xover: Dancing Before the Music Starts
By David J. Duncan
Rating: R (probably closer to TV-14) for swearing, fight scenes.
Feedback: Would love it! Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive: I give permission for this story to be archived at all relevant sites.
Thanks to Jenieve, Judy, and Kathy for their beta-reading!
Note 1: Nick, Natalie, Schanke, LaCroix, and Alyce are characters from "Forever Knight". Xena, Gabrielle, Eli, the Amazons, the Archangels Michael and Raphael, Alti, and Eve are all from "Xena Warrior Princess" which is under Renaissance Studios and StudiosUSA and was created by Rob Tapert and John Schulian. Rick, Evelyn, Ardeth Bey, Jonathan, Alex, Imhotep and the characters from "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns" belong to Universal. All other characters are mine and of my own creation. All characters are fictious.
Note 2: As in Part 1, The chronology of the Xena tie-in may be too late for "canon", but it ties in with the rest of the Dubois Chronicles. For those who wish to brush up on them, go either to my "Story Emporium" site (http://Dante_6.tripod.com/stories/emporium.html) or (http://dante6.fanspace.com/dubois/emporium.html ). Thanks for your interest and of course, comments are welcome!
Prologue (Amazon lands--80 AD)
Gabrielle, Bard-Queen of the Amazons, writes....
In the years immediately following my coronation, prosperity blossomed through the Amazon nation. It was during this time that my closest friend and council, Xena, undertook an expedition back to Thebes. Sailing down the Nile brought back memories both good and bad...of battles, and also the great clash with Alti, the exile from the tribes and shamaness of the steppe. With the help of three travellers from Philae, we defeated and imprisoned her for all time....
The priestess for Isis readily escorted us down to the chamber. Standing guard against all comers, Anubis barred the path to his prisoner.
"You see?" Ack-Mun, the priestess, stated. "All is as you left it."
"How about Cleopatra's necklace?" Xena demanded, albeit more testily than she might have.
"It is still in the sacred vault," the guide explained. "Never again will it touch the crypt."
"One can only hope," the Warrior Princess sighed.
"And what else would you ask of me, Queen of the Amazons?" the priestess inquired, turning back to me.
"Just to allow a supplemental blessing on the tomb," I replied, producing several charms and placing them about the doorway so as not to disfigure the hieroglyphs.
While I was putting these defenses up, Xena told me later that she had a vision. Despite all of the careful measures which we had taken, the tomb would be opened by a woman at a future point in time throwing everything off balance. As a result, our friends, David and Angela Dubois, would have to involve themselves in the fracas directly in our behalf....
"I can only hope she stays put," the warrior muttered to herself. "Eli, let it be so."
Overhearing her plea, I looked up at the heavens and made a similar request, knowing that we and our friends would be involved. This is the scroll telling of the incident and the meeting with allies both old and new.....
Chapter 1 [Thebes 1937]
The ruined temple of Thebes, despite the ravages of time, still managed to keep most of its secrets from the modern world. Archaeologists had wandered through the labyrinthian passageways of its catacombs to little avail for a century.
At present, a lanky young man with jet-black hair and very fair skin stumbled along through the mid-level passages. Lorenzo Alvaro, a relatively new graduate from the University of Florence, was the acknowledged expert on the upper passages of this place. Now, as rumors and the hieroglyphs above had indicated, there was more to be had further ahead, and the junior professor pushed onward. Supposedly, the tomb of a very important person was located at the bottom of this maze.
"Madonna!" he sighed, looking again at the rough map dating from 1875. Supposedly, the explorer, Richard Gladmore, had walked these passages yet the map was full of errors. Hallways on the map equaled dead ends and, as in the present case, a hall where a dead end should have been. Holding his torch up, he saw only inky blackness. Throwing caution to the wind, he kept going.
Five levels above their exploring comrade, Richard and Evelyn O' Connell worked in the treasury room dusting off artifacts and wall designs. Despite the disasterous flooding of the area four years earlier, they had found more items of use particularly this chamber and its store of artifacts.
"Great, we're back in Imhotep's joint again. I wish for once that Evy could study someone else's stuff," Rick O' Connell groused to himself while giving a cursory scan of the wall paintings. Although not a gifted Egyptologist like his wife, the former French Legionnaire was not about to let her stumble into yet another Earth-shattering mess as on their last trip into this pile of granite. Therefore, they had left their precocious 10-year-old son, Alex, and their brother-in-law, Jonathan Carnahan, outside so that they might focus on their work.
Still, the chamber seemed familiar to him...as if he had been in it before. It had seemed that they had found it too easily just three days earlier and now, he was getting the most incredible feeling of deja-vu. For a split second, he saw the room lit up in a golden light and he was with several women discussing something about sealing a witch up for all time. Then, he forced himself back to reality.
"Get a grip on yourself, O' Connell," he admonished himself. Still, he had to wonder if Evy felt the same way during that Scorpion King mess. Suddenly getting concerned, he decided to check on his beautiful wife.
Across the chamber, Evelyn smiled wider than the Cheshire Cat at a tea party. Her late father, in addition to his activities in the Valley of the Kings, had labored on the initial in-depth excavations here before King Tut's curse ended his life. Enamored by the secrets of this place, he was determined to ferret them out. Now, with a few brush strokes, she may have done so. "Rick! Rick! I found it!" she called.
He ran over and asked, "Found what?" In the flickering torchlight illuminating the area, he saw her dark black eyes sparkle, a bright white smile, and that familiar giddy expression on her face telling him one thing: Pandora had found yet another box to open. "Damn!" he hissed low.
"What was that, Dear?" she wondered.
He knew this was going to be trouble, but managed to keep a straight face. "Oh nothing, Evy. What did you find?" he inquired.
"Here's the treasury vault!" she exclaimed enthusiastically.
"Treasury vault? So, why didn't we find this on our last trip here?" he probed.
She pouted, "Because, we weren't looking for it then, Silly! Now, we've found it!"
He sighed and figured now was as good a time as any to ask the inevitable question, "So, what's the catch?"
"The catch?" she asked perplexed.
"Yeah, you know...the acid bath, Nile floods, spear-bearing Pygmies?" he noted.
"Oh, Rick. You're such a worrywart. Now, open it," she insisted, overriding his objections.
He shrugged. "Oh well, might as well get this over with," he thought and, taking the prybar, forced the door open. Inside, the vault gleamed with many artifacts inlaid with gold and jewels. Papyrus rolls lined the shelves. Finally, a series of jars were arranged along the far wall.
Evy's smile widened even more. Here was the result of her father's hard work! At least many of these pieces would get a good home in the British Museum, and she would have yet another pin to jab at the Bembridge Scholars.
However, like her husband, she sensed a strange tie to this area. "Of course, Nefertiri had been through here!" she reminded herself, remembering the identity from her previous incarnation during the Old Kingdom. "But, this is a new feeling," she thought, feeling a mysterious tug from across the room. Going with it, she shuffled toward the source.
This activity started to unnerve Rick. "Honey?" he pushed.
"I...I have the strangest feeling and it's tied to this box," she explained, pointing to the little cedar chest in front of her. "It's almost as if..."
"Maybe we should...." he started, feeling really nervous by now.
She placed her thumbs on the twin locks and pressed down. With a "snap-hiss", they opened, revealing a beautiful golden necklace with a rich sapphire at its center.
"So, what is it?" he asked pensively.
"If we can believe the hieroglyphs, it is the necklace of Nefertiri...At one time, this was hers. Seti had it made especially for her...." she noted, lifting it out of the box and admiring its quality and beauty. As she did so, she saw a vision.
Evy was back in antiquity, but not as Nefertiri nor in the Old Kingdom. Somehow, she sensed that these were Roman times. Looking about the room, she saw two men next to her. Across the chamber were four women, a priestess of Isis, a raven-haired warrior, another woman of medium build with bobbed blonde hair, and a fourth with long brown tresses.
The Isis priestess looked at all of them and said, "We must guard this secret carefully...carefully...carefully."
Then, she came to and saw Rick standing beside her. "Are you okay?" he asked concernedly.
"I'm having the weirdest feeling," she complained.
"Like you've been here before, right? I've been feeling the same way. Listen, it's 5:30, and I think we need a break. Besides, Larry's going to be surfacing from the catacombs soon," he mentioned.
"All right," she nodded. "I want to check on Alex in any event."
He smiled and escorted her toward the entrance knowing that, for the night at least, the world disaster was postponed....
Jonathan Carnahan fidgeted as he read through a cheap dime store novel. "Bloody figures," he complained. "They get to look in the temple, and I get babysitting duty again! How's a fellow supposed to make his fortune? Then again, it is safer out here."
Suddenly, a ten-year-old blonde boy ran up to him and tapped him on the arm. "Hey, Uncle Jon. We'd best get a fire started, don't you think?" he suggested.
"Right on, Alex," the elder man agreed, meandering toward the wood pile. Selecting a few choice pieces of scrap, the adventurer had a fire going in no time at all. "I say, that does look cozy," he commented.
"Absolutely, Jonathan," Lorenzo agreed as he sat down nearby. "It looks great, thank you!"
Jonathan examined his sister's junior colleague from the British Museum. Dr. Alvaro seemed the mousy type with his stick-like frame and big eyes behind those round spectacles. But, a fire burned in his craw and a determination to discover the wonders of the ancient world; be they from Egypt, Greece, the Celtic fringelands, or the Steppe. It was no wonder that Evy had taken this fellow under her wing during the past three years after he had arrived from Florence. "So, did you find anything?"
The young prof looked at him curiously, "Excuse me?"
"Did you find anything?" Jonathan repeated the question.
"Oh, a few new passages is all. Nothing too exciting," he chuckled, knowing his friend's fascination for the treasures of antiquity. "Your sister and brother-in-law are the ones with all of the treasure, I'm afraid."
"That's too bad," Jonathan sighed disappointedly.
"Tomorrow's another day, Uncle Jon!" Alex assured his uncle. "Isn't that right, Mr. Larry?"
"As usual, you're right on the mark, Alex," Lorenzo remarked, filling his pipe with cherry wood tobacco and lighting it. No matter how often he had talked to the boy during the latter's frequent expeditions through the museum, the professor was still amazed in his knowledge and insight. He would make a fine archaeologist one day....
"Now, Alex, don't bother Dr. Alvaro. I'm sure he's tired from his explorations," Evy informed her son.
Lorenzo smiled, "Now, Evelyn, the boy's curious, and I'm glad to answer his questions. Think nothing of it."
"Are you sure?" Rick pursued.
Taking a puff from his pipe, the young professor nodded, "Absolutely. Now, take a seat and let's relax."
The O'Connells nodded and sat next to him. After their own activities, they were glad to rest as well.
"So, what did you find down there?" Rick probed, dreading any new surprises.
"I blew a few more holes in that old map," Lorenzo laughed and took out his large white pad and began to sketch out his progress during that afternoon. "You know where that dead-end's supposed to be down Hallway #9?"
"There isn't one, right?" Evy jumped in.
He shook his head. "It turns out that Hallway #8 is the dead end and Passage #9 is a long tunnel. I followed it for a ways, but had to quit after about 45 minutes," he explained.
"And you didn't see anything ahead of you?" Rick inquired.
"Nothing," the other man replied honestly. "How did you make out?"
"We found the sacred vault this afternoon," Rick explained.
"And I found the Necklace of Nefertiri!" Evy exclaimed, holding up her golden prize so that it gleamed in the setting desert sun.
That sight definitely attracted her brother's attention. "My Word! That's beautiful. It looks like pure gold!" he gasped, instantly calculating its potential value in his head.
"It is," Lorenzo stated matter-of-factly and turned to his colleagues. "My friends, that cliches it! The rumors are true....We must be careful."
"Of what?" Rick inquired.
"In the catacombs below, legend has it that there is a special tomb...," their colleague continued.
"So, who's in there?" Evy pushed eagerly.
"Nobody knows for sure. In the Caucasus, the Amazons spoke of a great figure who was imprisoned there. According to the scrolls that I examined, there is one who was cast from their nation and finally set inside of a prison with that necklace. The jewel is the key."
Rick shook his head. Why him? It figured that she had dragged him on another joyride down the Nile with a curse at the end. And now, these dreams were bugging him as well....
"If I were you, I would leave this place," a familiar voice echoed toward them on the wind, affirmed with conviction.
The group saw a familiar bedouin riding toward them clad all in black. As he drew closer, the markings on his face, his ebony beard, and determined manner marked him as their friend and comrade in arms, Ardeth Bey.
"And a jolly hello to you too, Old Boy," Jonathan groused, stirring the sauce which was reheating in the soup pot over the fire.
Lorenzo tensed, "Who?"
Evy sighed, "Forgive my manners, Lorenzo, this is our good friend, Ardeth Bey, leader of the Mai-Jai. Ardeth, this is my associate, Dr. Lorenzo Alvaro."
The young professor jumped to his feet and shook Ardeth's hand. "You're the one who helped them in the museum, aren't you? It happened just before I got there, but I heard all about it and the disappearance of the curator."
The Mai-Jai leader exchanged looks with his friends. Apparently, the young man had all of the facts that he needed, at least for now. "Yes," he continued. "Be glad that you weren't there that evening, My Friend. It was a very strange time...my first bus ride in fact."
Rick and Evy glanced at each other. Suddenly, they remembered the events of that evening. The attack on the manor, the museum skirmish, and the wild bus ride/mummy fight through downtown London, the East End, and across Tower Bridge. "Yeah, that was some evening all right," Rick affirmed while casting anxious glances at his wife and son.
"Well, are you hungry, Ardeth?" Lorenzo asked. "There's plenty in the pot." He checked the cooking liquid which bubbled up perfectly. "By the way, Jonathan, did you boil up that pasta?"
"I sure did," Jonathan noted. "It's in the jar over there."
"Ah, fantastico!" the eager cook exclaimed. "Grazi!" He lugged the two foot tall container over by the fire and poured the contents of the pot over the macaroni.
Evy shook her head in admiration. In the three years that they had been working together, she had marveled at how this man could make a wonderful meal so easily, even in the most unlikely of places. "It smells wonderful," she complemented.
"Well, it's not quite up to Mama's standard," he sighed. "But hey, out here...it'll have to do." Laddeling out a helping into a tin plate, he handed it and a fork to his new Arab friend. "I hope you like it, my friend."
The bedouin chieftain took a forkful of the pasta and tasted it. "This is delicious," he commented. "Thank you."
"My pleasure," Lorenzo replied pleasantly and served everyone else before giving himself a portion and pouring some water into a little tin cup for himself. "May I ask a question, Ardeth?"
The chieftain nodded, "Certainly."
The younger man smiled and continued, "Who exactly is in that crypt? This is supposed to be a holy place and yet, I've read works written between here and Soviet Russia telling me that there is something down there which should never see the light of day."
The Arab nodded and indicated, "That is correct. Although, the name of the Accursed has been blotted out of historical memory, the need to keep things as they are is very necessary here."
"Figures," Rick mumbled to himself.
"So, why wasn't this person buried at Hamunaptra?" Evy inquired.
"Because of Imhotep, I imagine," Lorenzo interjected.
Ardeth's eyes narrowed as he reaccessed the junior professor. The man certainly knew the situation that he was dealing with. Granted, he lacked a few key answers to important questions, but he was moving toward them and, in a cautious manner. That was a quality he hoped would wash off on Evelyn. "Yes, I would imagine that they were separated because of the Creature's power," he agreed.
"Have you heard anything more about this person, Mr. Larry?" Alex jumped in.
"Only that she was a great terror...a demon. She was defeated by two warriors. Xena of Amphipolis, the so-called Warrior Princess and Gabrielle of Potadeia, later queen of the Amazon Nation," Lorenzo reported.
"So, they were real," Evy shook her head. "I thought they were something a bothered doctoral student dreamed up."
"Just like your Scorpion King, remember?" Rick gently chided her. "Before we found those items, he was just a myth too."
"I suppose," she yawned. "Oh goodness! Please excuse me. It's been a long day." Then, she stood up. "I suppose it's time for Alex to be getting ready for bed."
That comment made the boy squirm. "Aw, Mum! It's only 8:30!" he complained.
"Yes, it is...and it is your bedtime," she directed.
"I guess..." Alex relented and hugged his father. "'Night, Dads."
"Night, Gunga Din," Rick smiled and returned the embrace. "See you in the morning."
"Right," the boy agreed and added, "Good night, everyone."
The remaining men smiled at Alex and nodded as the boy went off with his mother. Then, they resumed the conversation.
Rick turned back to his wife's associate and probed further. "And that's all you know?"
"Si. That's it," the Luccese man agreed.
Ardeth scratched his beard. Once again, the threat of something terrible lurked beneath the sands...just waiting for the O' Connells to unleash it once again. And there would be nothing that he could do about it. Nothing at all...
(to be continued)
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