It's not finished, I'm working on it… it is perhaps halfway done

All Done! Be happy.

Rated: PG-13 for KISSY-FACE!!! OOH! Perhaps a bit more, as well… And I think maybe one or three swear words, said by Rick, of course. We know how he is (AND WE DON'T LIKE IT).

Note: I am a little unhappy with this story because I feel that it runs to quickly and more than a little unevenly. (constructive criticism welcomed) A medium part of this is caused by the fact that I can't write fight scenes. Yes, I know they stink, just ignore it… Since I am SO unhappy here, it's just polite of you to say nice things to boost my ego…J/K… I have this tentative sequel in mind, too. Flames are now accepted as variety. Keep in mind, I LOVE arguing with people that have differing opinions from me… *evil grin*

Note 2: I used to call Ardeth Apocalypse Man when I first saw him and didn't know who he was. Little inside joke there. And Merserqet is really Egyptian, too. It literally means "beloved of the scorpion goddess". Aren't you proud of me? … As a note to all you Evy-Rick 'shippers, I have changed my mind over the last few months. I no longer perfunctorily believe in Evy/Rick's eternal love. I now am a devout disciple of the Ardeth-and-Evy-are-meant-to-be-together Cult. I have 2 tiny moments in TMR that I believe prove my point, though it is probably just over-obsessing and Ardeth-starvation. I will not go into detail about those moments. If you really want to hear me ramble about them, review or something.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters except for Ashëla and Merserqet… (and the camel vendor) However, I do own the personality that I gave Ardeth in this story, simply because I need to own SOMETHING of Ardeth!!! * deep breath * I'm fine. No, really. I am. What, don't you believe me?

Ardeth gasped and pulled away from the kiss, feeling terrifyingly out of control. Ashëla smiled, a pleasant sight in her perfect heart-shaped face, and slid her arms around his neck, giving him a moment to compose himself. He caressed her face and said in breathless wonder, "I still cannot believe… that someone… like you…" he gestured toward her, not quite sure of what he was trying to say. Ashëla smiled again and pushed him gently toward her gauze-draped bed, saying, "Would what? Love… you?" She kissed him lingeringly, further destroying his coherent thought. "But I do… darling." He was too busy feeling her kisses to notice that the inflection on darling was just a bit ominous.

He relaxed his hold on his self-discipline and leaned back on his elbows as she gently lay him down. Her wrists massaged his sides as she walked herself with her hands until she was directly above him. Long hair dripping everywhere, Ashëla bent down to kiss him again. He barely felt it as his cape unfastened and fell to the bed behind him. As enjoyable as this experience was, he was starting to feel uneasy. He tried to ignore it, kissing her more animatedly, but after a minute or so he opened his eyes. "Wait," he said, knowing he sounded a little ridiculous, but just as sure that his intuition was trying to tell him something. "Something is not right." He looked out the window behind him, wondering if there was something amiss outside. The street was hot and tranquil, as it always was, with a few lazy melon vendors dragging their heavy carts along the road.

When he looked back, Ashëla had a knife in her hand, pulled up to strike. "Ashëla!" he gasped. She twisted her lovely lips in a silent snarl and stabbed at him, lightning quick. Just as quickly he rolled aside, deflecting her arm so that she stabbed her bed-post. Furiously she tugged at it, giving him time to stand up and circle to the other side of the room. She ripped her knife out of the wood and spun to face him. Ardeth was unconsciously crouched in a fighting position. "Why are you doing this, Ashëla?" he asked her tightly. She grinned. It was not a pleasant grin this time. "Pharoah's bodyguards are said to be the most elite fighters in the world… yet you love as would a child, innocent and far too trusting, love." Ardeth blinked, momentarily stunned. She was speaking in Ancient Egyptian. "You did not sense at all that I do not love you?" she asked rhetorically, bitingly. The scorn in her voice burned him, twisting his heart pitilessly.

Taking his surprise and pain as an opportunity, Ashëla threw her knife at him. Despite his sudden turmoil, he caught the hilt and without thinking turned it and threw it back at her. It struck perfectly, thudding into her heart. She fell to her knees, showing no pain, just hate. Ardeth could not move, stunned that he had just killed the woman he loved, stunned that she had betrayed him. As her perfect, sun-dusted skin turned pale, she clenched her teeth and whispered in the Old Tongue, "Death… is only the beginning…" Ardeth's eyes widened in horror as something a sickly blue-silver oozed out of her skin. It tore itself free of her, rising as she fell to the floor. He took a step back towards the door as a face appeared in the muddy, translucent spirit. His vision was beginning to cloud over just a little, his brain short-circuiting from this sudden rush of information and actions that he did not understand. He gasped as he recognized the delicate, oval face and thin nose of Anck-su-namun. The eyeless ghost smiled ironically at him and floated up, soaking through the ceiling. "No…" he whispered, not believing this turn of events. Suddenly his overloaded, agonized mind snapped. "No!" he shouted, opening and running through the door to Ashëla's- or Anck-su-namun's- room.

Rick rummaged through a drawer in his and Evy's room, looking for a rock they'd collected that was actually worth something. A glitter of gold caught his attention, a fist-sized rock nestled in with the other fifty or so. He took it out and held it up to the light. It sparkled eye-pleasingly. "What do you think, hon?" he asked Evy, who was sorting books on their small, personal shelf. She turned around, making his heart stop, the way it always did when confronted with his wife's beauty. One of these days he was going to have a heart attack. "Is it worth something?" She tipped her glasses down and looked at it. Then she laughed. "No, darling, I'm afraid what you've got there is a nice large chunk of pyrite- fool's gold." Rick sighed and dropped it back into the drawer. "I guess that makes me a fool, then, huh?" He grinned, then squinted at the rocks. "Evy, are any of these things worth a single dollar?" She wormed a book into a small open slot and shrugged. "Maybe. But their primary worth is their historical value. I picked up each of those at a different burial site of a different king. They might be able to tell us something about the time periods those men lived in." She put the last book on the shelf and came over to stand next to Rick.

"But, honey, they're not labeled," he noticed. "How do you tell which is which?" She came over to put an arm around his waist and pointed to the pyrite. "I found that in the wall near the coffin of Amonhotep II." She moved her finger to indicate a small piece of obsidian. "That was deep underground, in the caves underneath the Giza pyramids. And that," she pointed to a lovely little shard of reddish stone, "that fell off of that beautiful carved chair we found in the annex of Ramses III's tomb. Remember?" Rick shook his head in wonder. "You're amazing, baby." He was just about to kiss her appreciatively when he heard the door close loudly, not quite slamming. Quick feet were already padding up the stairs to the second level.

"Hello?" called Rick. "Who's there?" In reply to his question, a familiar Med-jai chief came swirling into the room. "Ardeth?" He got no answer as the dark man strode this way and that, not going anywhere and not, apparently, trying to. Suddenly he turned sharply to face the confused O'Connells. "My friends, I- need your help." Rick shrugged. "Anything. What do you need?" Then he reconsidered. "Except mummies. None of those, okay? Because-" Ardeth interrupted him. Rick doubted if he had even heard what he had said.

"I am not…" he exhaled roughly. Rick noticed that the man's face was shiny with sweat, even though it was a relatively cool night. "I do not- I'm not sure what to do, I-" he stared, wild-eyed, at Evy, then at Rick. Suddenly he doubled over as if he had been stabbed in the stomach. "No-" he gasped out in a pained voice. Fingers shaking, he fumbled in his robes as he fell to one knee. "No!" he said again, as his worried friends watched, at a loss. Out from under the black cloth he brought a dagger and raised it quickly, seconds away from ending his own life. Rick reacted first and leaped toward him, only a split second before Evy. Together they wrested the dagger from his struggling hands and threw it to one side. Ardeth cried out in rage and anguish, fighting off his friends and running out of the room. Evy and Rick glanced at each other in concern and rushed after him, just in time to see him standing on their balcony, ready to jump.

"Whoa!" shouted Rick and rushed to the Med-jai chief's side. Evy, terrified now, caught his other arm and together they pulled a wildly resistant Ardeth off of the railing. The sick Arab twisted violently and in vain, fighting as if the O'Connells were Imhotep and his minions. He clenched his teeth in pain and jerked one arm free of Evy's gasp. Futilely, he stretched it up and screamed in his native tongue, "For God's sake, let me die!" Rick ignored him, grabbing his arms and holding them together. Ardeth abruptly stopped struggling, falling into a sudden near-unconsciousness. Rick glanced at Evy, who was shaken at Ardeth's expression of violent self-hate. She placed the back of her hand on his damp forehead. "He's got a fever," she told Rick, disturbed. "Let's get him to the bed." Haphazardly they dragged the muttering, half-delirious Ardeth into their room and heaved him onto the thickly blanketed bed.

Anxiously the couple looked at each other, unsure of the next step. Alex trotted into the room. "Mum…" he started. He broke off as he spotted Ardeth. "Mum… that's the man who told me I had caused the apocalypse, isn't it?" Evy bit her lip and nodded, crossing over to hug her son. "Yes, darling, it is." Alex frowned, finding it hard to believe that the sickly, pale man on his parents' bed was the same fiery, ominous Med-jai. "Well, what's wrong with him?" He demanded. Evy smiled sadly. "I… don't know," she said softly. She stood up and looked at Rick. "I'll go call a doctor." She disappeared out of the room.