The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh

Something ancient and evil is awakening under the sands of Egypt

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10. Chapter 9

" Not a cyber-king, Doctor." The figure on the golden throne said in an harsh, ancient-sounding voice. He turned his inhuman face towards the Doctor, the seemingly blank eyes boring into the Time Lord's.

"I am the king. One who has waited long in sleep, for the right time to awake. To lead the world into Re's light."

"You haven't been converted?" A puzzled Doctor asked.

"The Cybermen came here when I was an old, old man. They convinced me that they fell from a place they called the Void, but which we humans know as heaven. They said they were minor gods, servants of Re, sent to help me. Then the Cyber-leader gave me a golden amulet—which was made from a strange sort of metal. Lighter than gold it was, and warm to the touch. The Cybermen called it 'pyritetinium'."

"Found only on the planet Deprez Nine, in the Lasca System. " The Doctor nodded. "Looks like gold, but far more valuable. One of the rarest minerals ever discovered. How the Cybermen got hold of some, is anyone's guess. It's use has been banned for millions of years. Very dangerous stuff. Weapons using pyritetinium have destroyed whole worlds in less than a second. A kilo size chunk can contain the energy of ten suns within its core."

"The Cybermen had access to many wonders, Doctor." Pharaoh went on, "And they convinced me that they were acting on behalf of Re. I was told that Re said that to covet gold, whose shine was false, was to betray God. Only Re's golden light alone, shining from the heavens, should bless these lands. I was instructed to collect all the gold in the land, and destroy it. After they gave me the amulet, I was informed that it was a weapon of untold power. I was to use it to rule the world in Re's name. That people from every corner of the kingdom should come here to my city, to give homage to Re. "

"Then they lied to you." The Doctor stated flatly.

"Yes, Doctor. When I discovered that the Cybermen had tricked me, that they didn't believe in Re, I was very angry." Pharaoh leaned forward, his pale, sinewy hands gripping the sides of the throne. "I realized these sliver men weren't gods, but soldiers, running from some battle in the Overworld. Wanting only to enslave everyone, so that they might replenish their ranks. They had no other desire than to turn us all into soldiers, just like them."

"What happened?"

Curiosity was getting the better of the Doctor. All his instincts were telling him that he and Donna had to get out of there, but he couldn't help himself. He needed to hear the rest of the story.

"When I refused to do their bidding any longer, their leader ordered that I be converted. To become their Cyber-king. But my will was too strong. I turned their own power against them. But, before they died, I allowed the Cybermen to give me all of their knowledge...only then did I make the power of Re destroy them. I discovered why they feared gold. And used its poison to kill them. All except one. One soldier resisted me. In the end, I honoured his courage, and allowed him to live.

"If you have their knowledge, then you know who I am." The Doctor said somberly. "You know I have a long history with Cybermen." His eyes narrowed. "I know that a Cyberman is never truly alive. Robbed of emotion and independent thought, theirs is a mob consciousness. Automatically downloading what information their leaders decide to give them. Doing whatever all the other Cybermen do—which is usually killing innocent people. So why allow one to live, when it is already dead inside?" He finished coldly.

Donna shot him a concerned look. Once in a while, just when she thought she had him pegged down, the Doctor would abruptly change. Standing there, he suddenly reminded her of the time he destroyed that giant spider woman. Deliberately drowning the Empress of the Racnoss and her ravenous, man-eating children. Once again, the Doctor seemed distant and antonymous. Almost as full of ice and steel as the Cybermen he hated.

"I allowed the strong one to live," Pharaoh continued, "That he might forever serve and worship me. For I am Re's true and only servant. I am King of Egypt and all her subject states. Ruler of all the known world. I am the God, Anhkamenptah." He sat upright suddenly, and clapped his hands. "Come to me, Cyber-priest!"

The Doctor and Donna's heads whipped around, as out of the shadows behind them, marched one of the oddest looking Cyberman the Doctor had ever seen.

It was encased in the usual big, gleaming metal body. However, as they watched it step into the torchlight, they could see that the bottom half of that body, from hip to knee, was wrapped in a white and gold linen kilt. Stranger still, was the fact that its shoulders were draped with a leopard-skin robe, and its handled head was topped by a tall blue and red priest's hat. It may have looked silly, had been anything but a Cyberman. Even kitted out in Egyptian fancy dress, it still managed to exude a war-like menace.

"At your command, O king!" The Cyberman's monosyllabic metal voice rang out. The Doctor and Donna boggled, as it crashed to a halt, slammed a fist against its chest, then knelt submissively before Pharaoh.

"Erm—that's...different." The Doctor muttered, raising an eyebrow.

Pharaoh clapped his hands twice more, and the Cyber-priest was joined by two of the robot mummies. They came lurching out of the passageway, to stand at attention, one guarding each side of Pharaoh's throne.

"Oooh, Clapper robots! I love those! Used to use one to change the records on my stereo. May I?"

The Doctor clapped his hands twice. The two robots promptly lumbered back into the passage from whence they came. Pharaoh frowned, but said nothing. Grinning, the Doctor clapped his hands again, and again, the robots clumped back to stand beside the throne. All trace of the Doctor's previous hard demeanor had abruptly vanished. Except that this new, seemingly casual state, didn't quite reach his eyes.

"If you are finished playing?" Pharaoh said impatiently, drumming his fingers on the arm of his chair.

"Er..." The Doctor pretended to think about it. "...Yeah, I suppose. For now."

"I am tolerant of you, Doctor. Because like myself, you too are of noble birth. A lord of time. The two of you will be converted to serve me..."

"You're not turning me into one of those things, mate!" Donna blurted out.

"Easy, Donna." The Doctor gently told her. "Afraid I'll have to take a pass on that, your kingliness." He said to Pharaoh. "Quite frankly, I've never fancied myself as a Cyber-servant. For one thing, the pay is rubbish! And the benefits just don't cut it. I mean, two week's holiday at Fayum Oasis? Come on! I'd be better off going to a Butlin's."

"Do not mock, Doctor. Willing or not, serve me you shall." Pharaoh warned him. "I will make you my high priest. You will share with me your knowledge of time travel." Pharaoh raised his arms triumphantly. "Together, we shall conquer numberless heavens and worlds, bringing the light of Re to all!"

"Well, that's nice. Except for one teensy little problem. I'm an atheist."

"When your mind is taken from you Doctor, you will do my bidding without question!" Pharaoh snarled behind his mask, slamming his hand down on the arm of his chair in an almost childish tantrum.

"Ouch! That's gotta' hurt." The Doctor muttered to Donna.

"Not used to anyone saying 'no' to him, is he?" Donna whispered back. "Dated a bloke like that once. Ended up the night with a pint over his head...and my curry."

"Guards! Restrain them!" Pharaoh shouted at the two mummy-robots.

The Doctor quickly placed himself in front of Donna and drew out his sonic screwdriver. Squinting, he aimed it at the two robots. Without warning, the Cyber-priest stood. As it turned to face them, its arm snapped up and forward, revealing a weapon attached to the back of its wrist.

"Put down your weapon. Or you will be deleted." The Cyber-priest ordered.

His eyes darting anxiously between his three opponents, the Doctor's hand wavered. The Cyber-priest stepped sideways, aiming his weapon directly at Donna's head. Sighing with resignation, the Doctor reluctantly lowered the sonic.

"Take them to be processed! If they try to escape, kill them!" Pharaoh ordered.

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