All-Star Squadron: 1942: Gender Gasp, Chapter 4: Dark Hawkmen of Egypt

by Libbylawrence

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Inza Cramer wore the amulet, cape, and half-mask of her beloved Doctor Fate with some discomfort. True, the items gifted her with superhuman strength and flight, as they did Kent Nelson; however, she was not comfortable in this role. Kent has beaten every foe and bested every odd against him. Surely he can return from this Seventh Dimension, too, she thought.

Her partner Shiera Sanders also known as Hawkgirl, had equally troubled thoughts racing through her mind. Carter vanished in costume, and that’s better than what we know of poor Kent and Ted. Maybe he can yet beat this witch, the Star Sapphire. That gem of hers, which somehow controls men, won’t work on us, and the opal shard we seek may beat her entirely when assembled with the other parts.

In a burning desert, the women saw pyramids and the grandeur of the Sphinx. “We’re in ancient Egypt,” said Inza.

“To be exact, we’re in the Hyksos era,” said the auburn-haired beauty Shiera, who wore her regular hawk-helmet and wings, along with a filmy skirt. She knew the very feel of the skirt’s fabric from her vivid dreams of a past life lived during this exact Hyksos era.

Inza wore the half-helmet, amulet, and gold cape over a brief blue tunic. “I forgot that you and Carter are experts on Egypt. I know what I picked up from my dad, but you could write a book on the era!” she gushed.

Shiera nodded. “I know this place all too well. I… died here at the hands of Hath-Set, or Anton Hastor, as he’s called in our modern world. He served Set secretly while posing as a priest of Anubis. He opposed Horus, the hawk-god of justice, and he killed Prince Khufu, as Carter was called then.”

“I see some tyrant rules even now.” She gestured at slaves laboring across the shifting sands. “Could it be Hath-Set himself, or did he die fighting Carter?” asked Inza as she brushed back her long curls.

“He did not die in the Hyksos era until some point after he killed us, as strange as this reincarnation terminology sounds!” offered the lovely heiress.

“This may be your second chance to stop him!” said Inza.

They flew off over the dunes until they spotted exactly what Shiera had expected, yet had also dreaded. “Workers being sacrificed to some dark ruler,” she explained.

They dropped down to clearly frightened figures from around a place of murder. Future victims looked on in fear. Inza’s newfound super-powers enabled her to lift and toss the altar at the scattering killers, who disappeared in the night with confused looks on their faces.

Shiera turned to one slave. “Are you well? Who sought your death?”

The tired and scared man quivered as she drew near. “It was the One-Who-Rules — the Tyrant!” he said before running off.

“Tyrant — must be that rat Hath-Set,” commented Shiera as the wind blew her skirt.

“Let’s settle his hash!” commented an oddly fierce Inza.

They flew into the temple of Anubis, where, sure enough, the red-headed, sharp-bearded Hath-Set labored over some arcane book. He gasped at the sight of the flying women and grasped a nearby crystal knife in his hand.

“By the sands, that’s the very crystal glass knife!” Shiera said, shuddering as she recalled this man’s murdering her long ago with a knife like the one he drew, which she had recently handled when Dr. Anton Hastor returned in her own time. (*) She whipped out her mace and tossed it with skill at the robed figure below. “Never again!” she yelled. The mace smashed against his arm, and he dropped the knife, which rattled against the tiled floor.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “If An Eye Offend Thee,” All-Star Squadron #10 (June, 1982), “Star-Smasher’s Secret,” All-Star Squadron #11 (July, 1982), and “Doomsday Begins at Dawn,” All-Star Squadron #12 (August, 1982).]

He began to say, “I–” But Shiera’s fist silenced him. She lashed out until he collapsed to the ornate mosaic on the floor. “We stopped his reign of terror!” she said proudly.

Inza smiled and noticed Hath-Set’s green and gold robe. It was emblazoned with the symbol of Anubis on the outside, but inward was a hawk.

“Thank you for your service to Set!” barked a regal voice. They looked up to see exact doubles of Hawkman and Hawkgirl leering down from above.

“I think we made a big mistake!” whispered Inza.

The scream from a shocked Shiera echoed eerily in the Egyptian night. Above her, in a brief, transparent gown and the familiar hawk wings posed her twin, seductively wrapped around Carter Hall, or Prince Khufu’s evil double. “This can’t be!” she muttered.

“Ah, but who can determine the winding paths of master Set? Yes, we may wear the wings of cursed Horus, but as that fool could have told you, we long ago made vows to betray his cause for the power only belonging to Set!” said Khufu, or the Dark Hawkman. His mate laughed a silvery laugh that sent chills down Shiera’s spine.

“This isn’t the exact Egypt we knew!” she said. “It’s some other realm, some other Earth’s Hyksos era in which we served Set!”

“And served him oh, so well!” cooed the evil Shiera.

Inza concentrated and flew up to meet them, only to be struck by a gas that exploded from the Dark Hawkman’s clenched fist. An arcane pellet dropped from it as green fumes spread. Inza, like Kent when he wore the half-helmet, was vulnerable to lack of air. She toppled to the floor and pinned an equally gasping Shiera beneath her. As awareness left the women, they heard that same silvery laugh echo above.

***

Inza Cramer woke up to find herself chained across the high side of a pyramid. Her arms were bound with heavy chains while her bare feet swung freely. The heat of the desert sun showed her that a night had passed since her defeat at the hands of the evil Hawks. “Where is Shiera?” she wondered as she blinked against the white light.

***

Shiera was in entirely different circumstances. She no longer wore her wings or helmet. Now she was reclining on a sofa dressed as some Egyptian harem girl. She awoke with a headache and a sick feeling of being watched. A man bent over her and caressed her cheek.

“Carter!” she sighed in his embrace. They kissed passionately before she realized where she was and that it had not been some weird dream. She pulled away from the evil twin of the man she loved. “Keep your hands off me!” she yelled.

The dark Prince Khufu smiled. “Ah, so fierce, so fiery! You truly are my Shiera’s double. I am happy she allowed me to keep you as a pet, of sorts, for when she is not feeling passionate,” he said with a haughty laugh.

Shiera noticed that he also had shed his wings. She spotted his belt of Nth metal, and an idea formed. “I am sorry. You startled me. I find you so much like my own Khufu,” she purred through seductively lowered long lashes.

He moved closer, and she reclined even more alluringly to draw him nearer. In his passion and ego, he suspected no ruse and was thus surprised when the lovely woman kicked him in the groin and slugged him with all her might. He recovered almost instantly, as a true warrior prince would, but he was not used to anyone diving for the power that lay not in the wings but in the gravity-defying belt.

Shiera ripped at his eyes, then tore the Nth metal belt free from his tunic. She charged into him, and as he tumbled, she whipped the belt around her slim hips. She lifted off the ground and kicked up and away from the now-grasping Khufu. “See how you enjoy the cell!” she called as she flew out the open window high above the cell. She casually dropped his keys, which hung on the belt, away from the building. Now to find Inza! she thought.

***

Inza Cramer heard a laugh and saw the evil Shiera in all her gauzy, see-through splendor. She laughed at the struggling Inza from below. She spotted a second figure being hustled out for apparent execution. It was Hath-Set, and he was bound tightly.

“You did our work well in beating this cur of Horus!” shrieked the dark Hawkgirl. She wore the wings, as well as the ornate hawk-helmet, but little else.

Shaking her head, Inza strained, and mighty, magic muscles pulled the chains free. She relished the power Kent enjoyed as Fate and soared down. The dark Shiera rose in anger to meet her, and a sudden aerial war began as Hath-Set looked on in dismay.

Inza was clearly outmatched by her more skilled aerial foe. This near-naked Shiera is as good as our Hawkgirl, she mused.

She then saw the real Shiera soar down in full winged glory after she had retrieved her costume from the stunned guards. Together they tried to pin dark Shiera between them. Their ploy resulted in a bumped head for each heroine as the nimble woman dodged.

This me is better than the evil Khufu! He must rule in name alone, since she has by far the better skills and a meaner temper! thought Shiera.

The power of Fate made a huge difference when Inza Cramer scooped a huge mound of desert sand out of the earth and dropped it in the flight path of the dark Hawkgirl. She screamed and dodged, only to run right into Shiera’s fists.

A cat-fight in the air ensued until our Hawkgirl casually unhooked her enemy’s wings with the ease of one who had worn them a long time. The dark Hawkgirl flailed with the belt and stayed aloft, but a kick sent her spinning. The edge of a pyramid caught her head, and she blacked out.

Inza charged the guards and, with a display of raw power, sent them fleeing from her tossed missiles of wood and metal from the temple. She then soared quickly into the sky at a high rate of speed, heading east.

“Where’s she going?” wondered Hawkgirl, who took the time to pluck all the wings and belts from the palace and bodies of the evil Hawks.

Time to pay a little visit to the city of Ur, thought Inza, flying faster than she’d ever thought possible before. Soon, she was out of Egypt altogether and in the ancient land of Mesopotamia in what would one day be modern-day Iraq. Landing in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, she soon zeroed in on what she was looking for: an Egyptian-style pyramid looking out of place in this faraway land, where the ziggurat was the usual fare.

Easily passing through the thick stone walls of the gate, Inza brought with her a protective aura filled with fresh air so that she could breathe within the musty structure. Here, if this universe made any sense at all, she would find what she sought. But despite her desperate need for the object she would have to find, she was not at all happy about finding it.

***

Back in the land of the pharaohs, an eager Hath-Set approached Shiera. “I thank you for your mercies and for the return of the sacred Nth metal!” he said. “Without the flight power which was stolen from my home and my knowledge, my rebels can defeat the harsh dynasty of the traitors to Horus!” explained the good Hath-Set.

Even though I know he’s supposed to be a good guy, he still gives me the chills! thought Shiera.

Inza returned several minutes later with a wrapped bundle under her arm, and Hath-Set gave her an opal shard in appreciation. “Looks like the good Hath-Set owned the magic shard!” she said.

“What’s that you have under your arm?” asked Shiera.

“Let’s call it… insurance,” said Inza, looking down at the head-shaped bundle unhappily.

Moments later, they vanished into time, and their memories of this era faded.

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  • ishmail

    could you publish the archie comics multiverse:in some universe archie has athletic skills in others hes a klutz;in some universes moose is a nic eguy,in some abully. in some universes reggies outgoing, in others a loner sort em please