The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh

Something ancient and evil is awakening under the sands of Egypt


11. Chapter 10

The Cyber-priest took away the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. It then placed the Doctor and Donna in manacles. With one of the robot mummies acting as a guard, the Cyber-priest proceeded to march them down a dimly lit passage. They were taken up a short flight of stairs, until they walked through a narrow doorway. The mummy had to step sideways to get through. The four of them were in a small, low-ceilinged room, which barely cleared the Cyper-priest's head

A curious Doctor commented that they appeared to be somewhere deep inside the temple. Possibly in a former store room or a granary. He even pointed out to Donna a cubicle-like partition in the back, where Pharaoh's scribes would sit and do the counting.

"Yeah, fascinating." Donna smirked. "I'll be sure to write a detailed description in my travel journal, before I go to bed tonight, Doctor. Providing that I'm actually still alive."

Unlike the rest of the places they'd been, this room was brightly lit with modern style lighting on the walls. Also different, was that the walls were undecorated, except for a large video screen hanging on the back wall. A barred and padlocked door stood opposite the staircase. There were but two objects in the room. One was a low stone bench, which dated to the time when the temple was built.

However, what was standing next to it, was not an original furnishing. It was a tall enclosed booth with metal sides One side of this object housed a variety of complex looking computer controls. Hanging from the ceiling above the booth, was an evil-looking apparatus consisting solely of gleaming knives and saws.

Donna stared up at the thing, and gave an involuntary shiver of fear. She suddenly felt the Doctor's hand squeeze hers. She looked up at him. He smiled briefly, giving her an encouraging wink. The two of them were then chained, side by side, to some heavy bronze rings which were inserted into one of the walls.

Instructing the robot mummy to watch them, the Cyber-priest dropped the keys and the screwdriver on the bench. Turning his back on the Doctor and Donna, he went over to the booth and began to fiddle with the controls. The Doctor eyed the keys and his sonic longingly. He sighed. They were much too far away for him to reach.

"That Pharaoh bloke downstairs could do with some serious therapy, if you ask me." Donna muttered crossly. "I mean, talk about having a God complex! And what about that thing?" She nodded towards the Cyber-priest, "Posing as a priest. Shouldn't that be illegal or something?"

"I think you're thinking of police officers, Donna. I had run-in's with aliens posing as Egyptian gods before." The Doctor said conversationally. "Several times, as a matter of fact. First time was during the Second World War. There were rumours that a German expedition had uncovered a huge jeweled casket, which supposedly contained the spirit of the goddess Hathor. They took it to a secret hiding place in Turkey. Unfortunately, before I could stop them, members of the party prised open the box. She woke up, and used the twin positronic energy beams from her horns to instantly disintegrate the lot of them. Not wise to wake a Bovinian warrior before its alarm clock goes off. They get seriously cranky."

"You know, Doctor. If it were any other bloke was telling me this, I'd say he was just winding me up. Sounds too much like something out of an Indiana Jones film."

"Yeah. I probably shouldn't have told it to Speilburg. Although to be fair, he did offer me ten percent. I got him to give me a fedora and a bull whip, instead. I wonder where they got to? I suppose I should have a good clear out of the TARDIS, one of these days. We could do a boot sale! Imagine how that would go down with the e-bay and Antiques Roadshow crowd. They'd have a field day."

Donna shook her head. She was wondering if the Doctor was merely telling her a porkies, to take her mind off of that terrible machine

"Back to the point, Doctor." Donna sighed, deciding to play along. Chained to a wall, it wasn't like she had anything better to do. "Hathor didn't actually come back to life, did she? I mean, there isn't any mention of her showing up during the war in the history books, is there?"

"Where do you think folk tales and urban myths come from, Donna?"

"Well, I've never heard of some alien cow running about, shooting people with her death rays."

"That's because I hared myself off to Turkey and got rid of all that Nazi newsreel footage. And, took care of Hathor while I was at it. Nearly got myself killed in the process."

"You mean she tried to kill you, as well?"

"Nah. My donkey got zapped by lightning as I was riding through the Dardanelles. I bought Hathor one of those scratch off lottery tickets for her birthday. She instantly won the ten billion credit jackpot. Didn't have much reason to stick around, after that. She just packed her bags and flew off to Tahiti Minor, where the heifers don't wear any udderwear."

"Er—right. Just how many aliens have posed as Egyptian gods, Doctor?" Donna asked, deciding that now wasn't the time for him to give her a detailed description of the activities of lesbian cow-aliens.

"More than you'd think. Last one I encountered was Sutekh, the Destroyer."

"What happened ?"

"Meh." The Doctor shrugged. "You might say he aged prematurely."

Suddenly, the video screen on the wall sprang to life. The image of Pharaoh's domed Cyber-king head appeared.

"Is the conversion device ready, Cyber-priest?" Pharaoh's voice rasped.

"Yes, O King!" The Cyber-priest responded, once again slamming its fist to its chest so hard in salute, that it made Donna wince.

"Then take the female, first. I am in need a slave to help fuel my ship. The fumes killed all the human slaves. After conversion, she will be immune to the poison. Then, we will convert the Doctor. I will use his knowledge to transverse all of time and space. Every living thing shall worship Re, or be deleted."

"Delete the unbelievers. Delete! Delete! Deleteeeete!" The walls echoed with the Cyber-priest's response.

"No! You can't!" The Doctor shouted, his eyes showing fear for the first time, as he strained against his bonds. The idea of this mad man having access to his brain was frightening enough. Yet more so, was the thought that his best friend, an emotive, spirited Donna, would be forever changed into an empty, characterless Cyberman.

"Oh no you don't!" Donna protested and struggled in vain, as the Cyber-priest began unchaining her.

"Leave Donna alone! Take me, instead!" The helpless Doctor pleaded, his chest heaving as he fought against the chains which kept him fastened to the stone wall.

"No, take me first. For I wish to serve the great king, Anhkamenptah." Came a voice from behind them.

All four occupants of the room turned at once to look. There was a piece of wall jutting open a half a meter. The entrance to some sort of secret passageway. Before it, stood Ahmed. He'd changed out of his student's clothes, and was now wearing a head scarf and the traditional robes of the local townspeople. Stiff-backed, he walked purposely into the room, staring straight ahead. Trying not to show any fear, Ahmed knelt before the video screen and bowed his head submissively.

"O mighty and noble King, the right hand of Re, hear me. In all humility I beg that you allow me, poor peasant that I am, the honour of serving you and the great God."

"What's he think he's playing at?" Donna asked the Doctor.

"No, Ahmed, you can't!" She called out, as the young man prostrated himself before the image of Pharaoh.

"Silence, woman!" Pharaoh commanded coldly from the screen. "If she speaks again Cyber-priest, have the guard crush her jaw. We only need her mind, after all."

Donna was about to fire off a retort, but the Doctor shot her a look which silenced her.

"Easy, Donna. He means it." He whispered. "Please. Just this once, do as you're told."

"Arise." Pharaoh spoke. His voice sounded both malevolent and pleased. Like a cat toying with a cornered mouse. "I will allow you to prove yourself worthy of serving me. You must walk into the conversion chamber of your own free will."

"Yes, my lord king! Re's blessings be upon you!" Ahmed said eagerly, as he rose to his feet, his body bent in an almost groveling posture. "I rejoice at hearing your words!"

Then, as Ahmed stood and bowed before Pharaoh, his right hand shot under his robes. Without warning, he produced a cricket bat, which he swung with all his might at the video screen. The shattered glass was still falling to the floor, when Ahmed dodged the Cyber-priest's outstretched hands, and cut a wide circle around the robot mummy. He fled to the Doctor's side, snatching the up the keys and the sonic screwdriver from the bench as he did so.

"I'm so sorry, Miss Donna." Ahmed babbled, "I should not have gone along with my mother and her irrational fears. I should have allowed you to stay with us. Then you would be safe now. It's all my fault! He ran up to the two of them, pressing the keys and sonic into the Doctor's hand. "Doctor, I—"

His words were cut off as the mummy's bandaged hand smashed into Ahmed's shoulder. Donna looked on, horrified, as the young man's body flew through the air. There was a sickening crack when his head hit the stone wall. Ahmed slumped to the floor, staring at the world through sightless eyes.

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