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Maiden’s Curse
by: Prudence Walker

 

Bob was pissed; his date had failed to show. She had arranged to meet him at the opening of the refurbished museum. They had first met at a bar, only two days prior to the opening. They had seemed to hit it off and Bob had been confident that, this time, he would make a go of it. Now it seemed that his luck with women was running true to form.

Wandering alone in the museum, refusing to fall into his usual despondency, he lost himself in the unfamiliar surroundings. As it was near closing time, there were only a few people about. In frustration, he decided to knock on a door that had a restricted access notice on it, hoping that someone was inside who could re-direct him to an exit.

When no one answered, he tried the handle and was surprised to find it opening freely. He called out, as he entered, but only received silence in return. Feeling somewhat nervous, he walked further into the room examining the exhibits, which seemed to be in some disarray. Possibly this was a workshop where they got the exhibits ready for showing.

Something seemed to be silently calling to him and as he sought the source of that call, he stopped in wonderment, for there in the corner a beautiful woman was standing, motionless. As he moved closer, he realised it was an image on the lid of a mummy case.

She was extraordinarily beautiful. As he gazed on her countenance, he couldn’t resist running his hand over the lid’s surface, tracing the contours with his fingers. Then, getting the same strange urging as before, he felt compelled to open the lid, which he did? revealing? nothing, it was empty.

Disappointed, he was about to close the lid when he heard footsteps approaching. Panicking, knowing that not only was he trespassing, but also having disturbed the exhibit, he looked for a place to hide. The open mummy case beckoned invitingly, on an impulse, he stepped inside the case, trying to squeeze his body into its almost form fitting lining. Pulling the lid shut, bar a crack for air, he was glad he had a slender build as he only just fit.

The door opened and he heard voices talking.

"Look at this beauty," he heard them say.

"It only arrived yesterday, it was only discovered last week. We were lucky to be the ones to catalogue its unique properties," a different voice spoke.

Bob was silent, hoping they wouldn’t open it like he did. Then his blood went cold as he heard one of them say.

"Lets set it back down on this trolley and I’ll get one of the guys to bring it into examination room tomorrow. Be careful you don’t damage it, or you might be cursed."

Bob heard the man laugh, and he wondered what he meant.

"There’s a curse?" came the other voice, sounding worried.

"Well, I don’t know much about it, but I heard that when they discovered it, there was some mention of it being capable of changing your body. I wouldn’t worry; they probably put their own interpretation on the inscriptions. Doesn’t every mummy case have tales of curses associated with them?"

Bob had no time to dwell on the implications of a curse as he felt the case tilt backwards and with an ominous click, he heard the lid shut as the weight settled fully on his tenuous grip. The voices of the people outside became muffled. While he debated if he should call out, or wait before trying to extricate himself out of this self-imposed prison, he realised that it was too late?the men had already left.

Bob found that he was trapped, he couldn’t find any release on the inside, obviously, there being no need for one for the last occupant. The confining space left little leverage available for him to be able to force it open. Already it was clear he was starting to starve for oxygen, as his lungs started labouring.

Slowly, as his oxygen starved brain started to fade, he grew aware of a voice calling him, a woman’s voice. He sensed it more than heard it and, while he concentrated on it, his panic seemed to fade as he lapsed into unconsciousness. His last rational thought was wondering if this was the ghost of the original occupant finally calling to him to join her.

~oOOo~

He awoke, wondering where, and after gazing around, when he was. The shadow from the half built pyramid sheltered his body from the late afternoon sun, which cast its slanting rays across the burning desert; told him he wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

He was walking, no that was wrong, she was walking ... SHE? ...Yes, incredible as it was, he seemed to be in a woman’s body. No, that wasn’t quite right, it was as if he was a passenger in her mind. He could see, hear, and feel her body as if it were his own, but he had no physical control over it.

She was speaking in a foreign language, but not being particularly academic he couldn’t say which one it was, but assumed it was Arabic. The other odd thing he noticed was that there seemed to be a pause between her thinking and speaking, as if she too, was speaking in a foreign tongue and was translating her thoughts into words as she went.

He could just pick up a minute amount of her thoughts and it was clear that it wasn’t an earth language of any era. Her next words confirmed this as he listened in.

"But Krith, we didn’t come all this way from Omicron IV just to fail now, we need to activate plan Chronus."

"I know Aglsha, we took a chance coming here, unfortunately we only had the one go at it."

"This world is in danger, it’s a pity that this is the highest technologically advanced culture available at this time,"

Bob heard the woman say.

"You realise the sacrifice you’ll be making, if you go ahead with the plan? It will be many hundreds of years till the technology that sent those signals to us, come to be. Finding a suitable candidate could take even longer, time that can hardly be spared."

"Of course Krith, but hopefully a candidate will come along that fits the criteria, and in the right time frame," he heard Aglsha answer. "Then I will live again if only as a guide."

"Well, if we are going to do it we had better start now before the ship loses all power," replied the man referred to as Krith.

"What will you do after the ship has finished reverting?"

The man sighed, "I guess we’ll try and blend in with the natives, lending what help we can. Maybe we can start the process of advancing the knowledge base?"

"The orb? It may be needed in the future and I can’t risk having it."

"Don’t worry, my daughter, I’ll put it in a stasis field. For the future candidate, you’ll know its whereabouts and what to do with it. We will have placed the resonators in the pyramids in the exact alignment," he added, looking up at the still to be completed pyramid.

Bob then saw a series of quick scenes of the two of them entering a ravine that was hiding what could be only a spacecraft. Then the scenes flickered rapidly as if being fast-forwarded like a video. One scene showed a machine shining a device at the prone woman; the last was odd, as the only thing in view was the mummy case. It had the exact likeness of the woman, but of the woman herself there was no sign. Bob felt darkness descending again as his senses faded.

~oOOo~

"WHAT THE HELL!" Came a voice. Bob woke, hearing the surprised yell of a museum worker, and found the lid had been opened. A man was staring at him with a shocked expression and, as Bob moved his body the man blanched, shock stopping him in his tracks at seeing the person in the case move. Bob started to apologise, thinking he was in serious trouble, but stopped in shock at the sound of his own melodious voice, which sounded just like that of the woman in his dream.

As he started to climb out of the mummy case he noticed a few other changes. His shirt was stretched tight across his chest and he could feel what could only be breasts underneath. He swiftly jumped up out of the case noting that as he suspected he was a female beneath his male clothing. The clothing felt uncomfortable and ill fitting on his newly transformed body and he was aware of the stunned reaction of the man standing next to him.

"You’re her... I mean...the woman who... on the case...how could..." the man spluttered.

Bob just wanted to get out of there and find out what had happened to his body, so he/she ran to the door pulling it open with a ripping and tearing sound that indicated that it had been locked. Well, no more. It hung drunkenly off it’s one remaining hinge as Bob ran though it without pause. S/he was out and running along a corridor before the man in the room had time to even think of stopping her.

As s/he ran, his/her mind was racing. ‘How did I damage that door?’ S/he thought, ‘If I’m a woman now. I shouldn’t have been able to do that, not even as a man!’ Passing a darkened display case s/he stopped in wonder. ‘Now I know why that man was so shocked,’ thought Bob. ‘I’m the spitting image of the woman on the lid of the mummy’s case! How is this possible?’

~oOOo~

Finding his way towards the exit, s/he realised it must be the next day as the morning sun, shone streaming though the museums windows. Bob paused near the unopened main doors and wondered if they were still locked. Suddenly a shout coming from behind galvanised him/her into action as a lean looking security guard came hurrying towards him/her talking into a walkie-talkie.

Bob decided s/he had places to be elsewhere, and took off running. Stiff-arming the solid looking door, s/he was hoping for a repeat of the last time. She was shocked, not only to see it open under his/her impetus, but that it came off completely and went flying several yards away down the steps.

Bob ran like the wind, taking the steps four at a time, leaving the security guard trailing behind in his/her wake. As s/he ran s/he marvelled at the strength of this body, s/he was hardly exerting him/herself. Finding the car, s/he unlocked it and got in, squealing the tires in his/her rush to get home.

He glanced at his/her new face in the rear vision mirror, and nearly ran a red light in his/her self-absorption with the face that met his/her gaze. The fine boned features were surrounded with a mass of honey-gold hair that had the odd look of showing reddish highlights as it moved. Clear limpid blue eyes that invited one to drown in were framed with long dark lashes beneath highly arched eyebrows. The lips glistened, as if freshly coated with lipstick. The overall look was mesmerising, and Bob had fallen in love it.

~oOOo~

Arriving home, the first thing Bob decided to do was strip off and examine more closely, this body of his/hers. Standing naked, in front of the mirror Bob was amazed. Of his old body there was no sign. Instead, the girl that greeted his/her scrutiny was gorgeous. Her long legs were perfectly proportioned and showed no sign of the strength that had allowed her to avoid the guard. Looking at her arms and hands, she saw no bruising, yet the strength hidden within was masked under a seemingly normal slender arm.

Looking at herself, having decided to think in terms of her obvious gender. She guessed that everything seemed in proportion. Breasts ample, without being too big and a slender waist over hips that seemed normal, but felt much wider and more padded than he would have imagined. Trying not to look to closely at her new genitalia, she sat on the bed not wanting the distraction, while she thought about how this all had occurred.

The girl in the past had obviously had a major part in her new form, just what the mechanics of it were, she couldn’t say, but that ray thing must have been the key. Perhaps it imbued the case with her essence. It was plain that she was unlike anyone else on earth. Maybe she had some sort of super power which allowed her to change form, or at least change another’s. With a sudden chill, Bob wondered if she was in fact a sort of parasite, living though others and altering them to a form of her choosing.

Searching her mind Bob could detect no other thoughts than her own. Maybe it had failed. It was a long time ago, hopefully too long. She tried not to feel guilty at that thought, remembering the words from the dream about the world being in danger. Perhaps the danger had passed, but the thought wouldn’t go away that, somehow she was failing to avert the danger because somehow the woman, Aglsha had failed to survive whatever the process was that had changed Bob’s body into that of hers.

Bob decided that nothing could be done at the moment about her obvious changes. She would have to think of the practicalities.

First, she needed some clothes and a name. ‘Bobbi’ seemed the obvious choice, but a perverse thought, possibly a memory of the original person, whose body she now wore, made her choose Angela as the modern day equivalent.

Getting up, she went and looked at her clothing to see if anything was adaptable so she could at least go and buy something appropriate. Putting on a clean vest and under pants was first. She shrugged at the look of the pants on her, but wasn’t prepared to go out with nothing on underneath. She saw a sweatshirt that, although baggy on her, didn’t look too out of place. A pair of shorts was the only thing that would fit. Having a drawstring it could be tightened around her narrowed waist. A pair of leather sandals completed her attire, on which the buckles were tightened to the last notches.

Taking a deep breath, she went back out to the car. She felt nervous, as she knew she was about to try and pass herself off as a woman. This time there was no adrenaline or panic to cloud his mind of the fact that he was in a woman’s body, as was the case in her flight from the museum. No, this was the calm deliberate and intentional portrayal of someone that she had no prior experience of, to fall back on. It was scary, and she nervously looked around to see if she was drawing any attention as she got into her car.

~oOOo~

Driving into town she had to stop for fuel. She noticed the attendant at the pumps looking at her, but it was a look that she knew. She should, as she had given that very same look to all of the pretty girls in the past. It was uncomfortable, the mental undressing he was giving her, and it felt embarrassing. The only positive thing about it was, she obviously passed as a woman with full marks.

Finally, she stopped near the centre of town and was in the process of reversing the car into a tight parking space, when a man walking by started directing her with hand signals so she could tell how far she was from the other cars. It gave her a new experience that she was of two minds about. As she got out and thanked the man, who was smiling, she was thinking it was nice to have the help, but did this mean the man didn’t think she was capable of parking on her own, because she was female? Or was he genuine in helping for help’s sake? She wondered, if she had been in the same exact situation, but as a man, would he have offered the same help?

Pushing those thoughts aside, Angela started walking towards the mall wondering what was in store for her. As she entered the mall doors a group of people came towards her. One of them was holding a video camera with the letters WMTV on the side. She stopped in her tracks, thinking that they knew somehow who she really was and what had happened in the museum. As she was about to turn tail and hike it out of there, Angela saw that one of the men approaching was holding a large jar filled with envelopes, curious, she paused, waiting till they got nearer.

"Welcome, welcome my dear, you as a visitor to the mall today, have been given the opportunity to win a prize just by picking out a lucky envelope from the jar. This promotion guarantee’s that everyone will be a winner. Could please tell us a little about yourself and why you chose to shop here," he continued, thrusting the microphone in her face.

"I don’t know what to say?" spluttered a surprised Angela.

"Well how about your name?" he laughed. "That’s always a great start."

"Angela."

"Well Angela, "Can you tell us what you’ll be buying here?" the man asked, interested.

Angela was fearful that she would be ridiculed if her photo was shown and her real identity was discovered. Knowing that to turn and walk away would make her stand out more, she decided to go along for the ride.

"Umm, clothes I guess," Angela replied, thinking fast.

The man laughed goodnaturedly, " of course, where’s my head? I should have known that a beautiful lady like you would shop for clothes."

Angela blushed, as she realized that, even dressed as she was, she was beautiful. This was the hardest part of becoming female. To interact with others with a whole new set of rules, rules she didn’t know. The physical side, by comparison, was easier to deal with. She still had two legs, two arms, only certain bits were different.

Realizing she was supposed to say something, she said that she needed a whole new wardrobe as she had lost a lot of weight. The man asked her how often she shopped here and how much would she normally spend. Angela blushed and said it was her first time here, and that she would normally spend about $400 dollars when she went shopping. Managing to make up some on the spur of the moment facts about herself.

The man thanked her and held the jar so she could take out an envelope. Opening it, she saw that it contained a voucher offering half off any beauty treatment offered by any establishment in the mall.

‘Oh great, just what I need now…not,’ Angela thought to herself. ‘Isn’t having to learn how to buy women’s clothes enough, without that."

Thanking him, before he could ask any more questions, she escaped thankfully into the sanctuary of a lingerie shop. She chuckled to herself that only a few hours ago, she, (as Bob) would have never had the courage to enter the place. Now, she was using that same fear most men have, against them.

Looking around the shop she realized that she was going to need way more money than she anticipated, the prices on women’s clothes shocking her. Checking to see if the coast was clear, she ventured out seeking a money machine. Locating one, she inserted her card, not noticing the spark that went from her fingers to the card and punched her numbers in, wondering how much she should withdraw.

Checking her balance first, she was surprised to see that it had unaccountably doubled. Taking advantage of this windfall, she withdrew almost $2000. She settled on the shop that had a fine array of clothing for women. Entering, Angela went and asked an assistant for some advice, explaining that she needed an entire new wardrobe.

"Do you want some help picking out the right sizes?" she asked helpfully.

"Yes, please. I need everything from the skin out and head to toe," replied Angela, looking at her beseechingly. "I expect to spend a lot of my money here," she added.

The assistant told her to wait a moment, and then walked over to an older woman, who seemed to be the manager. As the assistant spoke to her the woman looked over at Angela and gave her a smile. She spoke quietly to the assistant for a moment before continuing to walk into an office. The assistant returned with a big smile and told Angela she was free to help her as long as she needed her. Even in the other shops, if necessary.

This was great news for Angela, as she sorely needed all the help she could get. The rest of the morning was a strange experience for Angela as Heather, the assistant, took almost full control, guiding her in the selections of not only clothes, but also makeup and accessories. Most of which Angela considered unnecessary, as all she wanted was look presentable. She didn’t want to make her body stand out more, especially in the eyes of men, but couldn’t come with a valid excuse to refuse. She didn’t want to refuse Heather’s selections as she valued her expertise in this department.

It seemed that they must have tried on everything in the shop and in the shoe store next door. Heather suggested a visit to the malls’ salon after learning of the half off offer. When, after a few nudges from Heather, she gave in to having the works done. She had her hair permed in a very practical style that needed only a few brush strokes to keep it neat and yet it made her look extremely attractive.

While her hair was being done, she had her nails done and her ears pierced. Seeing that her ears didn’t bleed at all, she had some small hoops inserted instead of the usual sleepers. Another girl did her makeup, commenting that she hardly required it bar a little eyeshadow. After viewing herself in the mirror afterwards, the combination of the clothes, makeup and hair, made Angela feel very much at odds with the image.

In the mirror, in front of her, was an image out of her dreams, a beautiful woman with a body to die for. A woman, however, whose head still contained Bob’s very male thinking mind. The thinking processes of that mind, as it looked at the vision in the mirror, were telling her that they would like to kiss and get to know this attractive person more intimately. Unfortunately, the sexual orientation of the body was firmly fixed in the heterosexual range and as such, did not respond to the image in a sexual manner.

This meant that Angela wasn’t turned on physically with her image, which left her feeling worried. Was she going to find men attractive? At the moment she was too busy trying to survive her first day as a member of the fairer sex, to dwell too long on those thoughts. Walking out of the saloon, she thanked Heather again, and bought her lunch at a one of the little bistros in the mall. Angela noticed the eyes turning as she entered, and while she tried not to feel like she was piece of meat on the auction block, it was as if peoples eyes, the men’s in particular, were burning holes in her.

It was a hurried lunch, as the attention from the men took most of Angela’s appetite away. She felt like she was on the menu also, and wondered if she, as Bob, had given some other women the same feeling when he had admired a particularly attractive female. With lunch over, Heather helped carry her bags of purchases to the car. Promising to come again Angela thanked Heather, who promptly hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Taken aback at this display of affection, Angela smiled back as Heather waved goodbye, thinking that women don’t worry about showing their feelings to others in public.

Getting back home, Angela unloaded the six bags of feminine clothes and other products. She spent the rest of the afternoon hanging up her new clothes after making room in her closets. The underwear went into the just emptied drawers and the makeup products she just left in their boxes on the dresser, as she wasn’t planning on using them anytime soon, even if she knew how. Other feminine hygiene and hair care products went into the bathroom, along with the moisturizers. Looking at all the shoes she had bought she took off the heels she was wearing, opting for a pair of comfortable mules.

Scrounging in the cupboards for something to eat, she realised that tomorrow better be a grocery shopping day. Finding enough for the evening meal, she sat and ate in front of the telly. She caught sight of herself on the news as they aired the piece on the mall. Looking at herself on the news item, she was struck by how feminine she looked in her odd assemblage of Bob’s clothes. She did notice that her gestures and movements were feminine too, with no sign of the scared male within.

’Was this a part of living in a female body? ‘She thought,’ or was there another factor here, that she wasn’t taking into account? Shrugging away these thoughts as unsolvable for the moment, she started getting ready for bed. The effects of the first full day as a woman, plus going on a marathon shopping spree, started taking their toll.

Looking at some of the nightwear she had purchased, Angela cringed a little inside. They were so feminine and delicate, and seeing that Bob normally slept in the buff, she wondered why she let herself be talked into buying them. Putting them back in the drawer, deciding to continue sleeping nude, she crawled under the sheets and was soon fast asleep.

Her dreams were unusually vivid. They seemed to contain scenes of pyramids and Aglsha and, when the dreams turned to normal present day things, it was as Angela that she saw herself, not Bob. Waking once during the night, with the need to urinate, she wandered into the bathroom. She seemed to be going on a female autopilot as she pulled up her nightie and sat down before doing her business and walking sleepily back to bed.

On awakening, Angela yawned. As she stretched her arms before sitting up she noticed the fact that she was wearing the nightie. How had that happened? She wondered. She didnt remember putting it on, and looking over the drawers she noticed a few other things were out of place. Sliding out of bed, she noticed the way the nightie felt, as its silky folds slithered against her body. Feeling slightly aroused, as the sensuous fabric stimulated her nipples, she looked closely at her dresser wondering what it was that looked different.

‘Oh my god!’ She thought. ‘The makeup.’ Where, before the bottles and tubes and other items she had purchased had been still in their assorted boxes and wrappers, now they were open. Checking, she saw that not only had someone opened them, but also they had been used. The container of foundation had fingerprints in it and the lipstick was smeared on the end.

In a panic she rushed though her flat looking for an intruder. Not finding anyone and, seeing the doors were still locked, she sat down and wondered if she was dreaming. Getting an uneasy suspicion, she walked back to her bedroom and placed a finger in the foundation.

‘SHIT!’ She sat back down on her bed, stunned. It was a perfect match! Somehow, in the middle of the night she had opened the makeup and used it, as well as putting on the nightie.

‘I’m losing it,’ she thought. ‘Something weird is happening to me. Apart from the body change, now I’m sleep dressing...or what?’ Trying to come up with a word for it, and failing.

Looking closely, she could see traces of eye shadow still on her lids. ‘Man! What happened last night?’ Thought Angela with a shiver. She decided to dump the makeup in case it happened again, thinking that without it, maybe the possibility of her sleepwalking might diminish, but as she started to pick them up a voice seemed to shout (NO!)

Shocked, she froze, her hand poised over the bottles and creams. Slowly she moved her hand forward and again came that oh so faint plaintive cry. (NO, PLEASE!)

Angela thought this was the end, that she was mad. Hearing voices in her head was the last straw. Wasn’t being transformed by an alien device enough? She sat and waited, fearing any further signs of insanity.

As she sat thinking in an almost meditative state, she could sense a struggle within her mind, as if someone or something was trying to communicate with her. Then, like a radio that had just hit the correct frequency, the voice began to speak, becoming clearer with every second.

(I am Aglsha speaking to you though this body I recreated when you entered my Hevreck capsule. I’m sorry that you were formally a male, but your particular aura was attracted to the capsules’ sensorium.)

# Authors note: to make things clear, from now on, Aglsha’s thoughts will be within (---) and Angela’s thoughts within ‘---‘ normal conversation will use "---" #

‘I don’t understand,’ thought Angela. ‘What’s a Hevreck capsule, and why was my what’s-it attracted to your sensor thingy?’

Angela could hear the voice laugh in a very feminine manner. It was comforting in that it was very relaxed sounding laugh.

(Lets see if I can simplify it for you. The Hevreck capsule contained my disembodied essence or soul if you will. It contained a detector that was searching for a certain type of person to come within range. It was set to attract a person with psychic, or latent psychic powers, and get them to enter the capsule so I could re-enter the world again.)

‘I have psychic abilities?’ Angela thought back.

(Well, they are latent now, but with my powers at your command we should be able to accomplish my mission,) Aglsha replied.

‘Your mission? What powers? I don’t understand.’

(The reason for my being here is to save your planet. It was partly our people’s fault that it was put into danger.)

‘What danger?’ Angela parroted, feeling a sense of dread.

(There was an enormous cloud of Pleolites entering our system, what you might call a scourge. They are a pestilence to all forms of life and they are now headed into your system. They will destroy all life on this planet in a few days, leaving nothing behind. )

Angela gasped, ‘how long before they arrive and is there a way to stop them?’

(Not for another month or two as far as I can calculate, although it could be sooner. Time is short and we need to prepare. There is an orb, which can amplify the mental processes in the brain. I need to find it and set up the field with the aid of resonators placed in the pyramids by my father.) At that, her voice grew sad as she realised that her father was long dead and yet it was as if it was only yesterday when she last heard his voice.

‘Go on please,’ begged Angela, hoping to distract her in her time of sorrow. "What exactly are these Pleolites?"

"We don’t know, only that our first attempts at contact resulted in the deaths of the crews that flew too close. We did find one thing; we managed to recover a craft that was left drifting after the cloud had passed by. Everything in the ship was dead, including the ships Helx, even plants where dead."

"Helx?"

"It’s like one of your planets felines."

"Ah, a cat," Angela offered.

"Yes, a cat."

"Anyway...we...we managed to deflect them with a special energy shield before they could do any damage, as we are a spare faring race.) She continued, struggling to put thoughts of her father aside for the moment.

(We decided to re-direct them towards a sparsely populated part of this galaxy where they could do no damage, but four Konicons later, we started to receive radio waves coming from a point directly in their path. We established that a civilisation was growing in that part of the galaxy, as the transmissions grew far beyond what is normal. Much debate was held as to whether we should assist in any way, but it wasn’t until a different type of transmission was received that we acted. We saw what you call television. It was quite a shock to see people just like us, but separated by the immensities of space. We couldn’t stand by and do nothing, so we created a hyper warp craft that would make a one-way journey to your planet.)

‘Wow! Just like a story from star trek.’ Angela said, butting in on the narrative.

(Star trek? Oh yes I see the reference in your mind,) she replied.

‘You’re reading my mind?’ thought Angela, getting alarmed.

(Only your surface thoughts, I would never violate the sanctity of your own mind without you inviting me!) The shocked thought came back.

Angela considered the situation. Here she was, in a body not her own, having a silent conversation with an alien female who was residing in her mind, worrying whether that female was reading her mind or not.

It seemed too ludicrous, and she started giggling in a very feminine manner, then that started to become a full laugh. Aglsha’s thoughts grew puzzled but held a touch of amusement, as Angela’s thoughts grew plainer.

‘Sheesh. Come on in any time. My thoughts are your thoughts,’ she laughed, using a line from a Star trek episode. ‘Just don’t blame me if it looks like a cess-pit in there,’ she added.

Aglsha’s voice smiled, if such a thing can be said. It certainly felt like it did to Angela, as Aglsha’s joy of being invited to share Angela’s deepest secrets coloured her next words.

(Angela... I like that name. I see you took it as the closest to my own in your language. Thank you for the consideration. I’m honoured and I promise you that I’ll try my best to help your world and though you, save your planet, not to mention guiding you though the mysteries of the female lifestyle.)

‘Why did you have to transform me, though? Couldn’t you have used my male form?’ queried Angela.

(Unfortunately the orb is tuned to the thought patterns of the female mind and your psychic powers will blossom as a female, thereby adding to mine. Anyway, getting back to my story, there was a slight miscalculation due the vagaries of warp travel plus the fact that it was new technology and untested. Instead of us arriving here at the time we where expecting, with a technological presence, we arrived in your past where the best we could do was set up the resonators and prepare for the future.)

‘Couldn’t you have just warped forward a bit?’ asked Angela, thinking of a recent episode of star trek.

(Unfortunately the craft was built in space, using a non-magnetic metal alloy, Lithium Phosphorite. It’s the only thing that works in proximity with the warp engine. Unfortunately, because of its high reactivity as soon as we hit the atmosphere the hull started degrading and wouldn’t stand the stresses of an escape from the earth’s gravity well.)

‘So what was the mummy...um... capsule? How did that work?’

(Is your entire race this inquisitive?) She sighed, (oh well, let’s get the questions over,) Aglsha smiled. (The capsule contained my energy matrix. My physical being was converted and stored while my mind went into stasis. We still had the energy from the ship to do the conversion, but knew we wouldn’t have it in this time period to reconvert it. That’s why we...I, needed a physical body. The energy required is so much less to affect the body changes and download my mind into your brain.)

‘I guess there was plenty of room in there,’ joked Angela.

(Yes its surprising, I think your brain has a bigger capacity than our own, but we need to get the capsule back here, to complete our change,) Aglsha added, not fully getting the joke.

‘You’re kidding right? I mean, we couldn’t get back in now, not with the exit I made. What more changes do we have to go though?’ Angela asked, worriedly.

(Look, this is what we will do. Now where’s that makeup? We need to dress appropriately.)

~oOOo~

The woman that strolled though the museum bore little resemblance to the one that left such a trail of destruction a day ago. Elegantly made up and wearing an expensive silver sheath dress that showed every curve of that luscious body, she walked calmly past the same guard that had given chase the previous day. She strutted past as if she owned the place. The guard’s eyes were riveted on her ass as she walked away from him towards the display rooms.

(See, I told you he wouldn’t be a problem,)

‘Did his eyes pop out or what?’ Angela murmured.

(I’m sure something did, but I’m pretty sure it was much lower than his eyes.)

‘Okay, now what?’ Angela whispered, looking at the newly installed door leading into the room containing the capsule.

(This way, to the right. I can sense it. They must have moved it since you were here last.)

Angela, moved to the corridor on the right and walked along it till a command from Aglsha, stopped her outside another door. She looked to see if the coast was clear, then grasped the handle and twisted. The force from her extra strength hardly showed on her face, but the handle groaned and a metallic grinding sound indicated that the lock had given way.

Opening the door as if it had been unlocked, Angela strode determinedly in, barely pausing, as she orientated on the capsule as it lay on a table. She walked in and placed her hand on the capsules’ lid. Aglsha concentrated, tapping into the well of Angela’s untrained psychic power. She started the process of Zendo, whereby the capsule shrank rapidly in size until it was barely six inches long and as thick as a walking stick. The process continued, much to the amazement of Angela, as the ends curved inwards until they met and fused, becoming a circle only two inches round.

Pulling a leather thong out, she tied it though the circle making a necklace. She then placed it over her head letting the altered capsule slide between her breasts and out of sight. Just then, a shout alerted her to the presence of a staff member as he entered from another adjoining room.

"Hey! What are you doing in here? This is a restricted area," he shouted.

"Oh? Sorry, I just wandered in, as the door was unlocked. I didn’t see any sign on the door," Angela calmly replied.

Scowling, the man went over to the door, examining it closely. Seeing that indeed the handle turned easily he was about let her off with a warning until his eyes saw the two sliding bolts that were now useless, the ends having been bent and broken. He glanced around the room looking for another intruder, one who might have had the strength to cause such damage. Seeing no one and dismissing the woman in her seeming frailty, he quickly made a call on his walkie-talkie.

"Intruder alert in room Alpha B," he intoned quickly.

A crackle of static preceded a voice saying.

"There’s help on the way... anything missing?"

"Haven’t checked yet, but there’s a female here that needs questioning. I found her in the room."

"Is she our intruder? Are you in any danger?"

"No I don’t think so," replied the man, feasting his eyes on the vision in front of him. "I think I’m in danger though. In danger of falling in love!" he laughed.

The room was suddenly inundated with burly guards and more of the museum’s staff, all wanting to know what the story was. Angela kept her face calm as questions were fired at her.

"How did you get in?"

"What were you doing in here?"

"Was there someone else here?"

"Are you someone’s accomplice?"

When the staff realised the mummy case was missing, the questions started turning ugly, until Angela shouted,

"Enough already! I told you I haven’t seen it, or taken it! Does it look like I could have broken in here and removed a mummy’s case or whatever it was you’re looking for?" she said indignantly. "Ask the guard at the door. I’m sure he noticed how long ago it was when I entered." She gave them all a look of wrathful indignation at being falsely accused.

One of the brighter staff members called for the guard to be brought to them and they quieted down until he arrived. He wasn’t long in coming and confirmed that she had indeed entered alone, just about five minutes before. The staff members, who had accused her, apologised saying it was all in the heat of the moment, what with finding her in the restricted room and all. One of the guards escorted her outside, saying the museum will be closed while they do a thorough search.

Angela could feel the miniaturised capsule behave oddly as she moved. It seem to press hard against her as she walked forward and it felt like it was resisting changes in direction by pressing into her breasts as she turned. She queried Aglsha, who laughed.

(When I compressed its spatial dimensions and its apparent weight I couldn’t reduce its mass. It still has the same inertia of the original weight. It’s slow to start moving and just as slow to change direction or to stop. I can bend some of the physical laws, but I can’t break them.) She explained patiently.

~oOOo~

Back home again, Angela removed the capsule from around her neck and placed it on the floor of the lounge. Aglsha, using Angela’s hands again, returned it to its original mummy case form.

(What form of electrical energy do you use, Direct current, or Alternating?)

‘Alternating,’ Angela replied.

Angela, following Aglsha’s instructions then fiddled with the lid, removing a section with a sliding, twisting motion. This revealed a fine coil of filament like wire, which she proceeded to insert in a power outlet after pressing on certain protrusions. Immediately there was a soft hum and several small pin like light’s glowed on the mummy’s lid.

Angela went into the kitchen to get something to eat, while the capsule continued to absorb energy. Looking at the lid after an hour, she noticed more lights were showing and some were blinking in a hypnotic pattern. A mental query to Aglsha gave her more information than she wanted, as Aglsha told her that they needed to return inside the capsule for the final changes.

‘But why?’ questioned a worried Angela.

(This body is strong, but the bones are not. We need to strengthen them and add a few features the capsule couldn’t do with its stored power.)

Angela reluctantly climbed into the open capsule, and on Aglsha’s instructions, closed the lid.

~oOOo~

Aglsha climbed out of her capsule in the late afternoon. She stretched her arms and checked out this new body. She found it as limber as her old one as she went into her yoga style exercises. Feeling the body’s hunger, she went into the kitchen to cook something sustaining. Taking her food into the lounge along with a strong cup of coffee, she relaxed, enjoying the solitude of this body without Angela’s constant questions.

After thoroughly enjoying a meal prepared with her own hands, she sighed.

(Come on sleepy head?time to wake up.)

‘Ugh! Wassup? Boy my head and my body, aches.’

(What do you expect when most of the calcium in your bones has been augmented with Molyhedrum?)

‘Moly what!...?’

(Don’t worry it’s not as bad as it sounds. It makes your bones as strong as steel without the extra weight, but it won’t show up on an x-ray in case you’re worried,) Aglsha reassured her.

‘So what else has changed?’ asked a slightly mollified Angela.

(Well our flesh is denser and will take a lot of punishment and we are much faster in both speed and reflexes.)

‘Wow, a female superman,’ laughed Angela.

(Almost.)

‘Anything else?’ Angela pressed, sensing that Aglsha was holding something back.

(Yes, but its something only I can access at this time. Now lets get a few items before we dispose of the capsule.)

‘We’re getting rid of it? Won’t we need it again?’ Angela blurted out in surprise.

(No, but there’s a few items we may find useful.)

Under Aglsha’s instructions Angela slid and pressed at certain spots on the lid to reveal a tiny recess that contained a small silver disc on a necklace and a ring with clear crystal that caught the light producing a rainbow like flash. Placing the ring on her finger and the necklace around her neck produced a curious tingle though her body and she could feel something calling to her.

‘What is this feeling I’m getting? It seems to be calling me.’ she asked, startled.

(That’s the orb. We need to find it, and those devices amplify its signal so your mind can sense it’s whereabouts.)

‘Is it in Egypt? If so, we are going to need money and lots of it,’ Angela enquired.

(Money? You don’t have enough?)

‘No, and with the way I look, I’ve now got no job,’ sighed Angela. ‘Its a nice body an all, and it’s starting to grow on me, but I can’t go to work and say I was turned into a woman by this alien artefact. I’d be locked away and that’s the last thing we need with the earth in danger.’

(All right, what types of credit systems do you use.)?

Angela went and got her old wallet with her credit cards and drivers license, all showing the name Bob Warner. ‘Oh oh! We can’t travel overseas with that.’ She thought, more to herself than to Aglsha.

(Place the document in the capsule with anything else we need that has your old name on it. We can correct them and send that information to the appropriate places electronically.)

Aglsha told Angela to plug another fine wire into her phone jack and after a flurry of flashing lights signalled the capsule interfacing with the network. All the information was transmitted to the banks and the government agencies so that her new identity would hold up under any scrutiny.

Removing her cards, driver’s license, and passports Angela saw that that they were all now showing Angela Warner. Even the photos had been replaced with her new image.

(I’ve augmented your current monetary accounts. I hope 3 million of your units of currency will be sufficient.)

‘3 mill..... Oh my god, I’ll be arrested for fraud...’ Angela gasped. Wait a minute, it was you wasn’t it, that altered my account balance in the mall?"

(Yes, I sensed that you needed more currency, and altered the card so that it would double whatever you had.)

‘Where did we get 3 million dollars from?’

(Don’t worry; it’s been obtained though untraceable routes and it won’t attract any attention from the authorities. I transferred a dollar out of 3 million accounts disguised within normal bank charges.)

~oOOo~

The woman waiting quietly as she was issued her boarding pass on the direct flight to Cairo was the picture of calm elegance. One could have never of imagined the turmoil going though that woman’s mind.

Dressed in a navy skirt jacket combo and matching heels, she fussed a little with the ruffles on her cream blouse.

"Are you sure I look okay?" Angela asked nervously.

(With this body? You’d look great in a sack,) sighed Aglsha, wondering how many more times she would have to convince her.

"I hope that passport stands up, we could end up in prison for a very long time otherwise."

(Calm down and just enjoy the flight. We will be very busy later and I need you in a relaxed state, not burning up your energy needlessly.)

~oOOo~

Angela walked up to her seat that the stewardess had indicated and sat down. It was the isle seat of the row of two, running up the left hand side of the plane. The plane seemed rather empty to Angela. There was an old lady in the seat in front but nobody in the seats behind. Shortly afterwards a man came up to her right and placed a small hold all in the luggage locker above her head. He turned to her and said with a smile,

"Hello"

She realised he was going to be sitting next to her and started to stand to allow him to get past.

"No need for that. If you like, you can take the window seat and I’ll take this one," he said smiling. "By the way, my name’s Simon."

"Angela," she answered, as she moved into the window seat.

"A very apt name, if I may be so bold." He said, smiling at her.

"Thank you," she blushed. His frank gaze with his piercing blue eyes seemed to look straight into her soul. It felt different from the looks she saw from most men. His gaze never dropped from her face to the more obvious place that seemed to attract men’s attentions. She dropped her eyes to survey his lean body that seemed to be turning her insides to jelly.

‘What’s happening to me? Why am I feeling like this about a man?’ she queried. ‘Is this something to do with you and those extra modifications?"

(Sorry, this is just a normal reaction to the male of your species. Doesn’t he look gorgeous with that black, unruly mane of hair and those eyes?)

‘But I’m a man... I was... um I guess not, at least not anymore. Is this how a woman feels when she is attracted to a man?’

(Yes, Aglsha smiled.)

‘Oh boy, am I in trouble.’

Angela’s internal dialogue with Aglsha took only seconds. Looking back towards Simon, on the pretext of looking around at the other passengers, she managed to take in more of his physical attributes without making it obvious, or at least that was what she was hoping for. Simon was smartly dressed, and looked like a corporate executive until she looked at his hands. They seemed callused, as if used to physical work and not just paper pushing. While she was wondering what he did, she realised she was thinking of him as possible husband material.

‘Oh my god! How can this be? I was a man until a few days ago. Surely it would take longer than that to change my attitudes and sexual preferences like this?’

(Um... oh dear... I think that’s my fault, Angela,) came Aglsha’s thought. (This body is extremely female. It’s part of how our race is. That is why it is reacting to the physical presence of this man and the feelings you were getting, but the other is a bleed over effect from my thoughts. I was thinking he could be a suitable partner and that has coloured your thoughts on the subject.)

‘Phew! I’m glad I know that. I was starting to wonder. Will this bleed over continue to happen or can you stop it?’

(I could stop it, but it’s not advisable, it’s part of the meshing effect that our minds are going to need if we’re to work together with the orb. Maybe after, if all goes well, we can separate our minds and I can enter Entropheny.)

‘Entropheny? I don’t like the sound of that. What is that?’

(Dear one, it’s like an endless sleep.)

‘You mean death, don’t you,’ cried Angela, fearing the answer.

(Yes, but it will be for the best. You wouldn’t want me sitting in your mind sharing your intimate moments.)

’No, I won’t let you sacrifice yourself, I need you,’ pleaded Angela.

(Let’s survive the crisis first, then we’ll see.)

Angela looked out of the window as a tear ran down her cheek. She didn’t want to be alone in this body, and she valued Aglsha’s advice.

"Is anything the matter?" asked Simon curiously, noticing Angela wiping a tear away.

"No, I’m fine, it’s just I’m going into Egypt alone and I might never return if things don’t turn out favourably," Angela sniffled.

"What a co-incidence, so am I. There’s some research I need to do involving the pyramids," Simon answered with raised eyebrows.

"Research?" questioned Angela, thinking he could be worth cultivating further.

"You’d laugh, it has something to do with UFO’s," he replied, looking for any sign of derision.

"Interesting, tell me more."

Simon looked at her in surprise, his estimation of her going up at matter of fact way she accepted his statement.

"Well, it seems a certain archaeologist deciphered a previously unknown text that tells of a visit by an alien craft at the time of the pyramid building. I’ve been sent to investigate the information, to see if there’s any truth in it."

"Oh? You look into UFO’s then?"

"Among other things. I work for a government agency..." he broke off suddenly, looking around the aircraft, checking for anyone listening. Seeing nobody particularly close and the woman in front sleeping, he relaxed, wondering why he’d divulged that information. He knew the agency wanted no one to hear anything about the report until it could be dismissed as a hoax.

"Oh I know, one of those I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you things," she laughed, seeing his hesitancy.

"Well, I guess that’s close," he continued softly, "but for some reason my instinct tells me there something more to you other than your beauty. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s as if part of my soul is telling me that our fates are entwined with each others mission," he said enigmatically.

‘Aglsha, he knows something, I’m sure of it,’ Angela fretted silently.

(I sense a power in him that’s similar to your own, but of the opposite polarity. We may need him. I say we confide a little more to ensure he accompanies us.)

Angela smiled at Simon and told him that her mission was to save the world from a hitherto unknown threat emanating from space. Expecting him to scoff and dismiss her story as the ravings of a seriously troubled female, she was pleasantly surprised when his eyes narrowed and he asked from where was this threat coming from.

Getting the information from Aglsha, she said, "from the direction of..." and she rattled off the spatial co-ordinates as given by Aglsha, mentioning that the threat was about 1500 km across.

"How did you...? never mind..." he paused, looking at her in speculation, and then coming to a decision, said.

"Nobody knows this, but two days ago a cloud of something unknown was picked up by radio telescope heading this way from that exact position. We don’t know what it is, but it’s moving fast. The text that was deciphered mentioning the UFO also mentioned a warning about a global threat unlike any other, coming from space. You wouldn’t happen to know what that is by any chance?"

‘Shall I tell him?’

(Yes.)

"It’s a cloud of Pleolites"

"Huh?"

Angela sighed, "I know this is going to sound bizarre, but they are a pestilence which will destroy all life on this planet should they enter our biosphere. The only thing standing in their way is myself and an object called the orb which is what I’m looking for."

Looking at Simon to see his reaction, she was surprised to see him blanche.

"The orb," he whispered, more to himself than anyone.

"It was mentioned in the text," he continued. He looked at Angela intently searching her face for... what?

"There was one other thing in the text." He paused dramatically, watching her expression.

‘Oh oh,’ she thought, ‘here it comes.’

"Yes," he continued taking her silence as a cue to continue.

"It said, ‘protect she, who has the sun in her palms, for she is the bearer of the light that will keep the world from darkness.’ "

(That was a message from my father), Aglsha told her.

‘Sounds very dramatic, can we truly do this,’ Angela thought back.

(God willing, we will.)

"Are you she?" Simon asked quietly.

She nodded and looked away from those piercing blue eyes

"I am she," she answered simply.

"Look at me...please," pleaded Simon, gently taking her hand as it lay on her lap.

She turned and he looked at her and the tears that welled in her eyes, and his heart melted. The sudden realisation that this woman had captured his heart made his next task all the more difficult to do.

"I have to inform my superiors about this. This is bigger than the both of us can handle. We need support that will give us a fighting chance. He took out his cell phone and started to make the call.

Angela froze in panic. Only the calmness of Aglsha’s thoughts prevented her from trying to run, fruitless, as that was, seeing as they were 20,000 feet up in the air over the Atlantic Ocean.

(Calm child,) came Aglsha’s thoughts, (he’s right, we do need more resources, and the way he’s been looking at you, I’d say he was smitten.)

‘I’m finding myself attracted to him as well, but I’m feeling confused. In my head something tells me this is wrong, but my body is telling me otherwise.’ Angela confessed.

(Honey, don’t fret over it. At this moment, we have bigger fish to fry, to quote one of your sayings)

"It’s all arranged," came back Simons’s voice, interrupting her internal dialogue.

"What’s all arranged?" Angela asked, worriedly.

"We’ll be met at the airport by a team flown in from Hawaii. Now, a question, do you know where the orb is?" he asked anxiously.

"Well, I can’t point it out on a map, but I can tell you the direction. It’s sending me a signal that only I can sense," Angela reassured him.

"Then it looks like we need to keep you alive and well at all costs," he sighed.

"You believe me, don’t you?" Angela whispered, looking at Simon.

"Of course. I can tell that there is something unusual about you that tells me you are the most important person on the earth at this time. I trust my instincts, they have never let me down yet."

~oOOo~

As soon as they passed though the tedium of going though customs at Cairo airport, they were whisked away in a dark limo to a warehouse that was on the outskirts of the city. Uncertain of what was in store for her, Angela was nervously awaiting meeting her interrogators. Only the presence of Simon holding her hand gave her any comfort.

A door opened from a small office within the building and a short grey haired man walked towards them. He was older than Simon by a number of years, his face lined with the ravages of time. He stopped, looking first at Simon, then at Angela, his eyes trying to pierce her seemingly outward calm.

"Simon, is this she?"

"Yes sir, this is Angela, the one mentioned in the texts."

"How can you be sure? She looks as if a strong wind would blow her away. Definitely not my idea of the saviour of the world," he scoffed.

"I can look after myself," Angela retorted, shocking herself.

‘Why did you make me say that,’ Angela communicated to Aglsha.

(We need to convince them now, not a week from now. Let me take the reins for a few minutes while I demonstrate)

‘Okay, but don’t do anything stupid, I don’t think he likes us.’

"Please, if you want to see if I can handle myself then get someone to fight me, Aglsha said, imperiously.

The man smiled and whistled. At the whistle, another man came silently out of the shadows. He was about six foot three and built like a bulldozer. His neck was corded with muscle and he made Angela look like a porcelain doll in comparison. As he came forward, he crouched in front of Angela in what was typically a martial arts stance. Simon looked on in shock and stepped between them, thinking to stop what was obviously a serious mismatch. Aglsha pulled Simons arm and whispered in his ear.

"I can take him on, just don’t interfere."

Simon looked at her with speculation in his eyes, but conceded to her wishes and stepped back. As he did so, the man facing her lashed out in what was surely a killer blow. All hell broke out, as Angela seemed to move with blinding speed easily evading the hulk’s attack.

To Angela, taking a backseat in her own mind, it was as if time had slowed down. She could see the man start a strike to her head, then it was as if he started to move in slow motion. Aglsha moved her head out of line of the oncoming blow and started her own counter punch to the throat. It was as if she had all the time in the world. He had only just started to react to her movement by the time she had punched him, pulling the blow a little so it wouldn’t do him serious harm.

Simon watched in amazement, as it seemed as if Angela hadn’t even moved, and the man facing her had just sunk to his knees, gagging from the almost unseen blow.

Suddenly a shot rang out, shocking everyone, Angela seemed to flip over backward, one arm flung out in a spasmodic action with a speed that was frightening. As she lay on the ground shouts broke out, calling for a stop to further action. Simon rushed forward, hoping against hope that she was still alive.

The grey haired man was yelling to another for a medic and lambasting the shooter for being trigger-happy.

Angela fortunately, was still in her hyper mode when the shot was fired, and sensed the bullet approaching. With a flip of her body she shot out a hand in time to intercept the bullet and, with the speeded up reflexes, caught the bullet in her hand. She managed to disperse enough of the bullets kinetic energy so that the bullet slowed enough so that it only bruised her palm of her hand.

Lying on the ground, she saw Simon rush over and she smiled inwardly as she saw his concern over her safety. He reached down and she shocked him by turning over and getting to her feet as he blurted out a question.

"Are you bleeding? Tell me where were you shot?"

"I’m okay, I’m not shot, Simon."

"Huh? But?I thought?"

Angela walked over to the grey haired man and took his hand turning it palm upwards. Dropping the bullet into the stunned mans palm she said,

"I believe this belongs to one of your men, please return it. I don’t need it in my diet," she said, nonchalantly.

The man looked at her, and then at the bullet, turning it over with his fingers, then he threw it away towards the man still holding his weapon, saying.

"Enough, she’s proved to me at least that she has a power. Hopefully, it’s good enough to help us overcome the prophecy."

At her look, he explained that the text was in the form of a prophecy and, with the discovery of the cloud approaching earth; they weren’t dismissing it so casually. One, because the text included the stellar co-ordinates of the cloud and two, because of the approximate time frame of its arrival. A fact that had a certain small group that was privy to the information, very nervous.

"Now, whereabouts is this orb that was mentioned in the text?" he continued moving over to a table, that Angela saw, was covered by a detailed map of the region.

"That way," Angela pointed, ignoring the map.

"Huh?" then seeing Angela with her arm out pointing, he sighed and took out a compass and moved behind her, orientating on the direction. "You’re sure?" he questioned. Getting her nod, he moved to the map, aligning it with the compass. He then drew a line along it, starting at roughly the position where the warehouse was located. "Okay, we need to get another line from the east of town to get a triangulation." He muttered.

Angela and Simon were shown into a small room where a meal was served for them. Adjoining it was a small bathroom that had a shower which Angela took full advantage of, getting rid of the stickiness from the afternoons heat. The meal consisted of a salad with assorted cuts of grilled steak and a bottle of soft red wine. Angela was grateful that it wasn’t anything heavier because of the oppressive heat.

Angela noticed Simon’s curious glances at her during the meal. He looked appraisingly at her as if she had changed into something.

"What? Angela asked him.

"Sorry, I can’t get over how you did that earlier with such apparent ease."

"We’ll I do have a little extra something," she replied cryptically.

After eating, and a quick rundown from the grey haired man (who was introduced to Angela as Gary) on the next day’s agenda, they were shown to a couple of rooms, each which had a rough bunk bed in it. Gary apologised for the bed, saying it was only a last minute set up and that conditions from now on would be spartan at best. Angela didn’t rest as well as she might have liked. Not only did the heat linger, but also the call of the orb was so much stronger, giving her some rather strange dreams.

The next morning saw her dressed in what could be described as an Indiana Jones outfit, even to the hat. Gary had got them sometime in the night from sources unknown, pointing out that the clothes Angela had brought with her were hardly suitable for the task ahead. She reluctantly agreed, but packed one of her nicer gowns in the small handhold she was given. She was determined to dress elegantly in the evening no matter where or what the location was like. Having to wear pants again seemed odd and restricting, after the freedom of wearing skirts and dresses.

Gary and two other men had loaded a somewhat battered Land Rover that had seen better days, but which, they were assured, was in good order. They had attached a covered trailer, which contained most of the gear required for a trip into the Egyptian deserts. Getting nervous, that the search for the orb was underway at last, Angela climbed into the front passenger seat while Simon got into the driver’s seat. Gary sat in the rear with a communication rig on his head, while the two men mounted a couple of old English Army-Indian motorbikes, looking in similar condition to the Landrover. Then, with a roar, they sped off in front, presumably acting as lookout/escort.

As they moved out towards the east for the other reference line, Gary started questioning Angela.

"I did some searching of the data bases and sent your fingerprints for identification that might be available, but I came up empty handed," he said quietly. "Oh I know your records stand up according to the data bases," he continued, interrupting Angela’s half-voiced protestations." The odd thing about them was that there’s nothing on paper, no documentation of your birth, schooling, or normal stuff that a woman would accumulate over the years. It’s as if you just materialised just a few weeks ago, if that. Care to explain how come a woman like yourself has no documentation other than what you’re carrying in your handbag?"

‘Should I tell him?’

(Well it looks like we need to hon,)

"Gary? If I told you the truth you wouldn’t believe me, but you hit it on the nail. I didn’t exist a week ago," Angela said resignedly.

"So who, and maybe I should ask, what, are you?" Gary replied, leaning forward to hear her better over the engine noise.

Angela looked over at Simon and bit her lip in anxiety as she saw the stony look on his face.

"Well this is the truth, I was given this form from an artefact that was discovered recently. It also gave me the powers that I demonstrated to you last night."

"Ah, the mummy case, I knew we shouldn’t have let them take that. Did you remove it from the museum? I heard that it disappeared under odd circumstances."

"Yes, it is safe." Angela conceded, dreading the next question.

"So who were you then, and how and why did you get changed? Are you still human?" Gary’s questions seemed to hit her like stabbing wounds as she considered her choices.

(Start with the easy ones hon and play your hand as you see it), Aglsha urged,

"I’m still human, just modified by an alien artefact that was sent here to save us from another world. The reason for my change into this shape was, so that the being that inhabits my mind can utilise her power to ultimately save this world. I?I? was formerly a man," she got out in a rush. Angela looked at Simon and saw his shock at her words, and he slowed the Rover to a stop and turned, looking at her in disbelief.

"You’re a man? I mean used to be a man?" he gasped, trying to picture her as a male. I don’t believe it you’re so feminine! No man can talk, walk, and behave like a woman in such a short time."

‘He believes me!’ Angela nodded towards Gary. "Remember, I have a ghost in my head showing, and teaching me to be a woman." Angela turned and looked out the window, not trusting her voice, as her emotions at the anticipated loss of Simon’s respect, started to overwhelm her mind. Not wanting to see his disgust at finding out that she was formerly a male, Angela opened the door of the Landrover and jumped out.

She ran towards the jumble of rocky outcrops bordering the roadside wanting to disappear into oblivion. Her newly awakened feelings for Simon were the reason for her fleeing before she collapsed in tears. Even Aglsha was silent, not willing to force her to stop as Angela’s mind fizzed in a maelstrom of conflicting emotions. As she ran, a shout of "Angela, stop!" from Simon only made her run faster into the hot rugged land.

She stopped finally, not entirely sure where she was, and sagged to the ground in the meagre shadow of a large boulder. Her muffled sobs were the only sound, as she let her pent up feelings run free.

‘Aglsha, he must be disgusted that I’m not truly a woman,’ she sobbed. ‘I wish I was back in my old body with just my old problems,’ she continued. ‘I feel so mixed up. I have feelings for a male, and having him think I’m unworthy of his affections makes my heart ache! What’s happening to me? I was a man not that long ago, I shouldn’t be feeling this way! Oh why can’t I sort my feelings out?’

(Angela, please hush child. Do you know how proud I am of you? You get your gender changed and sent on a mission that puts the whole worlds safety, on your shoulders. You’re dealing with emotions and hormones that are new to you and you are carrying a ghost of a person from another world. Yet you have shouldered the load and everything else with hardly a protest. I’m truly astonished at your ability to withstand these pressures and challenges with no more than this emotional storm,)

Angela felt the ghostly equivalent of a hug, but was still too upset for it to register at that point. Hearing someone scrambling over the rocks from behind, she turned...her face streaked with tears, to see Simon standing there, a concerned look on his face. She turned away, hiding her shame and sobbed, her tears falling and wetting the boulder she was hugging.

"Angela, please come back, we? I need you."

"Go away, leave me to my shame," she said, making a pushing away motion with her hand.

"Angela, listen to me?"

"I said go away!" Angela screamed, interrupting him.

"Alright, I’m leaving," Simon said sadly, moving reluctantly back towards the road.

Angela’s sobs renewed, feeling oddly abandoned.

Five minutes later her sobs subsiding into sniffles, a shock went though her body when a hand touched her shoulder. Looking up, she saw Gary standing there, an oddly satisfied expression on his face.

"What. Come to gloat?" She asked, resignedly.

"Now, I’m sure you’re human," he replied with a smile. "I was beginning to wonder. Simon is a good man, I wouldn’t want to see him involved with someone who’s not human anymore."

Angela snorted, "yeah right, like he wants to have anything to do with me now that he know s I’m just a faux female," she sighed.

"You might be surprised. He was shocked at first by your revelations, as was I, but I think it will matter little, in the long run. I saw him when he leapt to your defence and when he thought you were hurt. The man has it bad, trust me, now lets dry your tears and get back to finding this orb object."

He took her hand and lifted her to her feet, then, led the way back to the vehicle where Simon was waiting. As she neared her eyes downcast, she didn’t see the look in his eyes, the look of a man lost in her beauty, even with her tear streaked face.

Angela stopped and looked up, seeking for any sign in his face that what she had revealed, hadn’t destroyed their growing relationship. She wasn’t prepared for the look in his eyes, a look of respect and something else. She hoped against hope she wasn’t mistaken as he handed her a moist hanky to wipe away the tears. Her heart thundered in her chest and she felt a little dizzy as he pulled her to him in a hug. She buried her face in his shoulder letting the tensions go and relaxing as his strong embrace made her feel secure and wanted.

A cough from Gary interrupted them, bringing the both of them back to the harsh reality of a world to save. Simon handed her a bottle of chilled water, which she gratefully accepted in the growing heat of the day. Simon the helped her into the Landrover and soon they were headed towards their objective.

Having got another fix on the orb using Angela’s finger to enable a triangulation, Simon and Gary pored over the map coming up with an approximation over the point to search.

Angela meanwhile was studying Simon in a new light, as a potential mate and lover, and having an intense mental conversation with Aglsha.

‘I think I’m falling in love with Simon,’ Angela thought.

(Well I’m glad. You don’t want to live a life without the joys of love) Aglsha thought back.

‘But I’m a man inside this body, I shouldn’t be having these feelings. Its wrong isn’t it?’

(Honey, I told you this body is ultra female. You can’t be a male, ever again and that’s that. It has needs, as you have already found out. Unless you want to fight this body and risk not being able to utilise the orb to its fullest, then just relax. Let your mind be influenced, it will be better in the long run.)

‘ I suppose so. I think I would have liked Simon had I been Bob anyway, so having feelings for him as a woman is just another step closer.’

(I’ll bet he’ll be a great lover.) Aglsha giggled.

Angela’s thoughts about Simon making love to her seemed to trigger a flutter in her heart. She felt her nipples harden and a thrill went though her body ending up at her crotch that seemed to set off a reaction as her secretions increased and her panties dampened.

"Okay, it looks as if the orb is near the pyramids," Simon informed her, interrupting her daydream. "Its going to be difficult moving around there unobtrusively, so we thought that Gary could set up camp nearby and we could look around by being tourists. When we pinpoint the orb, we will decide then how to go about retrieving it."

The afternoon was spent driving to the area and setting up a camp and both Angela and Simon were each given an unobtrusive radio communication device with which to keep in contact with Gary. After being shown how to work it, Angela decided to take a walk in the evening air while the others concocted up dinner.

Feeling a light breeze coming off the parched land to the south, Angela breathed deeply and tried to relax before the next day’s ordeal. She could feel the pull of the orb and it was as if, it knew she was nearby. She watched the setting sun cast its ever-changing hues over the tips of the pyramids that were just a few miles away, while wondering about the people who built them so very long ago.

Simon came up behind her and stood silently by her side, content to take in the view without breaking the quiet of the moment. As they gazed upward towards the heavens they seemed to move instinctively together until Angela felt Simons hand encircle her waist pulling her close. She was about to turn to him and ask him a question, a question she needed the answer to, when he gasped and pointed.

"Look, what is that?"

Angela looked towards the heavens where a few stars were beginning to shine. As she saw what had shocked Simon, she couldn’t suppress a gasp herself. There in the heavens, near the constellation Ursa Major, was a glowing red cloud! It seemed to pulse, changing hues subtly. Even its very shape seemed to alter.

"Is that what we’re facing?" he asked her anxiously, "It’s so big."

After a quick consultation with Aglsha, Angela nodded, too shocked by the sight herself, to make a reply.

"Crap, oops, sorry for the language Angela, but that scares me," Simon muttered. Then as a thought hit him, Simon swore again under his breath, "The worlds going to know now after seeing that. I hate to think of what the reaction from seeing that is going to be."

Angela could visualise the suicides and religious ferment caused by those predicting the end of the world. She wondered if she could manage the task ahead without interference if word got out about her upcoming role. She was glad of the comforting arm around her as she involuntarily shuddered. Simon glanced down after feeling her tremble, and was struck with her seeming innocence.

"Cold?"

"A little," she lied.

"Come on, then the meals ready. I was coming to tell you before, but I got distracted with the view,"

"Yes the pyramids look great at sunset." She agreed.

"No that wasn’t what I was looking at," he said hesitantly.

Realising what he meant, she blushed. She mouthed the words "thank you" silently, and turned back towards the campsite. Walking back, with Simon at her side, she wished this was all over and that they were just a couple on holiday. Even knowing that she was stronger and faster than the man beside her, she still drew comfort from having someone holding her secure as they made their way back into camp.

(It’s nice to allow someone else to take over the dominant role and allow yourself to let go, and be able to lean on someone else for a change.) Aglsha said, interrupting her preoccupied frame of mind.

Gary had a lantern set up on a stand, overlooking a small table set for two. At Angela’s questioning look, he shrugged and said,

"I’ve eaten enough while I was cooking. Anyway, I thought you two might want a private moment together."

Angela nodded her thanks and was seated by Simon as Gary placed a remarkably delicious smelling meal in front of her.

"This is great," she remarked, on tasting the food.

"It’s potluck stew," he laughed. "Whatever you’re lucky to have goes into the pot."

Simon quickly pointed out the cloud that was plainly visible now that darkness had fallen. Gary cursed, saying that due to the lanterns light he’d not noticed anything as his eyes were blinded to anything outside of the camp. He rushed off, saying he had to inform "Them" before they found out he’d missed spotting it first.

Angela continued to eat, her attention fixed on her plate, seemingly oblivious to Simon’s presence. Her mind was in turmoil, thoughts of her and Simon in a sexual relationship. Could she? Should she? Was anything left of ‘Bob’? Did she care even if there wasn’t? And tomorrow, what about the orb? Was she going to be able to use it to defeat the cloud? It was almost too much. A tear started making it’s way down her face. As she started to wipe it away a face loomed near, Simon’s. He lifted her face with his hand, and gently kissed the tear away, then lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her.

Angela’s heart pounded. Her body reacted instinctively. Her mouth opened letting his tongue probe hers like a frightened animal wondering if it was going to be refused entry. Simon, seeing she hadn’t refused him, continued the lip lock and brought his hand to her head running his fingers gently though her hair.

Angela was feeling things unlike anything she’d had as man kissing a girl. For one thing, it seemed as if her whole body was awash in pleasure. Not only were her crotch and breasts sending strange pleasurable sensations to her mind, her whole body felt like an erogenous zone.

‘Is this normal for females?’ she queried Aglsha,

(Well... not exactly normal by human standards, but definitely normal by ours. We have a slightly enhanced nervous system that gives us more pleasure than the females of your world,) Aglsha admitted.

‘It’s strange, and different, but wonderful. I never knew it could feel like this, and we’re not even having sex yet. How much better will it be then?’ Angela thought.

(Wait and see hon), was the cryptic answer.

Simon pulled back, ending the kiss. Looking a little embarrassed that maybe he’d gone too fast, too soon. He didn’t seem to care that Angela was once a man. The passion in the kiss told her that. Angela was glad that he’d let slip part of himself and had shown her that her past was a non-issue. Feeling much better, Angela smiled at Simon and asked him just to hold her for a while.

They sat, hearing a muted conversation coming from the tent as Gary contacted his superiors and informed them of their upcoming plans. Angela enjoyed having Simon sitting beside her, as she put her head on his chest while they held hands. A grunt from the tent signalled the end of Gary’s transmission, and he came out and walked over to them.

"Having fun are we? I think you both need to get to bed?separately," he added, grinning at their expressions. " You’re going to need all the rest you can get. Tomorrows going to be a busy day," he finished.

Simon gave Angela a goodnight kiss, as she entered the other tent that had been set up for her. Later, lying on her camp bed she thought about where her life was going and whether Simon would be a part of it after? the crisis, or would he go back to his job leaving her to go on alone. As the desert air cooled, she snuggled deeper into the sleeping bag, eventually drifting off into a sleep filled with images of orbs and of Simon.

~oOOo~

She woke to the smell and sounds of bacon cooking. Getting dressed in a long skirt with a light blouse, she got out a pair of mid calf leather boots with a low heel. Trying to look touristy, without making it obvious, she was dressed to do a bit of scrambling around. She brushed her hair to get the tangles out. A scratching on the tent flap revealed Simon crouching there, with a bowl of hot water.

"Hope it’s hot enough for you to wash in. Oh, breakfast will be ready in ten minutes." he added, taking in her attire with appreciation.

"Thank you, I’ll not be long," Angela said, as she ducked back inside. Washing quickly, she put on her moisturisers and the barest essentials in makeup, deciding not to put on any lipstick until after breakfast. Sighing, she gathered her skirts as she exited the tent, wishing there was a way to enjoy a bath or shower, and made her way to the table where a very cowboyish looking Simon was serving the food.

"Howdy pardner," Angela giggled. "What’s with the getup? Doing a Clint Eastwood impression?" she said, checking out the cowboy boots and jeans. "I like the Stetson. Wish I had one," she sighed.

"It’s my impression of a tourist, and the boots are like yours, for scrambling over whatever we end up scrambling over. Here, get this down you, I need to get something." he added, with a gleam in his eye.

Angela started eating, wondering what Simon was up to as he went into his tent. She ate quickly, washing the food down with a mug of coffee and as she finished Simon backed out of the tent hiding something with his body. Curious, she watched him conceal something under his shirt before her turned towards her.

"Hey! No peeking, close your eyes," he complained.

As Angela complied, smiling at the thought of a surprise, she heard him approach and then she felt a weight descend on her head. Opening her eyes, she looked up to see the brim of a hat, a Stetson by the feel of it. Taking it off she saw it was white with a plain black band. She thanked him and placed it back on her head. Simon adjusted the rake a little, grinning inanely at her.

"What?" she asked, thinking something must be wrong with her appearance.

"Who’s a cowgirl now," he laughed. "We make a fine pair now."

Angela smiled, and stood, as Gary came over and handed them the miniaturised radio communicators and telling them to have them on at all times. Gary had the two escort men break camp and soon they were on the road again.

The plan was for Angela and Simon to join one of the many tours of the pyramids to locate the orbs location then come back later when everyone had gone. The first part went according to plan. As they neared the pyramids they could see that there were local tours that included the sphinx. As buses filled with tourists arrived, people started milling around and getting onto different tour coaches. Angela and Simon easily blended in and were soon on a coach heading for the nearby sphinx. There seemed an undercurrent of fear among the guides and they were muttering under their breath and looking up at the sky.

(They know about the scourge,) Aglsha informed her. (Somehow they know what the cloud is. I wonder if the secret isn’t exactly a secret,) Aglsha speculated.

‘What about the orb? Do they know about that?’ Angela worriedly asked.

(No, but they were saying something about an angel)

Angela could feel the pull of the orb getting stronger as they neared the site of the huge stone structure. She whispered to Simon that the orb was here. He nodded as they disembarked and they hung back in the rear of the group as the guides started their spiel. Angela walked to one side sensing the presence of the orb close at hand. The disc around her neck grew warm as the emissions of the orb affected it.

"Is that where it is?" asked Simon, touching the solid stone surface.

"Uh-huh," Angela answered, bringing her own hand nearer to the stone. The ring on her finger with the gem on it started glowing, as she passed her hand over the surface of the stone. By watching the way the gem waxed and waned in brightness, as it was moved over the unseen orb, she knew the exact position of where it lay, trapped within the rock.

(Look deeper hon seek the orb. Close your eyes and concentrate, then reach forth and pull it free.)

‘From solid stone? You got to be kidding,’

(Trust me, close your eyes, think of the orb, only the orb.)

Angela sighed, and did as instructed. Closing her eyes, she could feel the orb calling her. Concentrating on the orb, it seemed that she could see it nestled in the rock about a foot in from the surface. It was as if the rock had turned transparent, as she reached forth, her eyes still closed, thinking only of the orb.

Simon watched in shock as Angela reached forth and, as her fingers touched the rock, they seemed to penetrate as if there was nothing there. One of the guides, who had come to round up the two stragglers, exclaimed and started to rush toward Angela as her arm slowly disappeared into the rock seamlessly. Simon grabbed the guy’s arm, shushing him knowing that, however it was that Angela could do what she was doing, she needed no distractions at that moment. The guide stopped struggling and stared at the impossible sight of a woman who had her slender arm almost elbow deep in the stone.

Angela felt her fingers touch the orb it was if her mind was split in two. She knew that, on one hand her arm was deep into solid stone (she had felt the slight resistance as if pushing though Jell-O) and was even now touching the orb. In another corner of her mind she was thinking how it wasn’t possible for her to be doing this. Fortunately, that part didn’t affect the part of her mind that was already doing the impossible. The orb sent a tingle though her hand and in her mind she could sense it start to glow as her touch triggered it. As she grasped it she could feel it warm as slowly she withdrew her arm from the sphinx.

By this time Simon and the guide was joined by the rest of the tour group as they came to see what was so interesting at that part of the statue. Their assorted gasps and cries at the sight of Angela pulling her arm out of solid stone were soon silenced as nobody could take their attention from the slowly moving arm. Some of them were busily taking photos and several had a video-cam running. As the wrist became visible, they could see the stone take on a different hue as the orb’s light showed though. The light brightened as it was exposed, until it showed itself as bright blue ball of scintillating brilliance.

Angela staggered, as the weight of the orb, now unsupported by the stone became apparent, plus the intense concentrated effort had drained some of her strength. Simon held her tight, supporting her, as she finally opened her eyes. Looking down at the orb, she was surprised at its beauty. It looked semi-transparent and although its light made it hard to look on for very long, she thought she could make out pinpoints of light inside it, moving in a random manner.

A shout from one of the guides soon had their attention. The other tourists had either backed away in terror or were shouting questions at her. The guide tried to take the orb from her hands, babbling something about the gods. As he touched it, it dimmed and went black and the orb sent a thin blue spark that stung the man’s fingers. He backed off, his voice changing into terror mixed with respect and he bowed to Angela and then ran off, back to the coach.

Simon offered her small velvet bag that had been brought for the specific reason for concealing the orb.

(No, leave it out; I have a feeling about it.)

‘Okay.’ Angela shook her head at Simon, instead she held it up over her head and the orb pulsed sending out a flash that could be seen for miles. Angela felt as if her mind had caught a brief flash of the thoughts from all of those people surrounding her, as if the orb had touched them and signalled their presence to her.

Walking back to the coach, she saw that Gary and the Landrover were there, as well as the two escorts. Simon had radioed them to come and pick them up. Gary was fuming.

"Damnit girl, I thought I said to leave it till after dark," he muttered, looking anxiously at the people that had gathered around her.

Quickly, before anyone could object, they climbed aboard and Gary drove off, the Land Rover protesting at the unaccustomed acceleration. They drove towards the pyramids getting there well before anyone came to interfere. Angela, under the guidance of Aglsha walked up to the base of Giza the great pyramid, unerringly going to a precise point near where the tunnel entrance entered the base. Moving her hand under her inner guide’s instructions, she pressed on a small indentation on what seemed to be a huge stone block.

A fine sifting of sand fell down and a slow grinding sound indicated that it was moving inward, revealing a small access passage. Simon handed her a small torch and they scrambled in before anyone noticed their activities. The passage opened up so that they could stand, but it was very narrow and claustrophobic. They proceeded in single file for about 50 meters. The air was dry, and, although undisturbed for ages, it still seemed fresh. Finally, the passage ended at a small vault, the walls adorned with script that neither Angela nor Simon could understand. It didn’t seem to be the usual Egyptian hieroglyphics, but an unknown script. A shock went though Angela’s body as Aglsha screamed in her mind and Angela felt her senses fading as she lapsed into unconsciousness.

"Angela! Are you alright?" it was Simon’s voice, seemingly coming from far away.

Angela could feel that she was lying on the floor, her head cradled on Simon’s lap. As her head cleared, she struggled to sit up. Simon helped her stand, saying she had just collapsed.

"I’m okay, it’s Aglsha. She screamed out and things went black," Angela reassured him.

‘Aglsha, are you okay? What happened to you? Please talk to me.’

(I’m so sorry. It was such a shock, seeing that my father has left a message for me.)

‘This writing is in your language?" Angela asked, looking around at the walls.

(Yes... let me read them and you can translate for Simon)

For five minutes, Angela looked at the walls, while Simon stood watching her patiently, as Aglsha slowly translated the message.

Then without a word, she turned, and started along the passage to the exit, pulling Simon along behind her. Unfortunately, their exit was seen by a few local residents who had gathered near the new opening, having noticed the break in the lines of the base made by the recessed block.

They backed away at first in surprise, but then they started sounding angry as if suspecting them of robbing some unknown treasure from within the new portal. The orb, which had since been placed in the velvet bag, and was now hanging off Angela’s shoulder by a thin cord, caught the men’s attention. One of the men grabbed it, tearing it off her shoulder and started walking off with it while the others tried to search their bodies for anything else.

As Simon struggled to prevent both he and Angela from such handling, Angela grew rigid as she listened to her mentor. Ignoring the fumblings of the men surrounding her. She threw her arms out directly over her head. Then, focusing her will, she started a theatrical chant that made the men pause and look at each other as her eyes rolled back in head giving her a strange look.

The man that had walked away with the bag suddenly stopped, as the bag seemed to pull against him. As he opened it, looking for whatever it was that seemed to have a life of it own, he cried out, as the orb floated out, its pulsing brilliance drawing every eye to it. The orb moved slowly towards Angela, picking up speed until it stopped, directly over her head. Slowly her brought her hands together clasping the orb. A brilliant flash greeted the contact, making it clear to anyone that she was indeed, the controller of the orb and not a thief as first assumed.

The locals, stunned at this display of power that was something truly unique, fell to their knees bowing so deep that their heads touched the ground. The man who had taken the orb came forward a face filled with fear as he handed her the bag making apologetic gestures. Angela smiled at him to show that she wasn’t going to seek any retribution for their actions. Having set his fears aside, he turned to the others speaking in Arabic and they slowly stood up, looking like children caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

Angela walked past them regally, still holding the orb in front of her, while Simon followed in her wake. The men parted and dipped their heads in respect as she walked back to the Landrover where another group of tourists where standing.

The flashes of cameras from the tourists were a pale imitation of the brilliance of the orb. As she neared they parted, giving her plenty of room to enter the Land Rover. Simon could see one of the tourists running away, a video camera in his hand.

"Come on, lets move out. The excrement is about to impact the rotating atmospheric oscillator in short order, unless I miss my guess," he called.

Driving away rapidly, they headed back to a spot that Gary had found which should give them an uninterrupted time away from the public view. Simon helped Angela out and led her to a shady spot under a tree. Gary had brought several chairs, and some cold cans of drink. Seated, the men waited, watching Angela as she gratefully drank the refreshing liquid.

"I guess you want to know what "we" found out in the vault." She said, pausing as she looked at the two men.

"I’ll admit to a certain curiosity," admitted Gary, with a grin.

"Me too," agreed Simon.

"According to the message that was left for me, we need to find the ‘Vanishing point.’ Its where I need to be to start the initial process off."

"The vanishing point?" chorused the two men.

"Its where two intersecting arcs that touch the edges of both sides of the three pyramids meet at a point, a very precise mathematical point.

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Angela drew a rough sketch, showing the two men what she meant.

"I need to be some distance south east from the Mycerinous (or Menkure) pyramid, and Giza the great pyramid becomes the last one to be activated."

"Anything else?" enquired Simon, looking intently at the diagram.

"The other thing I found out was that I can’t do it alone. I do need to pull energy from a large number of people, not a lot, but the more there are, the more likely I’ll succeed," she said grimly.

"Well with the cloud clearly visible, and your demonstration today, I guess getting an audience will be the least of our worries." replied Gary wryly.

"My... I mean Aglsha’s father, said that after they placed the resonators they were going to be headed for Alexandria to teach the people there. I don’t know if they made it okay, there was no confirmation in the script."

"I think we can assume they made it. I know that Alexandria was known as the greatest centre of learning in the world at that time," Simon reassured her.

"Simon?"

"Yes, Angela, what’s the matter?" Simon asked, seeing her biting her lip in worry.

"We... I will be doing something that will need every ounce of my concentration tomorrow night. I will be vulnerable to anyone with a mind to sabotage things. I need your protection; to be by my side at all times. Nothing I do will harm you or me even if it looks dangerous. Will you be my guardian?"

"Angela, wild horses couldn’t separate us tomorrow. I will guard you with my life if need be, count on it," he answered huskily.

"Thank you," she replied simply, feeling a lifting of her spirit at his words.

The rest of the day they spent resting, while Gary stayed on the radio to his superiors. While they talked sparingly due to the heat, they heard and saw a few helicopters flying nearby heading in the direction of Giza.

They speculated on the sort of reception that they would get when they returned to the pyramid plateau. Angela helped with the evening meal, learning Gary’s secret recipe for the potluck stew (a pinch of garlic and a generous cup of red wine).

During the day Simon had rigged up a solar heater bag for a shower and set up a three-sided enclosure for Angela under the tree. Suspending the bag from a branch, Simon told Angela her shower was ready. With a hug and a kiss she hurriedly took advantage of the opportunity. She wet her hair and body, soaped and shampooed her hair with the water off, then rinsed everything off quickly. Drying herself, she called out to the men that there was plenty of water to spare for them to use.

Getting dressed in a flowing peasant dress that was gathered just under her bust, she felt so good in the simple act of just being clean again. She took over the cooking while the two men took a brief shower. She saw no sign of the escorts figuring that they were used to doing without the luxuries, probably eating k rations. She felt a little guilty at eating so well, when they were doing without.

She did get a surprise went Simon and Gary finished, and they walked out with only a towel around their waists. Gary had a covering of white hair over his chest as befit his age and there were signs of old battle wounds on his torso. Simon too, had a few scars, but the chest while muscular, was leaner, with no flab and only had a dusting of black hair on his chest.

They grinned at her and started acting like idiots, doing classic bodybuilder poses. Angela finally burst out laughing, to their chagrin, but soon they joined in and grabbed her arms and started dancing in a circle. Unfortunately for Simon it ended too soon as his towel fell down leaving him naked. He blushed and grabbed it, covering himself while muttering under his breath. Angela got a quick look and felt weak. It was huge!

(My god, he must be part horse,) Aglsha giggled.

‘I hope this body can take it...oh what am I thinking,’ Angela countered. ‘Did I just think what I think I thought?’ she continued, feeling strangely excited.

(Hey, don’t confuse me with all the thinking,) Aglsha chuckled.

Dinner was strained, Angela kept seeing Simon’s assets in her mind and Simon was looking embarrassed. Gary watched the two of them, a small smile on his lips. He finished first, and stood, saying,

"I’ll just dick...duck off to the tent."

Suddenly both Simon and Angela choked, spluttering as they burst out laughing at Gary’s unintentional? Slip of the tongue.

Gary grinned, which told them it was no slip. As one, both Simon and Angela threw the salt and pepper shakers at Gary’s hurriedly retreating back, hearing him laughing inanely to himself as he ducked into the tent.

Turning to each other, they smiled, Simon reached out and took Angela’s hand in his pulling her closer till their lips met. Having one’s heart suddenly feel like it was about to leap out of one’s chest cavity, startled Angela, but she didn’t pull away. It was too nice. Simon’s kiss was igniting her body in a strange, but an, oh so pleasurable way, that she didn’t want it to end.

(Hon, we need to conserve your energies for tomorrow. Time enough for that later,) she heard Aglsha sigh.

Later that night, Angela lay in her bed (alone) thinking of Simon. She knew that the bond that had sprung up between them on the flight over was firmly cemented together now. It made her feel happy that she could share her intimate thoughts with another person regardless that it wasn’t what she’d envisaged for herself when she had been Bob. With a shock, she realised that Bob now seemed like a dream. She had his memories, but trying to see herself in her old body while wearing this one was getting difficult, almost being over ridden, to the extent that it seemed odd to think she’d once had a penis.

~oOOo~

Next morning, she was up and dressed before the men, chiding them, as they got up blurry eyed. Simon took a second look once his eyes focused properly, a low whistle escaping his lips as he viewed her attire. She had put on her best clothes, white satin underwear and an electric blue sheath dress that sparkled and shimmered with her every movement. It was almost ankle length and on her feet were soft kidskin boots (not exactly what she wanted to wear) but given the terrain, appropriate. Her hair was loose and flowing and had been brushed until it shone like a golden waterfall.

After breakfast, they drove slowly towards the plateau, each deep in their own world of thoughts. As the pyramids hove into view, they could see a multitude of vehicles and everywhere people stood waiting.

"Oh boy, I hope we can get though," muttered Simon.

Angela could see the faces turn towards them and seeing her inside started shouting and rushing forward, disregarding the danger from the moving vehicle. Finally they could move no further. To do so would entail running over the crowd. With a command to her to stay inside, both Gary and Simon got out and made a plea for calm and managed to make room for Angela to get out.

Angela gathered her courage and alighted from the vehicle with as much grace as was possible in the gown she was wearing. A roar of "that’s the angel girl" and "she’s here" flowed over her in a wave of languages, drowning out Simon’s calls for quiet. On an inspiration she took out the orb from its resting place on her hip. Holding it up above her head, its scintillating brilliance washing over the crowd seemed to stun everyone to silence. Moving forward, she stepped up on a nearby stone plinth that was half buried in the ground.

image by Sara UK

"Please..." (The orb pulsed in concert with her single call). Magically the crowd hushed, trying to listen to the voice of this extraordinary young woman, who’s demonstrated powers were all over the news services.

"I have a task to accomplish." She paused, gauging the effects of her words. "To save the world from that!" And she pointed straight up. Although it was barely discernible in the morning sky, the people knew what she meant, having also seen the cloud on the television or witnessed it personally. "I need your help, both in information and in a spiritual way."

A chorus of support greeted her words.

"I need to get to a certain spot to do so, a place called the vanishing point." As she looked at the blank or puzzled stares, her heart sank. Moving off the slab, she turned and bumped straight into a man with a rumpled and sweat stained suit.

"Oh, excuse me, I didn’t see you there," she apologised.

"Don’t come all manners with me, girl. I want a stop to all this nonsense," he blustered, waving his hands at the crowd.

Angela was puzzled; who was this pompous ass? A jumped up little official who didn’t want anything disturbing his little niche in the world?

"Stopping something is exactly what I intend to do," she snapped back, imperiously.

Then holding her head high, she swept past him, leaving him gasping in her wake. Simon was close on her heels and ‘accidentally’ bumped into the official, knocking off balance to be shoved around by the milling crowd.

After walking to a point where she guessed was near the V.P. she stopped and cast about, looking on the ground for any sign of the correct position. Suddenly a barking command signalled the arrival of the military, about fifty UN troops headed by a no nonsense looking man. He barked out orders and the troops fanned out in a circle, creating a barrier that kept out the onlookers and left Simon and Angela alone in an empty circle, some fifty yards in diameter.

Looking around, Angela could see that the troops were now facing outwards, towards the crowd. While she was taking that in, a cough brought her attention back to the man who was standing at attention before her. He saluted, saying,

" Brigadier Johnson...retired, at your service, ma’am."

"Um...Angela Warner...recruited," she added, with a smile.

According to my orders ma’am, I’m to be at your disposal to do anything, short of starting a war."

"Well, I’m sure we can avoid that, and please call me Angela. Ma’am is so, not me," she said, with a grimace.

"Thank you...Angela. I’m like you; I prefer the use of my first name. It’s Peter, but call me Pete. I have an aversion to all the peter jokes, let alone the Johnson ones. Now is there anything you require of us other than making a perimeter?"

"I’ll let you know okay? For now that is sufficient unless you can help us find the V.P." At his blank look she explained her dilemma.

"Sorry I can’t help you there," was his rueful answer.

"By the way I was to inform you that the super powers have already taken steps against this threat. In fact..." looking at his watch, "it should happen right about now," he added.

As she wondered what sort of steps could be taken against the cloud. The answer came as a series of bright spots appeared in the skies. Immediately all shadows were outlined in harsh contrast as the actinic light from the nuclear explosions flooded down from the heavens.

A sound of cheering from the people showed that they had obviously known in advance about the sky show.

‘Do you think it will have any effect on the Pleolites?’ Angela thought to Aglsha.

(Very little, most of them would just be influenced by the energy front and ride it like a surfer. Only those in the heart of the explosion would be destroyed. No, the only way to destroy them is by the use of the orb.)

"I have been briefed by your superior," Pete said, looking at Simon. If the barrage doesn’t work then we have to use Angela’s talent with the orb. I must admit I was rather sceptical when I heard about it, but now I’m not sure. I’ve seen some pretty weird things in my time, but if this works then I’ll most likely be able to get free drinks whenever I recount this story." He grinned at them both and called for a man to bring the van closer. "I need my luxuries," he told them.

Soon a large van arrived, along with Gary in the Land Rover.

"Boy it was hard going until I called in the troops," he said, shaking hands with Pete. "It’s a good job I called for them to be on standby," he added, looking around. He started pulling a table from the trailer and set up an umbrella and chairs for them all. Meanwhile, Pete had asked his man to set out cold refreshments. Angela was getting distracted with everything going on and just sat down next to Simon and held his hand.

Raised voices near the perimeter line, drew Angela’s attention, there seemed to be an old man and a boy gesturing in their direction. Finally a crackling on the radio of Pete’s van preceded a conversation from the UN man nearest the heated scene. Pete listened for a moment, and then called Angela over.

"Apparently there’s a man who claims to know what you’re searching for, but he won’t say anything unless it’s to the prophesied one, the one with the sun in her palms was how he put it."

Both Simon and Angela looked at each other, puzzled as to how anyone knew of the message in the discovered text.

"Shall I let him in?" Pete asked.

"Yes," both Simon and Angela chorused.

Waiting for the man was agonising for Angela as he shuffled slowly forward, aided by the boy. His robes were clean and looked ceremonial with curious symbols on them.

(Angela, this man knew my father), came Aglsha’s excited mental voice.

‘Impossible, he’s old, but not that old. No one could live that long.’

(Those symbols are of our world, nevertheless), she replied, barely containing her excitement.

‘Oh my God, I think he’s blind. Look at that staff he has and the way the boys are helping him. How is he going to help us locate the spot when we can’t find it with normal sight?’

(Don’t be so negative. That staff... its... special.)

Looking at the staff again, she saw it had a curious cup shape on one end and carvings along its length.

The old man walked up to Angela, peering into her eyes as if searching for a sign. Angela could see that, although cataracts clouded his eyes, he could see her well enough. His face underwent a transfiguration as a look of joy suffused his tired looking face.

"At last, the time has come," he said. "I will be the last guardian of the staff and my grandson won’t need to take up the burden of the prophecy like his forebears," he added, sounding relieved.

Simon offered him a seat and a cool drink, which he accepted gratefully. He continued his narrative slowly, pausing every so often, as he told of how two families ancestors, were given the task of ensuring that the knowledge of the staff and its use were to be passed down though the ages, until the discoverer of the orb came along. The other line had died out, due to disease and famine, but his had survived and had heard the news of the discovery of the orb.

By the time he had finished, it was midday, and they decided to eat lunch before going and locating the point. Pete had supplied a refreshing salad with cold chicken and pita bread, washed down with chilled white wine. Although Angela saw with a grin, that both Gary and Pete were drinking cans of German lager. To Angela it seemed rather surreal that here they were, calmly sitting round eating, while the world lay on the brink of destruction. Shrugging, knowing it was pointless to get overly worked up, she tried to relax, so she be ready for the crisis ahead.

During lunch, Angela, on behalf of Aglsha, asked the old man about the symbols on his garment and what they represented.

He replied, that they were from the homeland of the wise one, who had written the prophecy, and had begged that the symbols be preserved exactly as they were given. They were to be a sign to the orb holder, that ‘she’ who resided within had not been forgotten.

Hearing this, Aglsha’s emotions burst forth in a sob that was so forceful, Angela herself started to cry. Tears flowed freely, startling those close by, as the two minds meshed in a mixture of joy and sadness, at the news of what her father had done so very long ago.

Simon immediately had his arm around her, pulling her head against his chest as she sobbed. He knew there was reason for her outburst at the old mans words, even if he didn’t fully understand it, not knowing that the person mentioned, was the father of Angela’s guide.

(I’m sorry. I... I...miss him so much; I knew that he would be dead when I woke. I accepted that, as part of what I knew had to be done, but knowing it intellectually and dealing with the reality are two different things.)

‘Hey, if anyone’s got a right to let out these emotions, it has to be you.’

‘Look what you gave up, a life and a loving father, and all for a people not your own. I’m surprised you lasted this long. I was beginning to worry. It seemed like you hadn’t grieved properly. I know I’d have lost it ages ago,’ Angela re-assured her.

The old man seemed the least surprised at the emotional outburst from Angela and as her tears subsided he lifted her head to face and said.

"Child, I see that the death of your father has hit you hard. Be at peace, for your father was gifted. He foretold this very moment, and gave us this message.

< Daughter, remember our purpose. Only if you fail, will our lives been wasted. Succeed, and you can rejoice, knowing that what we did was not in vain. Now go and finish it, so I can truly rest. God willing, we’ll be together in the life after this.">

The old man got up, holding out his gnarled hand to Angela. "Lets go find the place you need, shall we?"

With a sudden resolve, born of determination to complete the task, Angela took his hand and stepped forward to find the all too crucial final set-up point.

‘Aglsha, I wish we could do something about his eyes,’ she said sadly.

(Maybe we can, but we must be alone with him,) she said.

Motioning to Simon, who had got up too, that she needed to be alone with the old man, she reluctantly left his company to walk some distance away so the two of them could be alone. Taking the orb from its velvet prison, Angela held it to the old mans head and started concentrating. As the energy from the orb coupled with the directing force of their combined minds, Angela/Aglsha sent a fine tendril of energy to burn away the obstructing cataracts. The man gasped as his vision returned in full. Tears of gratitude flowed freely, and he sank to his knees in supplication.

"Thank you Maiden of the orb, I will be forever in your debt."

"Nonsense, I am in yours and your ancestors, for serving so faithfully. Please get up and help me one last time," she urged, wiping a tear of her own away.

Waving to Simon to join them, she smiled at his astonishment at seeing the man with his sight restored.

"You did that with the orb?" he whispered, at her nod, he grinned and said, "We could set-up a practice and earn millions," he joked.

"I already have millions," was her only reply, grinning back.

‘He said "WE!"’ she rejoiced.

(He’s yours?handle him gently.)

‘Hmmm,’

At the old mans urging, they walked further away than where they had been looking before. The man stopped and knelt, brushing away the sand from a hidden stone circle. It had a lump of something stuck in the centre. Producing a small knife, he worked on the lump until with a snap it popped out, leaving a small hole. Then, handing her the staff, he indicated for her to insert it into the opening.

As the staff went in, there was a click and Angela found that it wouldn’t move any further in or out, it was stuck. The cup on the end of it was at chest level, and acting on a hunch, she placed the orb in the cup. A booming sound reverberated though the air and travelled out towards the three pyramids, startling everyone in the surrounding area.

(Angela, quick! We need to make sure the pyramids are empty of people. The energy released from the orb could kill someone.)

Relaying the message, Pete went into action sending men to ensure that the people stayed out. After being given the all clear, Angela placed her hands on the orb, suspended from the ground as it was. The orb brightened for a moment, then a curious beam leapt out heading for the pyramids. As it went, it split into several beams, two of which curved and touched the outside edges of the pyramids, similar to the sketch Angela had drawn. The third went to touch all three apexes.

What looked like St Elmo’s fire flowed slowly down from the tips, and a low keening sound started to come from the pyramids. Even from where Angela stood, she could hear dull thumps as if slabs of the internal structure were being rearranged. A report from the men guarding the entrances said that huge stone slabs now sealed them all.

All the spectators had drawn back in a mixture of awe and fear from the area bordering the pyramids. The sound started to increase in pitch as the covering of St Elmo like fire slowly crept towards the ground. Everyone could sense that there was some sort of energy build-up. They moved nearer to Angela’s position, seeming to find comfort in her stoic stance behind the orb.

Simon stood behind her, during the hours that it took to charge the pyramids. Only leaving to get some food and drink, which he hand feed to her, as her hands were otherwise occupied. To Angela it didn’t seem as long, as her mind was intent on the task in hand. Food seemed to come from nowhere as she required it. Thirst too, was assuaged in the same fashion. She was only vaguely aware of people around her, only Simon’s presence was noted. There seemed to be a link between them and she could sense his support like a warm glow.

Night fell and the evidence of the superpower’s futile attempts at halting the cloud, was clearly visible. The red glow was very bright and seemed even larger than before. The pitch of the sound emanating from the pyramids rose up into the ultrasonic and silence reigned as all the surfaces of the three pyramids glowed blue.

Angela knew it was time. If the effort to manipulate the orb was draining, she knew it was as nothing when compared to the task ahead. Everyone held his or her collective breath, knowing the moment was at hand.

Over the afternoon’s effort, Angela’s meld with Aglsha’s mind had been completed. There was no me/you, anymore. There was now only "us" as they began the final steps. Aglsha’s knowledge of the orb combined with Angela’s now enhanced physic powers was put to the test as they exerted their all on the forces within the orb.

Simon watched anxiously, as she drew on even more power from the orb. Her hair started to rise as the backwash of energy tried to separate every hair strand from each other, until it looked like a huge golden crown of hair.

CRAAACK!!... Simon saw the sides of the pyramids open as beams of coruscating energy soared to the heavens. Each pyramid sent a beam out at a slightly differently angle, making a triangular shaped funnel that enclosed the clouds boundaries. Immediately the cloud seemed to rush forward into the funnel, descending into the earth’s atmosphere inside the narrowing funnel. As the cloud tried to burst out to invade the life it could sense on earth, the walls of the funnel flashed blue rebuffing any attempts to breach it.

Each time this happened Angela could feel a surge in the energy as it countered the Pleolites attempts. It took more energy and that was a finite source! Once Angela’s energy was gone, the energy field would collapse and death would be swift. The cloud reached the tops of the pyramids and started to die. The people watching cheered, not knowing the toll it was taking of the slender girl with the orb.

The last remnants of the cloud seemed to sense their imminent destruction and were fighting against the energy. With only a few stragglers left, Angela felt her energy dwindle to the point where she was barely holding them within the field. There was not enough energy left, to force them into contact with the pyramids. In an act of desperation, she reached out with her mind to touch those gathered around her.

Simon felt Angela’s mind reaching out, and knew something was wrong. He tried willing more energy into the woman who stood unresisting in his arms. Dimly, he could sense though the fragile link he had with Angela, that she was pulling energy from the others.

As the energy coming from the people grew, she again had the strength to force the last of the Pleolites to their destruction. Simon felt her collapse, bonelessly into his embrace as she removed her hands from the orb. The energy field winked out in a heartbeat and true silence descended as the pyramids went dark.

For a few seconds, silence reigned as the people digested the final demise of the cloud. Then, slowly a cheer went up, gathering volume as they realised they had survived. People started laughing and dancing in celebration, unmindful of the scene near the orb.

Simon was very scared; Angela was unresponsive to his attentions as he tried to rouse her. Pete, Gary and the old man gathered round, looking shocked that their saviour had fallen.

Angela was conscious but couldn’t respond. Aglsha was dying, and it was only Angela’s mind that was preventing her leaving.

(Hon let me go, it’s my time.)

‘NO! I need you.’

(You have Simon. I want to see my father.)

‘Don’t go. you can see him later. I need you now.’

(Bye...)

‘Noooooooo!’

Angela grabbed Aglsha with her mental hand, and held tight swearing never to let go. She could sense Aglsha being drawn out towards a light, and slowly Angela too, was being drawn along. She tried to hold onto her corporeal body, but her grip was slipping.

’If you’re going, so am I.’

(No... it’s not your time.)

As Angela felt herself sliding over the edge to oblivion, in near panic at either losing Aglsha or Simon, she flung a mental hand out to Simon. There she stopped, holding on to both with a grip Hercules couldn’t break.

Simon felt Angela call him though the link. As he willed her to come back to him, he felt the link strengthen, becoming like a steel cable. He could sense her struggling to return, but she was being pulled away. Frightened that she might be dying, he gave her every ounce of his burgeoning love and willed her back with every fibre of his being.

To Angela, the love that Simon as feeling for her, impacted like an avalanche, flooding her soul with power. Using that love, she literally snapped back into her body, still holding Aglsha. The rebound effect flung their two souls together and they merged, becoming one. The link with Simon broke as she fell unconscious from the shock.

Simon, still holding Angela’s body wept, thinking she was gone as the link snapped. As his tears fell upon her face, she stirred, and her eyes fluttered open. Looking into the grief stricken face, she felt a wave of love for this man who had risked his own soul to save her.

"Simon, I’m back."

Simon’s eyes snapped open. The joy of hearing her voice, filled him again and sent the feelings of doom away.

"Simon, I love you," she said quietly.

"Angela, I love you too. I felt like the sun nearly went out of my life just then."

Lifting her up in his arms, he kissed her, then set her on her feet. She hugged the others, getting a kiss from all of them.

Walking to Pete’s van, Angela felt like she’d run several marathons even with her augmented body. Lying down inside she rested, as Simon made a hot chocolate drink for her. She could hear voices outside as Gary and Pete discussed the events of the day.

"Shit!" Gary exclaimed, "We forgot the orb! It’s still out there." he shouted.

Angela smiled to herself.

"Hell it’s gone! The staff too. Where’s the old man?"

Angela knew the orb was in safe hands, hopefully, it would never be needed again. Anyway she knew how to find it if necessary.

When Simon came back with the drink, he asked her if she was okay.

"Yes we are," she said with a smile.

"We?"

"Aglsha is now part of me I feel her in my heart and she is me as well. We are one. Now and forever, we both gained each other’s experiences and knowledge. She can live out her life with me and I know all the things I need, to be the woman I now am."

"Hmmm, so I’ll be marrying both of you? A bargain if ever I heard one," Simon said, looking at Angela, expectantly.

"Yes...SIMON! You’re asking me to be your wife?"

"Yes, if you’ll have me that is,"

"Have you? You had me at ‘Hello’."

 

Finis

 

 


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2001 by Prudence Walker. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.