Cairo, 1894

The waxing moon cast a weak light over the abandoned streets of Cairo. It was three in the morning and the city was asleep. The heat of the day had abated and a cool wind blew, kicking up dust and dried palm leaves. Doors were bolted against intruders, but windows were left ajar to catch the breeze. And in a certain building at the end of a certain street, a light burned in a second-story window.

Several large rats were on the street below the window, and they busied themselves with the fallen debris of the previous day. Suddenly, the rats froze. Their ears perked up and their whiskers twitched instinctively. Though there had been no sound audible to a man’s ear, the delicate sensors of the rats had detected furtive movements. Their fight-or-flight mechanism kicked in and, knowing that there would be scraps elsewhere, the three rats scurried away to the safer darkness between buildings.

The rats’ senses proved correct, and the cause of their flight appeared moments after the rats had fled. Two men slinked silently from the shadowy street opposite the lighted window. They were big men, but not muscle-bound. Their lithe forms, wrapped from head to toe in black fabric, moved like smoke over water. The black fabric on their foreheads was adorned with a silver pyramid, but there were no other markings on their bodies.

Their eyes reflected the moonlight, but only one man had the dark eyes of the race of pharaohs. The other man’s eyes were a vibrant blue, more befitting a northern race. Their legs were slightly bent, and they moved quickly toward the lit window. Their hands were empty and held out from their sides as though to prevent collision, but each man had two, formidably sized knives strapped to a baldric across his chest.

The lowing of a camel shattered the night’s silence and the two men threw themselves to the ground. In the pale moonlight, their prostrate forms looked like little more than shadows on the street. When no camel or man approached, the two men returned to their feet. They nodded at one another and continued toward the building.

They reached their goal and wasted no time with the ground floor. They did not try to force the door or either of the lower-level windows. Instead, they began to scale the flat surface of the building. They pressed themselves to the wall and climbed hand over hand, moving like the desert lizards that were often found skittering along walls and ceilings. In almost no time the two men were at the lit window. The first man poured himself over the window’s edge and into the building. The second man followed behind him.

The room was empty save for an oil lamp on a table near the window.

And a masked man.

He leaned casually against the wall, as though he had been waiting for them. Behind the mask, the man’s green eyes flashed furiously. The sharp lines of his face gave way to a smirk and he pushed himself off of the wall. Standing straight, he was an intimidating sight: The man was easily six feet tall and looked chiseled out of stone. The spread of his broad chest and shoulders stretched his oxford shirt to its limit, and the rolled-up sleeves revealed the cords and tendons of his forearms. He held a snub-nosed revolver in his right hand.

“Only the two of you?” His voice was deep, but calm, “You should have brought more.” He crouched slightly and beckoned the two men with a wave of his left hand.

In a flash, the dark-eyed intruder drew his knives and rushed at the masked man. The masked man also lunged forward, raising his left hand above his head. His fist struck the intruder underneath the jaw, and the intruder reeled backwards. As the dark-eyed intruder fell backwards, the blue-eyed intruder slashed with his knives. The first knife caught the masked man on the thigh and his canvas pants bloomed red with blood. But the masked man did not stagger; he feinted to dodge the second knife and swiped at the blue-eyed intruder with his revolver. The intruder leapt back and the barrel of the revolver hit only air, causing the masked man to lose his balance. He tottered forward, but caught himself from crashing to the floor.

The dark-eyed intruder raised himself from the floor. He shook his head once and lifted the knife in his left hand, making to throw it. Wary of the blue-eyed intruder to his right, the masked man turned quickly on the balls of his feet and leveled the revolver at the dark-eyed intruder. He pulled the trigger twice, the gun’s reports were nearly deafening in the small room. The first bullet buzzed past the intruder’s head and punched into the wall behind him, but the second shot caught the man in the throat. The intruder gasped and sputtered, his dark eyes going wide. The knives clattered from his hands as his body dropped to the floor.

From the corner of his eye, the masked man saw the other intruder moving at him. The masked man ducked and pivoted, and then brought his bloodied right leg up to plant it into the intruder’s midsection. With a wheeze, the blue-eyed intruder doubled over and dropped his knives. The masked man followed him to the floor and drove his knee into the intruder’s chest. There was a crack as the man’s ribs broke under the pressure, but the intruder did not cry out in pain.

The masked man’s hand trembled slightly as he aimed the revolver at his foe’s head. “You’ve seen that I’m not afraid to pull the trigger. But dead men can’t talk and I’m going to need some answers.”

“I’ll say nothing. To die in the service of The Sphinx is a great honor.” The voice of the intruder was flat. His blue eyes were emotionless.

The masked man flipped the gun in his hand and struck the intruder’s temple with the revolver’s handle. The intruder’s blue eyes rolled back into his head. “I might be new to this, but I’ll get you to talk. Don’t let anybody tell you that Osiris Flint can’t learn on the fly.”

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One Response to “Cairo, 1894”

  1. Some dude in DC Says:

    Flint is the dude! Nice action.

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