The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh

Something ancient and evil is awakening under the sands of Egypt

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21. Chapter 20

Before the Doctor headed out of the ship, he paused. Slipping off a large panel, he put on his eyeglasses and examined the ship's power source.

"Lots of damage here. No wonder there was a gas leak. What's the nasty old Pharaoh done to you? Lousy driver. Does he not know where third gear is? No wonder the poor thing couldn't navigate the space-time vortex properly. Hmm—looks like a bespoke version of a neutronic star drive. Oh, you are beautiful! Not to mention, completely illegal and very bad for the environment."

After adjusting a setting on the screwdriver, he waved it at the instrument panel. The tip glowed blue and there was a brief, soft warble from the device. Abruptly, everything still working on the ship went dark. Pocketing the glasses and the sonic, the Doctor gave a self-satisfied smile and sauntered outside.

Donna was there, peering anxiously over the edge of the muddy crater.

"Are you alright?" She called down to him.

"Never better! Havensworth's gone. No sign of Pharaoh, either"

"Er—that's probably because he's standing right behind me, Doctor."

Gesturing with her head to indicate someone behind her, she gave him an apologetic smile.

"Which—and correct me if I'm wrong, Donna—should have been the very first words out of your mouth, just now." He chided her.

"Yeah." she admitted, sighing.

"Come to me, Doctor. Come and worship Re in my presence. Or your friend will die." Spoke the grating voice of Pharaoh.

The Doctor decided to try and stall for time until he could come up with a plan.

"You know, I'd really love to, your er...kingliness. Love, love, love, love, love to. But, I'd make a lousy convert." Tugging on his ear, the Doctor called up to Pharaoh, "First off, I don't do sacrifices. Not gonna' happen. Plus, there's all that genuflecting and kneeling. I gotta' tell you, it's hell on the knees." He rolled his eyes dramatically. "And don't get me started with the chanting. Ugh! It's like Muzak for holy people..."

"ENOUGH!" Shouted Pharaoh. "Obey! You will obey me!"

"Obey? Are you a Cyberman or a Dalek?" The Doctor shook his head in mock puzzlement.

"Do as I order you, or Donna dies."

"Now there Pharaoh, you're not thinking clearly. If you kill Donna, I'll no longer have any incentive to listen to you, will I? In fact," his eyes narrowed with anger, "I'll have even more reason to stop you."

"What could you possibly do to me, Doctor? Obey my command. You cannot cower down there forever." Pharaoh persisted, though he obviously grasped the Doctor's threat.

Meanwhile, the Doctor dubiously eyed the thick, churned up mud he'd have to climb up through.

"Well, I would, but have you any idea how much the dry cleaning would cost? All that mud might be fine for naked sumo-whale mud wrestling, but I don't—what? Wait a minute. Hold on..."

Without warning, a beam of golden light had shot down into the hole. It encircled the Doctor, holding him fast. Struggling against the ring of energy which entrapped him, he desperately looked up. Pharaoh was standing closer to the edge now, Donna's arm gripped in his left hand. In Pharaoh's right hand was the amulet. He raised the amulet a fraction. Slowly, the Doctor's body rose in the air.

"As I said, Doctor. You will obey. The power of Re is bringing you to me."

"My dry cleaner will be very unhappy about that. He could've made a packet." The Doctor quipped dryly.

Realizing that he was helpless while trapped within the energy ring, he'd stopped struggling. He was hanging in mid-air now, a meter in front of Pharaoh. The Doctor adopted a bland expression. Pharaoh held him there. His blank Cyber-eyes stared up at the Doctor. Almost taunting him, as a cat would taunt a mouse.

"I have only to focus my mind, Doctor. And Re will crush you in his fist of fire."

The Doctor effected the bored disinterest of a tired tourist. "Oh really? That's interesting. Then what?"

"You will be singing a different tune, when I get through with you, Doctor."

Doctor retaliated by singing in a mock bass.

"Well, I've got an old mule and her name is Sal, fifteen miles on the Erie Canal..."

"What are you doing?" Pharaoh's voice grated up a notch higher. He wasn't amused.

"Er—singing a different tune? Look, Pharaoh. Why don't you put me down? Then we can all have a nice cuppa and a little chin wag in the safety of my TARDIS. Before the American military gets here, and things get seriously messy."

The sounds of men racing through the woods and brush towards the crash site, were drawing ever closer. "Over there! Through the trees. I think I see something!" They heard a young man's voice call out excitedly.

"Let me help you, Pharaoh!" The Doctor urged. "I can take you somewhere where you can start over. There's a planet called Asmet. The colonist's there have shaped their world based on the Egypt of your time. You wouldn't be able to rule them or convert anyone. However, you can live out the rest of your life in peace. Accepted and welcomed into their society as an honoured citizen."

"The Doctor's right." Donna added. "This isn't your world, anymore. Life has moved on. Thousands of years have gone by. Religion has changed. Nobody worships the sun any longer. Well, not unless they're really into tanning..."

"Donna." The Doctor warned softly. "Back to the point?"

"That is the point," she continued, "don't you see? Because we shouldn't move backwards. We should learn from the past, use it as a beginning, and go forwards from there."

"Yeah. What she said." The Doctor agreed.

"Hush, Doctor. Let me do the talking, for once." Reaching out, she fondly patted his dangling trainer.

"For once? I can never shut you up." Donna heard the Doctor mutter. She chose to ignore it. Though she'd have something to say to him about it, later.

Donna looked up into Pharaoh's Cyber face. She suddenly realized that her mind barely even registered his exposed brain now. Taking a deep breath, Donna went on.

"Pharaoh, listen. The human race has to move forward. It must be allowed to change. Your lot built pyramids which people of this time consider one of the true wonders of the world. Think about it, though. What if you didn't? What if someone like you came along, and demanded that your kings bury their dead in caves? If that happened, no one would even remember you, or your gods. You've left behind you a legacy, that no human being shall ever forget. Isn't that enough?"

"The people of this time shall worship Re. We will build temples to the great god all over the world." Pharaoh insisted stubbornly. He was almost behaving like some petulant child, now.

"Don't turn us all into slaves." Donna persisted. "Re is everything to you. I do understand that. Yet, what good is empty worship? Your Cyber-slaves won't actually care about what they're doing. I heard what the Doctor said. About the Cybermen. About them not having any emotions. How can anyone love, fear or honour a god, when there's no real, genuine feelings involved? They'll only be doing what they're told. You might as well expect a camel or a rubbish bin to practice your religion. Do you think that's what Re wants?"

"And that's why you're my best mate, Donna." The Doctor said softly, giving her a wink. Donna decided to forgive his previous remark.

"Let the me help you." The Doctor pleaded softly. "Go with me to Asmet. Tell them about your love for Re. Maybe they will share your beliefs. Maybe they won't. But the thing is, if they do, it will be because they want to worship your god. Not because they have to."

Pharaoh looked down at his ship. He gave a metallic sigh and lowered the amulet. Suddenly, the energy beam encircling the Doctor disappeared. With a surprised "Oomph!" he fell in a heap at Donna's feet.

"Perhaps you and the Doctor are right, Donna." Pharaoh said softly, hanging his head.

Then, without warning, he held up the amulet again and pointed it at the Doctor. "I think not, though!"

A gush of flame spouted from the amulet. The Doctor ducked. Again the flame roared in his direction. He took a giant leap to the side, only to trip on a branch and fall.

Once again, the amulet's fire was sent in his direction. Like a flame thrower, it headed right for the Doctor. Giving a strangled cry of fear, he rolled on his face, covering his head with his body, like a turtle. Donna watched in horror as gout of flame washed over him.

"Stop!" She shouted angrily, bodily throwing herself at Pharaoh.

The flame turned, its jet plowing into the mud of the hole below, sending up a geyser of steam. Pharaoh growled in anger and pushed Donna away. She fell and lay still. Pharaoh was not to be thwarted, however. He quickly recovered and began to re-aim the amulet towards where the Doctor lay. Only to find that the Doctor wasn't there.

Merely stunned by her fall, Donna recovered quickly. She was afraid to look, but when she heard Pharaoh's exclamation of surprise, she stared at the spot where the Doctor been. There was only a patch of smoking, charred grass.

"What? Where'd he go?" Donna said out loud. Had the Doctor been disintegrated?

"I'll take that, thank you." The Doctor's voice rang out from alongside Pharaoh, as his hand snatched the amulet away.

"Doctor! But, how did you...?" Donna asked, running up to him.

"I have my dry cleaner to thank for that. Washes my suit in a fireproofing solution boric acid and borax. He's rubbish at wine stains, though. Still, nobody's perfect. Well, except me perhaps. Hello, Donna!" He grinned, opening his arms and wrapping her in a hug.

All of the sudden, they heard a banging behind them. Pharaoh had spun around and made a mad dash for the TARDIS. He was banging his fist against the door, pulling frantically on the handle, trying to get it open.

"Arrgh!" The Doctor rolled his eyes, separating himself from Donna. "Never waste time in a hug!"

The two of them approached Pharaoh cautiously. The Doctor held the amulet in his hand. They both were surprised when the Cyberman-king whirled around to face them. He was holding a small, compact blaster.

"Give me the amulet, Doctor. Or I will bring down the wrath of Re upon you both!" He snarled.

"Watch it, Donna." The Doctor murmured. Placing himself in front of her, he kept a cautious eye on Pharaoh.

Just then, out of the woods, stumbled a teenage farm boy. Clad in jeans and a plaid flannel shirt, he stopped dead, boggling at the sight of the crashed ship. As if only just realizing that he wasn't alone, he slowly turned. His eyes practically started out of his head.

Finally finding his voice, he managed to ask, "Is—is anyone hurt here?"

Before the young man could say anything more, Pharaoh hit him with a beam from his blaster. Enveloped in it's red light, the boy screamed, throwing up his arms as if to ward off death. But, he was too late. Donna looked on, shocked, as the body slowly blazed into nothingness, crumbling to ash and blowing away in the wind. Then, Pharaoh turned the weapon on her.

"No!" The Doctor yelled. Almost without thinking, he placed himself in front of the weapon's line of fire.

At that instant, the beam from Pharaoh's blaster shot out. Instead of the Doctor, it struck the amulet. The beam bounced back, hitting Pharaoh, instead. Like the boy, Pharaoh screamed and twisted in agony, before disintegrating into ash.

Later in the TARDIS, Donna and the Doctor were standing before the open door. Outside, a bright electric blue and orange gas cloud glowed in space, surrounded by flickering white, green and red stars. In the centre of this, stood an enormous, ominous looking black disk.

"You're seeing one of the rarest sights in the universe, Donna. The only black sun in existence."

Donna gave him an incredulous look. "OK, now you're having me on. How can a sun be black?"

"It's...complicated. In a n outer-spacey, techno-geeky sort of way. I guess the best way to explain, is that a black sun like a black hole. Only hotter."

With that, he pitched back his right arm and lobbed the amulet into space. The sun's inexorable pull of gravity drew the amulet to it. "Nothing can survive that. It's gone forever, now."

As the Doctor shut the doors, Donna had a sudden thought.

"Hang on, Doctor. What about Professor Havensworth. What happened to him?"

"Of course!" The Doctor slapped his forehead. "So that's how that head got into Van Statten's museum! The Amish Cyberman! I'd forgotten all about that. Don't worry, Donna. One of my previous selves took care of Havensworth, years ago.

"What?" Donna put her hands to her temples and shook her head. "Oh, never mind. What about the Americans, though? Their military would love to get their hands on the technology from that ship. Won't that change history, Doctor?"

"Not a bit of it. Well, probably not. Well, I don't think so...Erm—maybe we should go back and find out."

"Don't. You. Dare." Donna warned him.

"I'm sure it'll be fine, Donna." The Doctor reassured her. "I made certain nothing in there would ever work again. The ship's kaput. About all it's good for now, is a really impressive garden ornament. OK. Enough talking shop."

He bounded over to the console and began flipping switches. As the central column rose and fell, he looked up and shot Donna a boyant grin.

"I've an idea. Let's do lunch! America again, someplace quiet and out of the way. Back in the sixties. Before the health Nazis took over and began bossing everyone about. You humans do love to be told what to do. Anyway, there's this little Italian joint in the Hudson Valley, called Spiak's. Best spaghetti and steamed clams I've ever had. You'll love it!"

"Alright, Doctor. Why not?" Donna nodded, smiling back at him. Then she frowned. "As long as we don't end up in the middle of some alien mob hit or something."

Nah. That was back in the forties. Oooh! Did I mention? They show Dick Tracy and Hopalong Cassidy films to the kiddies on Saturday afternoons. If I time it right, we can just catch the second reel."

THE END

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