Mexico, the Temple of Huitzilopochtli:
A young blond man runs for his life within the temple, as behind him the building caves. Almost there, he tells himself, before moaning not another one, as his stepping on a certain pane activates another trap that he barely he makes his way out of. He gets it, he murmurs. The Aztec god of war isn’t fond of intruders.
Having survived intact and dusting himself off, he remarks that this wasn’t quite as bad as the legends made it out to be. He gazes down into a gorge full of stalactites. Now all he has to do is swing across it with a vine, which of course breaks in mid-jump. He barely manages to save his life by holding onto the precipice with one hand.
If anyone’s listening, I could use a hand here, he shouts. He can see that, comes the reply from another man who is wearing an impeccable white suit and whose face is obscured by his Panama hat. He continues to say that he takes it from the destruction the doctor left in his wake that he was able to find the artifact. Addressing the man in white as Barrett, the blond man tells him it was right where the manuscripts said it would be - He’ll give it to him, as soon as he helps him up.
Barrett demands the artifact first. Being in no position to argue, the doctor gives up La Cornona de Huitzilopochtli. With this, the world is one step away from apocalypse, Barrett mutters, ignoring the plight of the other man who falls to his death.
Egypt, Cairo’s market district, nighttime. On the roof of a warehouse stand three young urchins staring through the roof window at the food down below. They have gathered some fruit but it isn’t enough. One of them, Ororo, informs the others that she is going back in and ties the rope around her waist. The other girl, Nari, admonishes her not to be foolish. What will teacher do if they get caught? Ororo calmly points out that the punishment will be worse if they don’t bring back enough food for everyone.
Skillfully, she lowers herself down with the rope, landing silently. The guard is standing some distance away with the back to her and notices nothing. Ororo begins to gather more fruit and puts them in her bag.
Up on the roof, Nari takes up the bags full of the goods they already stole and the boy Hakiim, who is munching on an apple, asks what she is doing. She is going home, Nari explains. Let the master thief fend for herself. Hakiim accuses her of jealousy, because Ororo is Achmed el-Gibar’s prize student. Nari tries to hit him and instead hits his apple, which lands down in the room. The noise alerts the guard who sees Ororo and cries out “thief.”
The other two children quickly draw her up to the roof, where Nari puts the blame on Hakiim. Ororo isn’t interested and orders them to stick to the rooftops and pray their feet are swifter than those of the men who are following them on the ground.
The two girls make a jump from one rooftop to another one that’s a little further away and urge Hakiim to jump as well, but he freezes. Nari suggests leaving him behind. Ororo tries to encourage him. He jumps, but doesn’t make it to the other roof. He falls into the alley, though he remains unhurt. Nari reminds Ororo they have a job to finish. She does not intend to suffer for Hakiim’s mistakes. Ororo replies she’d suffer more if she knew she had left a friend behind. She jumps down to join Hakiim.
Moments later, they are cornered by the guard. Ororo assumes a battle stance and the men, who take back the food, make fun of the kids. Do they know what they do to rats who steal food? one of them asks. Another voice replies that he is sure that it is nothing they’d come to regret later. It belongs to the thief-master Achmed El-Gibar. The men are suitably impressed, frightened even and ask for Achmed’s forgiveness. They were not aware those children were under his protection.
An honest mistake, Achmed replies with a grin, which can be remedied easily. The guard gets the hint and hands over the food. Achmed commends them on acting wisely. The same cannot be said for his pupils. He tells the men to deal with them as they wish… if they can find them. Actually, the kids have already disappeared.
At the thieves' hideout, Nari regales her fellow urchins with the tale of the adventurous escape, naturally painting herself as the heroine who wanted to bring food to the others, while claiming Ororo was selfish and only interested in fighting. The other kids doubt her version of the tale. Nari is clearly jealous of Ororo being Achmed’s prize pupil. All Ororo is after is the glory, she shouts. Funny, she was just thinking the same thing about Nari, Ororo who walks in with Hakiim retorts.
Hakiim angrily attacks Nari, blaming her for leaving them behind and then spreading lies to save face. Nari berates him for being without any skill and Ororo finally tells them to break it up. Nari warns her that Achmed will have Hakiim’s head for his failure that night. Achmed enters sternly stating that praise and punishment are for him to decide.
The kids greet him ebulliently, offering him what they stole. Achmed gives Nari a stern look and she tries to defend herself. He admonishes her – he taught her to steal, but not to steal away when her fellow thieves need her.
He turns to Hakiim who has failed again. Ororo defends him. Hakiim was following her orders. This is her fault. Achmed is disappointed in his prize pupil and tells her she will go without dinner that night.
Later on the roof, Ororo watches the night sky. She muses that her mother always said the goddess smiled upon this land. On a night like this, she can almost understand what she meant. It almost makes one forget their place in the world for a moment, doesn’t Hakiim agree?
Caught, the boy joins her, admitting that apparently he really makes a lousy thief. Ororo tells him not to be so hard on himself. He thanks her for taking the blame that night and shares his meager supper with her. She thanks him, telling him he is a good friend and, in this life, that is the greatest treasure. Hakiim implores her to come back in then where more friends are waiting. Outside, there is nothing but sand and stars. Ororo reluctantly agrees.
Hakiim asks why she is spending so many nights out there, gazing into nothingness. Ororo confides that her mother told her she was destined for great things, that the blood of queens and priestesses flowed in her veins. If only she could see her daughter now. Every night, she hears her words echoing in her head like a distant sound and she waits for the nothingness to finally give way to something more. It never does. Even though she saw her parents die, she still dreams of them returning somehow.
Hakiim tells her to consider herself lucky. His parents abandoned him when he was a baby. As much as he wishes he could understand Ororo’s pain, he never had anyone to miss. Then he may truly be the luckiest of them all, Ororo muses.
The next morning on the crowded marketplace Ororo pickpockets a tourist. As she counts her money, she runs into the merchant she and Hakiim escaped from the day before. The man gives chase and she ends up in a blind alley. She sees a ladder and a few big pots. The man follows. Seeing nothing, he believes Ororo climbed up the ladder and proceeds to do the same. Ororo, in the meantime, has hidden in one of the pots and steals away the ladder the moment the man is on the roof. Angrily, he swears.
For Ororo, that was way too close, as she hated the feeling of being confined. Suddenly, she recognizes Achmed’s voice coming from a nearby café, where he sits with a stranger – Mr. Barrett.
Barrett wants to hire Achmed’s thieves for a case. Achmed refuses, as what Barrett wants is far too dangerous. Barrett shows him a case full of riches and assures him the services will be repaid beyond his wildest dreams. In that case, Achmed decides, he may have just the thief Barrett is looking for. From outside, Ororo greedily and hopefully watches.