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Exodus (IC)


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31 May 2011

The simple Southside storefront had been empty and boarded-up for months, but remained suspiciously free of squatters. The secret complex concealed beneath it was lit by hundreds of candles. A great stone sarcophagus, carved in the shape of an Egyptian man, lay in the center of the largest chamber. Dozens of men clad in crimson robes lined with black stood around it, all of them chanting in the dead language of the people who had created it. Hieroglyphics were etched into the sarcophagus immediately above and below the gap between the top and bottom halves.

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As the chanting droned on, louder and faster, the hieroglyphics began to glow scarlet, brighter and brighter. When the chanting reached a crescendo, one of the men, with jet-black hair and golden-brown skin, in stark contrast to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Caucasians who made up the bulk of the group, reached his fingers into the gap and pushed the top half of the sarcophagus up and free with a triumphant shout. The glowing runes flashed once and then went dark.

A cloud of dust as dark as a starless night erupted from the bottom half of the sarcophagus. The dark-skinned sorcerer backed away a half-step, waving the smoke away and coughing. In a few moments, the cloud dissipated, revealing a mummified corpse.

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The bandages covering the mummy had long ago rotted and fused with the man's flesh. The corpse was surrounded on all sides by a scuttling swarm of scarab beetles, who glistened like emeralds in the candlelight. Almost as soon as the smoke cleared, the scarabs ceased biting into the man's flesh, and instead burrowed inside his body, crawling into whatever nearby cavities they could find. In seeming defiance to the most simple laws of physics, many more beetles than the body should have been able to contain disappeared beneath its dessicated skin. In short order, none remained outside, though some could be seen crawling within.

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Suddenly, what was left of the corpse's eyes snapped open, and pulsed with an eerie red light. The corpse reached out to the sides of his coffin and roared as he used its leverage to propel himself up to a sitting position, then to hop over the edge to meet the ground with his feet. Kneeling upon the floor, he glared up at the dark-skinned man. [bg=#000000]"<Tan'Aktor. I saw your corpse. It was the last time I ever smiled.>"[/bg] The mummy spoke the same ancient Egyptian dialect as the chanting cultists had until a few moments ago.

The dark-skinned sorcerer chuckled. ""

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The mummy ceased his advance, cocked what was left of his head, and laughed. His voice sounded like metal grating against stone, but he spoke clearly and perfectly despite missing most of his lips. His tongue slithered visibly behind his teeth and half-exposed jaws. [bg=#000000]""[/bg]

Kharhotep reached out almost faster than the naked eye could see, grabbing Tan'Aktor by the neck. [bg=#000000]"

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The assembled cultists stood in mute terror as the mummy strangled their leader. Tan'Aktor's eyes bulged as he gasped, his face turning red, then purple. A sickly green aura began to flare up around Tan'Aktor's flesh, slowly spreading to envelop Kharhotep as well. The mummy's eyes flared up and burned like the flames of the candles surrounding their struggle. [bg=#000000]"<Wither, Traitor, as I withered.>"[/bg] All over his body, Tan'Aktor's flesh began to blister and tear. His hair faded to grey, then white, then fell to the floor in chunks, as did his teeth. His skin wrinkled and shriveled. The blood in his veins evaporated. His eyes sank deep into his skull.

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Shining scarab beetles poured out from Kharhotep's ribs, swarming over what was left of Tan'Aktor's body, burrowing into his flesh. His torso and limbs bulged and writhed visibly as they tunneled into him, eating him from the inside out. His face twisted in a grimace of pain. He tried to scream, but Kharhotep's hands cut off his windpipe like an iron vise.

After over a minute, what was left of Tan'Aktor's body finally fell limp in the mummy's hands. The green aura faded away. Kharhotep sniffed and sighed with satisfaction, both physical and sadistic. He disdainfully tossed Tan'Aktor's drained corpse to the ground, where it shattered into a mound of dry dust and ash. The scarab swarm crawled back toward their master, up the mummy's legs and back into his torso. He raised his arms, fists clenched, closed his eyes, and roared. Then he turned to his slain comrade's lackeys.

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All eyes were on Kharhotep, unblinking, quivering. The room was so quiet that he could hear the burning wicks of the candles lining the chamber. Kharhotep surveyed the assembled group for several moments, letting his gaze slowly rake across each man. [bg=#000000]"

"" one of the cultists finally spoke up. "" The man fell to his knees, and bowed until his head and hands rested upon the floor. His comrades followed him in short order, mimicking his gesture.

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[bg=#000000]""[/bg] the mummy growled. [bg=#000000]""[/bg] He pointed to one random cultist, then another. [bg=#000000]""[/bg] He waved a hand dismissively at what remained of Tan'Aktor. [bg=#000000]""[/bg]

The man once known as Wilhelm Kantor opened his eyes, breaking his telepathic contact with the corpse that now lay at the mummy's feet. A corpse he had personally grown in a vat to appear identical to his own body. Not his current body, but the one he occupied when he first walked the Earth, five-thousand years ago.

"Perfect." He stood up from the floor, revealing the circle full of arcane sigils he had drawn hours before. OverShadow strode out into the halls of his arctic fortress Niflheim, leaving his arcane laboratory for his electronic command center. He took a seat before an array of monitors, typed in a few commands, and then focused on one screen in particular. In short order, it depicted a fair-haired, fair-skinned woman in a black leather jumpsuit. Long blonde hair concealed half her face from view. "I live to serve, My Lord," Agent Reinholdt stated without a trace of irony.

"Operation Exodus proceeds as planned. The asset is in place. Proceed with the next stage."

"As you command. We shall begin evacuation of all non-expendable assets from Freedom City."

OverShadow tapped a button on his console, and the monitor went dark. He spun around in his chair, rested his elbows on the arms, and steepled his fingers together. "Kharhotep will destroy The Scarab. Or The Scarab will destroy Kharhotep. Whoever loses, I win."

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