Seductress of Time

Sequel to Daughter of the Desert

By Alexia Goddess

Prologue

Five years.

Five years since he had seen her, held her, kissed her. He'd tried to paint her, so he could at least have a shadow of her to see, to cherish. But they all turned out…flat. None held the mischief her eyes had held, none could capture the glow of her white, white skin, so white next to his, despite the weeks she had spent under the Egyptian sun. Weeks he wished had spent more of by her side…

Was it love, or infatuation? He feared he would never know. He doubted he would ever see her again- but still he hoped. Foolish? Yes, he freely admitted that.

But for a King who was fighting for a kingdom, for a King who never had time to laugh or smile anymore, he could allow himself this one small bit of foolishness. It hurt no one.

Save himself.

And so, late at night, night after night, he lay awake on his pallet in the underground room, in the heart of his command center, the ruins of an old pyramid, and he thought of Kilitatarah... Daughter of the desert. His Tarah. He would lay, going over the memories that had been transferred to him, examining mental images of strange, strange things. Some he had managed to, in some primitive sense, understand by way of the flashes of thoughts that accompanied some images.

He also knew that, in her time, Egypt was a mere shadow of what it was now. He laughed shortly. What it was now? More like what it had been, five years ago. Before everything had come undone. Before he'd discovered that he had been very, very wrong about how much Ayh hated him.

A plot had been brewing under his nose, and he'd never smelled it. Not even a whiff. It was only Tarah's mere presence that had alerted him, it seemed. He'd wondered, time and again, if that had been the reason for her being delivered to him. Once he had been alerted to the fact that someone was trying to kill him, her task had been complete, and she'd been taken home.

Had she survived? Did they have medicine good enough, in her time, to save her? He had seen her on the cot, in strange clothes, hair long once more, crying and crying, her shoulder bandaged. But had it been in time? Had all the poison been driven from her? What if, after that image, she had suffered a relapse?

He shut his eyes tight, pressing a hand to his brow, feeling a headache coming on.

It was cold- cool, to most, but to him and his fellow Egyptians, accustomed to the fierce year-round heat (compared to the rest of the world) of the surface, thirty feet under ground was cold. He rolled on his side, one hand tucked under his head, a thin blanket, once of good quality, covered his naked form.

He had to stop thinking of her- but he was allowed to think of her, another part of him thought. He forced her from his mind during the day, when he had to focus on reclaiming his kingdom and his throne. But at night… at night, memories of her and her laughter were his to indulge in.

And so Tutankhamen, 'Tank,' exiled and dethroned King of Egypt, remembered, and dreamed, and smiled as he did so.

Chapter One

Tarah couldn't help but raise an eyebrow in amusement when she saw Deren enter the armory, decked out in his standard leather attire- form fitting black leather pants, standard issue black polyester shirt with the silver collar and three buttons, betraying his rank as Captain. And over it all, black leather duster.

"You're going to roast alive in that getup," she told him with an amused drawl in her tone. He flashed her a winning smile.

"I'm roasting right now, being so near you, hot stuff." He came up behind her, reaching around her, one hand squeezing her thigh. She smacked the hand away with the gun she'd been inspecting and he yelped, the sound mingled with laughter as he hopped away. Grinning slightly, not much more than a twitch of the corner of her mouth as her eyes danced, she pivoted neatly, arms out straight to meet at a point in front of her, gripping the firearm expertly. Without warning, she shot off three rounds, at the same time a siren sounded, causing Deren to duck.

Grinning evilly at his reaction as she lowered her hands, Deren glowered at her, the siren abruptly halting.

"What the hell was that for?" He snapped, almost pouting. Tarah laughed, and motioned to behind him, where, there was quite an ugly creature slumped against the wall with green goo oozing from the bullet holes, wearing an elaborate metallic and crystal contraption on his head, with wires running down to a control device in his many-fingered and tentacle-d hand.

"You could have warned me that there was a diamond-hopper behind me," Daren grumped, going to a shelf and hefting a large semi-automatic weapon out of its slot, grabbing a belt of ammunition from a box on the shelf next to it and coming over to stand beside her at the table, dumping the stuff on said table.

She grinned impishly. "But then I would have lost the fun of seeing you duck," she teased. She tucked her hands under her armpits, crossing her eyes and, in a squeaky voice declaring, "Quack, quack!"

"Oh, so lovely, Sedegypt," Deren drawled mockingly, using her last name. He returned again to the shelves, this time returning with a belt of nuclear grenades, his personal favorite. "So attractive."

"Hey, you were the one claiming to be roasting in my presence." Her eyes twinkled. "Mm, roast duck, sounds good."

"Ha. Ha." He said flatly, then ruffled her chin-length pale-blonde-dyed-black hair. In contrast with her pale skin, startlingly light-colored blue eyes, she resembled one of those deadly beautiful vampires from old horror movies.

Save, of course, for the twinkle always present in her eyes. Vampires, as far as Deren knew, weren't all that mischievous. And if Tarah was one thing, it was mischievous.

Most of the time.

Except for when, like right now, after she had a particularly happy moment as she had just had, exchanging teases and barbs with her best friend, she fell quiet and sad.

Grenades in hand, Deren came up beside her once more, setting down the lethal weapons beside the ammunition and semi-auto he'd brought over early, just watching her as she carefully checked and rechecked and loaded and reset the safeties on all her weapons of choice, before meticulously placing them in several select places on her person. A gun strapped to each thigh, tiniest of pistols tucked into each boot, along with twin small daggers –Egyptian style, of course. To her hips were another two firearms, larger than the ones on her thighs, Lara Croft style. And there were still yet a few firearms on the table she had yet to stow- where she was going to put them, Daren didn't know.

But it wasn't all this that Deren was watching- it was her face, stoic and cold, calm and emotionless.

Except, of course, for the single tear running own her cheek.

"Hey," he said quietly, reaching out to stop the tear, wiping it away. "You're doing it again."

"I know," she replied just as softly, her hands still moving, working, checking, securing, stowing. Always moving. She was always moving.

Deren squeezed her shoulder, and no more was said. And when he looked over at her again, when the cleaners stormed into the room to collect the diamond-hopper, she was perfectly herself once more, face just void enough of emotion to make her mysterious, but the twinkle was back. He smiled, somewhat wryly. It always came back.

And Deren had the feeling that the same thing that was constantly temporarily taking it away was the same thing that always brought it back. She'd only once ever mentioned what that one thing was- one word, one name.

'Tank.'

It had been on one of her first missions with them, the Nituita-wa Corporation. Her first field mission, her first time on another planet. She'd been assigned to him, a mere ensign. So, naturally, they had kept their sleeping pallets near one another. And in the middle of the night, she had started to cry. No sound, no movement, just the silent, constant trail of tears running down her face. It had been the starlight reflecting out of those teardrops that had alerted him, the twinkling drops catching his eye out of the corner of his vision.

And she had whispered that one word, so soft even he barely heard it. It had broken his heart to hear such pain and loneliness and longing in that one word. He supposed, looking back, it was what had lead him to make a promise he hadn't even realized he'd made, too look out for her.

And he had, and the favor had been returned time after time, until finally they held the same rank, partner leaders of their own team, one of the best. It was a dream come true for both of them- or so Daren had thought, up until recently, when Tarah had begun to act…odd.

He supposed, if he had to pinpoint when she had begun to act the way she was, it was when they had finally figured out who the diamond-hoppers were, and why they had begun popping up all throughout time.

They were looking for someone- someone that Deren guessed, Tarah knew. Either personally, or she just knew who s/he was, he didn't know. And he doubted if she would tell him.

That was most likely where the oddness was coming from, he guessed- she was worried. Worried that the diamond-hoppers would get to him before they could come back with the information vital to Nituita-wa's latest mission- find and protect whoever the diamond-hoppers were after.

Via an agent who had managed to get inside the diamond-hoppers Intel, whom had managed to send the information just before he'd been caught and killed, they finally knew why the diamond-hoppers were after this mystery person. For this person, whoever s/he was, was the founder of Nituita-wa- the People of Time.

"Ready?" Tarah asked abruptly, setting the safety on the last gun and slipping it into the back of her light, form fitting tan-colored cotton slacks.

Deren, having been busily placing all his weaponry while he thought, nodded, slinging the belt of ammo over his shoulder and under the opposite arm, and lifted the duffle with all manner of various explosives, plus the large semi-auto.

Hoisting the duffle onto his shoulder, he shot her a grin.

"Let's go time-hopping," he said with the same tone as someone would say 'lets go take a walk.'

Grinning, Tarah turned and left the room, Deren following. They walked down pristine, almost painfully white hallways, all sorts of people in military-esq, doctor's robes, clothing that resembled a combination of Renaissance robes and a Wall Street man's business suit passing them. Some, who knew them, gave greetings, salutes, or acknowledging nods.

Once, they passed a cadet, muttering under her breath as she was panickingly flipping through a rule book or other as she walked by, practically sweating.

"Heading to your examines?" Tarah asked airily, with a kind –but no little amused- smile as she slowed as she passed. The Cadet, a short, petite little brunette young woman, froze, eyes flying to Tarah's nonexistent collar. She snapped a salute anyway, positive that Tarah probably outranked her- everyone outranked her. Then, remembering she'd been asked a question, she squeaked out a too-loud, "Yes ma'am!"

Tarah grinned.

"Then what, cadet, is the official definition of a diamond-hopper?"

The cadet swallowed.

"Ma'am, the official definition of a diamond-hopper is 'A species of sentient nature possessing Quantum Diamond technology, which is used in harnessing the power of quantum foam, vital to the process of cross-temporal transferals. 'Diamond-hopping.' Ma'am."

"What is a Controller?"

"A human-Myin hybrid with the combined brain capacity of the human and the telepathic powers of the Myin, giving human-Myin hybrids the vital ability of mentally controlling Nituita-wa's own Quantum Diamond powered trans-temporal travel. Aka, time travel."

"What makes a Quantum Team?" Tarah pressed.

"Two Captains with two years of field experience, Ma'am, two Lieutanents, two ensigns, and a Controller, Ma'am." The cadet was gaining confidence, now, her answers coming quicker and with more self-assurance.

"Dulkit still got his touch," Deren murmured, referring to the cadet trainer, whom had also been his and Tarah's trainer. Tarah's grin widened.

"You'll do fine," she told the girl. She jerked her head down the hall, at the same time snatching the book. "Stop panicking- and there is such a thing as overstudying. Now get."

Swallowing nervously, glancing at the book, the cadet squared her shoulders, saluted, and bounded off, a bit more confidence in her step.

Tarah smirked, and tossed the book into a trash recipticle outside the door of their destination, an amused, grinning Deren behind her.

It was days like this, he remarked to himself, where everything seemed to go smoothly, that made missions easier to face.

Or so he thought.

When they entered the room, entered the buzz and hustle and bustle of members of their team, engineers, officers, programmers, Controllers, and the like.

Before them, rising up from a platform, resembling the legendary gate from 'Stargate' enough to enlist several jokes (and many wonderings of the true origins of inspiration of the TV series) was a circular contraption made entirely of diamond, aluminum, gold, and a substance that was quite similar to earth's own Beryl gemstone. But with one other quality- its structure was similar enough to quantum foam, the substance that the entire universe was made of, even atoms, that when fused with diamonds, making it stronger, more substantial, it gave birth to Quantum Diamond technology.

Looking up at the gate-like structure, Tarah remembered when she had first seen this creation, when Deren had first explained how it worked…

"Think of a string," he said, that sandy-haired, green eyed, broad shouldered man with the ready smile and handsome face. "Now, as a metaphor, pretend that the fact that we are here, now, in the present time is the same as gripping a particular spot on the string. Gravity –time- is pulling us farther and farther along the line. Just as we are inevitably going further and further into the future, one second at a time.

           

"Now, your grip is just barely strong enough to keep you in time, keep you existing. But what if you had the strength to not only grip the string hard enough to halt your forward travel through time, but you could grip it strong enough to bring your section of the string back to the beginning of that string? Or any time in between? That is what Quantum Diamond technology does.

"Scientists, when they first discovered quantum foam, estimated that if we could harness the power in one square centimeter of space, the quantum foam in it would have enough power to boil earth's oceans in one tenth of a second. Harnessing that fifty 150 square feet within that gate? More than enough power to grip time hard enough to go wherever we want- except forward. You can never go forward. Because, for us, the future doesn't exist yet."

Tarah had listened, and wondered, and thought…

Had she somehow, all those years ago, managed to harness quantum foam? Had it been science after all? Not magic? Or…

Or had someone harnessed it for her? Some…seducer? Someone who could 'seduce' the structure of the universe, quantum foam, to do its bidding?

Did that mean, then, that she had been meant to save Tank? It was something she had toyed with before, but now…with something so close to proof…

Tarah snapped out of her thoughts, realizing Daren had moved on to the control panel, and was calling for her so he could explain how it worked and introducer to Controller Smith, a smiling elderly man.

Shoving her ponderings aside for later, Tarah trotted over to Daren.

That had been four years ago. A year after she had returned from her escapade in Ancient Egypt. It had taken her all of that year to climb out of the depression she had fallen into upon her return, and even then, she was convinced the only reason she got out of it at all was because Nituita-wa had found her, having been alerted to her trip through time by their sensors, the same sensors that had sounded the siren back in the armory, sensing he arrival of the diamond-hopper. They'd spent the whole year looking for her, and she'd just begun to research time travel, her in-depth research having helped lead them to her.

She was glad they had found her-it had given her something to live for, something to give her hope. Hope that maybe, one day, when she was ready, when she knew enough that she could go back to him without changing everything how she knew it.

But now that time was here.

And she was terrified.

Could Deren tell? Probably. Though it hadn't hit her until she had walked through the door.

An hour ago, they had gotten word that they had finally figured out who it was that the diamond-hoppers were after. And she and Daren's team had been assigned to go back and protect him. They were to set up base at the site of an town near a nearly dried out oasis, infiltrate the locals, get to him, protect him at any cost without us knowing we were even there, let alone why.

Except, for one thing- Tarah knew who he was even before Admiral Shaik barked for Tarah's and Daren's team to assemble in the briefing room, just off the Quantum Gate chamber. Even before he gave them all packets containing maps, little crash-course pamphlets on the local dialects, pictures of their subject, a list of his habits, his name, his close friends, and a full biography on the personas we were to adopt.

Tarah nearly burst out with laughter when she saw the roll she was to play- Daren was to try and 'sell' her to them. Not as a concubine, no, but still. The similarity was not lost on her, and gave her no little amount of bitter amusement.

They were dismissed from the briefing, and their team gathered together in yet another small room of the Gate Chamber, talking, planning, practicing the words. Tarah winced hearing them try to speak Ancient Egyptian, and took it upon herself to take the remaining hour they had left before they were to leave and give them verbal crash courses on pronunciation.

When their time was up, and they had memorized their personas, the image of their subject and his affiliates, and Tarah was satisfied they wouldn't give them away with their lack of linguistic talent, they reentered the Chamber, and stood before the gate.

Black smoke swirled between the pillars of the structure, and the beam atop the two pillars. The wires running to and fro filled with a glowing blue matter, which filtered in with the black smoke, turning it a silvery color.

With a blast of cold air, it solidified into a solid silver wall, smooth as glass.

With Daren beside her and the rest of her team behind her, Tarah hoisted her bag in one hand, silver case with some sort of high tech equipment in her other hand, and without looking back, she walked through the silver wall, and into the fabric of time.

To Be Continued…

Ta-da! At last! Hope I didn't keep you all waiting too long. ^_^ For notifications on when this fic is updated, put me on your author's alert list. If you don't have an account, e-mail me and I'll put you on a mailing list.

Unfortunately, due to my getting ready to move (again) this time to Nevada (I'm in California), updates may be slower in coming. Sorry!

I know this first chap was a bit vague, but I really wanted to go ahead and get going, get into the main stream of the fic. Doddling too long in this world would have been rather pointless, I think, and since I plan on having Tarah tell her whole story to Tank when they reunite, and him tell her his story, writing it all out now would only be a waste of time and probably dilute interest. Whereas this, I hope gave you enough info so that you know what's going on, but not so much that you feel disinclined to read more. Get my drift? Good.

Oh, and as a parting note, Underworld rocks. It's my new fav movie, I swear…

Anyways, hope you enjoyed. Until next time!

Smile More, Dream Always,

Alexia Goddess

*ALL STANDARDS DISCLAIMERS APPLY: SEDUCTRESS OF TIME AND ALL AFFLIATES ARE COPYWRITE ALEXIA GODDESS, 2003*