloud of sand suddenly hides the dig from sight.
A massive dark-grey stone pillar soars through the air and slams onto and through a series of tents and huts situated around a smaller excavation site. Dozens of men yell and shout and run from the site, rushing and clambering towards the tented village west of the old quarry.
A smooth boulder made of the same stone as the pillar arcs in the sky and lands on the pillar. There is a loud boom as both shatter, sending shards and chunks of rock in all directions. Several people fall to the ground or cry out in pain and a half dozen animals break free of their moorings and pens while some other animals stumble and fall.
Sand dunes heave and shift and a huge hole opens up in the ground, revealing a vast underground hall lined with dark pillars. Standing in sand up to his thighs, a tall blond man dressed in green military-style uniform glares at a twelve-foot high ball of sand in front of him. On his chest is a white swastika in a black circle, next to which, just below his heart, are three gold medals. Red gloves cover most of his forearms and, on his shoulders, there are gold tasselled shoulder pads. He spits and grits his teeth as sand falls from his short hair. The sand-ball shimmers and cracks and clumps of sand fall to the ground to reveal an opaque sphere of dense purple energy.
The walls of the sphere ripple and slowly become translucent, revealing, bit by bit, three figures huddled slightly behind a fourth. The blond military man scowls at the first figure he sees: a man in a green body suit with a green hood and a red cape. On his chest is a large symbol of a black diamond edged in red. Covering his eyes are a pair of pilot's goggles.
The military man's scowl turns into a smirk when the second figure is revealed: a taller man wearing a red long-sleeved top and yellow pants and dark boots, his hands raised in a boxing stance. Around his wrists are what seem to be wide gold bracelets, and on his head is a silver helmet, shaped like the end of a bullet.
The third figure is a woman dressed in a similar outfit as the second man, including the bullet-shaped helmet. She stands quietly and stares straight ahead.
The fourth figure, the last to be revealed by the now transparent sphere, stands in front of them with his arms raised. He is a young tan-skinned man wearing a bejewelled red turban and a blue suit and, in his right hand, is a stick a little over a foot long, topped with a glowing symbol of an ibis bird.
'Why are you so angry?' says the turbaned man in melodious, albeit heavily-accented, English. His eyes are wide as he looks around at the hall. Sunlight from the hole above dances over various symbols on the pillars and pedestals and the sand covering the floor glistens black and gold.
'Where is Garrett?' the military man growls, slowly. His English is accented in German. He looks down at his legs and shifts his hips, loosening the sand around him. He then looks down into the sphere and sees that there is no sand around their feet.
'He left soon after calling us,' says the man in the silver helmet. He keeps his hands up in a boxer's stance.
'Lies,' snarls the military-man. 'No vehicle has left this place in days. My men made sure of that.'
'You know we do not lie, Krieger,' says the man in the turban.
Krieger shakes his head. 'I knew none of your kind could be trusted and now, with these Americans here, my doubts are gone.' He suddenly punches the energy sphere and the hall shudders.
The turbaned-man grips the stick with both hands and says, loudly, 'Stop this rampage, Krieger.'
'Krieger extended his hand in friendship, Ibis,' he says, flicking his hand dismissively. 'Captain Nazi will use his fists for the Reich.'
He punches the energy sphere again, then a third time and cracks begin to appear, and the globe slides back a little. Slabs of black stone skip out of the ground and slam into each other and, inside the sphere, the three men struggle against the noise tumbling around them. Ibis tightens his grip on the stick and the sphere brightens and repairs itself.
'Stop this,' he says, as he looks directly at Captain Nazi, 'please. The temple-'
'Would have been lost if not for us. For the vision of the Fuhrer.'
'Don't think your beloved leader would be very impressed with the way you're behaving right now,' says the green-cowled man.
Captain Nazi slams his hands onto the sphere and begins to squeeze and press down. 'You think I care what a man afraid to show his face thinks?'
Just to the side, a dark pillar cracks, the sound booming through the hall, and begins to fall apart. Ibis squeezes his eyes shut for a second before pointing at the pillar and enveloping it with purple energy, pulling the falling pieces back into place.
Rainbow sparks begin to bounce around Captain Nazi's fingers as he continues pressing down on the sphere. The purple wall begins to give and the sphere hisses and tinkles like broken glass. Ignoring his bleeding nose, Ibis hunches down slightly and mutters something before suddenly standing up straight.
White light fills the hall and bursts out through the hole, fading just as quickly as it appeared. Shrouded in darkness, a wall at the far end of the hall crumbles as Captain Nazi's body slams into it. The sphere is gone and sand quickly floods into the empty space. The silver-helmeted man hovers in the air, holding the red-caped man, while Ibis and the silver-helmeted woman drift forward over the sand.
'Let it stop here, Krieger,' says Ibis. He flicks his finger and a ball of light shoots forward and illuminates the dark section of the hall. He frowns as a slab of broken stone moves and is pushed aside. Captain Nazi steps out of the rubble and dusts his uniform down. He tuts as he steps back into the sand and a gold tassel on his right shoulder pad falls off.
'What have these Americans said to you, Ibis?' says Captain Nazi as he watches the other three hover to one side. 'What did Garrett tell you?'
'They have said nothing.'
'It doesn't matter,' Captain Nazi shouts in Arabic. Ibis frowns, confused. 'This site and everything and everyone in it belongs to the Reich.'
His voice echoes around them and, above them, the fleeing people slow to a stop. Some of them turn to look back, wary of the light they had seen before and fearful of what they might see now.
'This place,' he roars, 'this pathetic excuse for a nation, this fallen empire.'
He jumps out of the sand and rises into the air and out of the hole in the ground. The workers and archaeologists gasp as he turns in the air and looks down on them.
'You think you can declare us an enemy and that we would leave you be? You think after all we have invested we would expect nothing in return?'
He plunges back down and slams into the hall, enveloping everything with sand.
Up above, the people scream and shout and start running again, tumbling and stumbling as the ground heaves and shudders.
The silver-helmeted man bursts through the wall of sand and lunges at Captain Nazi. He throws a couple of punches at his head but none of them connects. Captain Nazi catches his right fist and then pulls him towards him and grabs him by his helmet. 'Bullets don't hurt me, American,' he hisses, 'and a bulletman is something even less.'
Effortlessly, he throws Bulletman out of the hall and on to the sand dunes above. He picks up a piece of a broken pillar and hops out of the hole and throws the stone in the direction of the fleeing people. Purple energy wraps around the stone and pulls it back at Captain Nazi. The stone smashes into him and he tumbles out of the sky and lands in the sand. He stands, stumbles a little and turns and glares at Ibis.
'I hate sullying my mouth with this rasping tongue,' he says, 'but without it these people just won't listen. They won't understand.'
'We heard you, Krieger,' says Ibis. 'They heard you and they have refused your message.'
'Then they're even stupider than I thought.'
Chains made of purple energy wrap around Captain Nazi's legs, but he leaps up again before they can be drawn taut.
'Your magic is slow, Ibis,' he growls, hovering in the air. 'Slow and old.'
A strange whistling sound fills the air and Captain Nazi frowns at the four people gathered below him. Something slams into him from behind and rams him into the ground. Standing next to Ibis, Bulletgirl shimmers and disappears. The real Bulletgirl hovers in the air, a few feet away from the sandy trench created by Captain Nazi's body.
'It may be old, Krieger,' says Ibis, 'but it has its uses.' A purple 'bracelet' appears around Captain Nazi's wrist and hoists him into the air. It then tugs sharply and slams him into a sandstone wall and pins him against it. Purple chains weave around him and Captain Nazi grunts and twists only to find himself being more and more restricted.
'These people have done nothing to you, Krieger.'
'I came here for Garrett.'
'He's not here,' shouts Bulletgirl.
'I came here for Garrett,' he repeats, 'and find betrayal all around me.'
'Krieger-' says Ibis.
'We warned all who would resist that punishment would be meted upon them-'
'My people have chosen rightly to stand against you and your Fuhrer's designs-'
'Your people died a long time ago, old man. Your kingdom is gone. You should be with us. We found you laying in slumber as your country collapsed around you-'
The jewel set in the middle of Ibis' turban gleams as he steps forward. 'You risked the life of my beloved. One does not need the wisdom of Thoth to know what would have happened if you had succeeded in awakening her, too.'
'So be it.'
Captain Nazi strains against his bonds. His face reddens with the effort and he begins to roar. Ibis tries to refocus his energies through the stick but the chains suddenly break and waves of light streak across the sands. The shockwave sends him flying backwards and down into the hole while the others, including people fleeing in the distance, are knocked off their feet. A thick crack forms in the sandstone and, sweating and gasping, Captain Nazi falls to his knees.
The desert is quiet for a few seconds and then Captain Nazi looks up and sees the three Americans shimmer in the heat. He stands, tugs on his gloves and smooths the front of his uniform as he drifts over to the red caped man. He sets himself down, his feet on either side of the man's chest, and leans down to pick him up by his head.
'I read about you,' he says, almost whispering. 'Spy Smasher.' He looks around as he holds Spy Smasher with one hand, dangling in the air. 'Quite the annoyance but always on the home front, too weak to come to us. And yet, now…' He sets him down in the sand and pushes him in slightly, as if shoving a peg in the ground. He places his left hand on his shoulder and chambers his right. 'So far from home.'
He punches him and Spy Smasher soars backwards. Surprised, Captain Nazi looks at his fist and then over to the flying body as Bulletgirl arcs over the sand and catches him.
'Have the American's enhanced you, too?' he shouts.
'No,' says Ibis as he rises up from the hole. 'I have.'
Purple energy shimmers around Spy Smasher, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, and the wall of a massive dome appears behind the last of the escaping people. It widens and extends high into the air and envelopes the five combatants.
Captain Nazi smirks and dashes over to Bulletman faster than he can react. The American tries to leap into the air but Captain Nazi forces him to fight in the sand and, although Bulletman initially finds he is able to parry and counter Captain Nazi's blows, he struggles to keep his feet.
'You can give them power, Ibis,' shouts Captain Nazi, laughing, 'but not experience.' There is a loud boom as he punches Bulletman one more time and turns away. With his legs trapped in the sand, the unconscious American falls forward.
A hand made of sand wraps around Captain Nazi and squeezes. There are loud rumbles and thuds from the hall and the cracked sandstone Captain Nazi had previously been pinned to shudders, shakes, and becomes a rock giant. Captain Nazi bursts out of the sand-hand only to then find himself slammed into the ground by a double-fisted blow from the rock giant. As the rock giant rears back to strike again, a black stoned foot crashes into Krieger's back.
Bulletgirl and the now-conscious-again Spy Smasher hurry over to Bulletman. His face is caked in blood and sand but his wounds are already healing.
'Looks like Ibis' magic is giving us the edge we need,' says Spy Smasher. He holds a vial of smelling salts under Bulletman's nose and steps back as he jerks his head and snaps awake.
'Enough!' roars Captain Nazi.
Tendrils of electricity dance across the sky and through the sand and the rock giant and animated-stone statue explode. Surrounded by flames and covered with shards of glass, Captain Nazi stands, his clothes in tatters, and points a Luger pistol at Ibis.
'You've seen the lightning power of a dozen thunderstorms, Ibis,' he says, 'stand down.'
'I cannot do that, Krieger. I am sorry.'
Sand suddenly swirls around Captain Nazi and pieces of black stone slam into him. He hunches forward and shields the pistol as he lurches through the whirlwind. Ibis slowly moves backwards as he continues his magical bombardment.
Captain Nazi holds the pistol with both hands and fires. Lightning streaks through the sky and into the wall of the dome. Ibis shouts and waves his hand, sending Captain Nazi hurtling backwards, and then rushes towards the crumbling force field.
The three Americans, each of them temporarily gifted by Ibis with speed and strength and durability, charge at Captain Nazi and tackle him to the ground.
Captain Nazi grabs Bulletman by the throat and head-butts him. 'Your "Crime Cure" amuses me,' he snarls. He throws Bulletman into Bulletgirl kicks sand at Spy Smasher. 'I was told it made you strong enough to punch into a tank.'
Spy Smasher wraps his cape around Captain Nazi's head, leaps over him and proceeds to throw him over his shoulder. Captain Nazi quickly gets to his feet and pulls the torn cape from his face. 'Goggles,' he spits, and then he dashes at Spy Smasher and pummels him into the ground before tossing him aside and flying towards Ibis.
Ibis turns and a blast of air forces Captain Nazi back towards the hole. Captain Nazi holds up his hands and lands at the edge of the hole. He looks down into the cavern and waits for Ibis to approach.
'They aren't your people, Herr Ibis,' says Captain Nazi, softly. 'You owe them nothing.' He stands with his hands by his sides, palms facing up, as Ibis hovers a short distance away.
'They are my descendants, Herr Krieger. I have a duty to them.'
Captain Nazi nods and says, 'The Reich will make them better.'
Ibis looks at the glowing stick in his hand and says, 'I cannot believe you.'
Without warning, Captain Nazi flicks a small stone at Ibis' head, knocking off one of the jewels. He leaps up, snatches the stick from Ibis' hand and then punches him in his stomach and lets him fall to the ground.
'I have great respect for you, Herr Ibis. Please know this.' He crouches next to him and whispers, 'We did not wake you.' He stands and holds out the stick and says, 'but we will make you sleep.'
The explosion is massive but strange. Sand turns to glass and stone melts but no one is harmed. There is a screamed protest, however, as strange winds wrap around Captain Nazi and pull him down into the dark hall. The Ibis-Stick falls to the ground, next to Ibis, and the force field disappears.
Ibis gasps, coughs and wakes to find three battered faces looking down at him, smiling. In the distance, most huddled in various groups while others chase down the escaped animals, the people from the excavation camp watch, warily.
'Krieger?' rasps Ibis, his throat raw.
'Gone,' says Bulletgirl. 'Your stick vanished him.'
Ibis picks up the Ibis-Stick and closes his eyes. He then nods, opens his eyes, and looks around.
'I am sorry, my friends,' he says, 'but I must do this.'
'Do what?' asks Spy Smasher.
Ibis whispers softly but none of them understand his words: 'Let all those who are here forget what has been. Let this place be hidden once more and the memory lost.'