Doctor Fate caught Hawkman in a hand of mystic energy, righting him in midair.
“Thanks, Doc,” Hawkman said. “I guess my own abilities won’t be much good here!”
“Your courage and resourcefulness are always needed, Carter,” Fate said. “Perhaps now, more than ever.”
“Roger that. So what’s the deal? That mask had the power of an Egyptian god in it?”
“Far more than that, I am afraid,” Fate said. “I believe that mask is Set himself.”
“What?” Hawkman didn’t know what stunned him more, the statement or the icy calm with which Fate uttered it.
“I believe the being who manifested himself to the Egyptians as Set was a Lord of Chaos,” Fate explained. “Somehow, his essence was imprisoned within the mask, even as the Lord of Order Nabu dwells within my helmet.”
“Oh, swell!” Hawkman groaned. “So we have a mad Lord of Chaos to contend with!”
As the battle raged in the night sky, Joanna Andre continued to flee in terror. When she could run no more, she stopped for a moment, panting for breath. She looked around and noticed where she was.
Joanna, without thinking, had run into the treasure chamber where they had found the mask. Sennet’s body was glowing so brightly, the eerie green light penetrated even here. Joanna found herself looking up at the painting of Hatshepsut. She forgot her fear for a moment, gazing on the ancient queen. Her beauty, her dignity, her royal bearing, all showed in the painting. Joanna reached up and touched the painting with the tips of her fingers.
Suddenly, there was a brilliant flash of white light, and when it cleared, Joanna saw nothing. Darkness was all around her, above and below. Joanna could no longer feel the chamber floor beneath her; she felt weightless, suspended. She wondered if this were death. But strangely, she was not afraid.
“Welcome, my daughter,” a kind voice spoke in the darkness, a woman’s voice. Joanna had never heard it before, but she recognized it instantly.
“Hatshepsut,” she breathed in awe.
“Many years have I waited for your coming, daughter,” the voice of Hatshepsut spoke to Joanna. “It was foretold to me by my royal astronomer on my deathbed. Only one of my own bloodline would possess the amulet of Isis.”
“I? Of your bloodline?” Joanna asked. “Can that be true?”
“It is,” Hatshepsut said gently. “You are my descendant, and heir to the secrets of Isis. And I sense the power of the goddess is sorely needed in the outside world now.”
“But I am no heroine,” Joanna protested. “Surely there is someone more deserving than I! Inza Nelson–”
“Inza is not of the bloodline,” Hatshepsut said. “She touched my image, but she was not taken to my side, as you were. The amulet and the power are to be yours. Do you accept them?”
Joanna swallowed, and steeled herself. “I do.”
There was another brilliant flash of light, golden this time. When Joanna’s eyes cleared, she found herself back in the chamber. She looked down at herself and found she was wearing a beautiful amulet of Egyptian design. She stroked it with her fingertips, feeling ambient energy pulsing within. Somehow, she knew what it would do, and what she must do. She walked, with a firm and quick step, out of the chamber. She looked into the night sky and saw Doctor Fate and Hawkman in pitched combat with the Disturber.
She spread her hands wide to the heavens and uttered two words in a clear, proud voice:
Sennet, or Set as he now truly was, hurled twin bolts of green energy at Doctor Fate and Hawkman. Fate parried one with a golden beam from his gauntlet; Hawkman let the other strike the shield on his mighty forearm.
“Fate — the people!” Hawkman cried. “We’ve got to take this battle away from here!” For the members of the archaeological dig had not fled, but had paused to watch the battle. Most of them had never seen super-beings before, and were mesmerized by the spectacle.
“So, you care for those human insects, do you, Akh-Horus?” Set snarled. With that the glowing monster opened his canine jaws. A stream of green flame poured from his throat and surrounded the spectators with a ring of flame. They began screaming in abject terror.
“The Disturber seeks to divide our attentions,” Fate declared. “He knows we will rescue the innocents he has threatened, and hopes in the meantime to either escape or press his attack!”
“Um, Fate — I think reinforcements have arrived!”
Doctor Fate followed the pointing finger of his friend and beheld a beautiful woman in white Egyptian dress, a royal tiara on her head, and a lapis lazuli collar about her throat, sailing toward them on the air currents. He did not need to ask how Hawkman knew she was on their side; he, too, could sense the nobility and purity about her, as clearly as her alabaster skin.
“Water attend me, now conspire to quench and conquer thy enemy, fire!” the woman commanded, holding her hands wide to the sky. Suddenly, a torrential downpour broke out, only above the spectators. The ring of fire died in a sizzling hiss.
“You!” the Disturber snarled, his voice rolling thunder.
“I,” the woman agreed, regal bearing in every syllable. “Isis has come, Disturber, to cast you down into darkness again!”
“OK, now it’s a fight,” Hawkman growled gleefully.
“Let the battle be joined!” the Disturber cried, hurling his arms forward. Green lightning lanced from his fingertips.
“Land of my ancestors, rise and protect thy daughter!” Isis cried. A column of sand instantly rose from the desert floor, blocking the lightning.
“Fate — who is that?” Hawkman asked.
“I do not know, my friend,” Fate admitted. “By all appearances, it is a mortal manifestation of the goddess Isis!”
“Is that even possible?” Hawkman asked.
Fate turned the face of his golden helmet to his longtime friend. “You of all people ask that — Khufu?”
Hawkman opened his mouth to reply, then closed it again. “Are we going to let her have all the fun?”
“I suppose not,” Fate said. Hawkman wondered if he were smiling behind his helmet.
Isis pressed her advantage. Raising her arms, she cried out, “Desert winds, now faster blow, obey thy mistress and smite her foe!” Instantly, a gale-force wind whipped along the desert floor, sending a mass of sand particles plowing into the Disturber at sandblast force. The mystic being shielded his face with his glowing arms, muttering curses under his breath.
“The time to strike is now!” Doctor Fate declared. While the Disturber was occupied, unable to parry an attack, Fate launched a spell of deprivation. A beam of golden light lanced from his amulet, striking the Disturber. Gradually, the golden beam grew brighter, and the Disturber’s green aura, dimmer.
Isis saw what Fate was doing and lent her own power to the task. “Gods of Egypt, above and below, let my enemy’s power from him flow!” A scarlet beam of light lanced out from the gem in Isis’ collar, striking the thrashing Disturber. It, too, glowed brighter and brighter as the Disturber’s aura dimmed.
“No!” the Disturber howled in a shriek like lightning and wind. “This cannot be! I am Set, the mighty Disturber! I am the scourge of Heliopolis! I — I am–” As he wailed, the Disturber’s hands flailed in midair, throwing green bolts every which way. But they were weak, little more than light beams. His aura was so dim now, Hawkman’s keen eyes could see the human body and the ebony mask through it. He set his lips in a grim smile, took careful aim, and hurled his mace with deadly precision.
Hawkman had meant for the mace to crease the Disturber’s skull, knocking him out. But as the heavy stone ball struck the magic mask, the artifact shattered into three fragments. An inhuman scream rent the night as the remnants of the green glow flew apart like a dazzling fireworks display. Robert, Lord Sennet fell to the desert floor, screaming all the way.
The three heroes gathered at the place where the fragments of mask had fallen.
“Is it over?” Hawkman asked. “Is that the end of the Disturber?”
“Perhaps. Perhaps not,” Fate said in a sepulchral voice. “It is possible that the evil of Set lives on in each fragment of his mask. We should take care that they never come together again.” Fate gestured at one fragment, the one holding the left eye. A golden light shimmered around it, then it vanished from view. “I have banished that fragment to a pocket dimension, where hopefully the eye of man will never behold it again.”
Isis pointed at the fragment holding Set’s wolf-like muzzle. “Sands beneath which pharaohs sleep, swallow this fragment and bury it deep!” No sooner were the words spoken than a hole opened up in the sand beneath the fragment, quick as a trap door. The fragment fell into it, and the sands closed over it.
“Well,” Hawkman said, picking up the third fragment, “with those two pieces so far off, I guess this one is safe in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
Doctor Fate, Hawkman, and Isis walked across the sand to where Lord Sennet lay. His eyes were wide open, staring at nothing. Drool slowly dripped from his slack mouth into the sand.
“So, this is the greedy mortal who tried to usurp the power of the Disturber,” Isis said with contempt. “What will become of him now?”
“Nothing evermore, I fear,” Doctor Fate intoned. “His consciousness had been thoroughly supplanted by that of Set, when the connection was broken by Hawkman’s mace. The resulting psychic explosion has shattered his mind. He shall live out the rest of his days in an asylum.”
“I wish I could say I’m sorry,” Hawkman said grimly, “but he brought it on himself.”
Fate turned his golden helmet to Isis. “And what of you, Isis? I assume that is your name, for I know of an Isis from an altogether different world, but she is older than you, and white-skinned. (*) From whence do you come? You fought well and bravely this night, but how is it we have not heard of you before this?”
[(*) Editor’s note: Doctor Fate refers to Isis of Earth-S, who first appeared in the 1975 Isis TV show and in Isis #1 (October-November, 1976).]
“I cannot answer that, Doctor,” Isis said with dignity. “But I can promise you this. You will hear more of me from now on. Much, much more.”
Hawkman smiled warmly. “All I can add to that, Isis, is… welcome.”
The proud woman returned the smile. She then raised her arms and gracefully lifted into the night sky. In a moment, she was gone from sight.
“Perhaps it is best we go, too, friend Hawkman,” Fate said. “Certain parties in the expedition are bound to be missed, now that the excitement is over.”
“Right,” Hawkman agreed.
It was less than twenty minutes later that Carter Hall was on the radio to the authorities in Cairo, while Kent and Inza Nelson were assessing the damage in camp.
“What happened?” a familiar voice behind them asked. “Is everyone all right?”
Inza spun on her heel to behold Joanna Andre. “Joanna!” she cried joyfully. “Thank the gods! When we couldn’t find you, I feared the worst!”
Joanna chuckled slightly. “Nothing so dramatic, Inza. I’m afraid I ran in blind panic when the fireworks started; I must have tripped and hit my head. I just came to, a couple of minutes ago.”
“Well, it’s all over now,” Kent said. “Why don’t you go to your tent, get some rest? There isn’t much you can do here.”
“I guess not,” Joanna shrugged. “OK, I’ll try and catch some shuteye. Inza, call me if you need me, OK?”
“OK,” Inza agreed, and watched Joanna turn and leave. There was something about the young assistant professor that seemed different. Inza couldn’t put her finger on it, but if asked to name it, she might have said that Joanna seemed more confident, more sure of herself. Yes, almost regal.