Seeking Freedom and a Noble Quest
Location: Townsend Tower
Neferu needed somewhere to hide. Somewhere the girl wouldn’t think to look.
Melissa was still out there. She knew that. She girl’s spirit was not inside her body, but it hadn’t entered the realm of the dead - there would be no end to Uylamnoq’che’s glee if she obtained a true Minoan spirit. Neferu had no doubt that she’d hear her sister’s joy all the way from the Underworld.
No... Melissa was out there somewhere, and Neferu had no choice but to assume that the girl would work against her. There hadn’t been time to prepare her. She’d done what she needed to do. Stopping the Lord of Sands was what mattered if the world was going to stand against his darkness. She’d left Melissa’s room quickly - that was the first place anyone would look. The elevator was not far, so Neferu looked for the nearest place she assumed no one would go.
The latch clicked behind her as Neferu slipped in to the stairwell, her glowing blue eyes quickly assessing the space. Quiet. Good. Just as she’d hoped.
She slid down the side of the wall, crossing her legs and closing her eyes in meditation. Like she’d told Melissa to do, Neferu reached out with her mind to the one individual in the Tower she knew would be an ally.
Within his own, temporary accommodation, Ushebti was putting together various bags with ritual supplies. His head snapped up as Neferu spoke in his mind, before he dropped to his knees, prostrating himself. “My Goddess.”
I have need of you, my priest. Come to me.
He knew he would not need to respond, that she would trust him to come as soon as he could and closed his eyes briefly. He had deliberately numbed himself to the senses gifted to his peoples, in order to avoid being overloaded by the potential of the individuals at the Tower. Now, he did the opposite. He allowed his form in Z-Space to soften and absorb around him. His connection to Neferu was strong, and it took a mere split second to locate her, in a stairwell.
The signature was different. Instead of the soft glow that existed inside Melissa, humming away quietly, there was a raging torrent of silver. The Avatar of the Moon was present. She was here, and that meant her need was serious. He finished stuffing bags together, arming himself with his own temporary weapon, a knife, which he absorbed into his arm.
Finally, once his small ritual bags were together, he gathered them up and began placing them inside himself, his soft form absorbing them.
It took only a few minutes of swift, decisive walking before he opened the door to the stairwell and started moving down the 3 flights to reach her.
She opened her eyes as he approached, brightly glowing deep blue eyes that seemed to reach to the bottom of his soul. “My priest.” She said softly, and her voice echoed the depths of her eyes, a voice that seemed to come from all around him and yet far away at the same time. “You have come. You have my gratitude. I must ask of you your aid.”
The rush hit him as soon as their eyes connected. A million images at once. Thousands of worshippers, of song, of joy, of death. Ushebti fought against the tide of images, lest he be swallowed in the memories of thousands of years of service in the name of the Minoan gods.
He emerged panting, on his knees in from of Neferu, hands clasped in the traditional form of worship.
“I am yours to command, My Goddess.” Ushebti spoke reverently.
She struggled to her feet, the effort far more than she’d have liked. “Rise, my priest.” She gestured. “You need not bow before me.”
He did as commanded and stood. His own eyes blazed, not with light but with raw righteous reverence.
“You know of the release of the Lord of Sands.” It was as much a statement as a question.
“The Usurper.” And Ushebti’s voice carried the weight of his hatred.
“The same. It is my mission to subdue him.” Neferu replied calmly. “For, if I fail in this quest, this world is doomed to fall beneath his shadow. This cannot happen. I will not allow it. I must escape this place that I might find and track the Lord of Sands in the avatar of Tim LaFontaine.”
“Then escape we shall, My Goddess.” Ushebti thought for a moment. “The Guardian Dragon is distracted, but her underlings are studious. I would be surprised if they are not keeping tabs on Melissa and other new arrivals. They may have already noticed your manifestation, and are considering how to approach your containment.”
“I had suspected as much.” Neferu nodded. “We must hasten our escape. Come... we shall descend the stairs. Before we leave, however, I must locate more... advanced weaponry.” She brandished Melissa’s scissors with a frown. “Know you where we might locate something more useful?”
“The main armoury is towards the top of the tower near the control room, and would be infeasible.” He replied after a pause, considering that her power must be limited in some way for her to require weaponry. “There are smaller caches dotted throughout the tower, which would hold enough for an escape attempt. We would need to force access, as based on my observations, they’re only open to faculty members.”
Ushebti started down the stairs, his hands already forming into claws. “Failing that, I shall fulfill my duty and be your weapon, Goddess Neferunoq’che.”
Neferu smiled. “Your assistance is appreciated, my priest... however, once we have left this place, I shall send you upon a different quest.”
“As you command.”
“The Minoan culture was obliterated in this world. As in the previous incarnation of the universe, we were conquered and forgotten.” She stopped, looking pointedly at Ushebti. “Remind them, my priest. Speak of me, of my mother, the Snake Goddess and Mother Goddess of Minos, Isetnofret and my brother Ankhet, God of Men. Tell of my sisters and their aspects...” She paused, “...though, perhaps you may diminish their promiscuity and objectification of our male worshippers in your tales, unless that serves your needs. Deliver to us a following, that we might establish temples and worship once more, and you shall be blessed with the gratitude of the entire Minoan pantheon, including and in particular, myself.”
“It will be done, My Goddess.” He stopped for a moment at one of the floors, pulling out one of the smaller bags from his body and quickly acquiring a small piece of red and black chalk. Pulling down a sleeve, he spoke a short incantation. “By my eternal soul I swear to you, you will not be forgotten again. The pantheon will rise.”
The chalk carved, rather than drew on his skin. The ancient symbol for ‘Promise’ appearing on his flesh briefly before dissolving away, and he scurried away his supplies with haste.
“Your devotion will be rewarded.” Neferu smiled. “Come... we must away, lest we are discovered.”
As they reached a particular floor. Ushebti stopped again, his hand reaching for the door. “This is a quieter part of the tower, but it does have a storage cache. It’s probably our best hope of getting access to weaponry for you.”
“Excellent.” Neferu said simply. “You may lead the way.”
The door opened out on to one of the lower laboratory areas. Here, lower in the tower, it was more compact. There were less gigantic, windowed laboratories as in the upper tower, and more intense, smaller laboratories.
There was nobody immediately in sight as they moved from the stairwell to the corridor. Ushebti indicated down on of the corridors and started to move ahead, keeping an eye out for danger.
Neferu followed him, though descending so many stairs had tired her. She rested her hand against the wall as she moved. She would need to take the time to work on strengthening this body while she borrowed it, because facing Seth in her current shape would not go well. She would need all of her skill with stealth and guile in order to manage it. Still, if she was weak in the avatar of Melissa, she had to believe that Seth was just as weak inside Tim LaFontaine.
“Is it far?” She asked.
“Not far. I’ll get into the door and you can rest.” He did not dare offer her direct help. He had always been taught that to touch a member of the divine was sacrilegious. The Egyptian sect of his people had been particularly keen to avoid this. Of course, the Egyptian deities had a reputation for being vindictive.
Neferu sighed. “The girl, Melissa, is weak, and I am, within her, similarly lacking in strength. She must increase her strength and endurance. I do not relish this weakness, but I fear that I must accept it for the time being. I may require your assistance further once we have arrived at our destination.”
“You shall have it, My Goddess.” They rounded the corner, the nondescript armoury was one of these unmarked doors. The others leading to labs. Ushebti had not been neglectant in his research however, so he knew which one to approach.
A split second before the vision hit him, he spotted the movement, the elevator door opening, and a silhouette through the frosted glass of the lab. Then, he saw it. A gigantic, sprawling web. The earth, covered in gossamer, and atop it, a delicate spider, tugging at the web. The spider somehow seemed unsure, confused as to why it was sitting in a creation of its own making.
Ushebti opened his eyes and saw A sickly, sable haired youth, Deo, the cousin of Melissa stepped through frosted glass doors across the way. In that moment, Ushebti’s mind, trained by some of the oldest and most successful assassins in history, recognised one thing. Their situation was now unwinnable. The Tower computer system, their control room, was linked to the majority of students and Aiden was definitely one of those. If they weren’t aware of Neferu before, they certainly were now. And despite being a Goddess, she was too weak to break out through multiple rank and file mutants.
“Fegen.” He muttered in Egyptian. It was the only way he could think of to summarise their situation to Neferu.
“Quite so.” Neferu frowned.