Tempered Steel

What the hell?! Snap out of it, man! Man? Discipline, Rebecca thought to herself. Rebecca threw her senses outward, and was momentarily stunned by the feedback. Massive magic, everywhere. She had little time. Mom is standing there like a deer in headlights. One flattened mom coming up.

As Rebecca threw herself at her mother, a tall stranger wearing a turtleneck spun around and threw himself at both of them. Nathaniel spun back toward the mother and daughter. The only way out was going to be through the door. He noticed that the little girl seemed to have the same idea, and hit her mother at the same time, sending all three of skidding off to one side.

Nathaniel and Rebecca glanced backward. Seemingly in slow motion, the car hit Tiffany's. Glass and metal scattered everywhere. As Nathaniel threw himself over the woman and her child he could hear people screaming and the screech of metal as the car slide to a stop not a foot away from the three. Rebecca could feel waves of magic rolling off him. She was surprised he isn't glowing.

Inside the car a man slowly sat back up, blood ran down his face, making a mask. Nathaniel searched the man's eyes for any clue to what had happened.

The man was in a state of shock. What the fuck… and I'm going to be late spun through the man's thoughts. The car was bent in half, starting at the back door. People were slowly climbing to their feet and helping others do the same.

"Is there anyone injured?" Nathaniel called out, while thinking, My God, what could have caused this?

As Nathaniel called out, Rebecca began to analyze the magic that blanketed the area. There were 4 sources of magic in the area, three were very similar. The fourth was a bit further away and had an innate sense to it. The man in front of her exuded one of the similar sources.

She could tell that it was a focus of some type and that it was aware of her. It seemed to be evaluating her. Quickly Rebecca faded out. The only impressions on the other two sources was that one was aware and evil; the other was innate and may be linked or related to the evil. Both were outside.

There didn't appear to be any serious injuries. The woman was shaking her head. The little girl looked at Nathaniel, she seemed terrified and confused.

There was a loud scraping noise and a large black cop disentangle himself from the car and crawled a few feet from it. He then staggered to one knee. His uniform was torn in several places but he seemed uninjured.

Tiffany's whole front was gone.

As soon as I've helped this man, Nathaniel thought, I have to find out how this happened.

He gave the girl a reassuring glance, then entrusted her to her mother's care. Moving to the vehicle, he tried to open the door to help the guy out but it was jammed tightly. Nathaniel addressed the police officer, "Are you okay? What happened?"

He's looking at me? While I'm faded? This is not good. Maybe he's not really… I'll carefully disengage myself and crawl off a little distance. Hopefully, his eyes shouldn't follow me. How is Mom? She hasn't said anything this whole time… I hope she's okay, if she's not it's my fault, I should have been paying attention to her, being a real daughter like she wants, but I can't and now my whole life is fucked up and damn you anyway, Amos! I didn't invite you and HOW IS MOM? Calm down. Yeah, right. Focus. The man with the artifact doesn't seem dangerous, but he seems related to the evil source. Most likely he is either a servant of the evil sent to gain my confidence. Sarcasm colored Rebecca's thoughts. Geez, I don't remember being this cynical six months ago or he is its enemy and it was aiming at him. In either case, the evil source (and whatever related source it is using) is my first concern. I need power. The fourth, unrelated source–is it something I can draw from?

The police officer seemed stunned. Nathaniel looked out into the street.

In the blown-out wall of the building across the street was another large black man. The man easily topped Nathaniel's 6-foot stature by a good foot. He was carrying a large hammer, wearing leather pants and a leather apron. He turned slowly around, both arms raised in victory.

The Eye began to pulse. Nathaniel could feel it beating in rhythm with his heart, the chanting was back. He began to feel disorientated, it was hot. Sand beneath my feet, an army at my back. The stone had been violated…

Rebecca felt something touch her senses as she carefully hunted for a source of power. With a start she realized that it came from the man in the turtleneck. It was offering her some of its power.

Okay, decision time, Fatima. It looks like I'm going to have to throw in with someone here. I guess I can't tell from the "feel" of it whether Turtleneck's artifact is good or evil. Hmm… he seemed nice. He tried to save Mom and myself. He couldn't have been the one who threw the car, because he was there—and as near as I can tell, he's opposing the "evil" source. "The enemy of my enemy", and all that. Besides, the guy in the turtleneck is kind of cute. Never had a grown man lie on top of me like that. Kind of an interesting sensation, that… save it for later.

Fatima opened herself to the strange power of the artifact, tasting its energy. She wanted to understand the artifact and its nature, and also to make sure that there was no hidden compulsion in the power she received. As far as she could tell, it was just raw energy. This was good; she would need a lot of it if she were to oppose the evil she had sensed and its four supernatural bodyguards.

From the street a deep voice boomed out, "Is anyone injured in there?" People started calling out and moving out to the street.

The press of people was perfect for Nathaniel's need. Pressing through some of the crowd, he dove into a rack of clothing, a few heartbeats later, he emerged from the other side. He stood feeling heroic, and the world tipped. As he steadied himself he noticed something different about the Eye, but he couldn't put a finger on it. The chanting was almost inaudible now.

Gina Wieser climbed to her feet, "Come on Rebecca we are leaving now." However, in the press of the crowd the two became separated.

A new voice from outside sent a panic through the crowd. "Come out, Holder of the Eye. I will give you, oh, perhaps a second and then I will come in after you."

Outside stood a group of 5 men. One was a large black man wearing leather pants, and apron, carrying a large hammer. Beside him was a man covered from head to toe in a black leotard, he seemed to be arguing with another man dressed in similar style carrying pouches. A large, bald, white man wearing the bottom part of old style prison garb was calmly swinging a chain. There was a large wrecking ball on the end.

The last man was dressed in a three piece suit and was standing arrogantly a little further from the others. In the middle of his forehead a large gem glowed.

He is the source! The evil. The guy with the prison ball has the same type of mystic origin. The guy with the pouches is the source of a strange sort of magic, Rebecca thought in excitement.

"Who are you that seem to know me and why do you seek me?" Nathaniel asked as he stepped into the street and away from the crowd.

The man dressed as a blacksmith shook his head, "Blacksmith will have no part in this, the job is done. This is wasteful and could endanger these people."

With this said he moved toward the crowd, "Please people lets move on, there may be a fight here soon."

"Blacksmith! Your contract is not finished!" the man in the suit shouted at him.

Blacksmith turned and points his hammer at the man. "Don't test me, Ankh." And with that he continued getting the crowd away from the area.

The black leotard man without the pouches stepped up and whispered something to Ankh. Ankh reached out and grabbed the man by the throat, the gem flared and he lifted the man off the ground, "The Fearsome Four takes orders from me, Blackstar, or do you wish to challenge for leadership?"

Ankh then dropped Blackstar and turned to the Eye of Horus. Speaking in ancient Egyptian, he said, "The Eye and I are old enemies."

"You must be mistaken," Nathaniel replied in the same language. "I am Eye of Horus and I do not remember you." He switched back to English. "You have endangered innocent lives with your meaningless destruction, which I intend to see ended."

The Eye of Horus reached out with his inner mind, and touched… Energy was the only to describe it. The energy ensnared him, driving him to his knees in pain. He felt heat and glanced around. He was in a desert. In front of him was a half-finished sphinx monument. Thousands of people were labouring in its building.

In Tiffany's, Rebecca thought to herself, Well, it looks like I've backed the right horse… now I just have to do something effective without getting myself killed.

With a thought, Rebecca was wearing a deep indigo robe with large "angel" sleeves. The robe was embroidered with gold, in random marbled patterns which seemed to shift slowly. Where the robe parts a scarlet garment could be seen underneath it; gloves and boots are of a matching scarlet leather, deep but vivid. Her hair was also this colour; it had changed from its usual orange to scarlet. Instead of flowing freely, it stood straight up from her head in an unnatural fashion. She was wearing heavy black eyeliner, white pancake makeup, and indigo lipstick.

She extended her index and little fingers, moving her hands in tense, precise patterns. She reached out to the amulet, and it fed her need for power and using the power that is within herself to produce the power of eldritch manipulation. Her hands began to glow silver.

Okay, so Ankh is the guy with the gem who hates the Eye; that makes sense. Blacksmith would be the guy with the hammer; is he the same as Blackstar, or are they two different guys? And why is it the Fearsome Four when there are five of them? Sheesh, what a ridiculous name, anyway. Geez, I don't know whether to be excited, scared, or worried for all these poor shoppers. I think all three, actually.

Hearing nothing else from the street, Fatima glanced out. The Eye guy had fallen to his knees and was now staring at Ankh. Ankh was almost invisible behind the pulsing of the gem in his forehead. Both were motionless. She could almost see the magical currents between the two.

She also noticed that the man in black with the pouches, was reaching into one of them. He brought out an object. It was about 1 foot in length, very shiny. It reminded her of the javelins used at her school.

Okay, I really hope these guys can't see me… my reflexes once were honed by decades of combat, but now… jeez. I don't know, I remember how to direct the energy but everything's different, I'm off-balance, I'm just not used to hitting people with mystic energies. Maybe if I grab one before he knows I'm here, he won't notice my incompetence. Right. I'm going for Pouches. I figure that if I wrap the silver bands around him, he won't be able to throw that nasty-looking silver thingy…

Interesting… I'd figured that the Eye's host was a modern, but he speaks Ancient Egyptian… with an accent? If he's from ancient Egypt, why doesn't he seem to know anything about his enemy? Maybe the Amulet taught him the language… but no, then he could just ask it. In fact, the fact that he's acting seems to indicate that he doesn't know everything about his artifact… perhaps they're not in communication. Why would it choose a host with no Power, or whom it didn't trust? Well, at least his heart's in the right place… and he's got a hardbody, maybe that influenced the Eye. Fatima blushed at the last thought.

Concentrating she let her magic go. She felt it wing out and ensnare her target. A giant slivery hand wrapped itself around 'Pouches', pinning his arms to his side. The long metal object seemed to be pulsing and with an oath that made Fatima blush, he dropped it.

Lightning arched out from where it hit, a small tendril hitting 'Pouches'. He screamed.

"Fussiler!" screamed Blackstar scrambling to his feet. He spun in a circle trying to spot the enemy, Fatima could almost sense his panic.

"Ah, I am alright, Blackstar. Thunderball, since our fearless leader seems otherwise engaged could you be so kind as to find the son of a bitch that is responsible for this," 'Pouches' shouted, his voice carrying easily to Fatima.

The one with prison ball slowly began to spin it. "I don't seem 'em, Fus but I am sure he will show himself if these people are endangered."

Damn, and he's right. If he starts swinging that thing at innocents, I'm going to have to let go of Fusiller to stop him. Unless… Right, got it. I'm going to use 'Fus' as a human shield. The silver energy constricting him lifts him into the air. If Ball & Chain swings at anyone, I'll try to interpose Fus's body, using it to protect the innocent.

Where did Blacksmith go? How is Eye doing? Is he facing off with Ankh? I'd like to help him out but right now I have to deal with three baddies by myself… I wonder if they'd kill a little girl? I bet Ankh would.

"Why don't you try someone who can fight back, Thunderball," a deep voice spoke out calmly.

The black policeman strode out into the street. Fatima noticed that while his uniform is ripped and torn in several places, he seemed untouched. His muscles rippled as he moved.

Blacksmith spoke up from where he was still moving people away. "Hey, officer!"

The policeman tensed and shifted so he can keep both in his line of sight. He was clearly expecting an attack.

"The lady sorcerer and I," Fatima was horrified to see Blacksmith wink in her direction, "will make sure these people aren't hurt so you can concentrate on the battle."

"Blacksmith, you are a mass of contradictions." The officer shook his head.

"I already beat you once this battle, I have no need to repeat your humiliation," Blacksmith grinned.

The police officer seemed to take Blacksmith at his word because he turned back toward Thunderball, who had taken advantage of the situation to launch an attack. The ball whipped out. Huh? Fatima thought. I thought the chain was shorter? The officer dove under the strike.

Eye was still kneeling motionless as Ankh was standing the same.

Fatima could feel Fussiler straining on the bonds and the drain it was causing her. The other man in black turned and targeted the officer. An intense beam of black energy shot out of his hands, barely missing the officer and striking the window frame of the store.

Fatima could hear it creaking.

Meanwhile, the Eye of Horus searched for his foe. He's distracting me with these illusions. I must concentrate.

"Welcome to the past, Holder of the Eye."

Nathaniel spun around and saw the man from the street. He was dressed very ancient Egyptian. As a matter of fact, so was the Eye of Horus.

"I have the Eye, Ankh, and you would do well not to challenge its power!"

"I am so sorry," Ankh laughed, "but the Eye hasn't been constructed yet. More's the pity, for the Stone of Ra has been and nicely corrupted, wouldn't you say?"

Nathaniel raised a hand to his neck, to find nothing. No Eye! There's more going on here than I am fully aware of. It has to do with the amulet. I must find out without letting him know how little I understand.

"Why have you brought me here and what are your intentions?" Nathaniel asked grimly.

Casting back to his school learning he remembered that the Stone of Ra was considered by most Egyptologists to be nothing more than a myth. The story went that the Stone was constructed by the priests of Ra for much similar purposes as the Eye. However, during the dedication to Ra the stone was stolen. Some sources claimed that the Stone was corrupted by evil though what name that evil possessed changed with each telling. If he were to believe those that advocate that the stone exists, then it was a very powerful artifact, harnessing the power and mysticism of the sun itself. The Stone was designed to be a part of the wearer, unlike the Eye which was designed to be worn.

Nathaniel begin to slowly move toward Ankh. "Well? What do you want with me? You claimed to be an enemy of the 'Eye,' yet you have neatly removed it from the equation. Why have you brought me here? What is it that you hope to accomplish?"

With biting sarcasm and the dry wit that only a Englishman could muster, he added, "Oh, I know—as long as I live the 'Eye' and myself pose a threat to your plans; is that it? Pity, that. You do not think that I really need the 'Eye' to protect myself, do you? How are you going to kill me? Bore me to death?"

As the Eye of Horus talked, Ankh's face went through a few emotions. Starting with bewilderment, and then being stunned until the Eye's final words brought pure rage to his face.

"Bore?! Bore you?! I will show you boring, you insignificant excuse for a…" Any further words were choked off by his anger.

Ankh raised his hand and a beam of pure yellow light leaps from it. The Eye of Horus leaped to one side and the beam caught him in the hip, spinning him around in mid-air to land a few feet away. As the Eye struggled to his feet, another beam slammed into him, driving him stumbling to his feet. He noticed that the gem was really pulsing now. Bloody hell! That hurt!!! Cannot show weakness, Eye thought to himself.

Making his bruised body go limp and move naturally he affected a nonchalance he really didn't feel. "That did tingle a bit, sirrah. You'll not like the beating I give you for that, now." Gliding quickly forward, Eye's right fist lashed out connecting solidly with Ankh's stomach.

Ankh's grunted in surprise, and smiling extended his hand toward Eye. The hand was cocked like the claw of an eagle, and Ankh began to slowly rise of the ground. A yellowish nimbus began to outline the hand.

Eye felt something grip his mind, and begin squeezing. He could hear laughter as he slowly crumpled to the ground. The Eye of Horus felt warm against his chest and suddenly the people around the pyramid joined the battle. Spears and rocks started raining on Ankh. The pressure disappeared from Eye's head as Ankh looked around in surprise, as the various weapons bounced off his now visible shields.

"What! Not possible!" Ankh yelled in ancient Egyptian. The scene shimmered and was lost as once again the street became visible.

The Eye of Horus flew around the corner and leaned up against the wall. I've gotta get away and catch my breath before I pass out! Then I have to form some sort of plan to deal with this guy; he's obviously one hell of a dangerous opponent! He was feeling shaken and dizzy, holding onto consciousness with sheer willpower.

Peering around the corner he saw that Ankh was down on one knee. The black costumed one with all the pouches was being held in the air by a giant hand of silver energy. The black cop (when did he get out there) sprung up from a crouch and spin kicked the guy with the pouches just as the hand snapped out of existence.

The kick spun 'pouches' around in the air with the force of the blow and he landed hard. He struggled to get to his knees. The man with the ball and chain sprung behind the cop and wrapped the chain around his neck. The cop's hands flew to his neck.

The other black clad man was dancing around trying to get a clear shot at the cop. Ankh started looking around. "Come out Eye! You can't hide from me forever! I will pull this city down around your ears if I have to."

And with that, he raised both hands and fired a beam of pure white light from the gemstone in his head. The light hit the upper stories of Tiffany's and the building started to come down…

"NOOOO!" It was the one called Blacksmith. His hammer spun end over end and caught Ankh squarely on the jaw, knocking him a good 4 meters backward into a parked car. A split second after connection the hammer spun back toward its owner.

Eye paused for a moment to gather his wits. Then, sensing an opportunity, he hurtled himself through the air as fast as he could, slamming himself into the stunned Ankh while trusting the "Eye" to protect him from the impact.

Eye of Horus picked himself up from the ground where he had been knocked from his impact with Ankh. Damn, that hurt! he thought to himself. No matter, that peculiar little girl needs my help… PULL IT TOGETHER, MAN!

Swiftly gaining his feet, Horus stumbled toward the ruined storefront of Tiffany's, searching the rubble with his peerless sight, looking for the smallest signs of the young victim. "Careful, you muscle-bound side of beef! There is a little girl in there and the structure of this building is highly questionable at this point. I suggest you cease tossing those large blocks around and try a more subtle approach."

Fatima stared blankly. There was nothing to see… she did not know how long she had been there, curled up in the front seat of a police car staring at nothing.

Something within her railed and cursed. Damn it, pull yourself together, child! Innocent people may be suffering out there! The battle may hang in the balance! DO something!

But I did do something, Rebecca wailed silently. I tried. I failed. She could feel the silent contempt from the hollow space at the core of her. She truly did not know whether it came from the ghost of Amos or from herself, but it stung.

"Fine," she snarled in a whisper. "I'll DO something. It won't do any good, and I'll probably get killed, and maybe kill some of those precious innocents, too, but I'll TRY."

The first problem was the obvious one; she was buried under tons of rubble. Lifting it was possible, but dangerous and obvious… teleportation was the obvious answer. But Rebecca had never teleported to a place she could not see… it was a perilous process, as a mistake could entomb one in the earth forever. And she could pop right into danger, get herself knocked out, and be of no use to anyone.

Astrally project first, then. Easy enough; Rebecca had done it before. Clear the mind. (Pretty easy when you can't see or hear any distractions, she thought sardonically.) Focus on the true self. Then lift it out, lighter than the air, pure spirit… and see what has become of the fiasco on the sidewalk. When we can see it ("we?"), we can go there, as easily as stepping through a door.

Rebecca opened her eyes, she stood in a small café. The place was warm and inviting and quite crowded. The woman behind the counter was young-looking, was wearing a floor length dress and had pure white hair. She took a customer's money, wished her a good day and glanced up.

A startled look crossed her face. Looking around quickly she pulled a card from her dress and tossed it at Rebecca. Rebecca blinked and found herself in a small office.

The door opened and the woman entered. "Child, whatever are you doing here? Like that?"

Fatima stared intently at the white-haired woman, trying to figure out where she was and what was happening. She had a suspicion that she was not in normal space… probably this was some sort of pocket dimension or dream realm which had trapped (deliberately or inadvertently) her astral spirit.

The small office was decorated in light colours, a computer that sat off to one side of a small oak desk and bookcase were the only furnishings. A pure white cat sat on top of the monitor cleaning itself. All seemed ordinary.

Rebecca licked her indigo-stained lips and looked the white-haired woman in the eye. "I am dressed like this, of course, because I do not wish to be identified. I do not know why I am here. In fact, I would suspect that you know more about that than I do."

Rebecca's tone was polite but firm; the expression in her eyes was one of dignified enquiry, backed by a calm firmness of will which is not usual in twelve-year-old girls. In fact, Rebecca had placed all emotion aside in order to deal with the situation at hand. She had no idea what was going on, and she was in fact quite worried–about herself, her mother, the other shopping innocents, and that strange Horus fellow and his amulet. But she refused to let any of it upset her cool determination.

The woman frowned and sketched a symbol in the air. It hung there burning a brilliant blue for about 30 seconds before fading. It was familiar to Fatima but the elusive memory skittered away as she dug for it. As the woman opened her mouth to say something, the door opened and an older gentleman walked in as if he owned the place.

He was taller then the woman, with wings of grey in his dark hair. His eyes were sharp and he walked with a silver, snake-head tipped cane. The cat rose to its feet hissing, back arched, fur spread, ready to do battle with this interloper. The woman looked as if she shared the cat's sentiment.

"What are you doing here, Bastian? You are not welcome at the Pink Pearl." She moved to the desk and and gripped the side.

The man spoke with an English accent, "You couldn't hide that flash even with the shields on this place."

His eyes shifted to Fatima and he made a slight bow, "Now what trouble brings you here, young lady? Tell me your name and I shall get you out of it quicker than these… people."

"NO!" the woman spoke, and made a slashing gesture with her hand, "No names, child. Names have power, especially for the likes of us."

At that time more people arrived. A young man, whose Romany blood made his exact age hard to tell, and an old Romany woman.

Bastian took them in at a glance and hissed at the woman, "You cannot hide behind the Romany and your shields forever, Destine. We will meet again."

He spun on his heel and stalked out, the cane rapping hard against the floor. The young Romany followed him. The older woman walked in and looked Fatima up and down.

"Foolish children," she said, her look taking in Destine as well, "playing where your knowledge is scant." Her finger stabbed at Fatima. "Go back to your body, child, until you learn how to control your thoughts and understand the dangers of travelling as you do."

"She is in trouble, Mother Yei," Destine spoke softly with grave courtesy.

"Trouble, is it? Well, speak up, child. You have no doubt left your body somewhere unsafe."

Rebecca, concentrating fiercely, remained outwardly undisturbed by the sudden rush of half-understood events. Her mind, however, writhed in a turmoil of confusion. She had no real reason to trust these strange people, but she was in their power, and they had done nothing threatening yet… and the man "Bastian" had seemed ominous; she would not have wanted to be alone when she met him.

"Mother… Yei? I call myself Fatima Faith, for now… I was in New London, and a lot of things happened all at once… there was a fight… I tried to do something, but… for a moment her voice wavered on the edge of teenage hysteria, but then it was strengthened by a firm ironic note, "I'm afraid I've made a terrible mess of things. You're quite right about my body—actually I think it's buried under rubble right now. There might be other people in danger too…"

Rebecca paused. She felt a powerful urge to stay, to learn more about this place and these people. She recognized that her current ignorance left her frightfully vulnerable. But she was still in danger, and other people might be as well. At the very least, her mother was worried about her. The blue-violet line of her lips tightened in resolve.

"So if you don't mind, I'd like to get back now. I'd like to come back and talk sometime, but this is a bad time for me; I'm sort of busy…"

The white haired woman who Bastian had named Destine, nodded and glanced at Mother Yei.

"We can help you. And as for talking, you can find the Pink Pearl in the Yellow Pages."

"Well," Mother Yei grunted, "throw your card child and let's get about it."

Destine reached into her skirt pocket and pulled another card, she sent it spinning toward Fatima. The card landed below her feet and begun a slow spin. Fatima glanced down, the card seemed to be a Tarot card, the Sun perhaps.

Mother Yei stepped forward… Fatima felt a wrenching and with a snap she was back in her body. Still trapped, buried alive. Then she heard a scraping sound and the car shifted. She could hear voices.

Right… well, Fatima decided, first things first. And first of all, she had to look a little more… ordinary. She reversed the spell she had used to assume her disguise, returning to her shopping outfit. Then she huddled up, called for help, and started acting frightened. Fatima decided that Rebecca should adopt the "frightened but brave child" attitude; "I… I think I'm okay… it was scary, though. Mom? Are you okay?" Et cetera. Maybe she could get away with an oblique reference to The Tempest—"Gosh, sir, I've heard of being trapped in a cloven pine, but a cloven Buick?" …on second thought, she decided, she had better not. While waiting to be dug out, Rebecca closed her eyes and concentrated on the "feel" of the area. What energies remained there? Were the bad guys still here? Was the Eye? Apparently she had been wrong about the place known as the "Pink Pearl." It must be a real physical place, and she would certainly return there. Once she understood things a little better…

As Eye of Horus tried to direct the searchers, he gave a start. Above the rubble a 10 foot, flashing red arrow was pointing straight down at a spot in the rubble. Glancing around quickly, he realized that no one else seemed to notice it.

Just as he was about to call attention to the area, the crowd became absolutely quiet. Looking around it soon became apparent why. In the sky above the wreckage, wreathed in sunlight, a sphinx walked down upon thin air with power and grace in her every movement. Her mane was golden and she was large, with a wing span of at least 8 feet.

She alighted in front of Horus, his head barely reached her shoulder, and her voice boomed out as sea green eyes spotted with gold danced at him, "So I have been called, what is your need?"

In a much quieter voice, that couldn't be heard more then a few paces away, "I saw the arrow, can I help?"

Frozen stiff with surprise at the appearance of the Sphinx, Eye of Horus watched her glide down in front of him. He started slightly when she spoke for the first time and stared at her, puzzled when she addressed him personally.

"Uh, yes… I mean, oh great Sphinx of the desert; I would ask that you help us rescue a little girl which has become trapped in the wreckage of this building."

"I can help with that." She launched her huge body into the air and then moved into position over a 6 foot slab. She dug her claws into the cement and lifted straight up, her wings pushing with powerful strokes.

Eye of Horus braced himself against the wind she generated, soon he could see the wrecked Buick—and there was movement inside.

Drawing the protective field around him from the 'Eye', Horus moved into the hole opened by the Sphinx. "Blacksmith; see if you can get that poor chap out of his car; I'll look for the girl." Scanning the rubble, he found no sign of her until he looked back inside the car. The little girl had taken refuge in its relative safety. Good for her, he thought to himself as he reached through the broken window and caught her up in his arms.

The Eye reached in and pulled the little girl out of the wreckage. She looked frightened but was trying to be brave.

Either that guy is an awfully good sport, Rebecca thought, or he really does have no idea who I am. She wondered again how much he and his amulet communicated. Aloud, she said, "Thank you. Thank you very much, sir." But she was looking at the Eye when she said it. "It was so dark in there…" she let her voice trail off with what she hoped was appropriate patheticness.

"You'll be okay now, young lady; everything is under control. You do not seem to be injured, so I'll return you to your mother."

Eye walked over to the girl's mother. Placing her gently in the woman's arms, he felt the woman's touch on his arm. He felt a bolt of electricity run from the spot straight to his groin. His breath caught as she looked up at him.

"Thank you. Oh, Rebecca, are you all right?"

"Yes, I'm okay, Mom. It was scary in there, but this man got me out. Are you okay, Mom?" Not scared-sounding enough. Maybe I'd better cling to her.

"Rebecca here has had quite a fright but she will be fine. I trust that you are uninjured?"

Nathaniel thought to himself, I have been so busy preparing for my heroic 'outing' that I've forgotten what it is like to enjoy the company of a woman. That will have to be remedied. Horus grinned handsomely, his dark-tanned skin standing in stark contrast to his clear blue eyes. "She's a brave girl, you and your husband must be proud, Mrs…?"

"Weiser, Gina Weiser. Thank you so very much for your help, sir. But have you seen a young man in a turtle neck, black hair. I must thank him as well."

Something is a little odd here, Rebecca thought as she clung in an appropriately helpless fashion to Mom. The guy's voice sounded… calculating? Why is he asking about Dad? Does he suspect after all? Is he trying to find out where I live? And Mom seemed to connect him to his secret identity, but she has very little of the Gift. Just a genetic trace. But I suppose stress can bring it out… I want to have a real talk with that artifact. It's so bloody hard to keep current on these things… I should have heard of the Eye and the Ankh. Not to mention that Sphinx.

"Yes, he went in search of help. He should be returning soon, I think." Turning to the gawking crowd, Horus raised his voice; "Remember that the selfish deeds of criminal minds will always be opposed by men and women of conscience. As long as there are villains, there will be heroes!"

Now that was definitely calculated, even if he did mean it. The man has at least a little subterfuge in him. Maybe I'd better have a long talk with both of them. But if the amulet is hiding its sentience from him, it'll be an odd situation.

In a softer voice directed at the Sphinx he said, "May I speak with you somewhere else?"

"Certainly. Would you care for a ride?" the sphinx asked, hunching down and moving a wing out of the way. Once the Eye of Horus was settled, she launched into the air with a powerful spring and a called back, "Hold on!"

She waited until she was well off the ground, actually walking on the air before spreading her wings and with one powerful sweep covered two city blocks. Eye could feel the wind rushing by, pulling at his clothes, hair and skin.

Rebecca watched with the rest of the crowd as the sphinx and its rider disappeared into the sky. That was when she noticed that her mother was looking through the crowd, the only person not watching the disappearing myth.