Title: Fury - Chapter Eighteen – Should Have Been Heaven
Rating: PG13 prolly eventually
Author: Angel - ninthsaturn@yahoo.com - http://geocities.com/saturnfiction
Summary: Evy finds a secret temple that holds an ancient deadly force. Cataclysm ensues.
Notes: Set about a year after The Mummy. An alternate "Mummy Returns" of sorts. At this point I have a vague idea of where this story will go, so bear with me...and possible name changes. :D I haven't written Mummy in a while, so if this little prologue sucks, I apologize. :D
Disclaimer: No infringement intended.
Codes: Imhotep/Evy, Ardeth/Meela

*
The sun will go down in a western sky. We'll be looking for words...all we know is good-bye. And the stories all sound the same. We've been through it before, but we'll do it again. I will never give up, I will wait 'til the very end. And my heart will calling your name...
-Nouveaux, Some Things Never Change from Beginnings

Ardeth licked his lips and placed his hand over his eyes to survey the desert in the direction of the temple. Of course he could see nothing on the horizon, hadn't expected to. But there was this strange sense that she was out there, somewhere. Yet there was no proof or reason to believe that. There was no real reason for them to believe she was headed towards the temple of Set other than his intuition. Luckily that was enough for Rick and Jonathan to follow him near blindly into the desert.

It was time for the game to end. He was weary of it and knew the others were too. But the question of how still remained. With Meela's powers as they were, they only real advantages they had were Imhotep and the element of surprise. But Imhotep hadn't brought Evy back in triumph yet, so they had to assume the worst. The priest was dead or incapacitated.

That left surprise. Meela was still mortal despite her great power. If they could sneak up on her unaware then perhaps a bullet would end this whole thing once and for all. But Ardeth felt himself having trouble with that prospect. He sighed and looked to his companions, wanting to distract himself from thinking of her in any other way than what he should. She was an enemy that he must stop. Nothing more.

He checked the guns Rick had given to him, making sure for the second time they were loaded properly. It was unbecoming of him to have a nervous habit, he knew. But he just couldn't stop himself from thinking of her as a poor young girl who'd gone astray instead of the monster that everyone else could see her as. Ardeth sighed and rubbed his shoulder, coughing a little.

Out of the corner of his eye he could see Abdu watching him in silence. They hadn't spoke since Ardeth had so rudely cast him off the last time he'd come to the encampment. The boy still held that shade of anger in his eyes. It was hard when a personal hero fell. Ardeth sighed, meeting the boy's gaze. Abdu scowled and turned his head, but there had been some small amount of sadness there. The boy Med-Jai would have to make a decision soon as to whether or not he forgave his friend.

"Ready?" Rick asked, coming to stand beside him. He squinted in the light.

Ardeth looked around the encampment and exhaled. He wasn't so ready to give all this up if they couldn't kill Ancksunamun. But he couldn't afford to let himself think that way. He had to believe they would succeed. "I am as ready as I can be, my friend. Where is Jonathan and your friend?"

As if summoned, both men approached from a little ways off. They seemed to be arguing. Izzy shook his head firmly. "I did not agree to come running around the desert and put my life in mortal danger, nor did I agree to sit about waiting for the likes of you people. You'd better increase my payment or I'll..."

"You'll what?" Jonathan challenged, unwilling to give up more money to the pilot. He crossed his arms.

Izzy drew himself up and held his chin high. "I'll think of something! Don't you worry your head off about that!"

O'Connell shook his head and smiled. "Why don't you just go back to Cairo, Izzy? We'll be along sooner or later."

"Absolutely not!" Izzy spat, his face irritated. He made for one of Rick's pockets. "Give me back the key to my plane!"

Rick held his hand over his pocket protectively. "I said I'd give it back later. You can tag along, wait with the plane or go to Cairo." He rolled his eyes and looked to Ardeth. "You just can't buy good help these days." He reached into his bag and pulled out some cash, holding it out.

Izzy grabbed it enthusiastically and began to count. Jonathan furrowed his brow and looked at Rick suspiciously. "Where'd you get that?"

Shrugging innocently, Rick answered, "What difference does that make?"

Ardeth laughed at the little scene that was playing out as Jonathan demanded to know where Rick had gotten the money from. He coughed and rubbed his chest absently. Omar had come from his tent to bid them farewell. "You're unwell, Ardeth," he observed.

The younger Med-Jai nodded, then shrugged. "I will live."

Omar snorted at that and clapped his friend on the shoulder. "I know that the people are having trouble understanding what happened, but as your father's close friend I can tell you that he would be proud of you. He valued a man with a good heart because he was the same. Do not feel ashamed because of your pity."

The older Med-Jai had become a second father to Ardeth since his own had passed away. Those words were not lightly given, but didn't make the burden on his shoulders any easier to bear. Still he said, "Thank you, Omar. I will remember your words."

The two men embraced and Ardeth wondered if this would be the last time he saw Omar as a fellow Med-Jai. They had no idea where Ancksunamun was or what she was planning, but Ardeth held onto his resolve to see this through to the end no matter what that end entailed. He swept his dark eyes once more over his people and then turned his back, petting his horse.

Rick mounted a horse nearby and watched his friend with sympathy in his blue eyes. It was time. The task would never be completed if he didn't begin. And so Ardeth mounted his horse, waving one last time at Omar and a few others that had come to bid him good-bye. Abdu watched still from a little bit away, his gaze less hard. He raised his hand and gave a small offering towards friendship and well wishing.

Ardeth smiled, the looked at his small party. They were ready to depart. Nodding at them, Ardeth turned his horse and spurred it on. He didn't look back.

*

The Temple of Set, like that of Horus, was hidden in a secret place. The climb down into the small canyon had taken nearly all day and Evy was tired now. She remembered with a certain amount of frustration having to climb down a grouping of rocks that overlooked a small stream and everything inside the secret ravine was dim, shielded from direct sun.

But after the hard work of avoiding certain peril, they had made it inside to an open cave where the sun barely reached. Evelyn leaned against a rock to rest a moment and catch her breath. Imhotep stayed close by and for that she was grateful. Lock-nah glared at so much as a mere question being asked of his mistress. Evy looked at the entrance to the temple. On the face of the rock was carved the blessings and warnings of the god Set. He was depicted in glorified imagery all around the great stone doors. "Is this where you stopped Asenath so long ago?" she asked.

Imhotep nodded gravely, his eyes visibly reliving the ancient foe he'd bested with the help of other priests. With his hands on his hips, he watched as Ancksunamun and Lock-nah examined the door. Lock-nah seemed a bit confused and Meela was frowning in thought. "It is hidden from my memory," she murmured.

Glancing over the great rock facing, Evy looked for any clue as to how they would open the doors. She bit her lip and read to herself an inscription that was written over the arch. "Only when the hands of Ra and Isis are joined may the gates of eternity be released." Imhotep widened his eyes and covered Evy's lips. She shoved his hands away and rolled her eyes. "Oh honestly. It's not like she can't read it for herself." The priest smirked and put his fingers over her lips. He obviously didn't want her accidentally, in her excitement of discovery, helping Meela inside. Evy wondered if Nefertiri had been prone to such things.

"What does that say?" Lock-nah asked, unable to read the hieroglyphs.

Ancksunamun translated and touched the surface of the carved rock. "Mmm. Look at this." She ran her fingers down a carved beam with a moon on the end of it. "The hand of Isis," she murmured, immediately looking to the other door. A matching piece was carved with a sun at the end. "The hand of Ra."

Evy watched with interest as Meela puzzled through the pictures. Dusting away some of the dirt helped uncover a way to pry the moon from it's place in the wall. Ancksunamun pushed her fingers through and pulled. The moon swung from it's place on a rod towards the center of the opening. Lock-nah did the same to the sun. When the rods were joined a loud clicking sound was heard as the ancient locking mechanism opened. Meela shoved the door open and said, "Bring them."

The inside of the temple was dark, so Meela lit up a candle and took it to the torches on the walls. Evy marveled at the appearance of the outer chamber. The walls seemed to have been painted in a color that was like blood and written over the doors to other chambers were the words of Set, proclaiming his dominion and greatness. In the center of the room was a pool filled with dirty water. Evy bit her lip and moved closer to Imhotep. He nodded, also feeling the evil of this place.

They left the outer chambers through a central hall, long and black. Meela lit the wall torches on the way. There was nothing on the walls except the names of Set, repeating on and on as if beckoning his presence and the occasional door. "This is where the priests rest," Ancksunamun breathed, brushing her fingers against an archway as they passed. She stopped at one near the end of the hall and stared inside with emotional eyes.

"Meela?" Lock-nah said at her troubled silence. "Are you all right?"

She nodded her head slowly, caressing the archway gently. "Akhenre sleeps in there." Evy was a little surprised by the deep feeling in her voice. She'd had dreams of Nycolaus telling her that Akhenre was in love with the concubine, but she wouldn't have suspected Ancksunamun to care much for another living being. Now she sounded grieved.

Lock-nah seemed troubled by her longing as she hovered between entering and staying outside. "Perhaps we should get on with this," he suggested.

"Yes," Ancksunamun agreed with a sigh, forcing her mind on the present. She swallowed and started again towards the great doors. They appeared essentially the same as the ones at the very front of the temple and Lock-nah moved to grasp the sun rob. Meela stopped him, her eyes flashing. "No. That's not it. That's a trap." She looked down and set her large candle down, then motioned them all against the wall.

Evy saw what she was getting at. Below them was a door entering the floor and on it was a picture of Set overcoming his enemy Osiris. Meela opened her bag and pulled out an amulet much like Imhotep's. She inserted it into a slot below Set and looked up at the priest of Osiris. "Remove your amulet and give it to me."

He hesitated, his hand moving protectively over his chest. Lock-nah stepped forward and grabbed Evy, his scimitar coming from his side and to her throat. "Do it," he growled and Imhotep gave Ancksunamun a hard look as he unbuttoned his shirt. Wrapping fingers around the leather strap that held it on him, he lifted it off and tossed it down.

"It was required of the ancient priests," Ancksunamun was saying in a teacher's tone, "that if they wanted to enter the tomb of Set they must first kill a priest of Osiris and take his amulet." She dropped Imhotep's inside the slot below the fallen Osiris and the doors jarred and opened an inch. "Lock-nah, open this."

The protector crouched and pushed his hands down into the crack, shoving with great effort each stone block into a panel in the floor. Below were a sent of stairs leading down further into the temple. Lock-nah motioned to Imhotep and the priest frowned, but obeyed for the sake of Evy's safety. He was handed a candle and pushed to go in first. Then Lock-nah grabbed Evy and held her close, pressing his weapon to her throat. They traversed another hall.

The inner chamber was horrifying to Evelyn. Upon it's walls were written in blood every defilement and torment she could imagine and lots more she couldn't. She swallowed and watched Imhotep light the torches, the toss the candle down in apparent anger. Ancksunamun smiled at him with mock thankfulness and set her bag on a stone slab. Immediately she headed towards a large sarcophagus in the center of the room. Evy groaned in worry.

*

"Well, at least we know they're here," Rick commented, drawing his guns. It had become night again by the time they'd reached the canyon and descended it into caves below. The doors to the Temple of Set were wide open and torches glittered from inside. "Let's get the show on the road."

Ardeth nodded his head, also drawing his guns. Jonathan and Izzy did the same behind and the four slowly crept into the shadowy temple. "We should check each room from front to back until we find them. She may have left creatures hiding in wait for us," the Med-Jai said, his keen eyes scanning the interior of the outer chamber. He headed towards a door on the right and yanked a torch from the wall.

"I say," Jonathan was saying from the outer chamber thoughtfully. "This looks an awful lot like blood."

"It is," Ardeth replied, scouting the small room he'd entered. No sign of anything having been disturbed and there was no place to hide. He exited.

*

Ancksunamun frowned at the puzzle on the sarcophagus. To break the final seal and have it awaken Set they were going to have to open this coffin and place the body of Set on a ceremonial slab where the seal would be placed. But getting there wouldn't be easily done. Ancksunamun hadn't been allowed into the inner sanctuary back when she was a priestess so long ago. She had to wait until the right moment and kill Imhotep for such a privilege, but Set wanted the high priest's soul defiled before his death, so the concubine had had to wait. Of course history's events had saw that she never be allowed in here, so the puzzle on the sarcophagus eluded her.

She balled her fists and slammed them onto the coffin. Imhotep stood across from her, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. He snorted and grinned at her inability and she scowled back at him. She would have taken action against him, too, but for the sound that echoed from upstairs.

Immediately Ancksunamun paused and listened. A smile spread across her lips. "Akhenre, you have come after all," she breathed. So her love had returned to stop her. It was pleasing. She looked to her protector. "Lock-nah, bind Imhotep's wrists and go up there. We have company. Some of them may carry guns."

Lock-nah twined a rope around Imhotep, securely tying him so he couldn't interfere with Meela. Shoving the priest down, he reached over his shoulder and pulled a large gun from his back sheath. "I will return shortly."

Ancksunamun smiled as he started for the stairs, but stopped him. "And Lock-nah, there is a Med-Jai up there with dark hair and eyes. I want him alive."

The protector bowed his head in obedience once and took off up the stairs.

*

Jonathan and Izzy, side by side, kept watch near the stairs while Rick searched for Ardeth - who had mysteriously disappeared. It was nervous business, as Jonathan feared that any moment something could come rushing at them from the darkness. He didn't know about this other guy, but he most certainly wasn't looking forward to it. "I don't suppose you've got anything to drink," he said softly, his eyes trained on the stairway.

Izzy shook his head, turning away a moment. "Not a thing," he answered. Then his head tipped back.

Rolling his eyes, Carnahan smacked Izzy upside the head. "Liar."

The pilot turned and pointed his gun at Jonathan's head. "Chicken."

"Chicken? Me?" Evy's brother could barely believe the nerve of this guy. "Look, Mr. I'm Too Scared To Follow You Guys Into Danger, I'll have you know I didn't argue once when we started, so sod off!" He snatched the little liquor bottle from Izzy.

Izzy lifted his eye patch, gazing at Jonathan through both eyes for a change. "I am not scared." He grabbed for his liquor.

Jonathan chuckled and nodded mockingly, sucking down a gulp of the precious liquid. "Oh, right."

"Look, you little twerp, I..." he began.

Jonathan grabbed his arm, silencing him and listened. He could swear he heard something. He blinked, turning his ear towards the stairs.

True to his prediction, something came rushing up, gun in hands and pointed straight at them. All fights aside, Izzy and Jonathan looked at one another and then together took off back towards the temple entrance. They could hear footsteps bounding behind them in chase.

*

It was time for him to do it. It grieved his heart that he was going to have to end his life here, but there was no other way. Imhotep stood up from the ground having the advantage of being behind Ancksunamun. He glanced at Nefertiri who watched him curiously from the spot she had been tossed. There was fear written in her lovely eyes.

He formed his hand as if he were holding a blade and made a stabbing motion, nodding to Ancksunamun's bag. Nefertiri inhaled and poised herself to get up, understanding his need. He hated the thought of leaving her just when he'd regained her back from the arms of hate, but what must be must be.

And so Imhotep crept towards the concentrating priestess slowly. She didn't stir at his stealthy movements. This fight would clearly be his if he could utter the words fast enough before dying. But she would have to bleed first. He needed Nefertiri to bring him a knife.

He stretched out his bound hands to cage her in his arms, but it was too late. She'd heard. Turning, Ancksunamun kicked him away. Falling back in pain, Imhotep bit his lip to keep any sound from coming out. Nefertiri dove for the bag and ripped the concubine's dagger out.

*

Rick watched Ardeth from behind, not sure whether or not the Med-Jai knew he was there. He'd wandered off alone, causing the other three to worry. So Rick had taken it upon himself to search for Ardeth while the other two kept watch. This wasn't exactly the time for exploring and his friend should know that, so Rick was baffled as to why he was so enraptured by a niche in the wall. It wasn't as if Ardeth had never seen a skeleton before.

Yet Ardeth was fascinated all the same. He'd lowered his weapons and was now approaching it slowly, almost uncertainly. He holstered a gun and ran his hand over the skeleton, not touching it but almost trying to touch whoever it was. "Akhenre," he whispered, his voice low and emotional.

Rick swallowed and came closer, still holding to his guns. "Hey, Ardeth," he began, hoping to not startle his friend. The Med-Jai gave no indication of surprise. "What's going on?"

Whatever was going on, Ardeth didn't reply. He merely gazed intently, so intently that Rick became worried. His friend's eyes moved as if he were seeing something else from another time. O'Connell passed his hand before the Med-Jai's face and got no response. Gripping his shoulders roughly and shaking him, Rick repeated his name.

Ardeth snapped out of it, closing his eyes and slumping forward into Rick's arms without a sound. His adrenaline rushed and Rick lowered his friend to the floor slowly, breathing, "Oh God, buddy, don't do this to me." He laid Ardeth down and pushed the hair from his face. The Med-Jai was completely out cold. Rick felt for a pulse and exhaled deeply in relief at finding one. He didn't know what to do. His mind raced and searched and found nothing. Was his friend dying?

"Rick!" echoed through the small crypt from Jonathan, followed by the scrambling of feet and a strange voice shouting at his friends.

O'Connell hovered over Ardeth a moment, not sure what to do. "Oh God," he breathed, wringing his hands and looking up at the archway. He shook Ardeth again to no avail, begging him to wake up. Nothing could be done right now, but something could be done about Jonathan and Izzy's problem. Growling in frustration, Rick jumped to his feet. "I'll be back for you," he assured the unconscious man, drawing his weapons again and breaking into a run.

*

Jonathan and Izzy were cornered. There was no questioning that. There as no escape. A large black warrior advanced with a grin, his menacing sword drawn. All their bullets had been wasted in the attempt to get away and they were defenseless against this seemingly unstoppable foe. "Now, my little friends, it's time for you to experience the afterlife."

Izzy widened his eyes and shoved Jonathan forward, yelling, "Him first!"

"Oh, thanks a lot!" Jonathan hissed, throwing up his fists. He made ready to defend himself and said, "Why don't you throw down that sword and fight me like a man?"

Laughing at that, thoroughly amused, the warrior sheathed his scimitar and advanced on Jonathan, fists clenched. All in all the man wasn't a bad fighter Jonathan mused as he hit the wall. He groaned and heard Izzy mutter, "Oh, sweet God, help me," as the man now turned his attentions on him. Jonathan grinned at that despite the gravity of their situation.

*

Evy watched as Imhotep and Ancksunamun rolled around the floor together. She would have to make sure and ask the priest later if he had enjoyed any of that, because if he answered at all in the wrong way he was going to find a knee in his groin. If he lived. Wrapping her arms around her waist, Evy watched and silently prayed that somehow Imhotep would be spared this sacrifice. After all he did want to start over and do it right this time. Didn't that count for something?

The priest's ties had been cut - Evy had made sure of that - and now able, Imhotep rolled onto Ancksunamun, holding her arms back. He looked to his princess and Evelyn ran with the knife, falling to her knees beside them. He nodded towards her face, mouthing, Cut her cheeks. Evy slid the knife down Meela's cheeks, cutting the scars that had marked her from conversion. And then waited for his next command.

But there would be no other commands. Instead Imhotep pushed himself forward, still straddling the cursing Ancksunamun. His lips pressed into Evy's softly and when he pulled back his eyes were moist. And he opened his lips.

"No," Evy whimpered, tears forming in her eyes and falling to her face. She couldn't bear this. Her heart was breaking into a thousand tiny pieces. He could see that too and found it difficult to continue. "There has to be another way."

Ancksunamun laughed harshly and struggled in Imhotep's grasp. "Say the words, priest. Strip my powers away and end the threat. He's going to die, Nefertiri, whether he kills me or I kill him."

Imhotep again opened his mouth to speak, but Evy put her fingers on his lips. She shook her head, blinded by her tears. "I love you. I do love you still, my priest." His shoulders slumped at that and the tears he'd been holding streamed freely. But Ancksunamun's laugh reminded them both of what needed to be done.

But then, just as Imhotep was about to sacrifice it all and give up his life, something happened. A voice called into the room. "Stop," he said calmly. Evy looked up as Ardeth entered the room purposefully. There was something intense about his gaze. He stood above Imhotep. "Get up from her."

The priest of Osiris furrowed his brow, but nevertheless obeyed the command from his enemy turned trusted friend. He got up slowly and Ancksunamun followed, her eyes flashing. She smiled at Ardeth and cocked her head. "You have come to kill me?" she asked, taking in his weapons.

Ardeth shook his head slowly, grasping a lock of her hair in his fingers. "No, my Ancksunamun, I have not come to kill you. I have come to finally give you what you always wanted from me. My love."

*

Jonathan didn't know whether Izzy was dead or just out, but he didn't have time to check. Scurrying around the fountain, he tried desperately to get away from this murderous beast that was trying to end his life. He was too young to die. There were too many women still out there, too much to do.

He skidded to halt as Lock-nah dove over the fountain and landed in his path. "I'm going to kill you very slowly," the man growled from deep within his chest. He obviously wasn't too happy that Jonathan had managed to evade death this long. Jonathan had to concede that if the roles were reversed, given this man's size versus his own, he too would be a tad upset.

But suddenly they weren't alone. Shouting and running, Rick burst into the room and stopped, locking his guns on the large warrior. Lock-nah turned his head and pointed his gun at the ex-Legionnaire. Jonathan took that opportunity to leap at the imposing stranger, knocking his guns effectively to the floor.

With a grunt Lock-nah shoved Jonathan aside and wrenched his weapons back into his hands, getting up to fight. But Rick had the advantage. Pointing his gun, he aimed and fired. The warrior fell to the ground with a thud. "You two all right?" Rick asked, wiping his brow.

Jonathan rolled his eyes, thinking, Real hard work, O'Connell, but nodded. "Izzy's hurt, though."

O'Connell cursed and ran a hand through his hair. "See to him. Something's wrong with Ardeth. I've gotta go check on him."

*

Evy stood in stunned silence as Meela backed away from the Med-Jai before her. "You are lying!" she yelled, her dark eyes unable to break from Ardeth's. "This is a trick."

Ardeth held his hands up and kept walking towards her. He shook his head. "This is no trick, my love. I wronged you by keeping my heart closed. Now I give it freely."

Imhotep moved to stop this madness, but Evy put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. He frowned at her, but she remained firm. Meela stopped and pushed her hands against Ardeth's shoulders to keep him away. "Get away from me, deceiver," she told him, her eyes moistening. Despite her firm denial of what he was saying, she looked like she wanted to believe him. "How can you lie to me like this?"

Not letting her get away from him, Ardeth grabbed her and pulled her into his arms. Evy could see tears in his eyes from where she stood to the side. Ancksunamun fought him vehemently as he pushed his lips over hers and kissed her, but his hold was too tight for her to break free from. Finally she gave in and let him do it while his hands rubbed her back. "Akhenre," she whimpered when he pulled away, her cheeks flooded by tears. "I want so badly to believe this. If you take yourself away from me again..."

"Shhhh," Ardeth soothed, holding her softly and smoothing her hair back. He pressed his forehead to hers and kissed her lips once more. "I will never fail you again. But this body is not mine, love."

Her eyes widened. So did Evy's. She watched Meela look Ardeth over in shock. "Can it truly be you, my love? My Akhenre?" Ardeth nodded and Ancksunamun embraced him tightly as if she'd never let go. "I've done such horrible things," she sobbed against his shoulder. Evy felt her eyes once again well up with tears.

Inhaling, Ardeth lay his head on her shoulder and looked at the floor. "I know, Ancksunamun. But it's over. Accept forgiveness, for it is yours to have. I'll love you forever."

What Ancksunamun didn't see was the dagger in Ardeth's hand. Soothing his love and kissing her shoulder, he pressed it into her and she groaned, going limp in his arms. He lowered her to the floor with a grieved expression and laid her down, hovering above her on his knees. "You...said...you wouldn't...kill me," she whispered, her eyes wide in surprise as she winced and shivered. She was dying.

Ardeth pet her hair and kissed his fingertips, pressing them to her lips. "I didn't come to kill you," he repeated gently, tears falling over his cheeks. "I came to set you free. We can love each other in the plain of the dead, freely and without fear. I will meet you on the other side, Ancksunamun. I love you." He held out his hand.

With what little strength she had left in her body, she grasped it and smiled through her tears. With her last breath Ardeth bowed his head in silence. He held her hand tightly and grieved, but a cough brought his memory back to the here and now. He looked up to Evy. "Meela's soul had entwined with Ancksunamun's too much to be separated. I did not allow this to happen to Ardeth Bay. I will surrender his body up to him. Comfort him when he awakens."

Evy nodded and wiped her cheeks, watching as Ardeth's body hit the ground. "My God," she breathed, turning to Imhotep. He accepted her into his arms without hesitation.

Rick and Jonathan entered the room at that moment, guns drawn. Imhotep held his hand up to stop them and Rick took on a peevish expression, crossing his arms. "Look," Jonathan whispered, pointing to where Meela and Ardeth lay.

O'Connell immediately dropped to his knees at his friend's side, checking for a pulse. "He's alive," he announced gratefully. He looked down as the subject of conversation groaned and stirred. "You okay, Ardeth?"

Ardeth rolled to his back slowly and covered his eyes as if the light was painful. He didn't say a word and remained very still. Evy pulled herself from Imhotep's arms and knelt beside her friend, touching his shoulder softly. She was surprised when he grasped her hand and held to it. Tucking her hair behind her ears, she licked her lips and asked, "Ardeth? How do you feel?"

Hand still over his eyes, Bay nodded and exhaled deeply, coughing from his cold. "I am all right," he whispered in a thick voice as he gave Evy's hand a squeeze. "I will be fine."

Rick and Evy exchanged worried glances and she touched Ardeth's cheek gently. "Are you upset?" He nodded at that and Evy bit her lip at such an admission from this man who usually kept his hurts private. "What can I do?"

"I have never felt such emotions on such a level," he chose to say instead of responding. "I feel everything."

Wiping a few tears from her cheeks, Evy laid sideways on his chest in a hug. The others were all silent thankfully. "You feel the loss." She didn't need him to reply to know it was true. She could hear it in his voice. Rubbing his shoulder, she held him tightly and told him, "You've got us, Ardeth. I know that doesn't help much with how you feel now, but it's true."

He smiled wanly and returned her hug. "It helps."

*

Rick didn't know exactly what to do, so instead of just getting himself in the way in a situation he didn't know how to deal with, he grabbed the seal and ushered the other men out of the room to let Evy and Ardeth talk. It bothered him to see his friend so hurt - he'd never dealt with anything so serious before - and he just didn't know how to fix it. Leaning against the wall he ran his hands through his hair and looked at the other two men. His brow furrowed. "Hey, Imhotep." The priest looked slightly aggravated at the moment, but looked to Rick in expectation. "Did you and Nefertiri...do anything?"

Imhotep shrugged, obviously not understanding Rick's English. The ex-Legionnaire sighed and looked at Jonathan. Carnahan translated. Breathing in, Imhotep opened his mouth to speak but stopped himself. Immediately his aggravation visibly increased and he pet the symbols on his throat, then his lips. Jonathan asked him something and the priest nodded. The Englishman smirked and said, "He can't talk."

Not liking the grin on Jonathan's face, Imhotep raised his hand as if to hit him, but only in warning. Jonathan backed away and spoke, trying to soothe the savage priest. Rick frowned. "He still didn't answer me."

Jonathan repeated the question and Imhotep exhaled and raised his eyebrows, giving Rick a sidelong glance. O'Connell had his answer and leaped at the Egyptian, swearing and throwing punches. Imhotep evaded to the best of his ability, not wanting to harm Nefertiri's friend, but when the ex-Legionnaire got in a good punch to the jaw that was enough. He shoved Rick into the floor and scowled, crossing his arms and looking down.

Rick was about to get up and fight again when Evy and Ardeth emerged from the inner chamber. She eyed the scene with suspicion, first looking at O'Connell as he rubbed his now sore behind and then to Imhotep, who was steadily giving Rick a hard look. He glanced up and grinned at her chiding expression. "Hey," Jonathan said, breaking the silence. "You okay, Ardeth?"

The Med-Jai looked tired and very grateful that the ordeal was finally over, but the others could plainly see the haunted expression in his dark brown eyes. "Yes, Jonathan. I'm okay. It may take some time to sort through, but I'm very thankful for the love of my friends and that I can now return to my people."

"Yeah," Rick breathed, nodding his head. He rested his hands on his hips. "You want us to stick around for a while?"

Ardeth smiled at his friend who'd been there for him 3,000 years ago and was now there for him today. He was very tired and knew it was time for him to rest his body and soul. He counted himself lucky to have these people in his life. They were as much a part of his heart as his people in their own ways. He nodded. "You would be most welcome. I am sure the Med-Jai would welcome you with gratitude."

A smile spread across Rick's lips and he nodded towards Imhotep. "Even the freak?"

At that the Med-Jai looked a little dubious, sliding his gaze to the priest. "We shall have to see about that."

"That reminds me!" Evy cut in, moving to stand beside Ardeth. "Imhotep can't talk. Is there anything that can be done to get rid of those hieroglyphs on his neck? They will kill him if he speaks."

Ardeth looked at the healing cuts on the priest's throat thoughtfully. "Perhaps one of the healers of my people can do something, but I can make no promises." The priest. Seeing Imhotep more than any other of this group of people would bring Ancksunamun back to mind. She would always be a part of him, he knew. Always. He felt his chest hurt at the thought of her face in his mind.

Without direction or conversation, they slowly and quietly began towards the exit. Something was rustling ahead and all weapons were immediately drawn. Imhotep, who was unarmed, stomped over to Rick and torn one of his guns away, intent on using it. Rick rolled his eyes and muttered, "Fine. Shoot yourself because you don't know how to use it. I'll even help bury you." Evy scowled at Rick and he smiled innocently.

They waited. Waited for what seemed an eternity for the creature or mercenary or whoever it was to come creeping out of the shadows. And then it happened. Shuffling dizzily forward, Izzy stepped out from the darkness, rubbing his head and grumbling. His eyes widened at the greeting that met him. "What's this? Hey, I didn't do it, whatever it was."

Shoving his gun back into it's holster, Rick shook his head. "Izzy," he grunted, turning. He stopped short, seeing Imhotep steal a kiss from Evy. "Oh great. Evy and the mutant. Now I'll never stop worrying." He sighed and stretched the kinks out of his body.

Evy smiled, hugging into Imhotep as they walked and looking between the two of them. "Give him a chance, Rick. I think you two could be friends."

"Oh right," Rick replied, snatching his gun back from the priest. "Maybe we could go fishing." Imhotep looked skyward as the Greek Med-Jai looked him over and said very seriously, "If you hurt her I swear to God I'll hunt you down like you're a crippled dog and shoot you from head to toe. Or toe to head, rather."

Imhotep furrowed his brow and looked to his princess, mouthing, What did he say?

Grinning from ear to ear, Evy gave the priest a squeeze and replied, "He said if you're a nice mummy he might actually start to like you."

Rick gazed at her suspiciously, knowing that grin meant that she was probably blurring the facts of whatever she was telling him. She gave him a wink and he swallowed, looking to Imhotep. The priest smiled and clapped Rick's shoulder in an almost friendly manner, causing the ex-Legionnaire to exhale in defeat. Evy winked and cocked her head. "Perhaps I could have you both." She giggled at Rick's expression.

Walking ahead, Ardeth reflected over the past week. A part of him ached to know Ancksunamun was gone and wanted desperately to see her again. It all somehow didn't seem over to him, but he had to remind himself that it really and truly was. She was gone and it was time for his spirit to heal. He listened to Evy speak Egyptian to the priest at her side and to Rick grumble to Jonathan about needed to find a bar and a woman. Ardeth thought about Ancksunamun, wondered if she and Akhenre were together now.

A small breeze found it's way from the outside and caressed over the small party of friends. The fury of centuries of pain and anguish had been quieted finally. It was time for them all to find healing.

But he could still feel her voice in his mind. Soft and gentle as rain. Calling his name.

*

Well, don't ask me where all that Ardeth/Meela stuff came from...lol. I had set out to make it an Imhotep/Evy story, but that's always subject to change. Hope you all enjoyed it and I hope you all review this last chapter so that you can tell me how I did...if you'd like a sequel and so on. :D

I so needed an editor on that last chapter...I didn't read through it until too late and saw my silly mistakes. Well, hopefully this time around I can nail it, cause I didn't read this chapter before posting either. Lol. So please excuse my typos and stray words where my brain was moving faster than my fingers...hehehe.

Thank you everyone that's reviewed and will review. I'm so thankful for your compliments and pointers and so on. Love you all!!! :D

-Angel