Jump to content

Recommended Posts

The Hunter Museum of Natural History

Friday, May 3rd, 3:00 PM

By any reasonable measure of teenage autonomy, it was way, way too late in the school day to be in a museum. But the strictures of homework said otherwise, which was why Eliza Oxum and her friend Trenice were looking over the displays at the Hunter Museum, trying to do research.

"Don't know why you're choosing to pick bones," said Trenice as they passed through a hall on the native tribes of New Jersey. "We'd probably find more exciting stuff at the Freedom Museum."

"We can hit there next," she said. "And there was stuff happening long before any of us came here. We just tend to forget about that. Guess that's kinda the point of picking the topic."

That and, if worse comes to worse, I guess I can ask Dad to ask what this place was like at the time.

"Don't understand why they want us here," said Trenice. "It's like they completely missed the Internet."

"Guess they want something tangible."

"Or antiques. Listen, the tribes ain't my thing. I'm gonna go poke around the Egyptian wing. That's more my style."

"I'll see you there." Eliza kept her eyes on the exhibits, taking notes, while Trenice headed off into the depths of the museum. Perhaps both of them would find something interesting today...

Link to comment

The Ancient Egyptian exhibit was surprisingly busy for the time of day, a background of conversation and commotion audible once Trenice got close. Standing in front of a restored sarcophagus were a truly bizarre pair who looked as if they had just walked out of the the wall carvings and pictograms elsewhere in the wing.

The shorter of the two was a young man not much older in appearance than the high school student herself, with thick, brick red dreadlocks hanging about a broadly ginning face of piercing grey eyes, smooth black makeup and gleaming white teeth. It was hard not to notice his distinct lack of shirt and the lean, sculpted torso that revealed or the anachronistic skirt of overlapping fabric about his waist. His sandals were simple but the golden bracelets and other jewelry about his person looked impossibly expensive.

His companion was a full six feet of similarly attired statuesque muscle and predatory grace. Her asymmetrical hair left one smoldering, golden iris visible while the other was concealed behind a wave of black accented by a single tawny streak. Where the male's expression was exuberant, hers was overcast and annoyed, a disposition obviously not being helped by the sizable stack of photographs she carried in her powerful arms which the red haired youth was signing one at a time with a gold marker pen and handing out to a handful of enthusiastic children and their more bewildered parents.

"Idiocy," she growled largely to herself, glaring at him. "Thou will not achieve thy stated goals of heroism standing amongst weathered trinkets and distributing these disturbingly life-like etchings on their strangely glossy papyrus."

"They're called 'headshots,' Sekhemt," he corrected, holding one up next to his own face and mirroring the winning smile captured in the photo. "Tis nothing shameful in a good, grassroots campaign. They are already here to celebrate the history of our past followers; meeting genuine Heliopolians will be a tale to tell their offspring's offspring! Now, is that Susie with an 'ie' or a 'y'?" he inquired of a girl of perhaps ten or eleven.

"The appeal of shooting thee in the head I can assuredly see," agreed Sekhmet with a thin smile.

Link to comment

Trenice stayed at the edge of the crowd, paying close attention to the young man and his female companion. Eventually, Eliza found her way to the Egyptian wing, where the line really hadn't moved all that much. "All right, think I got enough source material," she said. "What's the buzz? New sarcophagus?"

"That Set guy came to visit," said Trenice. "Apparently brought a press crew."

Set. Apparently the gods were coming back to Earth, and they'd brought social media. Eliza had seen more than a few classmates like him on Facebook, but she couldn't help but recall the stories of the old Set, when he'd fought with Horus and... well, been about a head taller.

"Wasn't he a bad guy back in the day?"

"Says he's had a change of heart. 'Sides, you saw that story 'bout him taking apart the snake thing at Pyramid Plaza, right?"

"Yeah. Well, I suppose if the Freedom League's okay with him --"

A scream rose above even the roaring din of publicity. One of the mummies on display had smashed its way out of its glass case, and was wrapping its hands around a guest's throat. And two others were twitching in their cases, desperately trying to join the fray. Trenice turned to run, only to find Eliza had already vanished in the chaos - because she'd ducked behind one of the cases to pull a bottle of water out of her bag.

Really wish I could've gotten through a research assignment without it hitting the fan...

Link to comment

Little Susie accepted the signed headshot excitedly, only for her expression to fall as she read it. "You're not the Scarab..." she realized, disappointment obvious in her voice.

"Eh?" the godling sputtered, genuinely surprised by the reaction. "Of course not! Were I the Scarab, my garb would be beetle themed, would it not?!" he retorted a little more hotly than he intended, gesturing to his shirtless outfit. Sekhmet for her part made no attempt to conceal a low chuckle that revealed pronounced canines.

Her laughter was cut short by the screams and risen dead. "What blasphemy is this?!" she growled, unceremoniously dropping the stack of photos to the ground and assuming a combat ready stance.

"A chance for thrilling heroics, my friend!" Set cheered, his mood immediately reversing as he charged headlong toward the attacking corpses. "Have at you, fiends!"

Link to comment

There wasn't much she was capable of doing; even with the water bottle, it'd still be a mask. Trenice would likely be able to tell who the black girl in a fancy frozen mask and her friend's clothes was. Fortunately, that was why water fountains were invented. 


"Pardon me."


The mummy turned its attention away from the struggling individual in its arms and towards the woman clad in ice. In addition to the Carnivale-like mask, thin, opaque plate-like sheets ran across her jacket and pants, and ice crystals hung like diamonds in her hair. "This is supposed to be a place for peaceful reflection," she said, "and you really don't want to see any relics destroyed, right?"


She attempted to softball the orbs; it may have been an undead monstrosity, but she was not going to be responsible for destroying an antiquity. However, the mummy's dried-up corpse was quicker still; it moved with unnatural grace, and the shot went wild, taking out some remnants of its case. And around him, the other mummies were working to break free of their glass prisons. 

Link to comment

"Ice magics! Sensational!" Set cheered as his sandals skidded to a stop on the slick museum floors. "You seem much 'cooler' than the draugr, haha! A team-up is in order, yes?" The godling crossed his arms in the air in front of him dramatically, moving them in twisting patterns, his fingers splayed like the legs of a scorpion. In response, grains of sand began to fall from the exhibit's various pieces, sliding in waves through the cracks of glass cases until there was clearly more pooling that could have physically been concealed in the nooks and crannies from which is appeared. "Do not waste too many melodic words on shambling puppets, oh glittering snowflake," he advised with a cocky grin, thrusting both arms forward. "They have had their brains removed, after all!" As he gestured, thick tentacles of sand sprung forth from the dunes, wrapping around two of the corpses and harrying the third, smothering eyes and ears as they went. Set knew that these were no true resurrections of long dead subjects; something else was animating the bodies. "Sekhmet! The distressed damsel, if you please!"

Link to comment

Set's sands whipped across the museum floor, blowing over the aged and jerky mummies. The one holding the girl somehow managed to dodge the brunt of the blast, emerging untrammeled despite the sheer scirocco. The other two weren't so lucky; one, a woman judging by the headdress, was trying to free its feet from the pile of sand at its feet, while the other was practically cocooned by a mountain of sand. The mummy holding the girl whipped his head to the side when Set called out Sekhmet's name; perhaps some recollection of the divine had triggered something in what was left of his nervous system.


"Nothing better than a bit of ice on a hot and sandy day," said Temperance, "but perhaps we should focus on the matter at hand." 

Link to comment

The mummy turning its head only meant that Sekhmet's palm crashed directly into its nose as she crossed the intervening distance with inhuman speed. Fingernails that were suddenly closer to claws bit deep into the dusty bandages around the shambling nightmare's head while the goddess' other hand seized upon the wrist of the arm attempting to choke its victim. Flexing toned muscles with disturbing ease, she used the leverage between the two points to twist and pull. Mere seconds after she'd begun moving toward her target, the warrior deity tore the offending corpse's arm clean off at the shoulder, ancient bandages and withered sinew tearing audibly.

"Seek shelter, mortal," she commanded in an imperious growl, unceremoniously shoving the museum goer out of the way and back toward Set. Shifting a half-step, Sekhmet drew back and used the dismembered limb as a flail to brutally crash against the bewildered creature's skull with such force its head twisted about to an impossible angle, held only together by its wrapping as it toppled to the ground. With lightning speed, a backhand with her impromptu weapon smashed into the next closest mummy as well, held in place by Set's desert trap, sending a spray of sun bleached sand across the room along with the crunch of brittle bone and a thundering, feline roar that echoes through the corridors of the museum.

"So, that's Sekhmet!" Set explained to the young woman with the mask formed of ice, stepping gracefully forward to catch the stumbling civilian in a dramatic, one-armed dip accompanied by a dazzling smile. "And I am Set, naturally! What shall we call you, oh cool, oasis breeze?"

Link to comment

Temperance had to admit the charm offensive was working... but there was also the pressing matter of the restless, desiccated dead. Besides, she thought, I've already got a boyfriend.

"The name is Temperance," she said as she drew water into her grasp once more. "Another scion of the realms invisible... not as lofty as your post, but with significance all the same." The water coalesced into frozen bullets, which took flight and struck home against the already wounded mummy. The damage Sekhmet had done had obviously been stronger than she'd imagined - and she'd imagined a lot - as it fell to the ground, broken and lifeless. That left one mummy, standing alone and surrounded.

Link to comment

Helping the rescued civilian regain her balance, Set gave her a small bow as she sprinted to a safer distance. "Truly that is no slight against you, of paragon of moderation!" he told Temperance with a flourish of his wrist. The theatrical gesture took on greater significance as arcs of scarlet electricity leapt from fingertip to fingertip. "Few indeed are as lofty as Set!" With a laugh and a thrust of his arm, a bolt of red-tinged lightning flew forth and crashed into the remaining mummy, rippling across its sandy bonds. The fury of the storm godling's assault forced Sekhmet to slide back a step from the final target, drawing a growl of annoyance.

Link to comment
"Yes, I can see," said Temperance. Though he could certainly learn a thing or two about tactics. The residual energy from the lightning bolt crackled over the mummy still, charring, if not melting, the glass in the display case behind it. She lined up another volley of frozen meteors, flicked her wrists and let them fly... only for the leftover heat from the lightning bolt to start melting them as soon as they left her presence. By the time they reached the mummy, they were barely pebbles, and they plinked harmlessly off the glass around it. Yeah. Maybe use the firehose next time...
Link to comment

"Aha, my apologies, ladies," Set laughed as his attack prevented the deliverance of a finishing blow. "Allow me to get out of your way." With a florid bow, the godling made an new arcane gesture and the shadows about the corpse's feet began to slider about like an oil slick. The viscous darkness surged up in inky tentacles that interwove with the sand already harrying the creature, holding it securely in place.

Snorting in disdain, Sekhmet unceremoniously dropped her makeshift club to the floor and stepped forward, wrapping her hands around the exposed head. "Leave war to the warriors, deceiver." With a short, decisive twist, she tore the mummy's head clear from its shoulders, placing it atop one of the lower glass cases and dusting off her hands.

"She has trust issues," Set told Temperance confidentially, letting the shadows fall back to their natural state while the sand was picked up in a sudden indoor breeze, disappearing as impossibly as it had appeared. "Now! With the puppets dealt with, where might the puppeteer be, I wonder?"

Link to comment

Temperance let the ice in her hands melt, flinging the remains back into the water fountain with half a thought. She was more focused on the damage - while she was glad that no one had been hurt, she was sure the museum wasn't going to be happy about a millennia-old mummy having its head taken off. Think I'll let the gods handle this one, she thought. Instead, she moved closer to the divine duo.

"Thank you," she said. "Even in my line of work, running into deities is a rare occasion." So try not to freak out, Eliza. She turned her attention to the mummies. "I'm afraid my knowledge of mummification is a bit limited. I don't suppose either of you might have insight into why these dead would rise so suddenly?"

Link to comment

"Maybe they are simply morning people, haha!" Set suggested with a flash of perfect teeth even as he sauntered over to get a better look at the remains. "Truly, though, this was no resurrection. Sloppy, brutish work really, tsk." The godling shook his head in disdain before kneeling and poking one of the still bodies thoughtfully.

Grimacing at the dust resolutely sticking to her hands, Sekhmet elaborated. "Returning all five parts of a soul to dead flesh is difficult. Mortals are..." The goddess' expression suggested she was straining to find a more flattering adjective than her initial instinct.

"Squishy, yes," Set finished without hesitation, tilting his head to one side and sending brick red dreadlocks bouncing gently across his face. "These creatures may have been given ka, animation, but I saw nothing of their ib or ba. No heart! No flair! No je ne sais quoi! Boring. Why bother, one wonders?"

"I assume thee would have insight into depravity, liesmith," Sekhmet quipped with a feral grin that pulled full lips over pointed canines. "We are not long on the mortal plane, Temperance. Be thee aware of dark magics staining this city's noble heart?"

Link to comment

Temperance was slightly surprised to be asked whether she knew what was going on - by gods, no less. After a few seconds of racking her mind, she shook her head. "Sadly, no," she said. "My knowledge is limited to the spirit realms and their denizens - I know little of necromancy, theurgy, or the various magics that make work of this firmament."

Man, thank God for that SAT prep kit.

"There are some experts in this city on the other arts. We could go to one of the necropoli in the area and try talking to the restless dead - or better, see if --"

Temperance's suggestion was interrupted by the sound of something thumping against a window. She looked up to one of the tiny windows hanging over the Egyptian wing, just in time to see a bird crashing against the glass. The glass did not break, but the bird - about the size of an eagle - wasn't deterred, butting against it once again. And as it did, Temperance realized that this wasn't a normal bird.

For one thing, normal birds didn't have human heads...

Link to comment

"Ho! Speak of the five-fold soul! Hello!" Set exclaimed as he looked upward at the persistent bird creature. "Formal dress, I think, Sekhemt." With a theatrical snap of his fingers as he stood, the godling's head of brick red dreadlocks and flawless bronze features was replaced by peculiar protruding vulpine snout and tall anteater-like ears covered uniformly in fine, ebony black fur.

Nearby Sekhmet's visage shifted with less ado to that of tawny furred lioness with a distinctive black streak over one eye. "The mortal realm is thine home no longer, ba," she growled at the feathered arrival, eyes narrowing in a predatory fashion, her voice coloured by a mouth of deadly fangs. "Return to the afterlife at once."

"I do not expect you'll want these back in any case," Set added, jostling the mummy on the floor with his foot. "Some reprobate has gone and torn them to pieces, you see! Terrible, terrible."

Link to comment

The ba looked down at the dismembered mummy, and let out something like a falcon's shriek.

"What happened here?"

Which made it a bit more shocking when a plumby voice Temperance could best describe as "noble" quickly followed suit.

"We knew our has were out of balance - that would happen, when the soul was disturbed, but... this? This is atrocious!"

"I'm certain the body can be repaired," said Temperance, desperately trying not to be attacked by the strange soul. "This place would hate for such a marvelous thing to fall to disrepair --"

"Yes, yes, but do they have the priests? The ceremonies? Or is it just going to be thread and tape?"

"We have more pressing concerns, Hafet-Re."

Another bird - this one with a woman's head - soared in through the window, followed close behind by another male ba. "While the ha's important, I'd rather like to know where the rest of me is. If my old bones got up and hostile, then something strange is happening."

Okay. Just sit back, and pretend you know what's going on...

Link to comment

"Strange happenings indeed, haha!" Set agreed, fur covered ears twitching in apparently amusement as he considered the growing flock. "You lot really aren't supposed to just be flapping about in this era, not that I'm have much room to criticize!" There was a beat of realization as the godling's snout crumpled in a look of annoyance. "...I am going to be blamed for this."

Sekhmet tilted her head to one side, equal parts quizzical and wary. "Why? Tis not thy work, betrayer. I have been watching thee too closely for that."

"Yes, well, actual guilt has rarely had much to do with it," came the petulant reply as Set crossed arms across his bare chest huffily. "You had best start from the beginning, ba." The latter was less a request than a degree, some of the carefree swagger fading in favour of a more traditionally divine disposition.

Link to comment

Hafet-Re cocked his head, trying to study Set. "I know you," he said. "You're the Usurper! The Deceiver! The plains of Duat may be far from the halls of Heliopolis, but we've at least seen the reliefs! Do you really think we would --"

"Hafet," said the other male ba, patiently roosting on the chandelier, "at this point, as long as it's not Apophis or Ammit we're dealing with, I'm willing to go with it."

Hafet fell silent. "Right, then," he said. "As previously elucidated, I am Hafet-Re, third of my line."

"I am Henuttawy," said the female ba, "of the line of Rameses."

"And I am Siptah," said the bigger ba, "trusted advisor and bodyguard to Tutankhamen."

"It is an honor to meet you all," said Temperance, still somewhat lost amongst all the honorifics. "You said you were in Duat. I take it that's your afterlife?"

"It's the afterlife," said Hafet-Re, "or was, for the discerning. And we were fine, there - we had our estates, our ushabtis, and all was well. And then there was this pull, like our hearts were being ripped out, and suddenly - goodbye, Duat, hello, going forth by day."

"It's been millennia since we've been like this," said Henuttawy. "Usually the process of the ba is temporary, until the soul fully reunifies and walks free in the fields of Duat. Someone has taken something from us."

"The ka," said Siptah. "It's the only possible answer. Otherwise, we wouldn't be flapping about like this."

Link to comment

Set bristled at the ba's tone, his snout curling into a slight snarl as he uncrossed his arms. "You know of me, little thing. Tis a difference." Sniffing haughtily, he used one hand to smooth the fur on his brow. "Besides, which of us has opposable thumbs, hm?"

"The liesmith is my concern, not thine," Sekhmet told the spirits firmly, annoyed on principle by the familiar tone being taken by the most talkative of the souls. "It would be wise to address me, Hafet-Re. Can thou tell us of nothing more than 'a pull'?" The lioness looked back at the dismembered mummies. "You illuminate naught we did not know already."

"A minor ritual may provide direction, oh Lady of Slaughter," Set suggested, rolling his shoulders as though preparing to lift a great weight. With considerably more venom he added, "Assuming no one objects to accepting my considerable expertise on principle."

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

As Set prepared the ritual, Temperance turned her attention towards the gathered bas. They were roosting at various points in the room, all turning their eyes down towards the young god - not with judgment, but with great interest. For some reason - and she realized how stupid it seemed - she kept expecting them to act like birds. She'd seen bird spirits before, and even the most esteemed Baron of Eagles would groom its feathers and caw every so often. But the bas remained fixed and observant. Henuttway did flex her wings, but it seemed less like reflex and more like clinical examination.

"So," she said, "Duat. I've never seen its glories..."

"Endless rivers of lapis lazuli," said Hafet-Re, "lush crops growing under endless starry skies, estates that scrape the heavens... it's grand." Hafet-Re took a glimpse around his surroundings. "Then again, it's been too long since I've been here. Perhaps you have all that now."

Set, meanwhile, focused his senses inwards, and became aware of a trail leading from the Egyptian wing. It looked like vaporized honey, rich and golden - the energy of hekau. And it led out into the city at large...

Link to comment

"I warn thee, do not try anything clever," Sekhmet growled under her breath as she loomed over Set where he sat cross-legged on the museum floor. Cracking her neck irritably, her face resumed its human proportions so she could flick the longer side of her asymmetrical haircut.

Switching back himself now that it was clear the ba weren't about to show him any deference regardless of his appearance, the godling favoured his watchful companion with a toothy smile. "I will endeavour, Lady of Slaughter, but in my defense I am by nature so very, very clever." Lacing his fingers together he stretched them for a moment, shook them loose, then formed each hand into an arcane gesture. Closing his piercing grey eyes, Set began to chant in the tongue of Heliopolis, focusing on the battered remains of the mummies.

It took only a minute or two for him to bound back to his feet triumphantly, a faint nimbus of light surrounding his eyes when he opened them. "Success! As though there were any doubt, haha!" Pointing out beyond the museum walls he explained, "Our dark magister was ill prepared for a true master of the arcane! I can lead us right to his doorstep. Up for a field trip, oh pool of untold depths?"

"There is no need to concern thyself with this matter further, Temperance," Sekhemt objected with an expression that was beginning to suggest that scowling was simply the default set of her features. "As the Ennead's representatives on the mortal plane this is our responsibility."

"Phaw, we've been over this, Sekhmet," Set interjected with an airy wave of dismissal. "The team-up is a cornerstone of the modern heroic experience! I'm sure she's itching for battle and adventure and deeds of fantastical renown, yes?"

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

"I will admit, those do sound pretty nice," said Temperance. That, and these people have had their afterlives disrupted by what sound like some pretty nasty means... but I'm not about to get snippy around a god. "Let us set out as soon as we can."

The trio set out, with the three bas flying close overhead. Set was able to follow the trail of hekau from the museum through the streets of Freedom. The path wove long and crooked, through alley and shop and, at one point, through a passage of sewer - but as it rose out of a manhole a block down, there was no need to explore that particular avenue for long. The trail finally led to a small luxury apartment complex on the edge of the North End, weaving its way up the stairs until ending at a fifth floor apartment. Whatever was going on behind the door, it was provoking vigorous discussion.

"Is there a particular plan," said Temperance, "or do we barge in?"

Link to comment

Looking up at the apartment from the street, Sekhmet sniffed the air and made a disgusted face. "Rrh, rot and decay. Thy divination proves more useful than I would have supposed, betrayer."

"Haha, I shall let that pass, dear warrior!" Set grinned triumphantly, hands placed on his hips and bare shoulders squared. "Breaking into the shadowy lair, how delightfully novel! Still, I expect we can improve upon the usual formula of announcing our presence and giving the dastard fair warning, yes?" Casting about for a moment he spotted the darkened alleyway beside the apartment complex. Clapping his hands, he bounded over and impossibly continued past the brick wall as his sandal clad foot disappeared into the shadows. Turning back around, he expended his arms, glittering jewelry clattering softly. "If I might have your hands, ladies? No time to be shy, haha!"

Link to comment

What the hell. I've been weirder places.

Temperance graciously took Set's hand without saying a word. The travel through the shadows was relatively easy, but as they neared their destination, the group felt something blocking their path. Their destination had been warded. To Set, however, such things were as thin as gossamer, and with a quick click of his fingers, the path was open again.

The trio found themselves in a bedroom, stately, regal, and dominated by a four-poster. Artifacts, many of which looked like they belonged back with their nations of origin, ringed the walls. The door was open a crack, and voices could be heard through it.

Link to comment
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...