Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
N/A

The Scarab: Homecoming

Recommended Posts

The Scarab: Homecoming

July 15th, 2008

Sofia Cruz gave her rope a second tug, just to make sure, and wiped a bead of sweat from her brow before rappelling down the central core of The Scarab's Lair. She hadn't been hitting the rocknasium as often as she used to, and her spandex climbing outfit and kevlar vest fit noticeably tighter than they used to. But she was pushing 40. And considering the marriage, 3 children, and M.B.A. that had come and gone since the first time she made this descent, she thought she was still in pretty good shape. Mama did a damned good job drilling these hooks, she thought as she checked her shotgun for the third time between jumps. All these years, and they've still held. Then she wished for probably the 300th time that Uncle Alex would've had the presence of mind to install a normal elevator, for those of us who can't lift 2-ton blocks with our minds...

She wiped away another sweat droplet. She knew it wasn't the exertion. Sofia's mother had been responsible for The Lair since "Uncle Alex" died in 1979. Sofia was a teenager when she first accompanied her mother down here, when Mama finally decided to let her in on the family secret. At first, they made the monthly checkups together. Then Mama started missing a few here and there. Now it had been over 10 years since Maria Hernandez had touched a climbing harness, and truthfully, Sofia was glad for that. Because in all that time, the alarms had never gone off. The Lair had never been breached. Not until today.

Share this post


Link to post

The Scarab: Homecoming (Continued)

July 15th, 2008

Sofia checked her shotgun again as she hung from the central pole. Full load. Round chambered. Safety on. Now let's just hope our intruder isn't bullet-proof...

Her thought was interrupted by the scratching and grinding of stone on stone. Sofia looked down between her legs to see the cylindrical rock slab that passed for an elevator suddenly begin sliding up toward her. "DAMMIT!" she shouted as she dropped the shotgun, leaving it to hang from its shoulder-strap as she frantically worked to free herself from the climbing harness. She was halfway down the shaft, about level with the infirmary. Sofia kicked off from the core pole and began swinging back and forth, building up momentum. If the door is locked, I'll faceplant against it, then I'll be a pizza stain against the ceiling, and then my kids won't have a Mommy anymore. No pressure.

Luckily, the infirmary door was unlocked. But it was also heavy, and it barely gave as Sofia's shoulder slammed against it. She half-fell, half-rolled into the hallway just as the platform came to a sudden stop, just beneath where she had been hanging a moment ago. Sofia shook her head, stood up, dusted herself off, and squeezed her aching shoulder.

The platform continued to hover in place for several moments. FIne, she tought. Let's see how deep the rabbit-hole goes. She hefted her shotgun, flipped the safety off, and stepped aboard. Please, don't be bullet-proof.

Share this post


Link to post

The Scarab: Homecoming (Continued)

July 15th, 2008

The platform descended at a leisurely pace, all the way to the bottom of the shaft. Bottom level, she thought. Our mystery guest turned mystery host is behind one of two doors - teleportal room or command center. I'm betting command center. She crouched down, holding her shotgun parallel to her own torso, and gently kicked the door into the Great Hall. It slid open with an audible scraping noise. The overhead lights were on in the Hall, and some of the dust had been obviously wiped free from some of the displays, but the exhibits were otherwise undisturbed. Nothing's missing at first glance. Apparently our intruder's an art-lover, but not a thief. Maybe he's decided to move in...

Sofia stood up and crept toward the exit door on her left-hand side, shotgun leveled in front of her. She wiped more sweat from her face with her forearm, gulped down a deep breath, and kicked in the door to the Command Center.

The ring of computers was active, filled with the dramatic series of blinking multicolored lights Dædalus favored in his 1960s designs. Giant monitors along the walls showed a dizzying array of news articles and broadcasts from television and internet alike. The center chair was occupied. The intruder had his back to Sofia, so she couldn't make out any details beyond his long black ponytail draped over the back of the chair.

Sofia raised her shotgun up to eye-level and aimed it directly at where she presumed the intruder's torso was. Not even going to try for a headshot unless I have to. "Put your hands where I can see them and turn around slowly, or I'll cut you in half."

The intruder placed a cardboard Starbase coffee cup on the desk next to her and swiveled around to face Sofia. The chair turned to reveal a Hispanic woman who looked to be in her late 20s, wearing a simple black skirt-suit with a red collared shirt. She folded her hands in her lap and smiled. "Hello, Sofia."

Share this post


Link to post

The Scarab: Homecoming (Concluded)

July 15th, 2008

"I didn't mean to scare you with the elevator. I thought you'd appreciate it if I saved you the climb."

Sofia kept the barrel of the shotgun pointed squarely at the woman's chest. "You found the entrance, and you've hacked your way into the computers. Knowing my name isn't a great leap from there. But you set off the alarms on your way in. The Freedom League is on the way, and I'm the only thing standing between you and a severe super-powered beating."

The woman's grin widened slightly. "No they're not. You haven't hit the panic button yet. Good bluff, though. And good call, changing the alarm codes at regular intervals. Maria taught you well. I could always trust her. Thank you for holding down the fort while I was gone. I'm sorry it took so long for me to remember who I was. And I'm sorry that I wasn't there to watch you grow up."

No way. Sofia's eyes widened slightly, but she caught herself and focused a glare on the intruder. Don't tip your hand. This could be a con. "What are you talking about? You're younger than I am."

The woman shook her head. "This body is. This life is. It's just one of many. I remember the last time I saw you." She raised her hand, palm down, a few feet off the ground. "You were barely this tall. You used to call me 'Uncle Alex.' I loved that."

Sofia's hands started to shake slighty. Keep it together. She's just telling you what you want to hear. "Nice try. So you figured out The Scarab's secret identity and read his diary. It's going to take more than that to convince me."

The woman nodded. "Like identifying the correct location of my own corpse." She turned to the side and typed a few commands into the computer. A schematic of The Lair appeared on the monitor above and behind her. She pointed to the area off to the side of the living quarters. "This is the decoy sarcophagus." Thens he pointed to a blank area of unexcavated rock in the top middle area. "And my actual body is here, behind the secret door. It doesn't show up on the unencrypted map. But the decoy has the same cooling and preservation system, to preserve the illusion. I hope you don't mind that I've already visited it. It is a singular experience, to stand over one's own grave. One that I've never actually had. I rarely reincarnate so close to my last life, and it's only recently that overland travel on that scale has become practical."

Sofia relaxed her arms as the woman spoke, letting the shotgun fall slowly until it pointed toward the floor. The woman stood up and walked toward her.

"I tried to make sure you were all well taken care of. And you've done quite well for yourself. I'm proud of you. That was the last thing I ever said to you. You were 10 years old. You had just taken the silver medal in the 100-meter dash at the track meet that morning. Your parents and I took you and your friend Lisa to the pizza place that night to celebrate. The one with the giant animatronic mice. I had to leave early. You didn't understand at the time, but I hope you do now. I told you that I was proud of you, and hugged you goodbye."

Sofia's jaw was hanging open. A tear cascaded down her cheek as the shotgun fell to the floor. The woman grasped her shoulder with one hand while the other stroked her hair.

"In this life, my birth parents gave me the name 'Elena Guerrero.' I was born 'Heru-Ra, Prince of Egypt.'" The two women hugged each other tightly. She whispered into Sofia's ear. "But you can always call me 'Uncle Alex.'"

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×