Inshallah, we will meet the Al Mummies!

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"Man, that hasn't been fixed yet?"

Omar turned to his right to find Elizabeth's red hair in his face. "Sorry, didn't mean to snoop."

"It's not an issue, Miss Smith. But yes, the text still hasn't been fixed. Contacted the author, said they'd fix it in a rewrite. Not quite sure I believe them." On Omar's phone screen was the Egyptology wing's main hub page, which bared 'EGYPTOLOGY' in large, bold letters followed by what he assumed was a mangled attempt at some sort of Arabic phrase.

"It's completely un-joined and backwards. How do you even manage that?" Elizabeth twisted her finger through her curls, grimacing.

"You know as well as I do."

"Good God, how long has it been?!" Omar and Elizabeth turned towards the strained voice of Johann. He was leaning on an old pillar, standing on its lonesome. The temple the team visited was weathered, more-so than most other temples within the area. The Foundation had heard reports of anomalous activity nearby and sent Egyptology Team 690 here to investigate.

"Last status report said they'd be here in 30 minutes, Johann."

"Well, buckerino, it's been nearly an hour since that report. Double the time." Johann kicked a nearby pebble and groaned. "We don't even have Nedjem here to play with." Pouting he slumped further down the pillar, snagging his blond hair on a cut in the rock. With a quick "Ow!", he jolted back up. Omar looked at his wristwatch and clicked his tongue.

"Fair assessment, Johann. They are, indeed, very late. And it is quite regrettable that Nedjem's annual veterinary appointment just so happened to be today, but we must make do." Omar took a quick scan of the land in front of him but found no sign of their belated work partners. Just sand dunes upon sand dunes upon yet more sand dunes.

"You gotta admit, Nedjem would make this wait far more bearable." Walking towards the temple entrance, Elizabeth called back to Omar. She found some shade under a dilapidated roof and pulled out her phone.

Then they arrived.

In a previously unseen cloud of dust and sand, a jeep skidded to a stop in front of the team. Omar wafted the particles away from his face, as did Elizabeth. Johann, unlucky as he was, got hit with a full-force blast of sand, which he attempted to scrape out of his mouth. The doors were slammed open, and a squad of 5 people all filed out, led by a tall and burly man. Omar briskly walked towards the leading man and held out a hand.

"Omar Mohamed, leader of E-690. Pleasure to meet you, though your punctuality could be improved…" The man looked Omar up and down. Was he… Sizing him up? After a brief pause, the man took Omar's hand to shake it. His grip was strong, far too strong for a handshake.

"Kyle Parsons, leader of MTF-Eta-9, reporting for duty." Taking his turn at sizing up, Omar noticed Kyle's red skin. A nasty sunburn. That struck him as very odd.

"Mister Parsons, did you forget to apply sunscreen today?" Elizabeth called out as she reached into her backpack, grabbing at a bottle of green liquid. "Here's some aloe, you can thank me later."

"No need, young lady. The burns are a sign of my resilience in this inhospitable, lifeless wasteland." The three researchers all looked at each other, each of their faces in some state between cringing and utter confusion. Behind Parsons, they could very plainly see the other Eta-9 members smothering themselves in SPF-100 sun lotion.

Elizabeth slowly put the aloe vera back in her bag. "…Alright, whatever you say sir."

Parsons chuckled and put his hands on his hips. "Why, just look at our friend Doctor Mohamed here, his skin's darker than mine! No doubt from all your adventuring under this ever-present sun."

"…I'm Egyptian. This is my natural complexion, sir." Omar was slowly but surely shuffling away from Parsons. The squad leader briskly put a shoulder around Omar and pulled him close, with a bright smile on his face.

"Well as salam oo alaykoom, brother!" With this, Parsons let Omar go and confidently walked to the temple entrance. The squad leader's lackies were chatting amongst themselves, and Omar could catch them whispering such lovely phrases, such as "Do you think he, like, can trace his ancestry to King Tut?", and "After this, I'm going to ask him to attune his Egyptian ancestry to my amethyst." The poor doctor was left frozen in his spot and sputtering, still trying to parse what just happened. Elizabeth walked up to Omar and grasped his shoulders, staring straight at him.

In a low voice, she spoke. "What the hell is up with these people? There's no way we can work with them, right? For all we know, they could-" Omar raised his hand to halt Elizabeth and sighed.

"Look, as much as I agree with your assessment, we don't have much of a choice here. Someone important sent them here and defying that decision would be, let's say, unprofessional at best. I'll speak to Director Gomaa about it afterwards." In a flash, all the worry from Omar's face seemed to fly off as he straightened his back and, after a deep breath, plastered a smile across his face. "Besides, they're a Mobile Task Force! Their leader may have some screws loose but, hey, who doesn't?" Almost skipping, Omar moved towards the temple entrance.

Elizabeth clasped her chin in her hand and squinted. Dragging himself to her side, Johann grumbled, "What does he think he's doing?"

"I haven't a single clue, Johann. Not one."

"Here's the brief, Mister Parsons. We've got a memetic anomaly at the end of this temple. You can leave the containment to myself and my team. The temple, however, is far more secure than we anticipated." With each of their footsteps echoing the group made their way down towards the main antechamber of the temple. Omar turned to Parsons, "That's where you come in. I've been informed that your team specializes in getting into especially tough-to-access archeological sites, is that right?"

"That would be correct, my brother."

"…Right." Omar stopped in front of a large, limestone wall blocking the passage further into the temple. The wall was adorned with intricate paintings of the Kemetic pantheon. A large, beautifully red sun disk topped the wall, impressively straight rays of sunlight beaming from it. The doctor turned to the captain, "Well, that's your cue. Take it away, captain!" Omar then moved backwards and joined his comrades behind the Eta-9 squad and placed his closed fists on his hips. Though he seemed content, the same could not be said for Elizabeth or Johann.

Elizabeth leaned in towards Omar, "You sure they know what they're doing?" He gave a soft yet apprehensive nod in response. Elizabeth turned her attention back to the squad. Parsons was directing his subordinates to inspect the wall, and they did so with a "hup hup hup!" and plenty of discussion. She breathed out a deep sigh and closed her eyes, almost relaxing for the first time since Eta-9 had arrived.

"If you don't mind, I'll be narrating what I do to y'all. Just so you understand better, alright?" Elizabeth's eyes shot open, both in fear and genuine curiosity for what Parsons would be doing. "Now, I'm sure this step is obvious to you, but first we need to check for mummy curses."

God damn it.

Omar snapped his neck back towards his teammate; his eyes have nearly popped out of their sockets. In the split second he saw them, Omar saw exactly what he expected; Elizabeth's face had blended itself into a mix of disgust and an expression that plainly read "I told you so", while Johann had slammed his face into his palms. Thinking for what felt like several millennia, a light lit in Omar's eyes. He knew exactly what to do to diffuse all the ickiness in the air.

He laughed. He laughed the most forced laugh anyone in that room had heard or would ever hear.

"Good one, Parsons! You nearly got me there." He could hear Elizabeth's strained groaning through her covered mouth. Even so, all Omar could focus on was begging, praying, that this was in actuality a joke. Parsons' confused face all-too-quickly shot those hopes down.

"Do you not check for mummy curses, doctor? I thought you were well aware of the ancient curses the Egyptians would put on their sacred sites to prevent grave robbing. Hell, was it not Howard Carter himself who died to one of those curses?"


"Then I should check you for curses too, doc! Who knows what spirits might be lingering on you every day!"

Dismissively, Omar replied "Inshallah." Before he could get a second of his own rebuttal in, Parsons chuckled. Dread filled Omar.

Parsons, with a great big smile, said "Why, I didn't know you were so in tune with the youth, gramps!"


"You know, 'inshayllaa', it's internet lingo isn't it? I see it on memes all the time, heh."

For a solid ten seconds, all that could be heard was the buzzing of electric lights. Elizabeth was silently screaming into her arm; Omar was frozen in utter disbelief. Johann decided to finally break the tension with a question:

"Not to be blunt, but in all honesty how many expeditions have you been on, Kyle?"

"Not sure why you'd want to know-"

"Just! - Answer the question."

Like a deer caught in headlights, Parsons blinked his eyes and proceeded to answer. "Fifteen, why?"

Clapping to emphasize each syllable Johann retorted, "Honest to God," then pausing to really let it sink in, "I cannot believe that."

"What? Why not?"

"Because 'mummy curses.'"

"And what is that supposed to mean?"

"It means you're a dumba-" Johann's mouth was suddenly slammed shut by Elizabeth, in an to save what little dignity the team had left. Even so, her eyes, fiery with rage and frustration, were locked onto Parsons.

Attempting to recover the situation, Omar spoke up. "I-I-I- think, what Johann means to say is that, uh, you've been misinformed."

"No, I think you have. The powers of Ra have been cast on this wall to protect it, that's Egyptology 101 bud. See, that red disc is him!"

Just then, a distant voice, one of Parsons' lackeys spoke up. "I thought that red disc was Mespyrian?"

"Okay screw professionalism, we're done here." Omar snapped, punching numbers into his phone. The expedition would not continue.

The ceiling fan above them buzzed a horribly loud noise, yet the team was more than elated in this moment. They were back at Site-107 and hadn't conducted their planned expedition, true, but they melted into their chairs in relief. They were gone.

Elizabeth turned to Omar, almost breathless. "Who the hell hired those bozos?" Omar slowly gazed at his computer screen and scrolled down to the 'History' section of the now-former Eta-9 team. A brief laugh escaped his lips.

"Hey, Elizabeth."


"Guess what."


"Remember when I was talking about the man who made the Egyptology hub?"

Elizabeth slammed her hands on the table, a sudden burst of energy filling her. "No way! It was him?!"


"You're serious?!"


Johann cheerfully chimed in, "Girl, he really said 'orientalism', huh? Reliving his past life as a tycoon!"

The three's laughter rang out throughout the entire room and the hall outside it, drawing brief confused gazes from the passer-bys. They didn't care for that, in that moment all they could feel was pure, unadulterated amusement.

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