Excitement was in the air as the crowd in the Truman Center in St. Louis, Missouri, as announcer Skip McGuire glanced over at the beautiful finalists in the Miss Missouri Pageant. The aging announcer had hosted the pageant several times in the past, but he had to admit to himself that this year’s final contestants were exceptionally lovely and accomplished. He noted to himself that these two were really something special.
Janice Robinson is so talented, but the other girl has it all! he thought. She could be a movie star with legs like those… not to mention that smile!
As the girls held hands and tried to keep their smiles frozen in place, Skip opened an envelope and announced the first runner-up and the winner.
“First runner-up, Janice Robinson!” he shouted. “Which means your new Miss Missouri is — Drea Thomas!”
Drea Thomas smiled broadly as tears glistened in her expressive eyes. Her long brown hair was luxurious and cascaded in perfectly styled waves to frame her stunning face. Her smile was brilliant, and she moved with true poise and regal elegance. Her beaded gown was just a bit fancier than the ones her fellow contestants were wearing, and every spectator had been fascinated by her since she first appeared on stage earlier that night. It was almost as if the teen possessed some kind of supernatural allure or was a modern-day Helen of Troy or Cleopatra.
Gracefully crossing the stage, Drea blew kisses to the crowd as her mind with raced with the possibilities that awaited her as Miss Missouri. If I win the Miss America title, I could get a modeling deal, or maybe even land a screen test in Hollywood! she thought.
It certainly looked as if beauty queen Drea Thomas had a bright future ahead of her — or so she would have had, if she hadn’t rather abruptly blinked out of existence minutes after she was crowned.
In a strange dimension that rested slightly out of sync with the Earth, a pale, gaunt young man sat upon a throne and sighed with boredom. It wasn’t that Michael Dromov of Cornovia disliked being absolute monarch of the pocket dimension. In truth, the mutant was proud of the way he had brought peace to the realm his tyrannical parents had formerly ruled. He was popular with his subjects, and he cared about them. He had popularity, power, and a mission, but King Michael still longed for the one thing his life lacked, The king was in love, and he was lonely for the girl of his dreams.
A glittery, three-dimensional representation of Regina Mason floated in the air above his throne. The mental projection looked exactly like the young archaeologist, but as its creator knew all too well, it was just an image conjured up by his remarkable powers of mind.
Ever since I deposed my parents and returned to California to resume my education among the Earth-dwellers, I knew I wanted an Earthling for my bride, he thought. None of my subjects could ever hold my heart, since they are all entirely too subject to my own whims. An Earther would love me for myself, not for my absolute power! When Regina Mason came to visit her brother Rick at my school, I knew she was my soul-mate! If only I could be with her now!
“Then again,” he said aloud, “through my mental powers, perhaps I can!”
Regina Mason was sweating like a pig. She was actually a pretty girl under normal circumstances, but as she stood in the sands of Egypt, her blonde hair was plastered to her head, and beads of perspiration ran down her cheeks. She was dirty, and she was tired — and she was thrilled with what loomed before her in the distance.
The tomb of Isis! she thought. This find is more impressive than I ever imagined it would be! The months we’ve spent out here may be worth it, if we’ve uncovered the ancient secrets of Isis. It is a shame our expedition was financed by a greedy witch like Adrianna Tomaz. All she cares about is exploiting this kind of thing for her own fame.
The young archaeologist smiled broadly as her coworkers swarmed over the site and exchanged information in a variety of languages.
Rick will be so proud of me! she thought. I hope this find validates all the tuition money my big brother spent to send me to private school and college after our folks died! As a teacher, he wanted me to have the best education possible, and this may be the start of my being able to pay him back.
Later that night, after several exhausting but exciting hours of excavation work, Regina rested in her tent and thought about her home in California. While she had spent most of her youth at boarding school or various colleges outside the state, she still considered California to be her true home.
I hope Rick’s students will be as excited by this find as he will be, she mused. If only he’d settle down and find the right girl. Then I’d have some adorable nieces and nephews to impress. Maybe someday, if I work hard and get published, I’ll inspire kids to become archaeologists, too! Of course, I can’t expect to become as famous as my heroine, Fairfax Thomas!
Regina smiled as she opened up a worn book and flipped to specific chapter. She almost knew the book by heart, since it was the journal of perhaps the most famous archaeologist of the century, and Regina idolized the now-elderly lady.
“Dr. Fairfax Thomas first became famous during the dark days of World War II…” she read.
As furtive figures slipped through the shadows of one of the twisting alleys of the small South American nation of Santa Palos, a pretty woman in a fedora and a leather jacket turned to a burly man in similar attire and whispered, “They’re here! I think they are going to make the trade now!”
Dr. “Fairfax” Thomas looked up at Jim Dolan and nodded toward the newcomers. The archaeologist and the detective made an odd couple. They were in Santa Palos for different reasons, but they had formed a fast friendship after more than one close call in the wild bars of the restless nation.
“If Nate Shupe shows up, then I’ll finally be able to bring that murdering creep to justice!” said Dolan. “I’ve followed him all the way from New York.”
Dr. Thomas grinned and said, “Remember, I just want the Santa Palos cross he stole from the museum. The inscriptions on its back will lead me to relics from the Crusades.”
Pulling out a whip from her belt, she expertly lashed it across the support beam of a nearby awning, then swinging nimbly upward, she landed in the middle of the startled group. She kicked one thug to the ground even as she spun around and connected with a knockout punch that floored the biggest man there.
Ducking under another thug’s outstretched arms, she ripped a large bag off his shoulder. “The cross!” she cried as she retrieved the precious item.
“Leave a fella some work to do, would ya?” joked Dolan as he tackled the final goon and grinned broadly in recognition. “The elusive Mr. Shupe!” he said as he pounded the felon’s head against a wall.
Suddenly, shots rang out, and the duo whirled to see a newcomer standing over them with a gun aimed in their direction. “You need not become too enamored of the cross, senorita! It stays here, as will your fetching corpse!” said the grinning gunman as he moved closer.
Before Fairfax and Dolan could react, a loud laugh echoed through the alley, and a man in red and gold dropped down to disarm the gunman. He connected with an expertly delivered punch that flattened the final felon, and he bowed low as he introduced himself.
“It is a pleasure to finally make the acquaintance of the beautiful, if notorious, Fairfax Thomas!” he said.
“The Red Gaucho!” said Dolan. “I thought you were just a folk legend!”
As the heroic Gaucho took Fairfax’s hand and kissed it gallantly, she smiled winningly. This will make a great book someday, she thought.
A beautiful woman in an expensive dress and matching heels admired herself in a full-length mirror in a plush mansion outside of Cairo. She slipped a golden bracelet on one slender wrist and smiled contently. Adrianna Tomaz admired her own reflection on a daily basis. She was deeply in love… with herself.
Then again, who would not love the Egyptian heiress with the stunning looks and sultry demeanor of a modern Cleopatra? She was gorgeous and rich and seductive, and she knew all these facts all too well.
She paused as she fluffed her raven-black hair and stiffened as if another outside force had suddenly taken control of her body. “It is time! The pyramid we have been seeking has been found! You must hurry to the site and claim what is rightfully yours!”
The slightly sibilant voiced echoed in Adrianna’s mind as she primped, and her perfect lips smiled as she whispered, “As you command, O great Serpenhotep!”
As Regina Mason followed her patroness Adrianna Tomaz into the now-opened Pyramid of Isis near Gaza, the sultry heiress smiled as she moved with her customary snake-like grace. After so many years, I have at last found my proper birthright! thought Adrianna.
“As you commanded, we waited for your arrival to actually enter the pyramid,” said Regina. “I am amazed at how well-preserved it is! You would never know the exterior was so ancient. It could have been constructed yesterday from the nearly pristine condition of the walls.”
“I paid you to locate the pyramid,” said Adrianna. “You have done so. Now leave me to my solitude!”
“But surely you don’t mean that!” said Regina. “The pyramid could hold some peril, or some rare treasure that must be handled delicately. Exposure to decaying elements could cause–!”
“I said silence!” cried Adrianna as she glared at the American girl through eyes that gleamed with venom.
Regina reeled as the smaller woman slapped her across the face and sent her tumbling to the ground. “Are you crazy?” she gasped. “You hit like some kind of muscleman!” Before she could move, her world turned black as the seemingly maddened Miss Tomaz kicked her in the head.
Adrianna Tomaz smiled as she walked over the stricken woman and held a lantern to reveal intact stairs that led impossibly deeper into the structure. “There are extra-dimensional spaces within this chamber,” she said to herself. “The magic is here, as I knew it would be! Of course, this is fitting, since it is more than some ancient tomb. It is the secret lair of the now-forgotten mortal avatar of Isis! I am the only living being who remembers there ever was such a modern incarnation of the ancient goddess.”
“You were uniquely suited to enter this place,” said the sibilant voice in her mind. “You are a direct descendant of the ancient mortal woman who first claimed the mystical powers of Isis. Even in her current condition, the power of Isis would have kept all others from entering! You have served my cause well by breaching the defenses of this pyramid. In this place I will find the means by which I may restore my own physical body and no longer exist as merely a voice in your evil mind!”
“Great Serpenhotep, you have led me from a life of superficial pleasures to one of true ascension!” said Adrianna Tomaz. “For do not the ancient scrolls say that the heir of Hatshepsut with the name of Tomaz will embody Isis for a modern era?”
She smiled wickedly as she looked down on walls of books and parchments, globes, and ornate items of ancient beauty and power. “It transcends the mortal world in space and time!” she whispered.
As her high heels clattered on the smooth marble floors, Adrianna found a crystalline sarcophagus in which reposed a beautiful woman with straight brown hair, exotic features, and an athletic and pleasing figure. She wore a brief white tunic with a pleated short skirt and brown high-heeled boots. Her skin was like porcelain in both its flawless nature and its stillness.
“My hated foe slumbers ever more, and it is by her own hand!” hissed the disembodied voice.
Adrianna smiled with malice as she clawed at the crystal and found it malleable to her touch.
“Only you, with your lineage, could part its sacred seals!” cried Serpenhotep.
Adrianna calmly reached down and removed an amulet from the sleeping beauty’s still form. As she placed it over her own thick, cascading hair, she cried, “I am Mighty Isis!”
Light flashed within the mystical pyramid, and the evil woman was transformed. She now wore a filmy white tunic and laced sandals with ornate golden bracelets on each bare arm. She stood a bit taller, and while she continued to radiate malice, she also contained palpable power.
“Now, use the power of Isis to restore my body!” screamed the disembodied wizard.
The new Isis smiled coldly and said, “Why would I ever do that? I no longer need you! In fact, I never did! Ancient wraith full of hate, I command you now to dissipate!”
A scream echoed briefly, and then Serpenhotep was no more. The new Isis adjusted her amulet and slinked away from the still body of her predecessor. “Slumber on, forgotten one! This world needs you no longer, for all within it must bow beneath the sandals of the one, true Isis!”
She looked down at the stunned Regina Mason and gestured over the girl’s body. “Eye of the Sun, melt this one!” she said before leaving the weird scene bathed in a red light.