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The Two Faces of Evil
By Demonprist



                                PART TWO:  DARKER


        "Prepare to enter Third Earth's atmosphere!"
        Everyone on board the circus train snapped to attention at Vultureman's
announcement.  "How s-s-soon?" Slithe asked.
        Vultureman adjusted the throttle.  "In about five minutes."  He turned
to Aluro.  "Watch our angle of entry, or we'll burn up."  Obligingly the
Lunatak checked the console panel above his head.  "We're at
thirty-seven degrees."
        "Better make it an even forty.  The galactic shear isn't working in our
favor."  As if on cue from Vultureman's words, the train shuddered and
wobbled from side to side.
        "Everyone stay calm.  It'll pass momentarily."
        After another minute of being buffeted about by the winds, the train
settled back onto a steady course.  Vultureman scanned the screens in
front of him.  "We should be coming up on the stratosphere . . . now."
        Luna glanced out the window and watched as the inky blackness of the
universe slowly changed to the blue light of Third Earth skies.  "That
didn't take very long at all," she remarked.
        "This circus train has rocket boosters," Vultureman explained.  "They
cut the entry time in half.  Otherwise we'd still be hovering around the
orbital range."
        Slithe spoke up.  "How far to Castle Plun-Darr, yes-s-s?"
        "Not very far.  Look down here," Vultureman said as he pointed on his
radar screen at a pea-green splotch on the land.  "It's the Baleful
Swamp.  The castle's only sixty miles away as the crow flies.  With
these boosters, we'll easily get there in under an hour."
        "I hope the castle's still in one piece," Jackalman muttered to no one
in particular.  He dug his pinky finger into a corner of his nose.
        Slithe heard him.  "What was-s-s that?"
        Jackalman stopped picking his nose long enough to answer.  "I said, 'I
hope the castle's still in one piece'."
        Slithe scowled at him.  "Fool.  Why wouldn't it be?"
        "He's got a point, Slithe."  Aluro looked down from the overhead
console panel and faced the Mutants.  "The Thundercats probably
bulldozed it when they shipped us off to Wayoutback."
        "Don't forget that they destroyed Skytomb as well," Chilla put in.
        "And they wasted Mumm-Ra's original pyramid," Red Eye offered.
        "So if the castle no longer exists, then where are we supposed to hide
out?"  Luna tapped her riding crop against Amok's forehead.  Being as
thick-skulled as he was, the beast took no notice of this.  "We'll be
sitting ducks for those miserable Thundercats on Third Earth!" 
        "Calm down, Luna."  Vultureman waved his hand in the air.  "I've
already plotted the destination coordinates.  If Castle Plun-Darr was
nonexistent, I'd have known it by now."
        "Bes-s-sides, if there was a problem, Kembri would have contacted us." 
Slithe thumped his tail soundly on the floor.
        "You keep talking about this Kembri character," Jackalman huffed. 
"Why's he so important?  And what's he got that we can use against
Mumm-Ra and the Thundercats?"
        "I'd like to know that too, Slithe."  Luna eyed him suspiciously.  "His
name sounds familiar."
        A wicked smile split Slithe's face.  "Ever hear of General Byron
Kembri?"
        Luna's eyes widened.  "Byron Kembri?  The General Byron Kembri?"
        "Who's General Byron Kembri?" Monkian asked.
        "A Thunderian!" screeched Luna.  "You slimy reptile!  Leading us to a
rendezvous with a Thunderian!"  She whacked Amok's nose with her crop. 
He ignored her as she continued to rant.  "They are our enemies!  You're
mad!"
        "And you, my dear Luna, are nears-s-sighted," Slithe hissed.  "Yes-s-s,
Kembri is a Thunderian, but only in breeding.  He has-s-s no particular
care for his countrymen.  That is-s-s why he will make a perfect ally."
        Aluro raised an eyebrow.  "So he's a turncoat.  What can he do for us?"
        "On the Old Thundera, Kembri was in the s-s-service of Claudis as head
commander of the planet's defens-s-ses."
        "Claudis, hoo hoo.  That's Lion-O's daddy," Monkian grunted.
        Slithe acknowledged this with a nod and kept talking.  "But he made a
deal with our Mutant king, Bolgar, to s-s-spy for Plun-Darr in exchange
for monetary compens-s-sation."
        "He wanted to get rich, big deal," Vultureman said, not bothering to
turn around from the controls.  "Don't we all."
        "Pay attention, Vultureman, this-s-s may interest you."  The
reptilian's tail struck the floor with a thwack.  "Kembri was-s-s also a
res-s-searcher.  His-s-s s-s-specialty was science."  The more excited
Slithe got, the more evident his lisp became.  "S-s-specifically
genetics."
        Monkian screwed up his face in puzzlement.  "Huh?"
        "Genetics?  You mean he liked to tamper with DNA, stuff like that?"
Aluro asked Slithe.
        "Exactly."
        Now Vultureman was interested.  He'd always held a great appreciation
for science and technology.  Hearing that the turncoat Thunderian also
favored these subjects raised Vultureman's opinion of him.  "What's he
got for us?  Some super-virus that will wipe out the whole planet?"
        "Better than that!"  Slithe's grin was filled with malevolence. 
"Kembri made clones."

                                ********************

        The transport lightning cleared and Mumm-Ra found himself once more
within the shadows of his pyramid.  "We're back, pooch."  Ma-Mutt
squirmed out of his master's arms and leaped to the ground, shaking
himself vigorously.  When he'd finished, he sent Mumm-Ra a look that
seemed to say, Now why did you do that?
        "Don't start.  I've had enough stress for tonight."  Mumm-Ra closed his
eyes and rubbed his temples.  He could feel the beginning of what
promised to be a nasty headache.
        "What in the name of Osiris am I going to do?" Mumm-Ra murmured to
himself. 
        It suddenly dawned on him that the air was silent.
        Too silent.  
        Mumm-Ra opened his eyes.  The moonlight shining down from an open vent
at the top of the pyramid cast an eerie pallor throughout the tomb
chamber.  A sharp tingle snaked down Mumm-Ra's spine.  Something wasn't
right here.  He could sense it.    
        Perhaps the Ancient Ones were waiting to strike.
        Mumm-Ra swallowed a lump in his throat.  Few things in his ever-living
life had the power to shake him the way that the Ancient Spirits of Evil
did.  
        Had it always been so cold in the pyramid?
        "I don't remember it being this chilly, do you, Mutt?"  Shivering,
Mumm-Ra wrapped his arms around himself.  He glanced at the cauldron. 
Its waters remained still.  
        Ma-Mutt growled.
        Mumm-Ra's senses were on full alert.  Now he knew something was wrong. 
Cautiously he edged toward the statue of Anquat, the Spirit of war.  If
an intruder lurked in the darkness, the statue would provide some cover
from a surprise attack. 
        Ma-Mutt growled again, this time more loudly than before.  His
attention was focused on the rafters above.  Mumm-Ra looked up but saw
nothing.  Only magic could enable him to see in such darkness.  He held
up a finger and the tip of it emitted a beam of mage light, which he
aimed at the rafters.
        Nothing.
        Mumm-Ra felt the strange tingling in his back again.  His subconscious
was warning him of immenient danger, of that he was certain.  But where
could it be?  He wished the unknown would simply present itself.  The
sensation of being covertly watched was quite unpleasant.
        "Ma-Mutt, come here," he whispered to his pet.  The dog refused to
budge.  Mumm-Ra snapped his fingers.  "Heel!" he hissed.  But Ma-Mutt
ignored him, still staring up into the blackness.  His fur bristled and
he bared his teeth, loosing another growl from the depths of his
throat.  
        There must be some enemy up there, Mumm-Ra thought, else he wouldn't
insist so vehemently.  Drawing a dagger from his belt, he levitated
himself up to the first rafter.  He carefully made his way along the
narrow pathway.  Slipping up here would be the worst thing to do.
        Below him, Ma-Mutt began barking rapidly.  I must be close! thought
Mumm-Ra.
        He was closer to the entity now.  He could feel the breeze fanning his
skin as its movements disrupted the stale air.  Must be more than one of
them!  Mumm-Ra extinguished his mage light and crept further into the
darkness, dagger at the ready.
        Ahead of him, something moved.  Ma-Mutt's barking grew more incensed.
        Mumm-Ra grasped the dagger tightly in his fist and prepared to strike.
        A flurry of bats rushed out at him.  They flooded the pyramid with
their shrill squeals as they soared about.  Startled, Mumm-Ra lost his
balance and fell from the rafter.  He just barely managed to prevent
himself from smacking the ground with a levitation spell.
        "Bats," Mumm-Ra said weakly.  He looked up at the chaos in the air. 
The beating of their wings thundered throughout the chamber.  "Bats,"
Mumm-Ra said again, and this time he chuckled.  "Bats.  Wretched little
bats."  He looked at Ma-Mutt, whose fierce barking only goaded the
frenzy.  Mumm-Ra laughed in relief and amusement.  "Imagine that,
Ma-Mutt.  I, Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living, am spooked by a bunch of stupid
bats."
        He went over to his pet and picked him up.  Ma-Mutt stopped barking but
eyed the swarming animals with wariness.  "There's a good boy, now. 
Those bats won't bother us."  Mumm-Ra stroked the underside of the dog's
jaw.  "How would you like a nice tasty biscuit instead?"  Ma-Mutt's ears
perked up.  Mumm-Ra set him down on the ground again.  "Go fetch!"  The
bulldog scampered off in search of his treat.
        Still smiling, Mumm-Ra sheathed his dagger and approached the
cauldron.  Reaching the edge, he peered into it.  Perhaps the vision
reflected in its magical waters would tell him more about this strange
occurrence.  
        Vision?
        Mumm-Ra barely had enough time to drop to the ground and roll out of
the path of the swiftly descending sword.  It hit the ground with a
clash of steel and rose to attack again.  Mumm-Ra had no chance of
drawing his own weapon to retaliate, so he teleported himself backwards
from his attacker, putting a good fifty feet between them.
        Once in a position to defend himself, Mumm-Ra drew the Sword of
Plun-Darr and faced his nemesis.  He gasped in shock as an icy gaze from
the other met his eyes.  
        "By all the pharaohs, I must be dreaming!"  Mumm-Ra whispered.
        For he was looking back at his very own face.


                             ********************
                             TO BE CONTINUED . . .

                  ******************************************


                            PART TWO CONTINUED . . . 


     "Where'd he go?"  Cheetara was baffled.
     "Back to the pyramid, most likely," Lion-O panted.  He'd caught up with
her just in time to see Mumm-Ra's disappearing act.  Glancing down the hall
where the priest had teleported himself, he asked, "What did you say to him?"
     "I dared him to fight me.  He didn't want to.  It was weird, Lion-O."
 Cheetara tapped her foot on the floor.  "Mumm-Ra got this look on his face,
like he was going to be sick.  Then he vanished."
     The two Thundercats were silent for a while as they began walking back
up to the control room.  Eventually Cheetara asked, "What do you want to do
now?"
     "Don't know."  Lion-O stopped in his tracks and propped his hands on his
hips.  "I guess all we can do for the moment is to wait it out.  The ball's
in Mumm-Ra's court."
     "Think he'll attack again?"
     "Hard to say.  When Mumm-Ra gets riled he's capable of anything."
 Lion-O paused for a minute.  "You say he backed down from a fight?"
     Cheetara nodded.  "This sounds funny, but it was almost as if Mumm-Ra
couldn't bear the thought of striking a woman."
     "That never seemed to bother him before," Lion-O said.  "After all, we
have spent years fighting him."
     Cheetara's eyes narrowed in thought.  "No," she said slowly.  "Mumm-Ra's
never actually directed his fury at any of the female Thundercats.  It's the
males, you in particular, that he went for."
     "Yet he came for the Book of Omens that one time Snarf and I were
trapped inside it.  And you were alone in the Lair."
     "Ah, but Mumm-Ra never laid a finger on me.  All he did was knock me out
with a spell."
     They started walking again.  "When he came here tonight I could have
sworn there was a part of him that genuinely wanted peace," Lion-O said.  "At
the same time it was like there was another side of him that seemed to have
just given up."
     "Are you saying Mumm-Ra wants peace, but then again he doesn't?"
Cheetara asked.
     "No, it's kind of like--"  Lion-O stopped mid-sentence as he searched
for the right words.  "Ever see an animal in its last throes of life?  It
doesn't care what happens to itself anymore.  Just lies there, waiting . . .
waiting for the end."  He met Cheetara's troubled eyes.  "I get the feeling
Mumm-Ra is waiting for his end.  He's terrified of these Ancient Spirits of
Evil . . . but I also think he'd be relieved if and when they wiped him out."
     "I see."  Cheetara looked away.  "Maybe we should go to the pyramid, see
if there's anything we could do to help him.  Those spirits of his won't be
pleased once they find out he was here."  She swung her head around to face
Lion-O again.  "They might even decide to come after us themselves."
     "Good point."  Lion-O picked up his pace.  "I'll inform the others,
assuming they haven't taken off yet.  Go get the Thundertank ready."
     "Already on it," Cheetara said as she sped down the hall.

                                       ********************

     "What in the name of the Second Moon of Plun-Darr are you babbling
about?"
     Slithe calmly approached Luna.  "Clones, my dear Luna.  The money
General Kembri was paid by King Bolgar was used to finance his experiments.
 Experiments which were designed to revolutionize espionage."
     "Ahhh."  Vultureman rocked his upper torso back and forth as
comprehension dawned on him.  "If you cloned someone and replaced their
original self with the clone, the possibilities for treachery are endless."
     "Correct, Vultureman."  Slithe attempted to stand a little straighter
than he usually did, no easy feat considering his terribly hunched posture.
 "The idea was to create Thunderian clones of major leaders and have them
report their information to Bolgar."
     "Bolgar the Treacherous had this Kembri working for him?  A Thunderian?"
 Chilla snickered.  "The fool was lucky to have escaped with his life."
     "As-s-s a matter of fact, Kembri and Bolgar were quite close,
yes-s-s-s?" Slithe said irritably.  "Especially s-s-since Sephi-vo-Notar was
working with him on this project."
     "Sephi-what?"  Luna scowled.
     "Sephi-vo-Notar."  Slithe paused dramatically.  "My cousin."
     Shock spread rapidly around the pilot room.  "Your cousin?"  "What in
the--"  "You never mentioned any relatives!"
     Slithe waited until the chaos had died down.  "Sephi and Kembri were
assigned the task of creating these clones to carry out reconnaissance
missions.  They had many failures at first, but that was to be expected given
the volatile nature of their chosen line of work, yes-s-s?"
     "But eventually they succeeded."  Aluro leaned forward in anticipation
of Slithe's answer.
     "Yes-s-s, they did."  Slithe moistened his scaly lips.  "Several of
Claudis's top agents were successfully cloned and placed in their respective
positions.  That is-s-s how we learned of Thundera's immenient destruction,
and of the stolen plans for the Plun-Darrian warbot."
     "What happened to the originals?" Monkian wanted to know.
     Chilla gave him a look of disgust.  "What do you think?" she sneered,
exhaling noisily.  Her breath left the room a few degrees cooler than before.
     "They had to be assass-s-sinated, of course," Slithe said.  "Once we had
their genetic material they were no longer useful to us."
     "Say you wanted to make more than one copy though," Vultureman spoke.
 "Wouldn't you need more material?"
     "Eas-s-sily done.  Sephi figured out how to duplicate an individual's
DNA from one strand to produce many more sequences of the same chain.  One
drop of blood was estimated to spawn as many as thirty clones.  Then you
could replicate their DNA, and so on, and s-s-so on."
     "Geez."  Vultureman blinked.
     Luna slowly turned her crop over in her hands.  "I still don't see how
this is going to help us any," she said waspishly.
     Slithe waved his hands dismissively in the air.  "In addition to
furnishing Bolgar with spies, one of Sephi's ambitions was to create the
ideal Plun-Darrian warrior.  He and Kembri sampled the DNA of prime
candidates from Plun-Darr."
     "Like that counts for much," Tug-Mug chuckled to Red Eye.
     Slithe cast him a disparaging look.  "They wanted a warrior whose
physical and mental attributes were second to none, yes-s-s?"
     "I understand where this is leading," Aluro said.  Like Vultureman, he
too held a great appreciation for science and technology.  "An army of
super-fighters would be invincible.  Your cousin and this Kembri would have
had to isolate particular strengths and weaknesses in their originals and
then edit accordingly the material inputed into these clones.  Maybe even
augment their strengths."
     "Very good, yes-s-s?" Slithe said approvingly.  "Which brings us to the
emanon."
     For the second time Monkian asked, "What the heck is an emanon?"
     "Kembri wouldn't say over the radio," Slithe said.  "S-S-Security
reasons.  But I suspect that it is one of these warrior clones."
     "Whoo hoo, he's giving us a clone?  What for?"
     "Yeah?" Jackalman joined in.  "If you wanna put the fear of Plun-Darr
into the Thundercats and Mumm-Ra, just have this guy clone Luna.  That'd
scare the crap out of anyone!"  He and Monkian both brayed with laughter.
     "Who asked you, wretch!"  Luna's voice was piercing as she swung her
crop at Jackalman's head.  It missed him by inches as he ducked out of range.
 Foiled, Luna took out her frustration on the next available target:
 Monkian.  She brought the crop down smartly on his nose.  "WHOOOOO HOOO!"
the simian Mutant howled.  "Owwwwww!  Watch it!"
     "Think of the destructive potential!" Slithe called out above the din.
 "Our enemies would be no match for a genetically enhanced fighter.  The
Thundercats would literally do themselves-s-s in, yes-s-s?"
     "What about Mumm-Ra?" Chilla asked.
     "Pfffft!"  Slithe rolled his eyes.  "If Mumm-Ra couldn't beat the
original Thundercats, he certainly won't be able to deal with a Thundercat
super-clone, yes-s-s-s?"  He pounded the wall with his fist.  "Mumm-Ra always
bragged about his magnificent magic, but last we met I had yet to see any of
it."  Murmurs of agreement passed among the other Mutants as Slithe
continued.  "Bes-s-sides, Mumm-Ra will get it from both barrels, yes-s-s?"
     "Huh?"  Jackalman scratched his head.
     "Moron," Vultureman groaned.  "He means that if we turn one of these
Thundercat clones loose, the real Thundercats will blame him for whatever
damage it does."  He stroked his beak and smiled.  "I have to admit, Slithe,
it's a brilliant plan."
     "Of course it is-s-s."  Slithe's eyes were half-closed in satisfaction.
     "Wait a minute, reptile."  Luna fixed Slithe with a glare.  "Wouldn't
these clones have the same differentiation between good and evil as their
predecessors?"
     "No."  Slithe shook his head.  "That was Bolgar's first rule:  the
clones were supposed to be exact duplicates of the originals in every way
except personality.  They could be taught to imitate their originals'
personalities--mannerisms and such--for spying purposes.  As-s-s long as no
evidence indicated that they were developing their own nuances-s-s, they were
suitable for mission programming."
     "Personalities would make them harder to control," Vultureman agreed.
 "So you'd want automatons."
     "Right," Slithe said.
     Luna continued to scowl at Slithe.  "You've given this quite a bit of
thought, haven't you?"  Slithe bowed mockingly in her direction.  "Then why
haven't you brought this up before?" she demanded.
     "Dis-s-scretion, Luna," Slithe explained.  "At the time of Thundera's
destruction, the Interstellar Council was actively pursuing Kembri's
s-s-services.  And for the same reasons we are.  After Thundera was
obliterated, it was widely believed that Kembri had perished.  He and Sephi
thought it best to encourage that idea, yes-s-s?  It allowed them to continue
their projects-s-s."
     "So how did you get a hold of a guy everybody figured for dead?" Red Eye
asked.
     Another malicious smile curved across Slithe's face.  "Well while the
rest of you were working yourselves-s-s into a tizzy over the Thundercats'
s-s-stupid treasure, I made some inquiries.  Captain Shiner finally came up
with the goods."
     "Captain Shiner?"  Jackalman was surprised.  "Isn't he--"
     "Expens-s-sive?  Yes-s-s.  But I took care of that."
     "With what?  Shiner doesn't exactly work for peanuts, you know,"
Vultureman said as he clucked his tongue.
     Slithe's smile turned even uglier than before.  "Why, I just went to our
dear friend Mumm-Ra for a little loan," he snickered.  "I needed the money to
finance a s-s-search for Thunderian hostages to use against the Thundercats,
after all."  His laughter was nastier than his smile.
     "Holy Plun-Darr!"  Vultureman slapped his leg.  "So that's what you
meant when you said we were getting help from him.  He's contributed to his
own downfall."
     "He actually gave you the money?"  Chilla's eyes widened.
     Slithe preened.  "Didn't I tell you I know how to handle Mumm-Ra,
yes-s-s?"
     Jackalman and Monkian exchanged somber glances.  Slithe had once boasted
to them that he could play Mumm-Ra like a Stradivarius.  Initially they'd
laughed him off, but now it didn't seem like such an empty claim anymore.
     Aluro grinned.  "Gotta hand it to ya, Slithe.  This scheme beats
anything I've ever come up with."  
     "Thank you, Aluro."  Slithe turned to Luna.  "You s-s-see, Luna?  We
Mutants are not as dumb and useless-s-s as you believe us to be."
     "I'll be the judge of that, reptilian," Luna snapped.  A loud buzzing
cut off the rest of her rude retort.  Vultureman scanned the radar screen.
 "We're coming up on Castle Plun-Darr, guys," he reported.
     Everyone looked out the window as the hideous structure came into view.
 "Home sweet home," Jackalman said happily.  Tug-Mug snorted in response.
     Vultureman adjusted the circus train's throttle and set the vehicle
gently down in front of the castle moat.  The dust cleared as a retractable
stairway extended to allow its occupants to disembark.  They did so noisily,
whooping and hollering at the top of their lungs with the sheer exhiliration
brought on by their newfound freedom.  "Hot damn!  I never thought I'd say
this, but there's no place like Third Earth!"  Tug-Mug punctuated each of his
exclamations with a mighty leap into the air.
     Luna restrained Amok with a touch of her crop and glanced around.  "The
place looks deserted.  I thought you said Kembri was going to meet us here."
     "And so I shall, madam."
     All jumped at the brusque voice.  Amok repositioned himself to give his
mistress a view of the stranger who had mysteriously appeared.  Luna gripped
her crop, ready defend herself if need be.
     Slithe stepped forward.  "Kembri!"
     General Byron Kembri strode towards the group.  "Gentlemen . . . and
ladies."  He inclined his head in Chilla's and Luna's direction.
     Definitely not your average techno geek, thought Vultureman as Kembri
joined them.  The man was exactly the opposite of what he had expected.
 Robust and muscular, Kembri dwarfed even Aluro, who at six-seven was the
tallest of their group.  A russet mane of hair, flecked with gray strands,
framed his broad face and decorated his mouth with a well-kept beard.  The
gray only reinforced the distinguishing aura that seemed to surround him.
 Dressed in the simple light blue jumpsuit of a Thunderian civilian, Kembri
was nonetheless an imposing figure.
     Vultureman hated him on sight.  No man should be that impressive.
     Kembri spoke once more.  "Folks, we need to move you back to our base
ASAP.  Thundercats and IPCF are onto you."
     "Thundercats!?" Jackalman squealed.  "How did they find out we escaped
so fast?"
     "They left a couple of their own on Third Earth, remember?  That bitch
Mandora probably called in the report to them," Chilla hissed.  She'd
harbored a special resentment of the Evil Chaser ever since she'd been busted
for sideswiping Snarfer's spaceship.
     Kembri gestured for them to board the circus train.  "My men will see to
it that you receive safe passage to our facilities."  He whistled sharply and
the Lunataks and Mutants watched with amazement as twenty heavily armed
Thunderians stood to attention from their camoflaged stations.
     "Way cool," breathed Jackalman.  "Wonder where I can get a knife like
that," he whispered to Monkian as one of the sentries sheathed a
wicked-looking blade.
     Slithe and the others reluctantly followed Kembri back onto the circus
train.  "Why didn't you notify us-s-s before we got here?"
     Kembri waited until the last sentry had boarded.  "You there," he said
gruffly to Vultureman.  "Are you the pilot?"
     "Yeah."
     "Enter these coordinates:  Three-four-five-oh-seven-niner."  His manner
was clearly that of one who was accustomed to being obeyed without question.
 Vultureman stewed silently as his fingers flew across the keyboard to input
the numbers.  The console panel hummed to life as lights flashed and buttons
beeped, signaling the train's ascent.
     Once they were airborne Kembri deigned to answer Slithe's question.  "We
couldn't afford to risk attracting unwanted attention."
     Slithe's eyes narrowed.  "Oh?"
     "We have a serious problem."
     "What's that?" Luna asked.
     A trace of nervousness crept into Kembri's next words.  "It's the
emanon.  Last night it escaped."

                                          ********************

     Nightmare, thought Mumm-Ra.  I'm having a nightmare and any second I'll
wake up in my sarcophagus screaming.
     He didn't.
     The doppelganger's features were mostly obscured by the darkness, but
there was enough moonlight available for Mumm-Ra to discern that this being
did indeed resemble him physically.  It took a few steps towards him and
stopped, as if unsure of its next move, and stared back at him with a stony
gaze.  Mumm-Ra took advantage of its hesitation and produced a bright ball of
mage light, which rose into the air and hovered above the cauldron.
     What he saw chilled him to the bone.  In full lighting the horror was
readily apparent.  He watched his own ruby red eyes boil back at him with
pure hatred, and saw his own mouth twist into an unvoiced snarl, baring a
terrible set of gleaming razor-sharp teeth.  The being moistened its lips
with the tip of its pink tongue, seemingly prepared to devour a meal.
     It was dressed differently than he was, clad simply in a black
sleeveless jumpsuit with a Mandarin-style collar, and shiny black jackboots.
 Muscles rippled everywhere, for it shared the same warrior form as Mumm-Ra.
     The doppelganger suddenly spoke.  "What are you doing with my face?"
 Its voice was the same gravelly tone as Mumm-Ra's but with an underlying
note of accusation.
     Mumm-Ra held the Sword of Plun-Darr close, hoping the weapon's size
would discourage the other from charging him.  The sword the intruder carried
was maybe a quarter of the size of the Sword of Plun-Darr, and by itself made
for a dismal means of defense.  However, even the smallest weapon could be
deadly enough if its wielder knew how to use it properly, and he had no wish
to test this double's swordsmanship.  
     "What are you doing with my face?" the being repeated, more forcefully
this time.  
     "You have that backwards.  I should be asking you that," Mumm-Ra shot
back.  First rule of battle:  show no fear.  The initial shock was wearing
off and he began to take stock of the situation.  "What are you?"
     The double's face instantly contorted with rage.  "NOT WHAT!"  Its
screams were deafening.  "IT'S WHO!  WHO!  WHO AM I!"  It furiously stomped
its booted feet on the stone floor as it wailed, dropping its sword to curve
its fingers into deadly claws.  One of these it extended towards Mumm-Ra with
blazing eyes.  "He was right!" the creature hissed.  "I was robbed of my
life!  By you!"  
     "In the name of--"
     The other menacingly advanced upon him, all the while ranting.  "That
was my life!  MINE!"  It released another bloodcurdling shriek.  "IT WAS MINE
AND YOU STOLE IT!"
     The gap between them was rapidly shrinking.  It was useless to try to
reason with this thing, and unless he took action first it was going to
attack him.
     Thirty feet.  The being kept screeching.  "IT WAS MINE!  MINE MINE MINE
MINE MINE!"
     Twenty feet.
     "YOU STOLE IT!"
     Ten.
     "YOU STOLE MY LIFE!"
     Five.
     "YOU STOLE MY LIFE AND I WANT IT BACK!"
     It lunged at Mumm-Ra.  He swung the Sword of Plun-Darr at its
midsection, hoping to slice it in half, but the enemy ducked and caught him
full force in the chest, knocking his sword away.  It locked its powerful
arms around him and they both toppled down the dais.  Mumm-Ra had a
frightening vision of what would happen if that thing sank its teeth into his
flesh.  It would tear him to pieces!
     He wedged a hand between their bodies, zapping the other with an energy
bolt, and was rewarded with a howl of pain.  But the evil twin refused to let
go.  They rolled frantically on the ground, limbs flailing, each trying to
gain the upper hand.  The double won and ensnared Mumm-Ra's throat in a
viselike grip as it viciously slammed his head against the floor.
     "You're the impostor!"  Thwack!  "GIVE ME BACK MY LIFE!"  Thwack!
 Thwack!
     Mumm-Ra fought the blackness threatening to overwhelm him.  If he passed
out he was doomed.  He began assaulting the other with fierce punches to its
ribs.
     It wasn't even fazed.  The steely fingers tightened around his throat,
cutting off his air.  So this is how it ends, thought Mumm-Ra as his sight
faded.  Done in by my own nightmare.  
     In the next instant the unrelenting pressure on his throat disappeared
and the twin screamed in agony.  Mumm-Ra was suddenly aware of a dog's
ferocious growl.  Ma-Mutt!
     Like an archangel the bulldog had come flying out of nowhere to defend
his master.  He clamped his jaws solidly onto the twin's shoulder and hung on
for dear life.  Screaming and writhing wildly, the double tried to throw off
its new attacker, but Ma-Mutt wouldn't budge.
     Mumm-Ra wobbled unsteadily to his feet, doing his best to ignore the
waves of pain crashing through his skull.  He stretched out his arm and the
Sword of Plun-Darr was restored to his hand.  "Ma-Mutt!"  His pet obediently
released his prey and ran over to his master.  His muzzle was covered with
the twin's blood.  
     Divested of the dog, the double rose swiftly to its feet.  The wound
Ma-Mutt had inflicted bled profusely.  A pair of ruby red eyes burned
hatefully.
     Mumm-Ra twirled the Sword of Plun-Darr so that its blades brought forth
magic pulses.  These encased the twin in a brilliant orange ball of energy.
 "Begone with you!"  Mumm-Ra yelled.
     The energy ball had levitated only a few feet into the air when the twin
shattered it.  Bolts of electricity skewered the walls of the pyramid and
caused stone to spray everywhere.  Mumm-Ra grabbed Ma-Mutt and dove for cover
behind the statue of Arkseht.
     The god of hatred.  How appropriate.  Though he'd known his double for
mere minutes, the hatred it bore him was like none he'd ever encountered
before.  
     Silence.  
     Mumm-Ra chanced a look around the statue.  
     No double.
     He turned to get Ma-Mutt and a fist smashed into his jaw.  The blow
rattled his teeth and knocked him backwards into the base of the statue.  
     When the wretched sensation of dizziness evaporated Mumm-Ra was
horrified to see the twin standing directly in front of him, grinning
maliciously.  Its arm shot forward and a charge of lightning struck him in
the stomach.  Mumm-Ra collapsed in excruciating pain.  All he could do was
wait for the spell to expend itself.
     Once the electrocution had worn off he levered himself up and narrowly
avoided another quick punch from the twin.  Mumm-Ra pointed his finger at its
face and shot forth a sizzling beam of heat.  To his surprise his double
allowed the ray to envelop it completely.  Its eyes seared Mumm-Ra with hate.
 "Think you can get rid of me so easily, eh!  I'LL SHOW YOU!"  
     Then the ray blazed white hot and burst as the twin countered with its
own spell.  Mumm-Ra flung himself to the floor as the statue of Arkseht
exploded into a million fiery pieces.  
     He didn't spare a moment to recover.  The twin was already making its
way towards him, storming through the rubble.  Mumm-Ra raced to the exit and
barely made it into the hallway as his deadly double furiously fired a volley
of shots in his direction, hell-bent on destroying its enemy.  Electricity
crackled and snapped as the beams ricocheted off the chamber's walls.
     "YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE YOU PHONY YOU!"  The supernatural
screams chased Mumm-Ra down the hall.  
     Dear Osiris, what is this thing!  And why does it seek to destroy me!?
Mumm-Ra wondered in terror.
     Those were his last thoughts before the hole swallowed him.  He felt
himself falling endlessly into a dark void, and then there was nothing as
unconsciousness claimed him.  

                                   *********************
                                   TO BE CONTINUED...






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