The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh

Something ancient and evil is awakening under the sands of Egypt

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3. Chapter 2

"Hands up, both of you!" Commanded a clipped Englishman's voice from behind them.

"Hello! I'm the Doctor and this is Donna." The Doctor said cheerfully, as he and Donna froze in place.

"I am armed and have you both at point-blank range. So don't try any funny moves.".

"Oh now, how dull is that?" The Doctor whinged. "I like making funny moves. Life of the party, me. For instance, you should have seen some of the dance moves Cleopatra taught me. Blimey! Let me tell you, she may have been beautiful, but when it came to dancing she had two left feet. In fact, my toes hurt just thinking about it.." He said. "And then," the Doctor reminisced, tilting his head and tugging on his ear, "there was this belly dancer from Marrakesh, who once taught me some very funny moves while playing Twister at Madonna's birthday party."

"Name dropper!" Donna whispered, nudging him with her elbow.

Suddenly, there was the loud click of a pair of shotgun triggers being pulled back.

"Or, I can just shut up and stand here with my hands in the air, while you decide whether or not to shoot two perfectly innocent strangers in the back." The Doctor said dryly.

After a moment's pause, the man behind them said, "Step outside. I want to see whom I am addressing, sir. And you as well, madam."

"Are you calling me a madame? Do I look like a prostitute to you?" Donna exclaimed indignantly.

"Donna...let's play nice with the lovely gentleman. That would be the man with the gun pointed at our backs, in case you hadn't noticed." The Doctor warned her.

"Enough chit-chat. Outside! Now! Both of you." The man ordered.

In the fading light of the evening, Donna and the Doctor saw their antagonist for the first time. To Donna, he looked like the sort of English gentleman she'd always pictured collecting stamps or teaching Latin at university.

"What were you two doing in my tent?"

"We only just got here. Shouldn't you have asked that question before you threatened to murder us? Like some common thug?" Donna said loudly. She was suddenly feeling quite peeved with this arrogant little man. "I mean, for all we know, you could could be a cold-blooded killer. You certainly act like one, mate! Or, maybe you're one of those lowlife's who like threatening unarmed women?

"You're hardly unarmed, Donna." The Doctor muttered.

"What?" She asked.

"You've got two arms and a very loud mouth." He whispered. "Don't. Antagonize him. Let me do the talking."

"I have no intention of murdering anyone, my good woman." The professor said, suddenly affronted. "He lowered the shotgun and actually gave Donna a slight bow. "Forgive me, madam. I must apologize for my overly aggressive behavior. But as you could see from those remains in the tent, one can't be too careful. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Professor Havensworth. In charge of this archaeological dig. I'm afraid you and your husband happened on this site at a very...inconvenient time."

"Ah no," they said together, pointing to each other, "we're not married."

"Oh. I see. You are cousins, then? But you really shouldn't escort a lady alone out here, unarmed, Doctor. Where is the rest of your party?"

"Ahh-" The Doctor said, trying to think on his feet and stumbling slightly, "we had to leave them behind...er—bit of camel trouble. On the uh—camelway. You know how hard it is to get the erm—camel club to come out here. In the middle of the desert and...all that."

"That's some piece of hardware you have there, professor." Donna said, quickly steering away from that subject by pointing at the gun. .

"My trusty Purdy. Never travel anywhere without it. There's some good hunting to be had in these parts." He said, patting the gun's barrel like a proud parent. "It belonged to my father. He was the local vicar. Went on to be an assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury for fifteen years. Very popular. Had a number of his sermons published in the press. He was not only famous for his words, though. He was also one of the best shots in the Lake District. Taught me everything I know!

"Like killing things, do you lot? How does that go along with the Ten Commandments, then?" Donna said scornfully.

"Sorry? What do you mean, Miss Donna? I'm afraid I don't follow you."

"Erm—professor, possibly Donna's referring to the part in the bible about 'thou shalt not kill.'" The Doctor interjected softly. Standing behind the professor's back, he flashed a fond smile at his friend. Leave it to Donna to go right to the heart of the matter.

"There is nothing wrong with hunting, my good woman." The professor said, seemingly taken aback by her attitude. "I'll have you know I've been privileged to go on shooting weekends with the king, on several occasions. May I remind you that the royals are very fond of their blood sports. I hardly think that the good lord intended to mean animals, let alone our sovereign,when dictated his wishes to Moses."

Donna had to use all her self control not to laugh when the professor told her that. She glanced at the Doctor. He raised an eyebrow at her and winked.

"So, you don't hunt for food, then?" Donna asked skeptically. "You're like, one of these macho blokes? The one's who like to decorate their lounge walls with dead animals. Just to show how virile and manly they are."

"I do beg your pardon?" The professor asked, clearly both perplexed and somewhat affronted by her forwardness.

"I think Donna objects to killing as a hobby. I mean, slaughtering an animal for food, that's one thing, professor. Killing solely for pleasure or ego, that's a whole other game of cricket." The Doctor told him. "In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's not very cricket at all."

"Ah. I see. Pacifist, are you Doctor?" The professor nodded, breaking open the gun and carrying it in the crook of his arm. Fumbling in his trouser pocket, he pulled out a pipe. "There were mobs of you lot around, after the war. Never made it over there myself, unfortunately. Served here at home. As a clerk for an Admiral." He said, taking out a tobacco pouch and filling his pipe, "I did lose a lot of good friends to the Huns. Lads I went to school with. Shame, that. Did you fight, sir?"

"I've been to war. I've killed. Too many...far, far too many. And I'd die happy if I never had to do it again." The Doctor spoke sadly. "But, I can't say I've ever found killing anyone or anything, pleasurable. Not even a Dalek."

"Dastardly business, the war in France." The professor nodded, lighting his pipe. He didn't seem to register the Doctor's comments at all. "Shame it made a few of you lads feel squeamish about guns, afterwards. Still, you didn't shirk. No white feathers on you. You did your duty for Queen and country. That's what really counts I suppose. And if that Hitler fellow has his way, the lads may be back at it again, I fear." He took a long, pensive draw on his pipe. "Word is, he's already begun his invasion of France. More bombs. More killing. But, such is the price we all pay for freedom, alas."

"Yeah. And it's always the vulnerable and the innocent who pay the most, in the end. But, speaking of killing, what happened in the tent back there?" The Doctor asked, deciding that the conversation needed to be more productive.

"Bah! Superstitious natives!" The professor snorted, blowing out a puff of smoke. "Got wind of some wild rumours about the dead coming back to life. Or some tommy rot like that, anyway. Decided to use it as an excuse to knock off work and go rioting. Well," he shrugged, "you know what those people are like. Apparently, their local chief or warlord or whatever he was, got in the way. No big loss, really. Only, now I haven't anyone here to clear away the mess."

"You do realize professor," Donna said conversationally, "that if you keep opening your mouth, people will eventually find out how ignorant you are?"

"Anyway..." the Doctor said abruptly, rubbing his nose with his finger. He hoping that the professor was too obtuse to register Donna's comment. "What I'd like to know is, what's at the bottom of that hole over there. The one by the wall. That doesn't look like an excavation to me. What happened?"

"Oh, just ordinary subsidence, I reckon. One of the workers fell through when it opened up." The professor shrugged. "Nothing to worry about. But, you can't tell them that, can you? Interrupted the entire dig! Now what am I to do? I ask you, is it not vexing sir, to happen on something as exciting as a possible new discovery, only to have to everything grind to a halt because of one man's death? You see," the professor said confidentially, leaning forwards and speaking with a conspiratorial whisper, "I believe that there is probably a hidden burial chamber under there. Possibly that of a great king! An even greater find than Tutankhamen!"

"Sounds like quite a find, alright. But, something tells me that whomever, or whatever, killed those men, it wasn't tomb robbers, professor." The Doctor said pensively, staring at the hole, which was now barely discernible in the gathering gloom of the desert night. "So tell me." He turned to stare the man in the eye. "What else are you looking for?"

"I haven't told a soul this, until now. But if I'm right Doctor," The professor said eagerly, " I believe there's something buried within that tomb that could change the whole course of human history."

"I see." The Doctor's head jerked up at that last bit of information, and his face became very grave. "And you don't connect that with those two dead bodies in the tent?" He asked tensely. "And the third one down in that hole? You know, I think maybe it's time you and I had a nice little chat, professor."

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