[Deleted Post-Credits Scene!]
The two women walked through the narrow corridor formed by steel packing shelves on either side. The shelves were full to bursting of wooden and cardboard boxes, many stamped with the initials LASAS and a date.
“It is very impressive,” said one of the women. They stopped at the intersection of a traverse corridor.
“Thank you,” said her companion. She stopped in front of a map tacked up to a cinderblock wall and lifted a pair of horn-rimmed glasses to her face. She nodded with a satisfied air and let the glasses drop back on their cord to her breast. She adjusted the long red scarf that was tightly wound around her neck and led her companion down the right hand corridor.
They came to a large steel door, thick as a bank vault door and with a lock as least as complex. “We have a reading room in here,” said the woman with the red scarf. “And we keep a few of the more…sentimental artifacts on display there.”
They stepped through the doorway. The woman in the scarf pulled the door shut behind them and spun the lock. Her companion slowly turned, nodding at the paintings and photographs hanging from the walls. On a table in the center of the room, a diagram of a step pyramid was displayed.
“For me?” she said with the ghost of a smile. She was shorter than the other woman, with long, straight black hair and eyes that were black in the dim light. She had light-brown skin and carried herself with an almost royal elegance.
“Surely you know that for someone like me, there is no such thing.” She turned and picked up a small leather-bound journal. “Ah, my husband’s notes. I had thought them lost in the shipwreck. Ramon Echevarría’s last testament to the world. Who will read it, I wonder?”
“Those least like to fall under its influence, I should think,” said the woman with the scarf.
There was a vitrine against the rear wall, made of conspicuously thick glass. Mounted inside it was a dismembered human forearm. Its golden color made it look metallic. Just above the wrist, a lipless mouth full of jagged teeth slowly opened and closed, as if drugged. Mérida leaned over it for a long time. “You kept it, I see,” she said finally.
“Will you not destroy it?”
“When the time is right. After all, it may yet prove valuable. And I secured it at no small risk.”
“And what would your agents think of you doing this?”
“They were never my agents. Well, not knowingly, anyway. Let’s just say that when I saw the chance to improve the situation, I did so.”
“You always were opportunistic, Wilhelmina. I notice that one item from that affair is conspicuously missing.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“The ibis-headed dagger in your hand, Mina. Come, come, hiding it behind your back won’t work on me.”
Mina took her hand from behind her back. She was holding the Dagger of Thoth in it.
“So,” said the other woman. “It is to be this way?”
“I’m afraid we can’t have loose ends like you running around, Mérida.”
“So I’m a loose end now. Do you not think I could stop you if I wanted to?”
“Perhaps. Our experts took a number of precautions in constructing this room. And I am not without experience in this sort of thing.”
Mérida Echevarría ran her hand along the vitrine. “My poor Wilhelmina. You are still quite young by my standards. How will you be when you have outlived three generations of those you loved? I was loved by one who worshipped me as a goddess. I was queen over an entire people who did the same. I have lived many, many lifetimes since then. I have lived long enough to come full circle and see my own younger self growing up. But you, Mina…you still think that you are human.”
“Indeed. I see no reason to think otherwise.”
“Don’t you? Don’t you grasp that to be human is to be mortal? Surely you can deduce that syllogism.”
“I’m afraid that I don’t believe you were ever human, my dear, so I find your conclusions to be biased.”
Mérida chuckled. “Perhaps you are right. Well, come do what you came to do.”
“I plan to.”
There was a long silent pause.
“Well?” said Mérida crossly. “Do it, damn you! I’ve waited long enough! Go on, I want—”
Mina drove the dagger into her chest. Mérida slumped against the table, panting. For a moment she looked at Mina with eyes that were filled with both pain and gratitude. Then she collapsed to the floor.
Mina watched her dissolve for a while. When she was satisfied there were no more remains, she unlocked the vault and left the room.
Her guard detail, in their plain olive drab uniforms, met her as she climbed out of the mineshaft.
“Are you all right, ma’am?” said her adjutant, running up to her with a parasol.
“Yes. The target was sanctioned with no other casualties.”
“Very good, ma’am. Shall we bring in the chopper?”
“Yes, young man, summon the helicopter if you please.”
Her adjutant waved over the signals orderly. “Alert the President that the Director is leaving Groom Lake. Shall we tell Las Vegas to ready your plane, ma’am?”
“No. Let’s head out to that Institute I’ve been hearing so much about. It’s on our way, after all. I think it’s high time we find out what trouble they’ve been getting into.”