The Chain That Binds

Monday, May 29, 2000. Nathaniel Hawkins' residence

Nathan awoke to the smell of coffee brewing. He propped himself up and glancing at the clock. It was two hours before his first class. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye.

Gina stepped into his view, sitting down on the edge of his bed. The left side of her face showed a nice bruise. Nathan could make out the imprint of fingers. She wordlessly handed him a cup of coffee.

Nathan smiled and accepted the cup. "Did you sleep well?"

"Well enough. I don't remember much about last night and what I do remember seems like a bad dream. How did you sleep?"

"I slept the rest of the wicked." He grinned.

"I would like to thank you for taking us in last night. I'm sorry' for appearing out of the blue like that and for' other things that were said." She became flustered, looking away from Nathan.

He rested his hand on her shoulder. "I understand."

"Rebecca and I should really be going and I should call Niclos. He must be worried."

As she reached for the phone, the Eye spoke. "Master her, as you will your future kingdom."

"No!" Nathaniel blushed at the outburst. "I mean; shouldn't you go downstairs where you can talk to him in private?" he quickly added.

You stop that. I don't need advice about my love life from a two-thousand year old piece of jewelry. Oh my god, I can't believe that I'm talking to my amulet. I need some time to think about this. I wonder if I could find that "Isis" woman that the Sphinx told me about. Maybe she could help me figure this out.

Nathan went into the shower to clear his head. So much had happened in the last few days. The battle with Ankh, meeting a Sphinx, the Gala, Gina showing up on his doorstep in the middle of the night. I feel like one of those comic book heroes I read about as a child he thought. And to top it all off, as he looked down to the Eye, this thing starts to talk to me.

Nathan was in the process of getting dressed when the doorbell rang.

"Damn, what now?" he muttered angrily as he made his way to the front door.

As he opened the front door, he was greeted by the sight of a dirty blonde fellow, dressed in biker leathers. It looked as though he hadn't shaved for a week. He stood about 5'11'' and Nathan noticed that his right hand lay open, apparently involuntarily.

The man looked up at Nathan and paused briefly, as if examining him. Then he spoke with a definite drawl. "Y'all the guy I'm looking for." He said it as a statement of fact, not a question. "Look here, fella. You and me, we got to talk about your little gift; something I've got my EYE on." He pointed to his own eye and then to Nathan as he said this.

"Ahem; you must have the wrong house sir," Nathan said glaring at the man. "I haven't the slightest notion what you are talking about." What the hell is this, now? I wonder what this man knows, how he knows it and what his intentions are. Dare I try to find out? I must.

Nathan gazed intently into the man's eyes, looking for the truth behind his words. Did he really know about the "Eye"? Who was he? Nathan reached out with his mind and briefly touched that of the other man. He got a name; "Chaine," and then suddenly felt a wall emerge around this man's mind, but not generated by the man himself; from another source which felt oddly familiar ' like ' when the Eye protected him from Ankh.

Nathan blinked. The man stared back at him, unblinking.

"Why the hell did y'all go and do that for? Might as well go all the way with this." Chaine puts out his hand. "Real name's Floyd"

"Look, we can sit here and do this one of two ways. We can go and have ourselves one big humdinger of a fight and destroy half the city and you get to swing your dick around like its Saturday night and we're fighting over who spilled who's drink. Or'y'all can come have lunch with me cause its bout noon and discuss this like civilized human beings. So what do you say, English?"

Nathan bit his lip in frustration. The last two times he had tried to use the "Eye" to get information it had failed him. He must remember to use his own resourcefulness from now on.

He stared at the man for a moment, pointedly ignoring the outstretched hand. "It's Nathan; not English. I have a class at two, but I can give you an hour. You had better have a good reason for coming to me like this." He glanced back toward the stairs. "Just a moment." Closing the door on the man, he jotted a quick note to Gina and grabbed his briefcase and jacket. He wasn't pleased.

Nathan stepped out the door, closing it behind him. Drawing out a keychain with a jaguar pendant, he locked the door, glanced at the man and walked to the tan Honda parked in the driveway. He unlocked the doors and tossed both briefcase and jacket in the back seat.

"Let's go."

Floyd/Chaine walked towards the car. "Neighborhood should be safe 'nough for me to leave my bike here," he said pointing over his shoulder to a Harley Davidson parked across the street. Floyd got in the car.

As Nathan drove off, Floyd began to speak "Where to start. Aw shoot, might as well tell it all. Past few years of my life, all I've done is collect artifacts and absorb them. Not me exactly, but this here thing." As he said this, he held his open hand up and suddenly a massive chain appeared, coiling down from his hand like a python. And then it vanished.

"That there's the Chaine. It takes mystic artifacts and absorbs their power and gives it to its bearer, that being me at the moment. And one of its little gifts currently is that it detects artifacts and identifies them too. That's how I found you. Little tough, considering all that mystic shit going on last night, but you give off a bit of a presence."

"See, the guy I really want is Ankh, cause the Stone of Ra is one badass item, I mean you can do anything you want with it. Bring back Lynyrd Skynrd, meet Bobby Lee, anythin'. Plus there's the rest of the Fearsome Four, most of them got mystic stuff too. Big ol' bonanza. Problem's been last two years is trying to get Ankh by himself, cause he's kinda scared of me. Nearly had 'em few nights ago, but oh well. But then, I detect you. And the Chaine tells me about the history between the Eye and the Stone and I thinks to myself, this is the way to get him to come to me. I absorb the Eye, he hunts down the Eye and (Chaine makes a sucking sound) no more Ankh. Lets talk more about this after lunch and don't worry I'll buy."

Nathan parked in front of a small cafe less than a mile from his house. The cheery yellow sign in the window said "Olde Towne Corner Cafe." He stepped out of the car, mulling over Floyd's words. The voice in his mind, which he now identified as the "Eye," spoke. "This one could be useful to us."

Useful? Useful!? This man suddenly knocks on my door, indicates that my carefully concocted secret identity is a sham, invites me to lunch, and expresses his intention to take and "absorb" the artifact which I've gone to great trouble to keep until now ' and you think he might be USEFUL? I don't know what he intends to do with all the power he is amassing, but I will not contribute to it.

Bloody, ' I only recently discovered that you are sentient; a fact which I find very disturbing; and I haven't even had the chance to find out why or how.

Nathan stopped in front of the diner, looking around. It was lunch time and the place was full of customers. He reflected on the tactical disadvantage that he was in here should the conversation turn violent.

"It looks too crowded and I would prefer to conclude our business as quickly as possible with as much privacy as possible. I suggest that we take sandwiches to the park down the road." He pointed toward a wooded park which was just visible from their location.

"Sure thang. Be a shame to waste a nice day like this." The two men quickly bought their lunch (true to his word, Floyd paid for lunch). Floyd also picked up a copy of the Island News. The two drew some glances, as they certainly looked unusual together, but the regulars quickly returned to their lunch and discussions over whether having a PRIMUS agent in the city would really reduce crime and whether the New London Knights could sign Jeremy Roenick to a multi-year contract.

Floyd and Nathan made their way to the park and found a park bench along one of the less used jogging paths. The two sat and ate in silence for a few moments, waiting to see what the other would do. Finally Floyd spoke.

"I know what you're thinking. 'I let this wahoo take the Eye and the Stone and no telling what he'll do' Well sir, I give you mah word that I never use my gifts for evil. I mean, sure I'll rob a bank or somethin' like that, but that's just like a job or being a businessman, 'cept I'm more direct and honest about the whole thing. Don't use other people to feed my pocket, I just take what I need, and leave. And that's another thing, only take what you need. I could live high on the hog but I don't."

Floyd opened up the paper and started to read it one handed. "Can't do much worse with it than Ankh. Attacking people for no reason, nearly burying people alive in department stores, that boy deserves to be culled like a mad dog. Course, I know the way you heroic types can be, so I figure I better lay it on the line."

Floyd looked up from his paper and looked Nathan directly in the eye. "Son, you can try to fight me and stop me but the truth of the matter is, I can whup your ass from here to hell and back and you know it." Floyd returned to his paper, reviewing the baseball scores.

As Nathan began formulating an answer to Floyd's remarks, he caught a glimpse of a man standing by a grove of nearby trees. The same man had been in the cafe, entering right after they had arrived. And he was looking right at Floyd and Nathan, although trying very hard not to look like he was. The man pulled out a cellular phone and dialed a number. With the enhanced eyesight that the Eye provided, Nathan might as well have been looking over the man's shoulder. He dialed 327-0666. Something to remember, perhaps. The man spoke briefly, and then continued his watch.

Having calmed down somewhat, but still puzzled at the man's brazenness, Nathan eyed him warily. "I have no intention of stopping you from defeating Ank, but I will not hand the Eye over to you." Understanding the Eye's earlier message, he added, "but I think we might be able to come to an agreement. If you agree to leave the Eye and myself alone, I will help you set up an ambush for Ank." He was looking at Floyd but studying the other man out of the corner of his eye.

"What do you have in mind?" Floyd asked. "What the hell?" Floyd's eyebrows rose as he looked at the newspaper page he had just turned to. "And while you're at it, mind explaining this to me."

Floyd handed the paper to Nathan. There, plain as day, sat a message in Egyptian hieroglyphics! As Nathan took this in, he noticed the man watching them speak again on the phone and then move away.

Though interested in the man who had been watching them, Nathan's attention was immediately drawn to the message in the paper. It was obviously a message meant for him, since there were few people nearby who could decipher the writing. It was a man and woman meeting at a well of sort ' no, a fountain. There were identifying symbols on the fountain. Though crudely drawn, he was sure that the identifying marks on the fountain symbol were familiar. There was also a celestial marker which indicated the peak of the fallen sun ' midnight; but it was tipped slightly down ' just before midnight then. Those marks on the fountain ' I've seen them before. WAIT! That was the fountain on the other side of the park! Someone wanted to meet him just before midnight at the park fountain ' but not tonight; the celestial orb wasn't right. I'll have to check my calendar markings to see which day this is.

"It appears that someone is trying to send me a message. As far as our plans go; we can arrange to discuss the details at a later date. Perhaps you could give me the phone number of the place where you are staying and I will call you. I am going to be late for class if I don't go soon." He glanced at his watch. "May I keep this page? I'll pay for the paper if you like."

Floyd raised his hand "Don't worry about the paper. Read all I need from it. I'm staying at the Port O' Call Inn in New Siam, Room 203. I should be there the rest of week. And I know where to find you."

Floyd stands up and stretches. "I'm going to go hit the bathroom. Meet you back at the car."

Floyd walked off to a public washroom down the path.

Nathan gathered up his things and was preparing to leave when he heard the sound of what seemed like a jet above him. He looked up ' Almost directly above him, coming down to land, was a man in some sort of battle armor, similar to the PRIMUS Iron Guard armor that he had read about in the papers, yet different. The armor was dull grey in color and as the figure landed in front of him, Nathan could see an emblem of a demon's skull on the upper left breastplate.

The figure spoke "Where is Chaine or Floyd or whatever he told you his name was? And don't lie to me." The figure raised its left hand. It glowed with a crimson light.

Nathan sighed. One thing after another' "He went to use the restroom," he said in a bored voice then walked off toward the car.

The metal figure stood motionless for a moment as Nathan started towards the car. It then turned towards Nathan and then to the public restrooms and attempted to shrug.

The figure spoke again, presumably to a radio. "Subject is in restroom. Request orders." A few moments pause. "Acknowledged"

Nathan heard this and continued on his way until something clicked in his mind, something about what was just said, no, how it was said. It wasn't in English, it was in Ancient Greek!

"Interesting," he thought as he arrived at the car. It wasn't every day that you ran into super-types who were knowledgeable in ancient cultures. That was what he had thought before, anyway. Lately they seemed to be popping up out of the woodwork. Of course, it was curious why someone would bother learning an old dialect of a language which is still used today. Sliding behind the driver's seat, he peered into the rear-view mirror. With the "Eyes of Horus," Nathan could see clearly for several miles, so the strange armored fellow was as good as in front of him. What would he do if he found Floyd? As much as he disliked the man, he couldn't allow a fight between the two to endanger innocent people and he couldn't find a reason to side with the armored individual.

"Let's just see how this little drama unfolds itself, shall we? This may very well be a good opportunity to judge Chaine's abilities."

Nathan watched as the armored man made his way to the washroom. Just as suddenly as the first had appeared, two other armored figures took positions beside the first. Nathan adjusted the mirror. Yes, there were more men arriving, figures in red uniforms, similar to that of a SWAT team, but with helmets bearing the same Demon's head emblem. Five of these men in total, all carrying some sort of rifle. They formed a firing line in front of the armored men. The armored men rasied their arms, hands glowing. And they' waited.

The door creaked open. All the men outside tensed. Out came an elderly man with a walker, struggling around the corner.

And he fell, as a red beam lanced across his side. The gun of one of the red uniforms was smoking, a look of surprise on the face of man who fired it. The others turned towards him, mouths open. The old man lay screaming on the ground, trying to stay upright.

The three armored figures looked at each other and their hands glowed brighter.