(Egypt, circa 3000 BC)
The glory of Egypt is built upon the labor of slaves. One of these slaves is different from all the others. He is En Sabah Nur, a man to whom both monarchs and tyrants throughout the ages will one day bow. He is the harbinger of a race that will not walk the Earth for nigh on four millennia. As far as he knows, his identity is known only to the pharaoh’s vizier, Logos. He has hidden En Sabah Nur there from the king’s wrath. Strips of material cover his strange features, though there is no masking his might. He drags a huge slab of stone single-handedly, whilst other stones are pulled by two, watched over by the pharaoh’s guards who sport masks. The slaves will have no monuments erected to mark their passing. Only Nur’s memory shall keep record of their deeds.
His strength inspires the other slaves who feel that this new slave cannot be human. He works on the great pyramids in the boiling sun. Even he must rest from time to time, and during this time he reminds himself why he is there. Soon, he will have his revenge against the pharaoh and his general, Ozymandias, for murdering his tribe and for the death of his father, Baal. Then, he will reclaim the secrets his father spoke of that lie within the pharaoh’s precious sphinx.
As he rests, Ozymandias spots him and whips him fiercely. He is thrown off balance and topples from the unfinished pyramid. The fall should be lethal, but it takes more than a fall to stop En Sabah Nur. As he lies on the ground he has a vision. A statue begins to transform into the image of Isis, goddess of the sun. She says his name, and tells him he was not meant to be a slave. He should take the power she gives him to bring light… or darkness.
Suddenly, power courses through his veins and he wonders what’s happening to him. Is this a trick of the desert, or a hallucination? He finds himself floating; his blood on fire. Ozymandias figures this must be the heir that Tut warned him to seek out. He thought him dead. Then again, it could be the priest playing tricks on him, done to impress the rabble. He wants this abomination killed. He will not have another outlander keep him from the throne that is rightfully his.
A slave thinks his ascendancy is a sign from the gods. Another realizes that he is a slave. He’s one of them! As he floats, En Sabah Nur suddenly feels strange and passes out. He drops to the ground in flames, and the slaves wish to douse the flames with water. Ozymandias, however, orders his guards to kill him. They struggle to get through the crowd of slaves, and even Ozymandias is prevented from pushing his way through to En Sabah Nur. He warns them that he will pave the sands with their bones for daring to raise a hand against him.
One of his guards points to a blazing fire and thinks that the king’s day court is on fire. There is also a streak of fire through the sky overhead. “More Sandstormers?” a guard wonders. Ozymandias tells them they must protect their beloved pharaoh… for now… and orders his lieutenant to round the slaves up. They will be dealt with later. Nephri, covered from head to toe, bends down over Nur’s body and says he is full of surprises. She must get him out of there quickly before his general returns. She needs Nur alive. Egypt needs him alive. Nur mumbles about Isis in his daze.
After capturing the Fantastic Four, who have ventured to this time, Rama-Tut remains troubled. He never read of this in the chrono-logs. Perhaps it’s a good sign, he thinks. Already he changes history, for no record exists of the Fantastic Four ever appearing in ancient Egypt. He now controls the future, as he controls the heroes who have stumbled onto something far greater than they can suspect.
He orders the heroes onto their feet, and tells them there is no need for introductions. He is already familiar with the Fantastic Four. “You know us?” asks Reed Richards, surprised. Logos asks his master if he knows them. Are they from his homelands? Their skin is pale like his, and mentioning their powers, he asks what they are. Rama-Tut orders silence and tells Logos that what passes there is not for his ears.
The pharaoh sends him away, but once he is outside, Logos listens to the conversation that takes place. He overhears him say that clearly, no ancient pharaoh would have the power to subdue them, before being approached by two guards carrying spears. They have orders from Ozymandias to escort him to his chambers. Logos has to leave with them, so the pharaoh’s secrets remain his own.
Back in the throne room, Rama-Tut opens a casket revealing the weapon, which sapped their powers and made them his captive. It’s the ultra-diode ray, invented in the year three thousand. The quartet realizes that Rama-Tut must be a fellow time-traveller. He takes out the ray which glows. He explains that he comes from the year three thousand; the glorious age of enlightenment, the century of peace and progress. It is the ultimate in civilization and culture. He came back to this time as a time looter. With his headquarters in ancient Egypt, and with his vast scientific knowledge, he will become absolute ruler of mankind.
Reed knows this cannot happen, and stretches his arm in order to grab it off him. Unfortunately, he isn’t quick enough, and Rama-Tut blasts them, laying them all out in a smoldering heap. As they drop, he tells them that by bathing them in low-intensity rays, it can sap their will and make them his slaves, until he decides to repeat the treatment and free them. It shall never be his intention to free them. As the team is led away in shackles by guards, Rama-Tut grabs Susan Storm and informs her that she will remain by his side. She shall be rewarded for coming through time by becoming his bride.
The vizier is angry that his reward for serving Egypt is the seizing of his schematics for the pyramids by Ozymandias, who readies himself to take the throne for himself. He is also angry that Tut allies himself with more outlanders with unimaginable powers, and not even Ozymandias’ savagery can stop them. He must act soon or he will die, and Egypt will be destroyed. His only hope is En Sabah Nur. Where is he when he is needed?
(just this side of the underworld)
En Sabah Nur awakens, but is a little confused after his exertions at the pyramid. A woman with her face covered asks him to rest. She explains that he is deep within the chamber of Rama-Tut, within the main pyramid. There he can hide and regain his strength. He asks who she is. She whips away her mask to reveal herself as Nephri. She informs Nur that she is promised to wed the pharaoh. This has given her free passage of the grounds; even some secret passages. She can enter the room they’re in, the slave fields and even get close to the sphinx. “What?” he remarks, but Nephri once again asks him to rest.
She kneels beside him and tells him that she was taught by her mother to pay heed to the omens, even when her people disregarded the old religion, the old bloodlines - their royal bloodlines. Such was the fall of their house. Such disregard made Egypt look to outlanders like Rama-Tut. Nephri adds that she still believes good things can come from the gods. Her mother said to look upon the face of the gods and recognize them for what they are. One should shun Osiris, for he brings death in his way. One should embrace Isis for she will birth light. Her father died protecting her brother, Ozymandias, during a scavengers’ raid. En Sabah Nur stirs at the mention of his name.
Nephri continues, informing him that her mother died in the flood season. Nephri saw it coming in the omens; dead scarabs she found littering the reeds during harvest. She looked upon Tut’s face and saw Osiris’ searing gaze. With him, she saw a hope on the horizon. She asks if that is what he is, with his strange powers that seem to come from the gods. She feels his skin and it feels warm to the touch. She asks him his name. “I am called En Sabah Nur,” he replies. Nephri says that when Tut cast her from the throne, she swore she would not give her heart to another for all eternity, but now she sees the age of Egypt is now.
En Sabah Nur looks up at her and tells her she is beautiful. Where he comes from there are no jewels or gentle creatures like her. There is only the hand of cruel Osiris. He sees a vision of the god, and it warns him not to be tempted by this weakness. He has no place with her. Nephri thinks he’s a little delirious. She can feel the heat of his fever. The wrappings can’t be helping, she feels, and she tries to remove them from his face. En Sabah Nur grabs her hand and asks her to get away from him. Nephri asks what is wrong. She assures Nur that she will not abandon him, but Nur replies that she doesn’t understand. He can never be a part of her humanity. He mentions that she spoke of the sphinx, and asks to be taken there.
(in the throne room)
Rama-Tut asks Ozymandias why he told him that the heir he sought was dead. He hears of riots in the slave grounds and whispers in the temples speaking of their gods’ wrath. There is only one god’s wrath to fear, and that is his. He warns the general that if he lies he will not live to see dawn. Ozymandias assures him that the City of Kings is secured and no one can escape. It’s only a matter of time before they find the outlander boy. Rama-Tut explodes with anger, and informs Ozymandias that his time is up. He will find the boy among the slaves. Ozymandias chuckles, replying that the slaves do not hide him. He has taken care of them most finally.
Suddenly, their conversation is interrupted by Logos who asks the pharaoh why work has stopped on the pyramids. First his lab equipment is seized, and now he is denied access to the pyramid grounds! He then notices Sue Storm dressed in the garb of the pharaoh’s betrothed. He’s taking another foreigner to be his bride? “But what of Nephri?” he asks. Rama-Tut ignores his question, and asks him not to worry about the tombs. Ozymandias alerted him to a problem and the workers had to be disposed of. They threatened revolt because of some heathen savior they thought had arrived; some kind of stranger amongst them who seemed to perform miracles. He adds that he is in as much ignorance of this matter as Logos is. Rama-Tut then enquires about the slave with the bandaged face seen in his quarters earlier.
Nephri has shown En Sabah Nur to the sphinx. He asks her to go back now. Beyond there lies his destiny. Nephri explains that it is a place of evil. The sphinx is said to have appeared from nowhere, with Tut himself. It does not stand guard over her Egypt, she continues, but over the pharaoh’s world. It stands ready to devour those who seek the secrets of the king. Nur asks her not to take that tone. He is as much an outlander as any, and those secrets will be his. She should return to the palace where it is safe. His place is there, alone, as he has always been.
Nephri doesn’t wish to leave his side. Nur replies that he wants her there, but he doesn’t want to see her hurt. One person already died that he should have protected. He adds that he is not from her court of learning and culture. “I am just a nomad seeking to protect you from what lies… by the burning sands!” he exclaims. Nephri looks up to see what En Sabah Nur has seen and is equally shocked. Logos hangs from a cross, strapped on by his arms. Blood oozes from his head and he looks like he’s taken a lot of punishment.
They look down and see the grinning visage of Ozymandias surrounded by several mask-wearing guards. He informs them that they’re in the viper’s nest. Logos has taunted him for too long with his self-important scientific nonsense, but look where his so-called wisdom has brought him. He adds that Logos was willing to endure a great deal of pain to protect him, but it was for nought. Tut knew he would be drawn to the sphinx, but he didn’t expect his dear sister to be accompanying him. He asks Nur to come with him. Their monarch has much he wishes to discuss with him.
Both Logos and Nephri are strapped to stakes in the pyramid grounds. Logos weakly asks what he’s done with En Sabah Nur, whilst Nephri complains that the stakes they’re fastened to are for those to be executed. She is of the house royal! They share the same blood. How can he do this? Ozymandias unapologetically replies that she speaks of royal blood, when it is obvious that she would befoul it with that… thing. He is afraid he must dispose of them both as an example for the people. They must see the consequences for those who disregard the rule of the empire. They must fear their power.
The pharaoh makes an appearance. He tells his general that they have much to show the people this day. With him is Sue Storm, who he introduces as his faithful bride, and En Sabah Nur who he calls his successor. He asks Nur to bow to him so the people may see his respect for him. Nur replies that he is not his son, and he bows to no one. Ozymandias threatens Nur with his spear and orders him to bow to his superior. It is treason not to, punishable by death.
Rama-Tut asks him to lower his spear. It would be of little use against Nur. He informs him that he is to be his heir, to succeed the pharaoh in leading his never-dying dynasty. Ozymandias shall yield to him, as he does to the pharaoh. In time, all shall bow to him. Everyone gathered bows before En Sabah Nur, and he asks what this is all about. Rama-Tut informs him that these superstitious imbeciles revere him. He is their hope and they whisper of him as being their savior. After all he has endured, would it not be fine to accept their ignorant affection for him? He takes hold of the rags covering Nur’s face and wishes to reveal him to the crowd.
As the rags come free, the screams of horror quickly die down to gasps of hushed reverence among the assembled city folk. However, this isn’t what pierces Nur to his heart. It is the silent revulsion as Nephri gazes upon his twisted visage that stabs at him. She twists her head away, and what they ever had is killed in that moment. He frowns. Rama-Tut asks him to forget her. She cannot look into the true face of power, such is their legacy. He does not turn from Nur’s face, as they are alike. Can he not see this?
Logos, his voice weakened by torture, tells Nur not to trust him. He is a viper and he shall sting him as he has Egypt. Join him and he will become a monster like him… corrupted… a treacherous lap dog like Ozymandias. The general is affronted by this, and he plunges his spear through Logos’ chest. En Sabah Nur looks on in shock, but the pharaoh asks him not to mourn Logos. When his bones are dust, but a passing moment will have gone by in Nur’s life. He asks him to swear his loyalty. He will give him the unparalleled secrets of his travels, and one day he will rule not just Egypt, but the world! Defy him, and both he and all he cherishes will be destroyed.
Nur swings around and grabs Rama-Tut by the throat, lifting him off the ground with ease. “Never!” he screams. Tut asks how he dares raise a hand against him. En Sabah Nur replies that, as Tut once killed Baal, now he kills him. He is the test to his dying kingdom. Tut is under pressure to act, and he pulls out the ultra diode ray and blasts Nur at point blank range. It burns his synapses and knocks all the fight from his powerful body. Tut wants the people to see how their savior dies. He tells them that, if En Sabah Nur was a messenger from the gods, let the people witness that Rama-Tut easily kills this insolent godling.
With Nur unconscious, Rama-Tut orders his guards to dismember the body and scatter the parts from Pelsium to Memphis as a warning. They can take the vizier and cast him into the delta waters. As for the girl, they can cut her down. He will find a use for her. He has a wedding to prepare for.