The Crime Fighters in:
And Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them
Our only hope is to beat him to it
A shadowy figure crept through the darkness, outside a little hotel in Al Minya. He slipped quietly up to one window of the hotel, shining brightly with the light from within, and risked a quick glimpse inside. Then, moving carefully so as not to rustle the bushes, he edged out into the parking lot in front of the building.
There was a large truck here, one of the dig's old canvas covered cargo vans. Stan crept up on it, staying in the shadows. He took a look inside the passenger compartment, then moved around to the bag.
Elsewhere in the darkness, a pair of dimly glowing eyes watched the red haired intruder. Low in his throat, the dog began to growl. Instantly, almost before the sound could be heard, the man came back around the front of the truck again, drawing something from his coat. Moonlight flashed on metal, and Scott cut the growl short. He had seen such things before. They made a loud noise, and were scary. Scott crouched down lower in the grass.
Inside the hotel room, Michelle came into the kitchen area and sat down at the table. "So," Richard asked her. "How is it going with the door?"
"It's harder than it looks. With what Stan stole from us, we don't have much explosives left, and the drilling took a lot longer than I expected. We finally managed to make it through the first door, only to find another one just like it further down the tunnel. I'm afraid there's going to be several of them. It may take weeks to cut through them all."
Richard nodded. "I kind of suspected. This is the greatest secret of Amarna, I doubt its guardians would have made it easy for us to get to it."
"What makes things worse is, the diggers are starting to complain of headaches, and dizziness. They've also taken to fighting amongst each other. I thought at first it was just the work, but if it's that ultrasonic sound the dog was complaining about. . ."
"It would make sense," Richard said.
"Some of the men are even saying that they can hear it, now. I've ordered earplugs, but I don't know if they will help."
"The question is, what's in that dig that's making an ultrasonic noise?"
Michelle shook her head.
Outside, Stan stood waiting, listening for any noise, but Scott remained quiet. After a few moments, he moved back around behind the truck. Scott inched forward, crawling along behind the bushes, just as careful to avoid moving them as the shadowy man had been. The collie looked up at the lighted window, and then back at the truck. There was a few more minutes of silence, and then the man came back around into view again. Scott lowered his head, peering from between the bushes.
The red haired man crept quietly up to the hotel door. Gently, he tested it. It was locked. He glanced back at the lit window, then backed away, towards the door to the adjacent room. The window of this room was dark, and he took a quick look inside, then returned to the door.
Reaching into his pocket, the man pulled out an object shaped something like a pen. He pressed a button on the side of it, and a wire rod popped out. He inserted the rod into the door's lock, and gave it a twist. There was a quiet click, as the lock was opened.
"So," Robert put in, "How are you doin'?"
"Well, our friend Stan is definately with the Mob, or some other Organized Crime organization. I checked out the name Steve Stanford, which we got from the drugstore from which he bought his needles, and it turns out that name is connected with an Egyptian import company, from which Dr. Ben-Ari got his contribution to the dig."
"What?" Michelle looked surprised. "You mean Dr. Ben-Ari was with the Mob?"
"Probably not. He was probably just part of a money laundering scheme, or maybe advised them on the value of stolen relics or something. At any rate, when he found out about the dig, he must have gone to his Mob contacts to get some money."
"Huh." Michelle wrapped her arms around herself. "So my father was killed because of some Mob money laundering scheme. . ."
"No, I think there's more to it than that. Stan's been acting on his own, and he's been taking chances, doing things I don't think he would be doing if the Mob was involved."
"You think he thought a' cuttin' his Mob bosses out of the treasure?" Robert asked.
Richard shook his head. "It's the objects. He doesn't want to share them with his bosses. He must have found out about them, when he hired on as a digger. He was sent here to keep an eye on Ben-Ari, make sure their 'investment' was being well spent, but when he found out about Akenaton's superheroes, he saw his chance for power -- unbelievable power."
Michelle's eyes widened. "Oh, my God. . . of course. . ."
"Remember I said that Akenaton could have taken the powers of the four objects, but he didn't? He did as Aton had asked, and gave them to his advisors? Well, that's part of the legend, too. You see, when Akenaton first found the four objects, he had his advisors study them, first."
"Each of the advisors got one of the relics, one power. But if Akenaton had taken all four of the powers, combined them into one, his power would have been much greater. He would have become like Aton, with the power of Life, Death, and Creation."
"He would have become a god. . ."
"I can see why Stan would want that," Robert quipped.
"That's it, then. Stan must have heard about the legend, and is set on uniting the four powers -- no matter who he has to hurt to get it."
"Our only hope is to beat him to it," Michelle said, "show him that this is. . . just a myth. . . that the objects aren't as powerful as he thinks they are."
"Unless they are as powerful as he thinks they are. . ."
"Aw, Geez, Richard, an' I thought you weren't goin' crazy about this. . ."
"We've got to consider that possibility, Robert. You've seen the dig, and Michelle was just talking about that wierd sound. If these. . . objects are some sort of electrical or chemical weapons. . ."
Before Richard could finish his sentence, however, he was interrupted by a dog barking. There was a scuffle outside the room, and then a shot was fired. As Robert stood up and flung Michelle to the ground, the door between their rooms burst open. The red haired man fired a few shots at them, and Richard shoved the table over to serve as cover. Robert began firing back, from behind it.
Stan leaped back, out of the doorway, and ran out into the parking lot. Robert ran to the other door to the outside, and shoved it open, ducking back behind the doorframe in case of more gunfire. But their assailant had already run to his car. He peeled out of the parking lot and roared down the street.
Robert raced to the truck and jumped inside. As Richard was about to join him, however, Scott leaped out of the bushes. He sank his teeth into Richard's arm, pulling him forcefully away from the truck.
"Down! Down! I'm one of the good guys!" The dog continued to pull at his arm, however, releasing him only long enough to grab onto his sleeve.
"Damn mutt!" Robert yelled, coming around the front of the truck.
"Hold it! Don't shoot, I don't think he's trying to hurt me!"
As Richard stepped back away from the truck, Scott released him. The collie stood there, barking loudly. "What? What is it?"
The dog ran around to the back of the truck. He looked up into the bed, then back at Richard. As Richard came around next to him, he barked frantically.
Richard shoved the canvas aside and looked inside the truck. "Damn. . ." he muttered. Robert came around beside him. Sitting there in the middle of the truck bed was a pile of dynamite, and a timer. It was counting down, in big neon numbers, from nineteen seconds.
"Oh, Hell. . ." said Robert. Richard just climbed into the truck and pulled out a pocket knife. He studied the bomb for a moment. There was a yellow wire and a green wire, both going from the clock to the detonator. One obviously was a dummy. Oh, well, yellow always had been his favorite color. . .
"No! The green one!"
Richard looked up at him, but Robert just reached around him and yanked out the green wire. The timer stopped, with a second to spare.
"Tell me you weren't just guessing. . ."
"Because of that kind of clock, the output chip has to be on the right. The green wire went to the right."
Richard laughed. "Like you know anything about electronics. . ."
"Nah, but I paid attention in class." Robert grinned. "The one we practiced on had that same kind of clock."
Michelle ran around behind the truck. "He's coming back!" she called out.
The two men dropped onto the ground. The car was rolling back down the darkened road, its engine idling quietly. "He must have noticed the bomb didn't go off," Robert said.
The car suddenly wheeled around, and took off back down the road at high speed. "He was trying to lure us into following him," Richard said. "But that didn't work. I wonder where he's going now."
"Only one way to find out," Robert headed for the driver's seat.
"Wait. Do you hear that?"
Robert fell silent. A faint, high pitched hum could be heard, just barely audible over the normal noises of the desert.
"Let's get to that dig. It's time we got to the bottom of this." Richard turned to Michelle. "Call the police, and have them pick you up, and then join us over there. Don't leave the hotel until the police get here. Stan may try to double back once he realizes we're after him."
"Okay," Michelle said. She grinned. "Looks like I'm not going to be one of Akenaton's four heroes after all. . ."
"It's too dangerous. Stan would kill you in a second if he saw you at that dig. Just call the police. . ." He got into the truck on the passenger side, and Robert stepped on the gas.
As the truck lurched out into the street, the collie ran forward and leaped through the canvas into the back. "Wait!" Michelle yelled. "You've got a stowaway. . ." But they were gone.
As the two men approached the entrance to the dig, they spotted the guards, lying lifeless in the sand. Robert brought out his gun, and kept watch, while Richard knelt down and examined the bodies.
"Dead," he said. "Both of them were shot, twice."
Robert grimaced at the whining noise, that seemed to be making the ground vibrate under their feet. "That sound's makin' my teeth itch, man," he said.
They continued up to the tent. Robert cautiously pulled the flap open, his gun at the ready. There was no sign of the red haired criminal, but the rope had been lowered down into the pit. Richard looked over his shoulder, then turned away. "We'll need flashlights," he said.
As Richard ducked into one of the nearby tents, the collie jumped out of the back of the truck, and ran up to Robert. As he neared the short man, he lowered his head, growling.
"Get away, you mutt," Robert said. "Shoo."
Richard stuck his head out of the tent. "What are you doing here, boy?" He said. The collie looked up at him, and then ran to his side. The dog stood there, wagging his tail. Richard walked over to where Robert stood, near the main tent, and handed him a flashlight.
When the dog followed him, Richard scratched the animal behind the ears. "I think he wants to go with us."
"He's a mangy mutt. Get rid of him."
"Can you track a suspect by his scent?"
"Uh. . . no. . ."
"Then maybe we can use him." He gestured Robert to enter the tent.
Robert rolled his eyes, but went into the tent anyway. Grabbing onto the rope, he climbed down into the pit. He got out his gun as he reached the ground, and took a quick look around. Richard pulled up the rope, and then the collie descended down from the darkness, slung from the end of the rope.
"Untie him when he's on the ground," Richard called out, "and I'll be right down."
"I'm not touchin' that monster," Robert answered. "He'll bite me!"
"Just do it!" The dog landed on the floor. He held still as Robert untied him, but curled his lip away from his fangs as a warning. He seemed distracted by the hum, however, and shook his head as if to clear it.
"You're lucky Richard likes you," Robert told him.
"Leave the dog alone," Richard said, as he dropped to the ground next to them. "I don't know why he's taken a liking to me, but he saved our lives back there."
He scratched the dog behind the ears for a moment, and then said "Heel". When Scott came around beside him, and looked up at him, expectantly, he said "Find." Scott sniffed the ground as he made his way down the passage and into the tomb chamber. He started to continue past the room, but Richard called him back.
The remains of the block of granite were littered around the north end of the room, where it had once blocked the secret tunnel. Richard shone his flashlight down the passage. It stretched on as far as he could see, well beyond the range of the light.
"The other plugs that Michelle mentioned are gone," he said. "Looks like Stan found a secret switch or something."
"He sure seems to know his way around. . ."
Richard again ordered Scott on ahead, and the dog led them down the passage. It went on for several yards, but then ended at a fork. Scott sniffed around for a second, and then unerringly headed off to the right.
"I told you he'd come in handy." Richard looked up at the ceiling. "We must be under the pyramid now."
Robert just snorted. They followed the dog as he wound around through the passages. There was a whole maze under the pyramid, and if it weren't for Scott's nose they would have been hopelessly lost. As they passed another intersection, however, Richard suddenly put out a hand to stop his friend.
"Stop!" He called to the dog. The collie looked back at him, then turned to walk back, but Richard called out "No! Sit!" The dog did so.
"What's going on?"
"I heard a click. . ." He studied the walls and ceiling for a moment, then walked back up the corridor.
"There's nothing. . . no heiroglyphics, no patterns in the floor, no nothing. . ." He glanced back at the dog, but while Scott was watching them intently, he was not moving.
"There's a seam over here," Robert said.
Richard walked over to where he was standing. There was a thin crack in the stone, running from floor to ceiling. Richard looked up, and pointed to where the crack continued over their heads.
"That whole section of the ceiling is a stone block. It's designed to be dropped into the passage. The dog's weight wasn't quite enough to set it off, though."
"But why's the crack in the wall, too?"
Richard studied it for a moment. Finally, he leaned over and pressed against the wall, past the crack.
There was a rumbling noise as the wall slid outward. It moved a few inches and then stopped.
Richard smiled. "Of course. Now the ceiling can't fall, because that block'll hold it up."
He walked over to Scott. "Good boy. You can go now. Find."
The dog just stood up and growled, though, because Stan had stepped out of the shadows at the end of the passage. "I was sure that trap would get you," he commented. "But I guess I'll just have to do it myself."
As if on cue, the humming sound suddenly got louder. It almost sounded as if some great machine were powering up.
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