The sound of the wind blowing over the hills and crunching of rocks were the only things that let Joseph know he was still awake. He dredged his feet along, wiping sweat from his forehead every so often. Sand drifted with the wind, forming sand devils, which were eventually dropped as the wind passed. The Valley of the Kings lay just over the hill. Joseph stopped for a moment, catching his breath. Looking around, the skies were darkening with what looked like rain clouds. Noting this, Joseph pressed on, climbing the hill farther.
He had arrived in Egypt only the night before, taking a day of rest before setting off on his quest. He had come back, searching. At the peak of the hill, the valley came into view. He quickly started making his way down, noting the structures the people of ancient times had built. This is where he had fought the villain known as Celestial Quantum only a month ago. He returned to finish what he started. He couldn't let anyone die anymore. Not like how his friends did. As he pulled his phone out, thunder sounded behind him. He looked back, watching the clouds roll closer and closer to the Valley.
Shaking his head, Joseph continued down the hill. Eventually, he reached the entrance. The gate had been locked to prevent tomb raiders from getting in and stealing precious items. Shaking his head, once again, Joseph closed his hands around the pad lock. Looking around one last time to make sure no guards were around, Joseph lit his hands ablaze, melting the lock. As the lock dropped to the ground, the gate swung open with an unnatural wind. Confused for only a slight second, Joseph walked in, not questioning it any further.
As Joseph stepped through the entrance, a foul stench entered his nose. He pinched his nostrils shut, attempting to keep the smell out. Continuing on to the tomb of King Tut, Joseph continued to survey the sky. As he walked, looking up at the sky and continuing to cover his nose, he tripped, faceplanting into the hard sand stone. He lay there for a second, attempting to get his wits about him. After a moment, he pushed himself up, looking at what tripped him. What lay there gave Joseph a grim face, turning him a pale white. A bloodied arm lay there, blood still slowly dripping from it. Quickly Joseph turned, not bothering to cover his nose, heading towards the tomb.
As he neared the entrance, three large structures protruded from the ground. As he neared closer and closer, the structures became more clear. They were crosses, each with a body being crucified on them. Joseph grew pale once more, but he pushed on, getting closer until he stood right in front of them. Immediately Joseph slunk to his knees. He looked up at the three familiar figures. The one on his far left was the crucified body of his new partner and ally, Amensas Bane. The one on his far right was that of his beautiful girlfriend, Sparrow Rothstein. The one in the middle being Joseph himself.The three bodies were bloodied and beaten, each of them being in their hero costumes.
Joseph stood, grabbing onto his dog tags, and sending a bolt of flame into each cross, setting them on fire. He stood there, watching as the crosses tumbled over, and the bodies fell, lighting on fire. About thirty minutes later, the flames died. As Joseph began walking past the remains of the crosses, and the burned bodies, a hand grabbed at his ankle. Looking down, the musculure and skeletal figure of himself crawled on the ground. Immediately, Joseph kicked the hand away. The other two bodies rose, both of them having the same look. Their armor covering them partially, as well.
The three ghouls lunged at him, attempting to bite at his neck. Joseph shoved them off, bursting into his green and red flames, getting into a fighting stance. His own ghoul lunged at him once again, only to be met by a flaming fist to the skull. It stuttered backwards. Joseph quickly lunged down at it, beating into its skull again and again, gaining momentum with every swing. He quickly stood up as the eyes shut, looking at the other two, only to find they had disappeared. He turned around once again to find them both standing a few feet away, staring down at him. Joseph cracked his knuckles and neck, waiting for the pair to come after him.
They just stood there, watching him with deathless eyes. The sound of thunder sounded off in the distance, a bolt of lightning striking along with it. Drops of rain began pouring on him, lightly at first before picking up speed. The animated corpses stepped back. Joseph quirked a brow at them, getting into a fighting stance once again. They stood there, looking at him once more. They gave him an evil grin, tilting their heads towards the other. The sky lit up in a bright white light as lightning came down, striking in-between where the two stood, the corpses being replaced with a hellish looking dog.
The dogs eyes glew with a fiery green. Its teeth not even really teeth, but more of the hellish green flames pointed to resemble teeth. Lightning struck again and again until Joseph was surrounded in a circle by these dogs. They all growled and snarled, looking at Joseph with hungry eyes. Slowly looking around, Josephs fists became engulfed in his own green and red flames. The first dog lunged at him, its mouth wide open to take a chunk out of him. He quickly slid to the side, sending his robotic arm into the dogs mouth, and opening his fist. Inside the mouth, Joseph made a ball of fire, its flames expanding outside of the mouth. With a quick nod, the ball burst, sending bits of the dog flying out in all directions.
The other dogs became furious, all lunging at him. He put a hand on one dog as it came flying towards him, flipping up into its back and jumping off. He landed with a roll, looking back at the grouped dogs. He went into a neutral stance, lacing his fingers together. The flames engulfing his body became brighter, larger. The dogs charged at him, only to be met by an explosion of flame. Into the air rised a small mushroom cloud, the only thing being left was Joseph, his flames doused.
Looking around to make sure he did not miss any, he began walking into the tomb.
Inside the tomb was exactly the same as before. The same hum that was heard the last time he was here sent chills down his spine. Yet, he continued forward. The heiroglyphics all stared at him as he passed. He ran his hand along the wall as he walked further into the tomb, until he came upon the sarcophagus. He pushed it open once again, finding the stairs. Jumping in, he climbed down the stairs, focused on the task at hand. They continued to wind down an invisible column until finally the staircase ended at a single, bright white door. He pushed the door open, being blinded by a bright white light. His eyes quickly adjusted, walking in.
Across from him stood another door, the same door that had led to the room with the monster inside. He boldy stepped forward, opening the door up. On the other side of the room sat another door, only this time, of pure gold. Its handles being that of a lions head. Intricate carvings marked the door. Joseph walked up, grabbing a handle and opening the door. To his surprise, the door did not turn into a gaping maw, ready to eat him whole. Behind the door was pitch black. Remembering this, Joseph walked through, ending up in another room.
In this room, stood a lone figure, wearing purple armor with lights marking limbs. Immediately, Josephs body was engulfed in flame.
"Who are you," Joseph questioned, getting into a fighting stance.
The figure turned to look at him. A golden respirator covering his mouth. Milky white eyes replacing that of normal colored eyes. His face had severe burns on it. "I did not think you'd be stupid enough to come here," the man stated.
"You going to tell me who you are? Or keep calling me stupid?"
"You are a fool to think you can beat me. I've got a new body. This man actually may recognize you. Do you wish to talk to him," the man questioned. He quickly started siezing, falling to the floor. After a quick second, he stood up, rubbing his head.
"God damn. I hate when he does that shit. I mean, he does it to torture me sometimes," the new voice stated. It wasn't that of an older man, but that of a man around his mid twenties. He looked up at Joseph, his eyes widening, "I do know you! You're Blast Cycle! The guy who saved my life when the reactor exploded!"
Joseph turned pale, his face losing all color. The flames immediately dropping as he came out of his stance. "Look, I need your help. I need to beat the guy who has your body," Joseph stated.
"It's simple, just be--," he was cut off. The old voice taking over, "Tsk tsk. What a naughty boy. I keep you alive and this is how you repay me? Telling this ignorant fool how to stop me? I thought I taught you better."
"Let him go," Joseph stated boldly, becoming engulfed in flame once again.
"Go ahead, hit this body. Should you kill it, I will not die. But, you will kill the actual man," the raspy voice chuckled. He stood there, arms behind his back, waiting for Joseph to strike. With a deep sigh, Joseph let the flames die. With a slight chuckle, the man walked forward, putting a hand on Josephs shoulder. "A wise decision. We will meet again soon. Look to the stars, boy. The stars," he laughed, pointing to the cieling. A column of black flame engulfed the man, leaving only a scorch mark in his wake.
With a quick shake of his head, Joseph ran through the tomb, emerging on the outside a few minutes later. The rain had passed, leaving the skies clear. He looked up into the night sky, studying it. After what seemed like hours, Joseph finally began making his way back to the hotel. About an hour or so later, he arrived. As he walked down the hall towards his room, he noticed Amensas' door was open. Knocking on it, he walked in, not even waiting for an invitation.
The Praetorian jumped from his bed, looking at the intruder, "Damnit, Joseph. You could atleast wait for me to say, come in."
Joseph grinned, "Yeah, sorry about that."
"So, anything," Amensas questioned, sitting on the edge of his bed, looking up at Joseph.
"I found him. But then he got away. He took over someones body and is using it as a barrier, basically." Joseph shook his head.
"Well, did he tell you anything?"
"Yeah. He told me to look to the stars. I don't get it, really. Unless he means we need to go to outer space," Joseph partially joked.
Amensas shrugged. "I don't know a whole lot about your dimensions stars. I highly doubt they're anything like Praetorias. Should go ask your girlfriend. I think she's still awake," he stated, falling backwards onto his bed. "Close the door on your way out. I'm going to sleep."
Joseph grinned slightly as he walked out, shutting the door behind him. He walked next door to his own room, sliding the card key in and opening the door. Sitting on the bed nearest the door, her legs crossed underneath her watching tv, was Sparrow, the girl Joseph had grown to love. She loooked over at him, smiling and jumping up to hug him.
"How'd it go? Did you find him," she asked, giving him a quick kiss.
Joseph shook his head, "Yes and no. I found Quantum, but he got away. He's using someone as a barrier, blocking anyone from attacking him without harming the host."
She immediately started looking at him for injuries. "Did he hurt you? Did you fight him? I knew I should've went along," she spoke frantically, quickly circling him. Joseph just shook his head, spreading his arms out for her to check. Finding nothing, she stood right in front of him again, looking up. "Good. Let's keep it that way."
Joseph nodded, pointing to the laptop on the desk he had bought her only a few days before, "How is school going? Getting your work done, I hope?"
"Yeeeeees, I'm getting my work done. Did you figure out where that guy went off to," she questioned, shuffling back to her bed, sitting back down on it and looking up at him.
Joseph sighed, crossing the room and sitting in a chair watching the TV for a moment, "Not really. He did give me a hint, though. He said, "Look to the stars." Whatever that means." He shrugged, placing his hands on top of his head, lacing his fingers.
Sparrow watched him for a moment, scratching her cheek a bit. She looked outside the window, watching the moon slowly make it's way across the sky. "I'm not exactly sure, either. That isn't very specific," she stated, shrugging. Joseph turned his head to look out the window, watching the stars as well. He sat there for a good bit, lost in thought until knocking was heard on his door. He looked over, standing up just as Sparrow jumped up, opening the door. She turned a bright red, turning to face Joseph and shuffling back to her bed.
In the doorway stood Amensas, wearing only his boxers. Joseph stepped up to the door, slapping his robotic hand to his face. "Look, I know this is weird, but I figured it out," Amensas blurted. "He said something about the stars, right? What if he meant constellations," he questioned, pausing for a long moment, his mouth hanging open. "You guys do have constellations, right?"
Joseph nodded, "Yeah, we do. What makes you think he'd have something hiding in the constellations?"
"I don't know. Just a thought. Anyway, I'm going back to bed. Have a good night," he said, walking back to his room and nearly slamming the door shut.
Joseph looked over to Sparrow, quirking a brow at her, "Where do the names of the constellations come from?"
She thought about it for a moment before finally answering, "Roman mythology, I think. Why?"
"You ever wanted to go to Italy," He questioned, pulling his phone out.
[More of the story coming in Part 2! Stay tuned!]