PYRAMID POWER – snippet 31:



Chapter 21



            “I’ve been thinking,” said Cruz, herding them all ahead of him like a flock of geese, “that we’d better stay indoors and away from the windows for a while. Professor Tremelo says we can camp out here in his Chicago headquarters for a while. And, uh, I told the dragons they could hold, and probably eat—with permission and ketchup—anyone they caught sneaking around this place. We’re awkward witnesses. And I got the feeling from the PSA crowd that this business they dragged us into, isn’t really legit. And the other thing I got was that they don’t care about staying within the limits of what is. That Megane clown, for sure. Whether he’s acting on orders from higher up or not, who knows?”


            Mac hugged Arachne again. “If the Pissants don’t go over the Colonel’s head and suddenly get us posted to Colombia or Afghanistan or something


            There was a tremendous uproar outside.


            “Keep back. Keep low.” Cruz moved up to window along the wall and took a careful look outside. Then, grinned. “It’s okay. The next wave of the Seventh cavalry just arrived. Maybe Prof Tremelo should have told the guys on entry control that Bes was on his way. I’d better go down and get him to put them down.”


            “Bes!” said Throttler, delightedly. “Let’s go.”


            The dwarf-god from Punt, the Egyptian god of protection, was standing just outside the building with two MPs and they were making the racket for him. People tend to do that when you hold them upside down by one leg and swing them around.


            Bes still wore a loin-cloth and a cloak made from a very short, wide leopard. He still had a top-knot with bobbing ostrich feathers. He’d acquired a broad wrestling championship belt, and an awful lot of gold bling since they’d last seen him. His laugh and his beard were as broad as ever. “Cruz!” he said delightedly. “And my favorite lady friend!”


            Throttler blushed. “Hello handsome,” she said coyly, as Bes dropped the two dazed men and leaped to hug them. It was almost as dangerous as an affectionate squeeze from a dragon.


            “The Prof sent for him,” said Cruz to one of the victims, who was reaching for a sidearm.


            Bes looked sternly at the man. “Never ever call a man ‘shorty’ unless you are very sure that he is.”


            Cruz shook his head at the MP. “Man, are you crazy! Look, confirm it if you like, but this is Bes. As the guys from the WWF will explain, you don’t get in his way or mess with him.”


            “He assaulted us!”


            “So you’ve got a story to tell your grandkids one day,” said Cruz with a grin.       “And you’re alive to tell it,” said Bes with a growl. “It appears that I’m acquiring believers here. So… how does that American saying go, friend Cruz? Yeah. Go ahead,” he said cheerfully to the MP fumbling with his sidearm. “Take that weapon out. Make my deus.”


            “Don’t let’s get hasty, Bes. He was just trying to do his job,” said Throttler. “I wonder how many riddles he knows?”


            “He’s not kidding,” said Cruz, quietly, to the other MP. “Nobody got too badly hurt, yet. Let’s just call it a day. He’s a sort of special bodyguard the Prof called in.”


            The guy blinked and shook his head. “I saw him on ‘The Best Damned Sports Show Ever.’ I thought it was faked. Hey, Dodson, cool off, willya? It’s just misunderstanding, I guess, and like you said, nobody got hurt too badly.” He turned to Bes. “You wouldn’t autograph something for me?” 


            “Sure,” said Bes, showing how fast Las Vegas had accustomed him to certain American customs.


            They moved into the building to fill Bes in on developments, using the service garage entrance at the back. The garage had the only door big enough for Throttler to pass through. Cruz couldn’t help noticing that Throttler had a wing protectively over him. As if anyone needed it less!


            When Bes had heard the whole story, in various choruses, and had somehow gotten Tina to sit on his knee—when she wouldn’t go too close to anyone else—he said: “Well? When do we leave. The sphinx-image in Vegas will do for a point of departure. It’s about time I popped back in to Egypt anyway. I need to tell Harmakhis to sit on anyone he sees going near his nose. Best way to teach them the meaning of ‘fundamentalism’.”


            Cruz had think who Harmakhis was—oh, yeah. The Egyptian sphinx. With a nose, Jerry had explained,  that had been hacked off by some Muslim fanatic in the fifteenth century. Being sat on by a sphinx might put his ideas about defacing other people’s monuments into a new perspective.


            Mac shook his head. “It’s not that simple, Bes. They haven’t gone to Greece or Egypt. Prof Tremelo thinks it’s Scandinavian myth.”


            “Got any giants for me to beat up?” asked Bes, curiously.


            “Lots. And lots of other dwarves there too. But it’s kind of a tricky question just how we’d get there.”


            “Can’t you fly there, my dear?” asked Bes of Throttler.


            “I don’t think so,” said Throttler. “They’re heathens. They don’t believe in the sphinx.”


            “We’ll have to get there and do some missionary work then,” said Bes, rubbing his hands.


            She nodded. “And some riddling.”


            The secretary came in. “I have a call from Professor Tremelo for Sergeant Cruz,” she said, trying not to look at the Sphinx’s exposed frontage. Cruz had to admit that he’d almost forgotten that she wasn’t wearing anything.


            Miggy Tremelo sounded exasperated. And like he wanted their company with whatever was making him feel that way. Which was why he was ordering them—in the politest fashion—to get everyone, including the dragons, to Washington.


            “I’ve spoken with the Air Force. They’re arranging air transport. Someone will be in touch shortly.”


            Cruz had encountered dragon feelings about air-traffic before. The skies belonged to them, not these upstarts. “Uh… Professor. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to fly everyone here?”


            “Much,” said the Professor. “But it would also be easier to take a tortoise out of its shell.”


            Or get a dragon into a plane, thought Cruz, but he didn’t say anything. There was a dangerously explosive quality to Professor Tremelo’s voice, that said “don’t argue.”