When Rick disappears will Ardeth be in time to save him.
Bad Author Notes: Short story. This is what you get when my Muse is pissed off. Sorry. NOT!
Tears Of A Brother
By Lady FoxFire
Nov 24, 2002
A lone falcon spreads it wings high in the air, catching the updrafts from the desert floor. On it's leg a small cylinder had been tied with a single leather strap. Its sharp eyes soon spied what it had been searching for: home.
It immediately pulled its wings in and drifted down, closer to home. It spiraled down, searching for the one who cared for it, who fed it bits of meat. So it spotted its caretaker and with a crack of its wings the falcon slowed it's descent until it was able to land on the man's outstretched arm.
The young man ran his hand lovingly over the falcon's feather before removing the cylinder from its leg. He quickly made his way over to his leader, who was attending a meeting with his most trusted warriors.
"Ardeth," the young warrior said as he stood in front of the Med-Jai leader, the falcon still on his arm. "A message from Doctor Barras," he said as he handed a small silver cylinder to his leader.
"Thank you, Ahmad, " Ardeth said absent-mindlessly as he opened the tiny container and pulled out his message. "Strange," Ardeth mumbled to himself as he reread it, his burrows furrowed in confusion.
"What is it, Ardeth?" an elder Med-Jai asked, as the others noticed how quiet their leader had become.
"It's a message from Evelyn. She wants to know when O'Connell will be returning," Ardeth stated as he turned towards the raising sun, towards Cairo.
"He is probably out getting drunk and dishonoring his vows," a cruel looking warrior said, with a smirk.
"He doesn't drink, Hamza," Ardeth replied quietly. "Not since the first time the creature awoke. And he loves his wife too much to even look at another woman. Something must have happened."
"This could be serious. Where the Wahid goes, trouble for the Med-Jai soon follows," a young warrior with a scar across his face commented
With a nod of his head Ardeth turned back to his trusted fighters. "I want all patrols to be informed that O'Connell is out there. Have them check in before sunset even if they haven't found anything. Also send a message to Cairo. I want Barras to find out everything that Evelyn knows. When O'Connell left, why, where to, and when she expected him back."
It was near sunset when a falcon from Cairo swooped into the camp. Ardeth was immediately at Ahmad's side as he allowed the bird to land on his arm. Without a word the young man handed Ardeth the message.
"Evelyn said he left nine days ago, that O'Connell was coming for a visit; he had news that he wanted to tell me. He was to take a boat down to Edfu, then to Al Kharijah, and then to here." Ardeth's brows furrowed, in thought. "Has the report from that region arrived yet?"
"Umar in Edfu reported seeing a man matching O'Connell description leaving a boat from Cairo seven days ago, but nothing else."
"And the patrol near Al Kharijah?" Ardeth asked with worry in his voice
"They reported seeing nothing."
"Ardeth?" the scarred Med-Jai spoke up
"Yes, Kamal?" Ardeth replied, looking at the young Med-Jai who fought furiously at his side against the Army of Anubis.
Kamal chewed on his bottom lip in worry as he stared at the sand under his feet, not daring to meet the eyes of his leader. "I don't know if this means anything but Rifat is in charge of that patrol."
Ardeth cocked his head to the side, his confusion spelled out across his face. "Go on."
Shuffling his feet nervously, Kamal continued. "Rifat is a well respected warrior and the men of his patrol are young...too young to go against their elders."
"What are you saying Kamal?" Hamza, the cruel looking Med-Jai snapped.
"I... I... Rifat... he blames... he blames O'Connell for the death of his sons and brothers," Kamal said everything in a rush.
Those gathered around stood in silence as they realized what Kamal had said.
Ardeth's eyes darkened at the thought that the men he trusted, that he fought side by side with would hurt an innocent man; a man he considered to be his brother. "I want the fastest riders ready. I want to see what Rifat is doing."
Only Rifat and a few of the old Med-Jai fought against Ardeth and his men when they rode into camp, the younger inexperienced warriors torn between the orders of Rifat and being confronted with Ardeth. In the end Rifat and those who fought alongside of him, added their blood to the desert floor.
Ardeth was able to learn that a khawaaga, a foreigner who was masquerading as a Med-Jai had been captured and taken to Rifat's tent. Inside Ardeth found O'Connell lying on his back; his arms cruelly stretch out over his back, his chest barely rising with each breath.
"O'Connell?" Ardeth whispered in shock as he stared down at the badly battered man he called his friend. Dropping to his knees, Ardeth reached out to him. A small whimper escaped Rick's cracked lips as he shied away from Ardeth's touch. "O'Connell it's Ardeth," Ardeth said as calmly and reassuring as he could, afraid that Rick might injured himself more if he struggled.
O'Connell's eyes open slightly. "Ardeth?" the word slipped out as a whisper from between Rick's lips. A small glimmer of hope appeared in his blue-green eyes.
"Yes," Ardeth replied as he busily untied his friend. Gently he lifted his friend so he could drink from a water skin. "Slowly," he told him, as he watched the life-giving water run down O'Connell's face as he tried to drink it.
"We're going to get you out of here," Ardeth said with false hope as his mind catalogued all the damage his warriors-his Med-Jai-had done to this once proud warrior.
"Liar," Rick said, with a ghost of a smile on his face, his voice slightly stronger from the water. "Promise..." Rick croaked out. "Promise...watch... Evy... Alex..."
"You want me to watch out for Evelyn and Alex?" Ardeth finished what O'Connell desperately tried to say.
"Baby," whispered O'Connell, pride in his eyes.
"Evy's pregnant? That's why you came out here? To tell me?"
Rick nodded his head. "Promise."
"I promise Rick, I'll guard your family with my life," Ardeth swore.
"No tell... no tell who... Tuareg." O'Connell struggled to say as his grasped at Ardeth's robe
Ardeth nodded his head sadly. "They'll never know. I'll tell them there was an attack on one of the patrols you came across."
O'Connell smiled sadly up at his friend. His hand reached out for Ardeth's. "Brother," Rick said with his last breath.
Ardeth watched as the life disappeared from Rick's eyes; his own eyes welling up with tears. "Brother," he sobbed as he clutched his friend, his tears spilling down upon him.