50: Two Go Camping in The Desert


The Dark Mistress
The Dark Mistress

Leaving the hotel, the investigators head back to the Dark Mistress on the Nile. The boat no longer has a power source and is immobile but safer out on the water from attack. The assumption is that the cultists in Luna Park have been entirely wiped out. But this is not a certainty. At least twenty of them are dead. Among them three Australians. The question remains: Where is Omar Shakti?

The notebooks which Gupta found in the suitcase in the back of the truck reveal that Gavigan authorized the Australians to conduct operations in Egypt. Omar Shakti was a figure on the edge of events, and allowed to operate independently. On occasion he would be able to converse with the Black Pharaoh. Due to the lack of communication between them, there were many inconsistencies, but it had been noted that the investigators were highly proficient in using advanced weaponry with extreme ruthlessness. The “Great Ritual” is also described as a theatre of cruelty, where the Sphinx is summoned and feeds on a trough of flesh. “It came out of the void: It is yet another form of our god, Nyarlathotep. The very forces of the universe make this manifest.”

The next step is to go to the Sphinx and ensure that the ritual is not carried out. But first back at the Dark Mistress, the investigators approach with caution. The investigators who did not lose their Skin of Sedefkar board the boat first, anticipating a trap. There are a number of child-sized tracks leading onto the boat. A broken window reveals that someone has broken in. There are no booby traps. The prisoner is still there and in a poor state. “Why did you leave me here?”

Myles Shipton-Connington: “Are you dead? Are you not breathing? We kept you alive and Omar Shakti is after you.”

Prisoner: “He can pull the heart from a living man without touching him, I heard!”

Simon Grand: “We will raise Nitocris!”

Prisoner: “Yes! Do you know how to open the magic doors? The magic door! Only the priests know how to open them!”

Simon Grand: “We have been very patient with you!”

Prisoner: “You don’t know the words to enter? First you go through the Sphinx to the chambers below and then there are rituals with much killing and blood. Smashing bones and then they are fed to that which has many mouths and teeth that is summoned forth.”

The prisoner falls quiet. Myles looks at him, and works out that the prisoner is suspicious.

Prisoner: “You are the ones we were warned about! You have tricked me! You are lying outsiders! You do not follow the Dark Pharaoh! Liars!”

There is not much more that can be gleaned from the prisoner so Myles wants to hand him over to the Egyptian police, explaining that he is a burglar and thief. There is no time for this so Natalja offers to dispose of him: “How do you want him to die? Slowly? Quickly? Painfully? I will do this.” A single bullet to the head and he’s gone. But how are the investigators going to get into the site to prevent the summoning? First a few hours sleep are essential.

After this it is 11am on Sunday.

Joe, Irma, Wesley and Myles head to the museum to meet Ali Kuffour.

Myles: “I say chaps, maybe Ali Kuffour knows how to do this shrivelling?”

Kuffour takes the investigators down to the storage basement.

Ali Kuffour: “I have news, Gentlemen. Forgive me, I have not seen a dead man before. (Irma) What did you see? He is blacker than black! He is of the void. The vast gulf of space. It is said that the worshippers believe that the Sphinx is a gateway to the underworld. This would seem to be true, but it is magical. There are wards or seals that only those who know can break. You said you found other tunnels? I see, animal headed creatures are the children of the Sphinx. They are just beasts? This is where is gets confusing, an Avatar? This Hindi word describes it, I think. It has many appearances and will be very hard to kill. Nitocris was a sorcerer but without her items her spirit could not be brought back to life as easily. She would need to be rendered by hermetic means, as are you, Irma. So she would not be powerful and there would perhaps be none who could speak even her language. I fear for an independent Egypt ruled by one such as her in the name of the Black Pharaoh. The sword that you have is a strange thing. It belonged to a being known as Barzai. Be careful! They will guard the entrances. And they will be ready for you! I will do anything you require and help any way I can but I am a scholar and not a warrior.”

Myles suddenly comprehends that both Gupta and Irma have been resurrected. The shock is almost as great as if he had been told that they were of a homosexual persuasion. “Good god!”

Ali Kuffour: “I will, finish’ Allah, aid you if I can!”

Next stop is Nigel Wassif:

Nigel Wassif: “Good morning Myles!”

Myles: “No need for caution, Wassif, these Gentlemen are now with me and they know all there is to know, old boy.”

Nigel Wassif: “There was a terrible battle at Luna Park.”

Irma: “Zionists?”

Nigel Wassif: “Well, if they are attacking the British because of Palestine, maybe, but they were well armed. With Turkish and British weapons. Do you think this was the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh? Omar Shakti? Interesting. A powerful man, like a bootlegger in the United States. Why were they in Luna Park? The old hospital facilities? Near to the Royal Army Air Corp? Dangerous times.”

Next stop the hotel, there is a letter addressed to Gupta Singh. Beautiful handwriting. A piece of paper inside says:

Dear Mr. Singh, Omar Shakti requests your presence for dinner at 8pm this evening at the El-Hati restaurant in Shariya.

At the airstrip:

R.A.F Pilot: “You want to paint the aircraft? Change the registration? How about canvass over the number? What are the shenanigans you are up to Grand?”

Simon Grand: “We plan to play a little game with the insurgents.”

R.A.F Pilot: “Good show! Take it up for free, old man. Just pay for the refill!”

Up and away they go. Something has changed in the crypt area, so Trixie does a loop-the-loop to take another sweep of the site.

Trixie: “Fuck! There is a lot of mess on the ground! They’ve concreted in the other entrance!”

Apart from this there are only a few tourists to be seen. Security has been ramped up at the Clive Expedition. A low sweep over the camp is undertaken, waving. Sprech, Winfield and others can be seen. Trixie decides to land. There are at least eight guards but they don’t encounter any immediate hostility. “Ahoy there! Miss La Belle! Here to give me a spin?”

Trixie: “You’d like that wouldn’t you!”

Simon Grand: “We have a letter for Miss Broadmoor from her family.”

Trixie: “Just a flying visit.”

Sprech mops himself down at the well.

Simon Grand: “Word from home for you Agatha. The family.”

Agatha Broadmoor: “Oh I say, who from? That’s very kind of you. You don’t mind do you Henry. Don’t worry Gardener, I’ll be back shortly.”

Johannes Sprech comes over to look at the plane.

Simon Grand: “Have you found anything Agatha?”

Agatha Broadmoor: “I felt a great presence. I dreamt and I could feel a presence. It wasn’t her. I heard an American voice. He kept saying, I’ll give you a kiss! He was a disquieted soul. I dreamt of the evil queen burning.”

Trixie: “We think you may be in danger and would like to get you out of here.”

Agatha Broadmoor: “The day after you left, they doubled the guards. Gardener is not the toughest. He has his theories. I worry why they let me come along so easily. Collective unconscious? I play my cards close to my chest. There is no way that sarcophagus could have been moved so easily! Winfield seemed the most surprised. He has a cruel attitude to any he deems below him. Which is just about everybody outside of the royal family.”

There is some commotion outside.

Trixie: “You are welcome to come back with us.”

James Gardener (GOOD): “Unhand me!”

Two guards run over to the aircraft. Winfield is aiming his pistol into the compound towards the investigators! There is shouting in Arabic. And footsteps coming towards the tent. Trixie goes to the back of the tent and cuts a hole. One of the guards has the spiked club of the cult of the Black Pharaoh! Simon shoots him at point blank range. Killing him instantly. Agatha Broadmoor screams but luckily doesn’t faint. “Sprech! Don’t do something stupid!” Something is said in Arabic by Winfield. The leering lecherous Winfield with the whip.

Clive shouts:

Dr Henry Clive (BAD): “It would be in your best interests to surrender!” Then he shouts something in Arabic. Trixie takes aim at him and shoots! She wings him and he ducks out of sight. Meanwhile Sprech is running towards the plane.

Martin Winfield (BAD): “Young lady, I can see you over there. I have power!”

Simon shoots a guard holding Gardener. A spray of blood and his lifeless form collapses.

More shots are being fired. The danger is now palpable. And escape is becoming more remote. More guards are shouldering their rifles. A bullet is fired towards Trixie in the tent: It punctures the front of the tent and exits on the opposite side leaving the canvas billowing and the high-pitched ping of the shot ringing in her ears. Simon exits the back of the tent and surprises another guard outside and guns him down. More shots scream through the air. Chaos. Death. Adrenaline. Fear. Dust.

Clive is gesticulating. Casting a spell?

Dr Henry Clive (BAD): “Come out you Yankee bitch!”

Simon is hit by a spell – his skin blisters and blackens and he is badly injured. He returns fire and hits! Clive is down! Dead! Winfield has his gun in his hand and is on the move. Two guards are bearing down on Trixie. She fires a bolt action rifle and takes down one of the cultist guards, the other returns fire, missing. Simon then runs across the camp and a cultist jumps up to club him.

James Gardener (GOOD): “For god’s sake, Winfield! Have you gone insane?”

Trixie: “Over here, Gardener, honey.”

Martin Winfield (BAD): “I’m going to break you in, bitch!”

Trixie: “You couldn’t break wind!”

Simon fires at point blank with the guard attacking him and kills him.

Sprech is shooting at them at range.

James Gardener (GOOD): “Good god!”

says Gardener.

Martin Winfield (BAD): “Oh, better take care of you I suppose.” He fires at Trixie but misses.

She returns fire and blows a hole in his face. In his death throe he is able to utter one last: “Biiiitch!”

Simon kills another guard near the plan.

Gardener is at the end of his tether:

James Gardener (GOOD):“Why? Why are they doing this?”

Trixie: “Get a grip, Honey! And get a gun!”

The last guard ducks behind the plane as Simon shoots at him. “You are now the only one left!”

Simon and Trixie charge him after he has fired. The last cultist guard is fleeing, zing-zagging through the sand. Trixie fires the bolt action and no amount of evasive action will save him.

Trixie: “Run rabbit! Run!”

Clive’s last words:

Dr Henry Clive (BAD): “You insignificant feeble-minded fools, you have no idea what awaits you…”

He is bleeding out. The end is slow but inevitable. Trixie rolls him over and administers the mercy bullet.

Agatha Broadmoor: “Oh, this is terrible.”

Johannes Sprech (GOOD): “Vee must go, ja! Before more of zem come! Winfield vanted a little brush from Winfield.”

Trixie: “Gardener, what does this mean?”

James Gardener (GOOD): “I-I- don’t know!”

Trixie: “Collect the rifles and let’s go!”

James Gardener (GOOD): “Oh god, this one is still alive!”

Trixie: “Stand on his throat! It’s what he would have done to you!”

Johannes Sprech (GOOD): “Omar Shakti came here last night and spoke with Clive and Winfield.”

Agatha Broadmoor: “I didn’t like this fellow Omar Shakti. Something queer about him.”

James Gardener (GOOD): “Definitely something not right.”

Johannes Sprech (GOOD): “I was already planning on leaving. Shakti came with a big car. I must say, Miss La Belle, it is very Hollywood vhat you did! Vee Germans love a Vestern! Jawohl!”

Agatha Broadmoor: “I need to help you. The ritual is imminent. What will the authorities say? There is a terrible evil spirit about to return to this world. I have felt her. She has a dreadful black terror. She must be stopped.”

Simon Grand: “We are in touch with the authorities.”

Journal Wesley
Journal Wesley

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