There was a knock on the apartment door.
"Sure, stop lecturing me, Ra," the sole denizen of the warren shouted.
"I haven't said anything!" protested the voice behind the door.
"You were going to go on about duty, responsibility, and you..."
"How'd you know it was me?"
"Sis gave up months ago. The younger heroes a month or so earlier. The old crew never came by, though. I knew they'd put you up to it though, when push came to shove."
The door opened, and the hero known as Ra's Revenge was surprised by his friend's transformation. Aphid Man pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with a grin. "Yeah... after I quit the job, I paid the bills working for Portal Corp. They encouraged a loose dress code in my division, and it was time for some changes." The wild, dyed red hair, the biker gloves, and the casual black tee with black slacks were a decided departure from green battle armour. "People just call me A-man now, and everybody gets to be the Fez from Great Hours when they greet me. Anyway... what's the story?"

Aphid Man listened to Ra detail what started out as an ordinary raid against the Fifth Column's jewel heist. He and a magic infused being known as The Possession had gone thinking it was a simple funding expedition. They were astonished to witness the end of an arcane ceremony. The room was enshrouded in an unnatrual darkness, and before Ra could question The Possession's occult insight, their heads filled with a low, dull murmering. The next thing Ra remembered was waking up on the pavement of Steel Canyon, and all attempts to reach The Possession were futile.

Ra stopped a moment, and looked around. "Hey, where'd you go?" The regular rhythm of his companion's jumping made it easy to tune out, so he hadn't noticed it stopping. A moment or two later he swooped down on his friend.
"I got tired of waving my arms, smart guy. Let me introduce you to Professora Olboca."
Ra bowed, sweepingly. "Charmed, my lady."
"Oh, an old fashioned guy, y-"
"You have no idea," interrupted Aphid Man, with a wicked grin. "Our friend has been taken hostage, though, and we've wasted a lot of time as is."
"Oh, yes. I remember The Possession's 'vibe', and she hasn't moved from this warehouse in some time."

Aphid Man lept from rooftop to rooftop, trapising over the skyline of Paragon. "Were you going to mention it?"
Ra looked over at his longtime rival. "Mention what?"
"The scraps in your hands after your ordeal. What were they?"
"How did you know...?"
"Hello, super-senses? Microscopic calibration? People reek. Textiles reek. Your gloves practically scream at me. Considering you emit heat through your palms, they have a very distinctive smell. Char-broiled air. I can smell anything you've handled in the last day. I spent some time cataloguing smells, I figure if I've got the power, I might as well make use of it, right? I've got absolutely no idea what you were holding, but let's just say I'm looking up new words in the 'monsterous' category to describe the rancid, biting odor when I get home."
"Cloth bandages. Really dusty cloth bandages. You know, like the sort you make by ripping apart a shirt for field first aide?"
"That's funny, because I didn't smell textile."

They arrived at the warehouse in short order. Ra reached for his cell phone to call in additional reinforcements, but it was too slow. Aphid Man punched through the door, pushing his arm through and pulling the door out. "You've heard of the element of surprise, right, A-Man?"
"Yeah. The Fifth will be real surprised when they see this door whack em in the face." As proof, the first Fifth to arrive fell to the floor with a sickening crunch.
Ra's jaw fell in horror. "You... you don't think you just crossed a line there?"
"No," A-man said, with all the chill of the grave. "I've already trepassed that threshold. But relax, this one wasn't human." Aphid lifted the door up, and what had seemed like a Fifth Column soldier collapsed in a shower of brittle dust. "A simulacrum. It was all dirt, from top to bottom, start to finish."
"That's weird. The Circle of Thorns don't tap into those kinds of magics, do they?"
"None in the known multiverse. It's also not a Fifth trick. Their magic manipulation is more gathering up ancient artifacts and releasing charges than creating brand new things."
"Then who?" asked Ra. A strange, almost-human figure lurched out of the shadows, murmering. Ra's monocle fell out of his eye as he stared in shock. "It's.. it's..."
"A mummy. Servant of the Murmers, specifically." Aphid Man stretched out into the prowling tiger stance, "Looks like the Fifth finally bit off more than they could chew with their relic fanaticism. Everyone knew they'd eventually do it, you know. But who'd have guessed it would be the grandfather of them all... the scourage of the ancient world."
Ra's shock wore off. "Wrapped in cloth, huh? I bet I'm not going to be on their christmas card list..." Ra swept his hands downwards, gathering the flames to his hands with a grin, "but the fire inside is so delightful, so as long as you hate me so..."



I intend to submit this to the fan fiction thing mentioned in a moderator post after some criticism and read overs (I've already spotted a dozen times where I forgot a key word in a sentence, making it look very funny, in the no one is laughing sense).