The Jackal

Untold Origin
- Part One -

 

by Rob

My name is Ross Archer and I’m an archeologist and Egyptologist. I can hear you now saying, ‘Are you nuts? You can’t make any real money that way. Couldn’t you have gotten a real job?’ As I’m writing this for posterity (not my idea by the way) you might as well have the answers. No, I am not nuts. I chose my future profession carefully and money never entered the equation. I want a job that I found interesting and one in which I wouldn’t have to deal with too many people. You see I much prefer the company of people who have been dead for centuries than those currently living. As for my not being able to get a ‘REAL JOB’ listen carefully. I graduated university Magna Cum Laude at 20 and before that I was offered academic scholarships to all the best schools. So, bang goes that theory. Before I get on to the meat of my story I’d better tell you a little more about myself (also not my idea).

Let’s get this right out front. I was a geek, nerd, bookworm, whatever you choose to call it that was me. I was luckier than most because I had 20/20 eyesight, which meant that I didn’t have to wear glasses to see the punches coming. I began adolescence a dumpy overweight kid. When I hit 15 I had a growth spurt that gained me just over eight inches in height and took care of my weight problem. Now I was a tall skinny geek where I once was short dumpy one. I could never notice any real change in the bullying and teasing after I topped six feet. The jokes changed but the pain did not.

As you can probably guess my social life sucked but it was not the beginnings of my antisocial behavior, that was thanks to some of the women I met. (I am reminded at this point to state that not all women are like this and I have discovered this fact for myself but that part comes later.) Teenagers can be cruel, crueler than most adults, and teenage girls are no exception to this rule. It seemed to me that every girl in high school who was popular or wanted to be popular reveled in the sadistic pleasure of teasing guys like me. There are numerous examples from my own life but surprisingly they still hurt after all this time and so much has changed. So, I won’t go into them. (My personal conscience also reminds me that this is not a diatribe on the ills of my society but an explanation of my transformation.)

I did well in my chosen field and soon gained a good reputation among my colleagues. It was a hectic time then. Everyone was talking about the young woman from the stars that the press called ‘Aurora’ and all the changes that her history meant to our field. The stayed and stodgy could not keep up and dogmatically refused to acknowledge even the possibility of changing our views of history. I wasn’t one of them and soon found myself near the forefront of this new wave of archeological thinking. By the time I was 25 I had already published three books and was in demand on the lecture and interview circuit but I turned them all down. I was still very much the shy adolescent. As the pressure on me grew I retreated more and more until I became the Howard Hughes of the archeological set. My superiors pressed me to make myself available to the press but they always shut up when I threatened to quit. Finally I had had enough and got as far away from the turmoil in my life as I could. I went to a remote and still hostile section of Egypt to conduct a one man dig on a partially uncovered find. It was not a prime site but it was off the beaten path and that’s what I needed, to be alone.

It was two weeks into the exploration of the small and rather dull temple that I stumbled onto the back room. Needless to say I was stunned. This was archeology not the movies and you just did not find secret panels and hidden staircases but I did. I was so excited that I couldn’t think straight. I had to force myself to leave because I could not think clearly. It took half a bottle of scotch before I could relax enough to go to sleep.

I had a blinding hangover the next morning but the pain helped me focus. Along with Faisal, my assistant, gopher, and general dogs body, I prepared to explore the hidden staircase that I had found. We took food, lanterns, and a folding camp table along with my other equipment and descended into the pitch black doorway.

The stairs had been cut from the living rock and were all highly polished. I found the lack of hieroglyphics on the walls surprising. Normally, the workmen liked to sign their names to their work but not in this case it seemed. Faisal held one end of a tape measure at the top of the stairs while I proceeded down. The tape measure was 500' long but it ran out before I reached the bottom of the stairs. After marking my spot I called Faisal down and we continued. The tape measure was half out again before I finally reached the bottom of the staircase. But that was just the first of many surprises in store for me. The next was at the bottom of the stairs.

The staircase opened into a small 10 x 10 alcove. Again there was a surprising lack of hieroglyphics but what caught my attention was the door opposite the stairs. Immense bronze doors towered 15' into the half lit gloom. Here at last were some hieroglyphics with the sun symbol on one of the doors and the moon on the other. Bronze doors, this was highly unusual. I was so engrossed in studying the doors that I didn’t hear Faisal join me. I did hear his breath hiss through his teeth when he first caught sight of the doors.

"Impressive," I said without taking my eyes of the immense bronze doors.

"I have never seen their like before."

"Nor have I. Do you have the respirators?"

"Yes."

"Hand me one and then put the other stuff down," I said putting my own pack on the stone floor.

When I had my respirator fixed firmly on my face I turned and checked Faisal’s. After who knows how many millennia there was no telling what kind of bacteria lingered beyond those doors. Faisal’s was set properly and I motioned for him to join me at the doors.

Looking closely at them I hoped that they were not locked because if they were it would take a jackhammer to knock them down. The cracks in the double doors were not large enough to slip a razor blade through and the was no external opening. So, if they weren’t unlocked then I was stopped dead until I could call in the heavy equipment.

I took the sun door and motioned Faisal to the moon. We nodded at each other and then pushed. There was no groan, squeak or squeal. The doors just opened as smoothly as if they had been oiled the day before instead of thousands of years ago. There was a loud hiss as centuries of dead air escaped from the chamber beyond. Through the muffling respirator I reminded Faisal to keep his on and then picked up a lantern. My assistant joined me and together we stepped inside.

This was more like it. The room was huge about 30' wide and 150' long. Two parallel rows of columns ran the length of the room. Each was covered in hieroglyphics but what hieroglyphics. They were not just carved in the polished stone but inlaid with gold and silver and precious gems. They caught the light of the lanterns and reflected it back in a rainbow of color. For more than a minute neither Faisal nor I could move and for me it was all I could do to breathe normally. My eyes were drawn to the hieroglyphics like magnets but I could still see the walls beyond. They were covered in paintings as rich and vibrant as the day they were made.

"Never in all my days did I ever think to see such as this," Faisal said in a hushed tone of awe.

"Nor did I," I said stepping closer to the nearest column. "Just look at these hieroglyphics they’re like nothing I’ve ever seen. The symbols are all so tantalizingly familiar. It’s like forgetting how to read but still know what the letters are."

"It makes Tutankhamen’s tomb look like a hollow joke," Faisal said his muffled voice filled with greed.

Unfortunately, I never heard these words or I might have suspected what was to happen. As it was I was still trying to decipher the hieroglyphics. I did not have a clue what they meant but I did know that I was going to, eventually.

"Faisal, I need my laptop and my digital camera. Could you get them for me?"

"Of course boss," he responded eagerly.

After Faisal left I went out to the alcove and brought in the other lanterns and set them up throughout the room. It was as I was doing this that I found the small bronze tablet. It was behind the door and was shaped like a cartouche and fit easily into the palm of my hand. There was a hieroglyph on it and was just as unknown as all the others I had seen. I should have put it back where I found it like a good archeologist should but I didn’t. Without even thinking about it I put the bronze tablet in hip pocket and continued with exploration.

The chamber was curiously devoid of the normal objects I expected to find. It wasn’t a tomb because of the lack of burial goods but it did not seem right for a temple either. Finally at the far end of the chamber I found the dais. It was some 15' above the floor level and was shaped like a step pyramid. The top of the dais was a square 10' x 10' foot of highly polished black marble which did not match the rest of the stone in the chamber. At the four corners of the square were 6' foot tall golden pylons as thick as my thigh like candle holders but without the candles or the space to hold them. It was just one more curiosity in a room filled with curiosities.

After my cursory examination of the chamber I set up the folding table put a fresh drawing pad on it and set to work. I was half way though the pad when I began wondering what was keeping Faisal. I glanced at my watch and discover that I had been in the chamber for more than six hours. Now, I became concerned. It did not take that long to get a laptop and a camera. Much as I hated the idea I had to go check on him. I left my respirator on the table as the air in the chamber had long since cleared and left.

I didn’t make it ten feet up the stairs. The first thing I saw was the beam of the flashlight and the next was the muzzle of the Smith and Wesson .357 magnum. It was pointed directly at my groin.

"Down," said the gravelly accented voice behind the gun.

I went down. Once back in the alcove I got a better look at the man with the pistol. He was a cruelly handsome Egyptian who was about three inches shorter than me but at least thirty pounds heavier and all of it muscle. When he stepped into the alcove a figure moved out from behind him. I was surprised to see it was Faisal but I really shouldn’t have been. There was a automatic in his hand.

The pistol waved me back into the chamber. As I backed inside I remembered that I had a 9mm back in my tent and cursed myself for being such a fool. The gems and precious metals in the chamber was enough wealth to tempt a saint. I vowed that I would never again be so foolish but somehow did not think that I would get the chance.

"Did I not tell you Jahmal?" said Faisal once we were all in the chamber.

"You did little brother. In deed you did and I shall never doubt you again," said Jahmal his voice dripping with avarice. "No burial goods but that does not matter. The gems will be easier to dispose of that way. No questions from the department of antiquities."

"What of Dr. Archer?"

"There must be no witnesses."

"But . . ."

"There can be none to tell what has been found here Faisal."

"Very well," the young man sighed.

I wasn’t about to wait around to see who would shoot me. I turned and ran. Unfortunately the only direction I could go was deeper into the chamber. I heard Faisal give a cry of alarm and heard the deafening bark of the gun. My side exploded in pain but I was too high on adrenalin to fall. I had already searched the chamber and knew that there were no other exits. The only thing that I could do was hide and I could think of only one spot, behind the raised dais. There was another roar as a gun spoke and I was hit in the right thigh. This time I fell, one step from the top of the dais.

I could feel my life slipping away. My hand slid down my leg and came away wet and sticky. As it came away I felt the lump in my pocket and I brought out the bronze tablet that I had found earlier. I squeezed it with what remained of my strength hoping that I would remain conscious. My left leg twitched and shook as it tried to move me forward. I heard the low heartless laughter and turned to see Jahmal stalking me. His gun was at his side and he held out his hand to lower Faisal’s as well.

"Leave him," he said. "He is as good as dead now. Do not waste bullets on a dead man."

I barely heard the words. I thought about begging for my life but the look on Jahmal’s face told me that I would get no mercy, not even a bullet in the head. I cannot explain why I kept moving. I just did.

I crawled up the last step and collapsed on the top of the dais. The black marble was warm and my right hand throbbed. It was already covered in blood and I could not tell if it too had been injured. I opened it and saw that the small bronze tablet was glowing through its coating of blood.. The room got brighter and at first I thought that I was finally dying. Then there was a clang and I knew that the bronze doors had shut. I looked up in surprise and saw that the tops of the golden pylons were glowing as well. I don’t know how long it took it might have been a few seconds it might have been a couple of minutes but the pulsing light surrounded me and then it was gone and so was I.

As for Jahmal and Faisal, well I didn’t find out what happened to then much later. They were standing on the middle step of the dais when I was translocated at the edge of the compression field. If they had been standing at the bottom of the dais they would only have felt a warm rush of air but instead they were caught up in it. They two would be tomb robbers were hurled across the length of the chamber faster than a bullet. They hit the shut doors with the expected results. Death was instantaneous. I’m glad that they didn’t suffer much. I liked Faisal.

As for me, well I blacked out. Whether it was from loss of blood or the shock of being translocated some 500 miles I don’t know. There was a flash of light and then nothing for quite some time. My pain brought me back, my pain and the voice.

"Awake Ross Archer! The time of thy ultimate destiny is nigh."

I awoke. How could I not with that voice shouting in my ears and ringing in my head. My eyes fluttered and then opened. I knew at once that I was not in the chamber any more. For one thing I was lying on polished bronze-like metal not black marble and for another it was much brighter where I was.

"Stand!"

I can’t believe that I actually tried to get to my feet but there was no denying that voice. I got to my knees before I collapsed again and slumped face first to the cool metal floor.

"Stand!" the voice commanded once more.

"Hey! I’m shot here if you haven’t noticed."

"Stand or die the choice is thine."

I don’t know how I did it but I stood. I leaned on my good left leg and I clutched the bullet hole in my right one to try and stop the blood pumping out of me but I stood and felt prouder than the day I graduated university.

"Ok, I’m up."

"Good."

The air in front of me shimmered like the asphalt on a hot summer’s day and quickly coalesced into a man, or at least a man from the neck down. Now, understand that I don’t judge people on their looks. It’s easy when people have been putting you down for yours since you were ten. But there’s something a little off-putting about a man with a face like a bird. Let me correct that not the face but the head of a bird, an falcon to be exact. The rest of him looked liked a normal man. Well, he was normal in the sense that he had two arms, two legs and the right number of hands, feet, fingers, and toes. He was also 6' 10' tall and had a body that any athlete would kill to have. He was dressed in a white kilt with gold fringe belted at the waist by a wide bronze belt. There were simple crossed tied sandals on his feet and to large bronze bracers on his wrists with silver inlays. I may have been shot and I may have been confused by what had just happened to me but I was still an Egyptologist.

"You’re Horus," I said sounding like an idiot even to me.

"That’s is what the people of the land thou call Egypt named me. Be thou assured that I have another. Far older and far more complex but Horus shall serve for anon."

"Then you’re a god." I still couldn’t stop myself making these asinine comments.

"No Ross Archer I am not a god. To the primitive peoples of this planet I appeared god-like. Yet, I am more than thou and thy species are. I am what thou may chose to become if thou truly desire it."

"Huh?" Loss of blood must have turned me into a babbling idiot. "What are you?" I asked trying to keep some level of composure.

"I am one of the Wanderers. Once eons gone I and those like me had another name when we too had a planet that was our own. But in the time of the Great Conflict our home was sundered and we who survived were cast out of our lifeless world. Our home gone we wandered not seeking another for our own for only what was gone could ever be our home. We wandered because there was aught else for us. Twelve thousand of your years ago a few of my bothers and sisters came to this world of yours and we stayed for a time and enjoyed the fellowship of thy ancestors. We thought of raising them from the state of the primitive in which they lay but they were not yet ready to comprehend all that we would have taught them."

"I don’t really mean to interrupt your history. I mean it’s truly fascinating and all but I’m sort of bleeding to death here. And I’d like to be alive to hear how it all turns out."

"True thou dost bleed but not as much as when thou arrived. Be assured Ross Archer thou shall not die before our business is complete."

I looked at my leg and damn if Horus wasn’t right. The flow of blood had slowed to a trickle when it should have been pumping out of me. I wondered why he hadn’t just healed me if he had that much power but I wasn’t about to push my luck and ask.

"Thanks," I said. "I’m sorry for interrupting."

"No apology is required. It was a valid question and none need ever apologize for asking one.

"Yet," Horus continued as if I hadn’t interrupted, "we grew to love thy planet and its people Ross Archer. For thy home is much as ours was before it was taken from us. So, it was resolved that when the time had come when our knowledge could be imparted to thy people then we would do so. Alas, that time is still many centuries in your future Ross Archer and thy world might not even reach that stage due to the outside influences exacted upon thee and thine. We foresaw the influences of other races upon thy people and took steps to ensure that thou should reach the Time of Joining. What we could not foresee was the loss of knowledge which would occur over the intervening centuries. We had begun to despair that the Path might never be taken and the Time might never come but you are here Ross Archer. Thy world stands at the crossroads. Will thou let it fall into the abyss or will thou stand with us and succor thy besieged race."

"Excuse me? I’m not sure I understand what it is you want me to do?"

"Truly thou dost not understand?"

"Yes."

"Alas for the knowledge which has already been lost. I shall explain. When my brothers, sisters and I left thy world some two and a half centuries after our arrival we made a sacred covenant with thy ancestors. We should return when the Time of the Joining was nigh and share all that we had with thy people. Yet, in the interval thy world would face dangers not of thine own making and this we could not countenance. So, it was decided that we should leave part of us behind, not our physical presence for that would mean that we had claimed thy planet for our own and this we cannot do, but our power and much of our knowledge. When the days of trial came upon thy people one was to be selected to receive that which we left to serve as our representative and ensure that the Time would come to pass. We have waited and you are here Ross Archer. Will thou take up the mantle and preserve thy race."

"You want me to be your proxy here on Earth?" I asked not quite believing what I had just been told. I wanted to think this was all a dream but the throbbing pain in my side and leg put a quick stop to that idea.

"Yes."

"But you don’t know a thing about me. For all you know I could be a serial killer or some other kind of nut job."

"Your mind is open to us Ross Archer. It was open from the moment thou stepped onto the translocator. Fear not for thou art truly worthy though thou know it not."

"Ok, as long as you guys are sure."

"We are never fear."

At that point that wasn’t what I was fearing. I was seriously considering taking them up on there offer and that scared me shitless. I knew what Horus meant by ‘outside influences’ you couldn’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV without hearing something about Aurora and the Arions. I never understood why they had turned Earth into a battlefield but as far as I was concerned it wasn’t my business. Yet, if I took up the Wanderers mantle it would be my business. I wasn’t sure that I was up to the job no matter what kind of help they were going to give me. I knew one thing. No matter what my decision I wasn’t going into it blind.

"Ah, I have a few more questions to ask before I give you my decision. Is that alright?"

"Naturally. It was expected. Ask them."

"If your guys all left thousands of years ago and haven’t been back since then how come we’re talking?"

"Time and space are irrelevant. It is one of the many mysteries that shall be explained at the Time. I could be speaking with thee from thy past or thy future. The time is irrelevant only that I speak with thee now."

"Ok," I said not having understood a single thing that had been just explained to me. "What happens to me if I don’t accept your offer?"

"Then thou shall be returned to thy place of origin and all shall be as it was."

"Including my leg?"

"Yes."

"But I’ll die."

"That is most probably correct but we are sworn not to interfere in thy affairs except in the selection of the One. We have slowed thy decay so that we may converse with thee. This the Choice will allow. We cannot save thy life as much as thy death shall pain us. We are beings of our word Ross Archer. It is our blessing and also our curse."

Now that, I understood and surprisingly, I wasn’t angry at him. He was honest and forthright, more so than anyone else I had ever met, and I admired him. But it’s hard not to admire someone your ancestors were convinced was a god. I was also a little shocked that I really did not care that I might die. I mean I wanted to live, everyone does, but I wasn’t about to scream that it was unfair that I had so much to live for. The fact was that I did not have much to live for. I had my work and that was it and lately it was not enough. It’s hard to snuggle up to a pile of books on a chilly night. I know because I’ve tried. There was only one more question that I had to have the answer to before I could give Horus my decision.

"If I refuse what will you do?"

"Wait until another who is worthy finds us as thou did."

"But that may never happen. It was only by accident that I got here in the first place."

"That would be tragic but we can do no more. We have given our word on this."

"I see what you mean about the curse."

"Truly," said Horus his echoing voice filled with infinite regret. "Are thy questions complete?"

"Yes."

"Then the time of thy Choice must be made. For we can no longer delay thy destiny."

I knew that I was going to regret this but as I saw it I didn’t really have a choice. "I’ll do it," I said quickly before I could think about it and refuse.

"Good. Open thy shirt a place thy key upon thy breast."

Instinctively I knew that the key was the small bronze tablet that I had found. I did just what Horus said and the moment that the bronze touched my skin I began to tingle all over. I watched in stunned amazement as the piece of rectangular bronze slowly sank into my skin and under my chest. When it was gone I rubbed the area where it had been and could find no sign that it was ever even there.

"Thy wounds are no more. Come, there is much to be done."

Horus turned and section of the polished metal wall opened. I looked down and could find no trace that I had been shot not even any blood. There were just two holes in my clothing to show that anything had ever happened to me. Oh well, you can’t have it all.

I was led down a long corridor to another seamless door. This time I knew that the door was there and I even knew that I could have opened it if I had wanted to. Horus stood to the side and waited. I knew what he wanted and stepped inside.

This room was about as plain as the translocator room. There was only one piece of furniture, a large metal throne sat in the middle of the room. It looked as if it were part of the room like the only purpose for the room was to house this one chair. Over the chair suspended in mid air was a full mask made of the same bronze-like substance as the key. The mask was of a large dog or perhaps a jackal and was made to fit over the head and rest on the shoulders.

I stepped up to the throne and waited. Horus followed and stood at my side.

"It is time to take up the mantle of thy destiny."

I did not have to be told what to do. My whole body screamed at me to sit down. I sat and Horus moved to stand directly in front of me. He was smiling down at me but how he got that beak to grin is beyond me. Of their own accord my hands reached up and grabbed the mask. It was surprisingly light and there was just a moment of claustrophobia as I settled it down over my head. I blinked once through the eye holes and then the world went crazy. I blacked out again for which I will be eternally grateful because the pain and sense of dislocation were beyond description.

When I opened my eyes Horus was still standing there and bang went my hallucination theory. I wasn’t in any pain and in fact felt better than I ever had in my entire life. For a second I was completely convinced that I could rip out a mountain with my bare hands if I wanted to. That was stupid and I shook my head.

"Arise."

I got up and the first thing that I noticed was that was now looking Horus square in the eye. I could believe it but it was true.

"The mantle of power has been passed. Behold thyself Ross Archer."

Horus stepped aside and behind him was a very highly polished wall. I could clearly see myself. Not only was I now as tall as Horus I was just as muscular. I was also dressed in a similar fashion although the metal was not bronze but silvery. I was so intent on looking at this new body of mine that for a few seconds I did not look up.

"Holy shit!"

I mean what else can you say when you discover that instead of your old familiar head you now have the head of a jackal. I don’t mean a life-like mask but an honest to god head. I could move my long pointed ears. I could twitch my nose. And when I opened my mouth my long pink tongue flopped in my cavernous maw. With a face like this I wasn’t going to get many dates but at least I could lick myself now.

"Damn and I thought I used to be unattractive before."

"The countenance of a Wanderer is a little disconcerting. Yet, in order to take on our power thou were required to have our form."

"Hey, don’t worry about it. I had no social life before, this is just icing on the cake. Remember I walked into this with my eyes open."

"If it is thine own countenance that thou miss then rest assured that you can restore it at thy pleasure."

"I can?"

"Yes. Only thou must remember that thou are not what thou once were and even when wearing thine own face thou art still one of us. To fully utilize the power which has been bestowed upon thee then must thou be as thou art now."

"Oh, I think I got it. Uh, how do I change back."

"For that my brother thou must ask thy Companion."

"Companion?"

 

"Yes the one who shall abide with thee until the Time of the Joining. For look thou my time in this place has nearly run its course and there is much more that you must know. For this purpose was a Companion created. Before my brothers and sisters and I left thy world we took a sick and dying child and asked if she would serve as the companion to the One. To this she agreed and when life was all but gone were the necessary changes made so that she might one day aid thee. Even now her suspended form awaits without."

"Pardon me for asking but if you did all that then why not make your agent on Earth back then and wait until the time was right?"

"It was necessary that the One be of the age of conflict. And there was our sworn word not to offer the Choice until the need was upon thy race. Come it is time to meet thy Companion."

This time I led the way. I didn’t know quite all that was done to me but one thing was for sure. I know knew the entire layout of this complex like the back of my hand. When Horus said that it was time to meet the companion I knew at that moment in which room she waited. It was the one next to the room we were in.

I think that I expected her to be in some type of sarcophagus but I had watched too many Sci-Fi movies. Instead she was suspended from the ceiling sheathed in an energy cocoon. Horus entered behind me but again I didn’t need his help. I knew what had to be done. I stepped forward until I was just a couple of feet from her sleeping form. Lord was she gorgeous, even asleep. She had auburn hair with hints of coppery red mixed in. Her body was lush and full from her high pointed breasts to the gentle swell of her hips to her long legs. She was clad in richer version of the strange cloth which I now wore but it was positioned much differently. A narrow band wrapped each breast and highlighted their beauty and a single narrower strip hung suspended by a silvery chain over her loins both front and back. The clear white fabric contrasted magnificently with her golden skin. And her small delicate feet were bound by a smaller more fragile version of his own sandals. (I am informed at this point that while the description of the Companion was not necessary it was appreciated.) I took this all in one brief moment before setting to work.

I passed my hands over the floor and instantly a control console appeared in front of me. Not sure what I was doing I checked the display of the suspension cocoon’s energy readings. Everything was green and I hoped that that was a good sign. Horus did not seem concerned and that reassured me. I start the reawakening process and made the console disappear once more. I knew that there was a thirty second delay.

I stopped within a few inches on the now shimmering cocoon. I watched as the energy pulses grew stronger and more pronounced. My eyes focused on the close lids in front of me. They fluttered and then flew open but there was still no comprehension behind them. The light changed color from white to blue and then to gold. When it went gold I got ready. It faded without a flash or any other warning and she slumped forward.

I caught her in my arms and held her close as her breathing slowly returned to normal. She was surprisingly light in my arms with almost no weight at all even though she stood about 5' 10" tall. Yet, now at my new height she was almost tiny. I turned back to Horus and damned if he wasn’t smiling again. I returned his falcon grin with a doggy one of my own.

"Is she going to be alright?" I asked.

"The Companion’s health will be as it should, never fear. Always remember Ross Archer that while the Companion lacks the power thou now possess she does contain wisdom and knowledge vital to thy future."

"And don’t ever forget that," said a soft feminine voice in my arms.

I looked down and said, "Hi there. My name is Ross."

"I am Melythra, the Companion. You can put me down now."

"Oh sorry," I said putting the Companion on her feet.

Melythra gave me one long hard look and then turned to Horus. She did not looked at all pleased like she had ordered salmon and got cod instead.

"Is this the one?" she asked doubtfully. (I am reminded to inform you that the companion had just woken from a twelve thousand year nap and was just a little cranky.)

"Yes he is. Ross Archer has past the gauntlet and agreed to take on the mantle of power. He is the One just as thou are the Companion."

"If you are sure Oh Great One, then it must be so."

"I must leave you both now. The time of my departure may no longer be delayed. Now it is for thee to sustain each other as thou sustain thy world until the Time of the Joining. Fare thee well."

With those parting words Horus disappeared just as he had appeared with a shimmer of the air. I looked at Melythra and she looked expectantly at me waiting for my first command I suppose. (I am reminded at this time to say that the Companion was looking for a mop as it appeared as if I was about to blow chunks.) I was overwhelmed by the days events and by Horus’ parting words. I knew what I was supposed to do. The only problem was that I had no idea how to do it and Horus’ parting words did not help a bit.

"Great," I said, "no pressure there."


Sharon Best, Aurora Universe, Copyright 1995,1996,1997
Copyright ©1998, 1999 Infinity Bridge