Bottle Pharoahs

Lesson 1: Sangria and Oreo cookies doth not a story make.

It was a wet February day, and even the easily-excitable fairies were getting bored. While Kururu and Chiriri stared out of the window at the glinting raindrops bashing against the plants in the garden, Sarara flicked dejectedly through the pages of the encyclopedia that Sensei had given them two days previously.

As she arrived at one page in particular, though, everyone's mood changed. A wide-eyed Sarara called her friends over, and together they looked on with delight at the sight spread out before them.

A desert under a blight blue sky, with vast monuments stretching up from the sandy ground, looked back at them.

"Hey, Sensei-san!" called Kururu. "Can you teach us about this 'Ee-guyipt'?"

"Of course," her replied, sitting on the floor so that the fairies on the desk were at about his eye level. "Egypt is a country far away, on the other side of the world. There was an ancient -"

"Nya!" shouted Tama as she kicked the door so hard it fell off its hinges. "I can teach you about Egypt!"

So saying, she dragged a huge device that looked a little like a coffee percolator into the room, knocking a hole in the wall in the process.

"Behold my Super Deluxe Time-Travelly Transport-o-Matic 2000!" she cried.

"What the hell?" Sensei asked, spinning sharply around to glare at his mentally deficient next-door-neighbour. "That can't possibly -"


Their feet sank a little into the sand as they arrived, and it took a few seconds for the crackles of blue lightning and the ghostly image of the coffee percolator to disappear.

"Wow, that was just like that 'Terminator' movie that Tama-chan showed us last week," Kururu said.

"Eww... That wasn't a very nice movie," Chiriri replied, the images of its violent content rushing once more into her mind.

"I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle," Sarara said in her best Arnie voice, which wasn't very good. Then she chuckled, and mimed shooting Kururu with a shotgun - who, for her part, dodged Matrix-style and ended up with a face full of hot sand.

She picked herself up and dusted off her dress. "Hey, let's go over there!" she exclaimed, pointing to a convenient nearby palace.

"Agreed," Sarara replied. "It's too hot out here, we should get out of direct sunlight." And, under her breath, "Hasta la vista, baby."

Sarara sighed. It'd be a while before she got the hang of that voice.

They trudged through the sand for a few minutes until they reached the palace gates. The guards instantly bowed upon recognising them, and ushered them quickly into the throne room.

This room was decorated almost exclusively in gold, with lighter tracery forming patterns against tarnished gold backgrounds. Three wide, arcing steps of marble led up to a vast, imposing throne on which sat a vast, imposing headdress - beneath which sat a small and unimposing Hororo.

"Welcome home, oh famous explorers of Egypt," the mentally out-to-lunch fairy mumbled. "Did you discover that which we have been looking for for so long?"

"Indeed, oh mighty Pharaoh," Sarara replied, half improvising and half acting on the strange new memories that suddenly and inexplicably had appeared in her head. "We are ready to commence excavation on your command."

"Make it so," Hororo declared.

As the three turned to leave, Hororo began to speak into the arm of her throne.

"Captain's Log," she said. "23rd July, 4697BC, whatever BC stands for. We have found the Sphinx. Also, I recommend that Lieutenant Sarara should not be equipped with a shotgun on future missions."

As night fell, Kururu, Chiriri and Sarara headed to a run-down bar in the centre of Cairo. Silence fell as the girls walked in. The three of them weren't much liked around these parts, and a gruff-looking guy at the bar glared at them with an expression on his face that said he was about to make the point.

He jumped from his stool, knocking it to the ground, and ran towards the fairies. They just looked at each other and mumbled "not again..."

In a single swift motion, Chiriri threw her extremely out-of-place-looking sombrero from her head and through the man's stomach, leaving artistic trails of blood on the walls and floor as the metal blades around the edge of the hat tore into his intestines.

She caught it as it returned, placed it back on her head, and bowed deeply as the man's blood started to run in viscous rivers down her face. Her two somewhat shocked friends followed her to the bar.

Three threats, several bribes and fifteen glasses of Ye Anciente Egyptianne Single Malt later, the girls had found themselves a team of either willing, terrified or inebriated conscripts with which to carry out their mission.

Midnight saw the girls huddled together on a park bench, sharing the dregs of their whiskey in a last attempt to stay warm. Whether or not it was actually working they didn't much care, but it was allowing them to forget about the cold so they figured it must be a good thing.

Just as they began to animatedly discuss which part of seeing someone being hung, drawn and quartered they preferred to watch, a strange man loomed out of the darkness and burped loudly in their direction. Sarara burped in return, but seeing as she was only three inches tall she couldn't quite match the six-foot-six-inch man's pitch or volume. Kururu decided that the appropriate reaction was to try and burp as well, but unfortunately she had consumed so much alcohol that she was violently sick instead. Chiriri, for her part, cackled insanely until the man got disturbed and ran away.

Three days and three massive hangovers later, the girls and their team of inexperienced archaeologists arrived at the dig site. They got to work quickly, fearing Pharaoh Hororo's infamous wrath if they didn't complete their task within the week.

Kururu grinned gleefully as her JCB started digging away at the sand on the south side of the submerged structure, so utterly absorbed that she failed to find fault in her own floundering foray into the articulate art of alliteration. Meanwhile, on the rockier ground to the north, the smile that plastered Sarara's face as she set the explosive charges had already caused several workmen to run screaming or at least seek out new underwear.

The day did not finish as well as it started, however. Around three in the afternoon, they discovered a small see-through panel in the top of the partially unearthed structure. It bore the indecipherable caption "!|| c453 0f 3|/|3r93||cy, 8r34k 91455 f0r z0|/|8!3 h0rd35." While Chiriri and Sarara debated the meaning of this cryptic message, Kururu grabbed a vicious-looking axe from her backpack and smashed the glass anyway.

Thick fountains of sand were blasted into the air all around the excavation site, and the ground rumbled as if the sky were falling. As the conscripts fled in terror, the girls just looked at each other with that same "oh no, not again" look on their faces. Kururu swung her axe threateningly, Sarara retrieved the shotgun that she'd hidden in her dress to ensure Hororo wouldn't take it from her; and Chiriri raced down to round level, climbed into her JCB and pressed the big red button that transformed it into a Challenger II tank.

The zombie hordes didn't last long under the fairies whirling maelstrom of destruction. The axe and shotgun turned zombie after zombie into showers of undead goo while Chiriri's tank turned both the monsters and the partly buried monument into a patchwork of smoking craters.

As the smoke and dust cleared, and Sarara finally stopped blasting the piles of dismembered carcass with the mining explosives, they paused to take stock of the situation. The monument now stood fully proud of the sand, but it little resembled the strange creature it once had. Not only was its nose missing, but by chance Chiriri's tank shells had reshaped the entire thing in the likeness of a far stranger creature - Oboro-chan.

The fairies smiled at each other with the knowledge of a job well done as blue lightning began to crackle around them and through them.

Within a few seconds they were back home again. Exhausted, they fell asleep on an encyclopaedia that had one picture slightly changed from what it had looked like when they'd left...

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