The Crime Fighters

The Crime Fighters in:


And Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them


Chapter 1

Now that he's here, he must die

Night fell over Cairo, Egypt. A man stood at a second floor hotel window, looking out over the ancient city. He was a tall man, fit and muscular, with dark eyes and flaming red hair. He held a small notepad in one hand, and was studying it carefully.

"Three more. . ." he said. "Two, if the fourth man stays in America." His voice was quiet, hushed, but there was an intensity behind his calm and measured words. "'He will come from across the sea,'" the man read, "'from a great kingdom as powerful as Mighty Egypt. In the days when men worship the One True God, the young kingdom will breed proud and headstrong warriors. Such will be the man who claims the power of Water."

The red haired man closed his notebook. "He'd better stay in America, this 'headstrong warrior'. In seven more days, the Power Chamber will reach its peak. And then no one will be able to stand in my way."

The man turned away from the window, and walked around the bed to the nightstand. He paused a moment, to survey his handiwork. Then he gathered up his things. The notebook, a flashlight, a gun, a small cloth with cloroform on it, and a hypodermic needle went into his backpack. Then he slung the pack over his shoulders. Carefully, he switched off the lamp. His gloved hands left behind no fingerprints.

Everything the man wore, including his pack, was black in color, the easier to slip into the shadows. Quietly opening the door, the red haired man did so, vanishing into the gathering darkness. Left behind, on the bed, was the body of the dead man, whose hand was clutched to his chest as if to ward off a heart attack.

"It's hotter'n blue blazes out here!!!"

Robert Davidson stood in the door of the tour bus, grimacing as he put a hand up to shield his eyes from the sunlight. Coming up behind him, Richard Conner gave him a friendly, but forceful, shove.

"You're holding up the line, buddy."

"Hmph. What are we doin' here, anyway?"

"Going on a tour. Now move." Richard shoved harder, and Robert stumbled out of the doorway onto the sand. He frowned as he studied the ground under his feet, making little trails with the toe of his shoe. The rest of the tour filed out of the bus, lining up for their guide.

"All right folks, this way!" The guide called out, and the tour followed, all except for Robert, who just scowled at his friend.

"Of all the lame brained hobbies, Richard, why'd you have to pick archeology? Couldn't you have picked something a little cooler, like swimming, or surfing or something?"

"'Swimming or surfing or something?'"

"So sue me. Water is all I can think about right now." Robert set off after the tour, which was rapidly leaving them behind.

His friend caught up with him. "Come on, Robert! It's Egypt! Pyramids, Pharoahs, you know, all that kind of stuff!"

Robert just grumbled. Richard shook his head, amused. "All right, all right. You only have to put up with this for a week, and then it's back to Houston, an' the old rat race. We've worked hard the last four years, we deserve a break!"

"You deserve a break, you mean. What kind of hobby is archeology, anyway? Why can't you be interested in something closer to home, like rodeos or car shows or something?"

Richard shrugged. "Detective work and archeology are related. There's a lot of forensic science involved in both. That's why I majored in it at the Academy. Maybe you want to be a beat cop, like your dad, but that's not for me."

Robert became uncharacteristically silent. Richard put a hand on his shoulder as they walked. "Look, I haven't forgotten our promise. We're a team, you and I. We've already applied for jobs in the same precinct, and you know they'll accept us. I'll be in the lab, an' you'll be on the street, and we'll be able to help each other out."

"Yeah, I guess so. I guess I just forget that not all cops want to be on the street." Robert smiled, wickedly. "What would my dad have said. . .my Academy roomie is a beaker-head!"

Richard pushed him again. "Moron," he said, good-naturedly.

They had caught up with the tour, and Robert frowned again. "It's still hotter'n blue blazes out here. You're a wierd one, Richard."

"Hush, the guide's about to talk. At least pay attention to this one. . ." Richard gestured at the huge pyramid in front of them, and its two smaller copies behind. "This is the pyramid, you know. The Great Pyramid. You can at least tell people you've seen it."

Despite himself, Robert started to look interested.

About a hundred and fifty miles south of Cairo lay another ancient town, Al Minya. This town was nowhere near the size of Cairo. It had no important pyramids or ruins to draw tourists. It was pretty much in the middle of Egypt, not up on the delta where the water from the Nile was plentiful, or down around Thebes, the ancient capital of Upper Egypt.

In fact, no one had paid much attention to this little town at all, not in a long, long time. But for a few years, several thousand years ago, this city was very important. At that time, it was called Amarna, and a Pharoah had ordered it built here, in the middle of the desert. He was a very strange Pharoah, some even thought him mad, and his reign ended quickly and suddenly. And with him, the city of Amarna died, and most of it returned to the sands.

Scott walked the streets of Al Minya, but he did not know any of this. The history of ancient Egypt meant nothing to Scott, because Scott was a dog. A collie, to be exact, although his pedigree was not important to him, either. All that Scott knew was that he had come to this place from far away, with his master. There was a fight, and a loud noise, and his master fell down and wouldn't get up. And then there was no one to take care of Scott any more.

A vendor in one of the stalls lining the street spotted him, and Scott gave him his begging look. The man gave him a piece of bread. Scott wolfed down the scrap, letting the vendor pet him as his payment.

This was one of the nicer vendors, and Scott stopped by his stall often, although not so often as to make the man mad at him. Years of living on the street had taught the dog how to read people, how to tell which of them would feed him, and which would try and chase him away. Somehow, he sensed than none of these humans would ever take him in. Most of them lived from hand to mouth as well.

But for a short time in his childhood, Scott had had a master. And like all dogs, he wanted to have that feeling of belonging again. The people who were nice to him, who talked to him soothingly, and gave him a name, as this man did, could always count on Scott coming around to see them. Scott answered to many names -- although he always thought of himself as Scott.

His master had given him that name. Scott didn't know that his master had been English. He didn't know that the man had been a policeman, although he'd been trained as an attack dog. Scott just assumed that all dogs were trained in this way. Scott didn't know that his master had moved to Egypt on the advice of his doctor, or that he had been killed in the line of duty. All he knew was that master was gone, now, and that something was missing in his life.

The collie moved on. The man in the stall waved at him, calling out to him. Scott didn't understand the words, but on some level, he did understand that the man was telling him he could return. That made him happy. He walked on down the street, his belly a little fuller.

The dog then stopped. He shook his head, as if to dislodge a flea or ward off an itch. He looked out across the little town, out towards the shifting sands that surrounded it. Somewhere out there, somewhere under those sands, a sound was starting. It wasn't very loud, but it was bothersome. And Scott shook his head again.

Robert plopped down onto the bed. "I got this one," he said.

"You said that this morning," Richard told him.

"I wanted to make sure. 'Cause now that I'm here I'm not moving."

"Grouch," Richard commented.

Robert put both hands over his face. "Are we really going to be here six more days?!!!"

"Yes. Don't worry about it. You'll feel fine in the morning."

"No, I won't feel fine in the morning. My feet hurt, I'm sunburned, I'm tired, my tongue feels like I've been eating charcoal. . ."

"I warned you about using sunscreen. You didn't listen to me."

Robert groaned. Richard started at him for a moment. "Some beat cop you are." He said with a grin. "If you can't stand being on your feet for a few hours in a hundred degree heat here, what makes you think it'll be so much easier in Houston?"

Robert shot him a dirty look. "You're just being your usual self, Robert. You'll feel fine in the morning." Richard smiled at him. "We'll be setting off to look at some pyramids south of here tomorrow. So we both need to get some sleep."

"You'll get no argument from me there," Robert said sourly.

As Richard continued to unpack his suitcase, there was suddenly a loud crack, the unmistakable sound of a gunshot. Robert was on his feet in a moment, his exhaustion forgotten. He ran to the door and threw it open.

As Robert charged out the door and into the hotel's parking lot, he ran into a dark figure, running past their room. The two men stumbled over one another. Robert got a good look at the man, he was a lean, muscular fellow, with bright red hair. Then the man looked at Robert, and his eyes widened. "You. . ." He muttered.

Robert was also stunned, and that was all the chance the dark man needed. He drew his pistol and fired. Robert drew back, startled, but Richard slammed into him, throwing the both of them to the ground. The bullet missed them both by inches. The man ran off, disappearing into the shadows.

"You okay?" Richard asked, picking himself up.

"Yeah, he missed me."

"He looked like he recognized you. Do you know him?"

"Never seen him before in my life." Robert said. He pointed at an open door, about three rooms down from their own. "That must be where he came from."

Richard was the first one in the room. A man was lying on the floor in a puddle of blood. Richard knelt down next to him. There was a cloth in his hand. Richard bent down to get a better look, then rapidly pulled his face away, putting a hand over his nose.

"Chloroform. This guy must have caught our friend trying to drug him and fought back. Then he shot him."

"I'll call the cops," Robert said. He hurried out of the room.

Richard looked around. The closet door stood partly open. He walked over to it, gingerly nudging the door open as he looked inside. Then he turned and looked back towards the room. The man's suitcase was on the bed, open. He went and looked at it, studying the contents of the case without touching it. Then he noticed a smaller briefcase on the floor.

Richard studied the briefcase for a moment, and its relation to the rest of the scene. Then he nudged it over. Kneeling next to it, he opened the case. It wasn't locked. There were papers inside. He looked them over.

Robert returned. "They'll be here in a minute." He frowned as he noticed Richard behind the bed. "What are you doing?"

"Disturbing a crime scene," Richard said lightly. "Actually, I don't think this case was part of it, but I was hoping to find out a bit about our victim. He seems to be an Egyptologist. There are some archeological papers here in his briefcase."

Robert snorted. "Everyone here's an archeologist, including you." He looked behind him as a figure came up behind him. "You the cops?"

The man said something to him in Egyptian. "I don't understand you, buddy."

"He's the landlord," Richard said, standing up. He said something in Egyptian to the man, who nodded and stepped back.

"What did you say to him?"

"That this is a crime scene and not to touch anything. We'd better step outside ourselves so we don't disturb anything more."

It took the police the better part of an hour to arrive. As soon as Richard told the officer what he had found, however, he rushed back to his car. Within minutes, the entire building was swarming with Egyptian police officers.

"What's goin' on?" Robert asked. "Is this guy the Pope or something?"

"He's a very important Egyptologist," the officer said. "His loss is going to be hard for our country."

"I'm sorry." Richard said. "From what I saw of the crime scene, I think our murderer hid in the closet, until he could get a chance to take the victim by surprise. This was obviously a planned murder."

The policeman nodded. "And so soon after the death of Doctor Assan. . ."

"Murdered?" Richard looked interested.

The man shook his head. "No, he died of a heart attack. But he was an important man, too. . ."

Richard's eyes narrowed. "I would examine the contents of that hypodermic needle. If I'm right, it contains a poison that mimics the effect of a heart attack. I think our victim managed to catch the murderer, in the act, before he could be killed like Dr. Assan. So the assassin fell back on his second weapon, a gun."

The policeman nodded, and then ran back to the room. As he left, Robert stepped closer to Richard. "Do you think this guy's really an assassin?"

"Could be. It was a well-laid trap, and the guy had a back-up plan. Plus, you saw how he was dressed. Yeah, I think this guy's a professional."

Robert was silent for a moment. "You saved my life, man."

Richard grinned at him. "That's what partners do, right?"

Robert grinned back. The officer approached again, from the crowd of policemen gathered around the room. "Did you say that you saw this man?" he asked Robert.

"Yup. I saw him real good. I'd be glad to give you a description."

Richard and Robert followed the policeman as he led them back to the room. On the other side of the parking lot, well hidden in the shadows of a neighboring building, a red-haired man watched them. As they moved out of his line of sight, he retreated back into the building.

Once inside, he pulled his notebook out of his pack and held it up in the dim light. "Damn. . ." he muttered, reading. "Damn. It is him." His fists clenched in frustration. "The American. . .and I've led him right to one of the men who was to be his teammate."

He found himself wondering at the irony. How was this American tourist originally supposed to team up with these Egyptians, anyway? Is he for some reason interested in archeology? And the Prophecy. . . how could they have known?

He sighed. It's no matter. Now that he's here, he must die. The red haired man clutched his pistol in his hand, and left the building, disappearing into the night.

[Index] Copyright 2001, Richard Ryley [Next]