Eye for an eye
An untold tale from the Diary of Dr Daniel Jackson itle
All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
This story is rated PG - so if you haven't asked Mom or Dad for permission and you are under 13 - scoot!
It's strange how a story comes into being. There I was, sitting on a coach on holiday and all of a sudden this two-line scene between Jack and Daniel appears in my mind. On arriving home, I find somebody has issued a challenge to one of the lists. Write a story in which a colleague of Daniel's has made a translation error that Daniel has pointed out. The colleague then wants to revenge themselves in kind. The two just kind of meshed together and fifty pages later...
OK the warnings: If you don't like whumping, you won't want to read this! Although for me, this is restrained. Also, if you know about my reputation for removing Daniel from his clothes - sorry, you're going to be disappointed. The dear boy clung tenaciously to everything below the waist<eg>
And the thanks: A huge bouquet of flowers to Ellen for beta reading this as it was in progress, for endless helpful comments, and for a swift kick on the butt when I tried to be lazy<g> Ellen you're the best. Thanks too to Joyce and co for the challenge idea. And finally, big thanks to my husband for putting up with my Daniel Jackson obsession.
You know, one of the great things about Abydos was that it had a 36 hour day. What I wouldn't give for that now. Somehow there is never time to do everything that needs doing. I can't believe how much stuff has come through the gate for translation recently. At least General Hammond was amenable to my solution - although perhaps the dark shadows under my eyes from too many late nights had something to do with the swiftness of his response. And of course, Janet was threatening to make me sleep in the infirmary just to ensure that I did. Which reminds me, Jack's comments about Janet trying to get me into bed were really not funny! Sometimes that man has a mind like a sewer.
Daniel was running late, but for once it didn't matter. With huge quantities of material for translation coming through the Stargate from a recent find on a remote planet, the SGC had been forced to look outside its own means for help. The solution: employ teams of civilian linguists who were first vetted using standard military security checks, made to apply for official security clearance, and then were paid well enough not to ask questions about where their source material came from. Besides, Daniel reminded himself, the chances were that 99.9% of the information was going to be routine stuff. He suspected they had stumbled across an extinct race who had gained its significance in life by meticulously recording the contents of vast storerooms. Of the storerooms themselves there was no evidence. But when it came to fighting the goa'uld, sometimes it was worth taking a gamble. And in this case it had been decided that a budget for translation could be found just in case there were nuggets of gold hiding amongst the dross of detail. Apart from which, Daniel had argued it was a good recruitment plan - he'd just about run himself ragged trying to act as linguistic adviser to all 14 SG teams. If the scheme threw up just one linguist with the potential for a permanent post at the SGC, it would be money well spent.
He turned his car into a free space outside the office block the SGC had rented on a new business development area known as Long Fields and hurried towards the building. He'd already sat through Jack O'Neill's security lecture twice. He didn't think it would hurt to miss it this time. He knew though, that Jack would read him the riot act if he didn't arrive before O'Neill finished and if the colonel was forced to make small talk with a group of *scientists*. When Daniel had attempted to explain that linguistics wasn't a science per se, O'Neill had simply adopted that glazed expression of his, and complained that it didn't matter - it was all gobbledygook as far as he was concerned. Taking the stairs two at a time, Daniel pushed open the door to floor three, and jogged down to a far office. He was just in time to hear Jack comment, "And if you do decide to talk to anyone outside the project then, we'll just have to shoot you."
The sound of hesitant laughter greeted him as he entered the room and took a vacant seat next to Sam.
"Dr Jackson. Good of you to join us," Jack said, shooting him a sour look. "Let me introduce you to our new recruits. Starting on your right..."
Daniel nodded absently as Jack began to reel off names, his mind mainly on the lecture he was about to deliver on goa'uld, neatly disguised as a crash course in Linear A script and ancient Egyptian.
He glanced around the table, nodding politely as group members acknowledged their names.
"And Dr Caroline Mayers," Jack finished.
"Daniel." Dr Mayers acknowledged him with a slight dip of her head.
"Caroline?" Daniel's response was half question, half clipped statement.
"You two know each other?" Jack asked innocently.
"I didn't recognise the name on the recruit list," Daniel replied distantly, his expression stating that he clearly recognised the face, and was none too happy to see it.
"It's my married name," Caroline offered.
"Oh. Right. Well, that would explain it." Daniel licked his lips and hurriedly transferred his frown to the papers in front of him. "Well, let's begin."
"Did it just get ten degrees cooler in here?" Jack whispered to Carter as he took his seat.
Carter nodded. "I'd say. Looks like Daniel's own history has just reared its ugly head."
O'Neill's gaze went back to Dr Mayers. Ugly wasn't a term that would sprung to mind, he noted. She looked about 40, but Jack was sure he'd read in her profile that she was quite a bit older than that. Her dark hair was cut into a short bob, good skin, slim without being skinny. She was watching Daniel carefully, but, as though aware of O'Neill's scrutiny, she suddenly switched focus. And smiled. O'Neill found himself grinning stupidly at her, before he realised that Carter was also staring at him. Suddenly thrown off guard, he covered his confusion by reaching for the water jug. So Daniel had a history with this woman. Well, as the officer in charge of SGC security on this project it was his job to find out exactly what that history was. A slight smile played on his lips. There was nothing like the perfect excuse to be downright nosy.
"So you want to talk about it?" Jack caught up with Daniel in the building's cafeteria at lunchtime.
"About what?" Daniel replied innocently, snagging a bar of chocolate from the display in front of him. He pushed his tray along the counter. "Regular coffee. Large."
Jack's face twitched in anticipation at the thought of teasing his colleague. "Oh you know. This. That. Caroline Mayers."
Daniel's hand jerked as he picked up his coffee. "Damn." He shook the scalding liquid off, and made a second attempt at moving the styrofoam cup onto his tray. "Caroline? Nothing to talk about." He paid the cashier and headed to a vacant table, trailed moments later by Jack.
"Nothing to talk about?" Jack slid into the chair opposite him, and set his own lunch down. "Nothing as in, you could cut the air with a knife between the two of you, type nothing?"
Daniel took a large bite out of his sandwich. Mumbling around the mouthful of ham and bread, he dismissed the subject. "It was a long time ago."
Jack's silence and raised eyebrows clearly signalled he wasn't letting Daniel off the hook that easy.
With a sigh Daniel swallowed, washing the chewy dough that passed for bread down with a mouthful of coffee. "OK! OK! I'll tell. But really it's not important. We worked together. Once. I was doing my doctorate, she was on staff. And things... well... things... they... err... they got..."
Jack's lips twitched as Daniel struggled to find the words, knowing that only one subject would cause this much embarrassment. "Sexual?" he mouthed the word.
"She seduced me," Daniel confessed, his face flushing.
"Oh!" Jack hadn't been expecting such a forthright statement, but he quickly recovered. "Well you always did have this 'woman on every planet' thing."
Daniel shot him a hurt look.
"Sorry!" The apology was quick. "You were saying?"
"In a way I was flattered. And..." Daniel's colour deepened. "I mean, Jack, isn't it every young guy's fantasy? Being seduced by an older woman. It was so... well, you've seen the Graduate haven't you?" Daniel glanced at O'Neill with the tiniest of smiles on his lips as though unsure that his confession would meet with O'Neill's approval.
"The Graduate?" O'Neill was trying to take in the notion of Daniel as the plaything of an older woman. Now he thought about it, it was obvious that Daniel would've had girlfriends prior to Sha're. The guy was in his thirties when he'd met him after all - and despite an apparent lack of fashion sense he knew women found Daniel physically attractive. In fact, the Daniel factor, as he had wearily dubbed it, had gotten them into enough trouble on various missions.
"The thing was," Daniel was now at full speed. "After a couple of months I realised it wasn't me she was interested in."
"A couple of months?" Jack didn't think Daniel could go any redder, but his colour definitely deepened.
"Well, it kinda took me that long to get my brain working again."
O'Neill bit down hard on his tongue before a rather rude comment escaped his lips.
Fortunately Daniel was too lost in his memories to notice. "Her career was in the doldrums," he continued. "Whereas I was... well, being groomed for the fast-track. And so she figured it would do her no harm to be... associated with me."
"Associated?" Jack's eyebrows were doing a tango by now as Daniel carefully selected his words. He could, however, guess the end of the story, and to avoid another half an hour ramble by Daniel he jumped in. "And so you dumped her right?"
"Well, yes." Daniel picked up his coffee and swallowed another mouthful. "Although not until after she published some of my research under her own name."
"Ah!" That, Jack figured, would've really hurt. He decided to cut to the chase. "So this *history*, is it going to affect the project here?"
Daniel frowned at him. "No. Of course not. I mean, why would it? It was a long time ago. And let's face it Jack - my days of worrying about how many academic papers I have to my name are over."
Right, Jack thought. No problem. Like hell.
Daniel fell in step with Caroline Mayers as the group broke up for the day. He felt things had gone well. The group was enthusiastic about the translation work, and more than a few of its members were obviously relieved to be guaranteed a steady income for the next few months. There was just one thing Daniel wanted to settle.
"Caroline. It's been a while," he offered by way of breaking the ice.
She shot him a quick look as she walked. "Yes, it has. But if you'll excuse me, I'd rather skip on the reminiscences. I'm meeting someone. I don't want to be late."
Her tone made Daniel bristle. "Actually," he said. "I think a few reminiscences are important."
She pulled up sharp at the authority in his voice, her look re-appraising him. When she spoke though, her tone was contemptuous. "Really?"
For an instant Daniel felt like a young student again, but then he reminded himself that *he* was in charge of this project. Not only that, but he'd told Jack there would be no problem. "I need to be sure you won't pull a stunt like you did last time we worked together."
Caroline's mouth tightened. "Me?" she replied. "As I recall, you were the one who denounced my findings in front of an entire lecture hall full of professors."
"Findings that were based on *my* research," Daniel retorted. "And from which you had drawn entirely the wrong conclusions."
She didn't even flinch, coming back angrily. "*Our* research, Daniel. We were partners remember. And you didn't have to pick that particular moment to disagree with my findings."
Daniel laughed mirthlessly. "Your translation was fundamentally flawed - anyone could've seen that."
"But only you, Daniel, would've announced it to a crowded auditorium."
"Well I wouldn't have had to if you'd consulted me before writing that paper."
For a moment the two doctors glared at each other, then abruptly Daniel waved his hand in weary frustration. "Look. All I want from you is your word that you won't use anything from this project for personal gain."
"My word?" She seemed insulted. "And if I don't give you *my word*?"
"You're off the project as of now," Daniel said determinedly.
That seemed to hit a nerve, but Mayers still wasn't going to give in gracefully. "I've signed your damned papers," she snapped. She glanced pointedly round the empty corridor. "Seems that was all the reassurance you required of everyone else. But yes, *Dr Jackson*, you have my word. Now if you'll excuse me..."
Reaching her car, Caroline Mayers threw her stuff onto the passenger seat, and slid behind the wheel. Daniel Jackson! Of all the people to be in charge of this project, it had to be Daniel Jackson. She had occasionally wondered what had happened to him after his professor kicked him out for his wild theories - an action she had thoroughly applauded at the time. Well now she knew. He'd sold out to the military. She allowed herself to relish the knowledge that having to work for the military must've pained him. Running petty translation projects was quite a come down from what had been planned for him even if they were dressed up behind the facade of national security.
Petty translation projects - the words brought her back to the present and her own situation. Petty translation projects for which she had been grateful to be asked to join. She did after all need this job too. Well, she guessed she'd just have to put up with the fact that Jackson was now her boss. She could do that, she told herself. What she couldn't - and wouldn't - do, was forget the day he'd made *her* the laughing stock of academia.
Three months later...
Daniel pushed open the door of his office and groaned out loud. Piles of files were heaped on his desk and chair, and someone had made a small mountain on the floor out of those that wouldn't fit elsewhere. A week stuck on a cold, wet and distinctly unwelcoming planet, Daniel complained to himself, and what do I come back to? Mounds and mounds of paperwork.
He moved to the desk, favouring his right leg which was still protesting from a particularly inelegant slide down the side of a hill. Well, more of a mountain really, but Daniel was trying not to think of the precipitous drop that he had been saved from by a fortunate collision with a bush. OK so the bush had promptly impaled him with what seemed like hundreds of needle-like thorns, and he'd had to suffer Jack removing them from various parts of his anatomy with about as much care as a farmer plucking a dead turkey - but at least he hadn't been turned into a gory pancake on the rocks 500 feet down. Now though, Jack's words as they stepped off the ramp in the gateroom buzzed through his mind. 'A shower, food and the infirmary, Daniel.' The first two sounded extremely appealing. As for the third. Well, O'Neill hadn't actually said it was an order...
Daniel picked up the first file. As he had expected it was a report from one of the translation teams. He glanced at the one-page summary, picked a pen up and scribbled his signature. Nothing but a list of laundry items. He looked at the mound again, and felt a slight glimmer of hope. If all the files were like this, perhaps it wouldn't take him so long to work through them. As he reached for a second one, the sound of his stomach growling for food demanded his attention and Jack's voice buzzed like an angry wasp in his mind. Right he thought - shower, food and then... well, then he'd flick through a few of these files before heading to the infirmary.
Clean, warm, fed and thoroughly soused in strong, dark coffee, Daniel was half way through the pile of files, his name neatly signed to forty or so summaries of food supplies, recipes (the one for a milk pudding laced heavily with alcohol sounded appealing, but he figured he could live without anything that involved consuming insects) and lists of livestock and grain supplies. Suppressing a yawn and stubbornly ignoring the nagging pain in his leg, he picked up the next file and began to read. Woah!
His full attention snapped onto the page in front of him. Weapons? The translator had been uncertain of the exact names, but not the numbers - which were big. 5,000 Zat Ni Kel? 400 jars of Nish Tar? 10,000 staff weapons. Here the translator had written 'as in Medieval England presumably'. Daniel smiled wryly, his left hand subconsciously drifting to the scar on his right arm - a trophy from a run in with a staff weapon.
He turned over the summary and started reading the line by line translation, mentally checking its accuracy as he went. Three pages later his gaze fell on a set of symbols that the translator had ringed in red and queried 'what are these?' Daniel felt his heart beat quicken. He knew exactly what they were - a set of Stargate co-ordinates.
Jack was running late. As he opened the door to his office, the numerals on his desk clock pointedly turned over to 0602. Years of military discipline had ingrained into him that the day began at 0600. However, as he looked at the files on his desk he scowled. Leaving early for a mission was one thing, but who needed to do paperwork at this time of the morning? What he really wanted to do was test fly the new AUV Carter had been working on - perhaps if he snuck down to the lab...
"Jack!" Daniel burst into O'Neill's office before the colonel had a chance to sit down.
"Daniel!" Jack replied with mock enthusiasm. "How nice to see you."
Oblivious to Jack's sarcasm Daniel deposited five files onto the desk. "You've got to see these."
Jack settled himself wearily into his chair, peered at the files and then back up at Daniel. "Have you been reading all night?" he asked, noting the shadows under Daniel's eyes.
"This is really important," Daniel offered by way of explanation as he took the seat on the other side of Jack's desk. Almost immediately though he was out of it again. "Look." He snatched the top file back up again and opened it, displaying the summary with a flourish. "Goa'uld weapons. Thousands of them."
Jack looked back at the file and shrugged. He'd been keeping an eye on the translation project and was aware that it had produced nothing but list after list of items. That weapons were amongst them wasn't any surprise. "And?"
"Don't you see? This could be one of the biggest finds ever."
Jack frowned as he realised Daniel was studying him with that 'don't you get it' look of his. Well, no he didn't *get it*.
Before he had a chance to complain though Daniel had snatched up the file and flicked through the pages, setting it once again before Jack, eager anticipation etched across his face.
Jack peered at the page of glyphs and sighed. "Daniel, it's 6.05. I need at least another ten years of sleep. You're going to have to explain it to me." He looked up again and added firmly. "In words of one syllable."
"Oh. Right. Yes. Sorry." Daniel pointed at the page, his voice rising a tone in excitement. "That's a Stargate address."
Now Jack got it, but years of considering the worst case scenario immediately kicked in. "And you seriously think these weapons are there? After what - several centuries?"
"I know it's a long shot," Daniel replied quickly, his enthusiasm undampened by Jack's pessimism. "But what if they are, Jack? Think what a difference it would make to be able to meet the goa'uld on their own terms. Zat gun for zat gun. I mean look at these numbers. We're talking enough to arm every one in the SGC. Hell - everyone in the US army probably. And not just zats, but staff weapons. And... " Daniel peered at the file and pointed out some further glyphs. "I need to double check with Teal'c, but I'm pretty certain that these are the stun grenades the goa'uld use. Jack, there may even be death gliders stored there."
O'Neill looked at the pages again, trying to bury the unease that was creeping up on him over Daniel's new found keenness for weaponry. Damn goa'uld, he thought sourly, their influence corrupted everything - even Daniel. He could still remember the day he'd taken it on himself to teach Daniel how to use a handgun and the bitter argument they had had, resolved only by him telling Daniel it was learn to shoot or get the hell off his team. He buried the emotion quickly, and settled for a nod. "Have you spoken to General Hammond?"
"Err... No. I came straight here."
"Oh?" Something in Daniel's tone caught Jack's attention. "Let me guess. There's a *but* to this."
"Well. Not exactly a but. More of a... Well, yes. There is a problem. But the but is this..." Daniel paused as O'Neill shook his head trying to make sense of the babble. "There could be a solution."
Jack somewhat belatedly attempted to cover the fact that he hadn't followed a word of Daniel's last speech by grabbing at the final two words. "A solution?"
Daniel picked up another file. "There's more of the list in this file. Different translator, same team. In fact all these files are from the same group, and list similar stuff. Anyway... remember how difficult it was to get into Seth's hideout here on Earth?"
"Well I figured, that the goa'uld, which ever one it was that had these inventories made, wouldn't store an arsenal as comprehensive as this without some sort of security. So I started checking through the files, and I came across this." Daniel flicked to the page and placed it before O'Neill. "This symbol here is very similar to one we found in Egypt on the doorway to the tomb of Rameses III, except in this case the lower half of the glyph is more stylised than..."
"Daniel!" O'Neill's growl brought the archaeologist to an abrupt halt. "One syllable!" O'Neill held up his finger to emphasise the point.
"Right. Long story short. This symbol is a warning. Which means that I was right, if this arsenal does still exist it has at least one level of err... security. And chances are there could be several. Which is why I'm meeting up with the translation team this morning to check through the scrolls they have on site. I'm hoping that our meticulous list keepers will have also noted down the way into this particular arsenal."
"Isn't that being rather optimistic?"
"Well, maybe," Daniel conceded. "But whoever owned these weapons trusted these people enough to make inventories. And I figured to do that - they must've had access."
O'Neill considered for a moment. "I guess it couldn't hurt to check. Which translation team was it?"
Daniel was already half out the door. "The one over at Long Fields."
Smug bastard, Caroline thought as she watched Daniel work his way around the room, pointing out a missing word here, refining a translation there. For the past three months she had felt at home with this team. Daniel's presence had been minimal which suited her just fine, although when he had put in an appearance everyone else seemed to think the sun shone out of his backside. The power of the check book, she told herself sourly. Mostly though, the team had been left to get on with the translation.
Today however, Daniel had arrived early in the morning and looked as though he was settling in for the duration. He'd summoned two of the younger team members, a wet-behind-the-ears graduate called Boland and a timid linguist called Smith and dispatched them on some errand. As she watched the remainder of the team vying for Daniel's approval, her stomach churned with contempt. Why couldn't they see him for what he was? A failed academic who just happened to have a knack for recognising glyphs. There wasn't anything clever about what he did. Or was.
Unexpectedly Daniel looked up and met her gaze. Damn, she thought, as he began to move towards her. She looked down at her work, hoping he'd get the message that she didn't want to talk and pass her by. No such luck.
"So how's it going?" He stepped around the table to stand next to her.
"Fine," she snapped, resisting the urge to cover her work like a schoolgirl.
"May I?" Daniel picked up her translation without waiting for her consent, and began to read it, his lips moving in silent pronunciation. A slight frown wrinkled his brow.
"Something wrong?" Caroline could barely keep her tone civil.
"Err. No. Not wrong - exactly. But I think if you look at this glyph here, and then compare it to this one..."
The door to the office flew open and Daniel glanced up as Boland and Smith entered the room as fast as the large crate of scrolls they were pulling would allow them. "Dr Jackson! We think we've found what you're looking for," Boland yelled.
Daniel immediately put Caroline's translation back on the desk. Hurrying over to the crate, he called back to her. "Silk. That's silk as in thread. You know - for embroidery. Not silk as in the woven cloth. Easily confused."
Caroline glanced at the two glyphs and swore. Jackson was right of course. It was silk thread, not silk cloth. He'd done it again. Pointed out an error in her translation in front of her peers. She glanced up and realised that nobody had noticed, their attention was on the crate. That wasn't the point though, she thought sourly. The man had no tact. No thought for other people's feelings.
She peered back down at the glyphs. Like it made any difference whether she wrote silk thread or silk cloth. She couldn't fathom why the military was paying them to translate lists of household items. And paying them handsomely too? It made no sense. Jackson knew of course, and that rankled even more.
She watched him now, as he began to pull scrolls out of the crate, unrolling each one with obvious satisfaction. "Yes!" he said, his blue eyes lighting up with excitement as he scanned the first few. "I can't believe you found these so quickly. Hell. I can hardly believe you found them at all." He smiled up at the eager face of Boland. "Well done!"
The young man blushed at the praise, making Caroline's own expression sharpen even more. Stupid kid. Anyone could see that Jackson was more interested in the scrolls than in the person who'd found them.
Daniel turned to the group. "OK, everybody drop what you're doing. I want you to give priority to translating these." Scanning through each one, he started handing out the scrolls. "I think you might find them a bit more interesting too. That one, for example..," he handed it to one of the guys that had dragged in the crate, "looks like its laid out as a riddle. A bit of lateral thinking might be needed." He unrolled another one. "Oh - this is really interesting." Offering no further explanation he put that one aside, pulling out the next, scanning it and then passing it on.
"Any chance of telling us why this stuff is so important, Doc?" The voice came from one of the more mature members of the group.
A slight flush coloured Daniel's skin as he apologised. "Sorry. Need to know only."
Typical, rub in your high and mighty military status, Caroline thought, immediately taking the colour to be the result of impatience rather than embarrassment.
The team member, however, shrugged unconcerned, the wrinkles around his eyes and mouth flagging the fact that retirement was top of his priorities. "That's OK. Long as those fat checks keep getting cashed..."
His comment was greeted by general laughter, and more hands reached out for the scrolls Daniel was passing out. *Need to know.* Caroline mimicked Daniel's words to herself. Jumped up, no good...
"Caroline? You want to take these two?"
She jumped as she realised Daniel was talking to her. "Yes. Sure." She moved forward and took the two scrolls. "What about those?" she asked, indicating the half dozen he had now set to one side.
"Oh. Those? Figured I'd do those myself."
"Right." She walked back to her desk, bitter thoughts still running through her head. Pick out the best ones for yourself. Bastard.
For the next four days, Daniel virtually lived in the Long Fields office block. For most of the team, having him around made life much simpler. Any questions they had were answered quickly and expertly, and the translation work moved ahead at a much faster pace than it had previously. Of course, it did the project no harm to be working on something more interesting than a collection of lists.
For Daniel, side-stepping some of the questions was a bit of a problem, but the team was largely sympathetic to his embarrassed responses of 'need to know' and 'I'd tell you if I could'. Of course, Daniel had to admit that Jack's arrival in fatigues on Wednesday afternoon did help to reinforce the security issue - particularly as the colonel had taken a delight in scowling darkly at the younger members of the team.
And security was indeed what this phase of the project was all about. As far as Daniel could tell, the goa'uld armoury was protected by four levels of security - or as Jack had rather pointedly said, 'booby traps'. Daniel had managed to ascertain from his rapid scan that the majority of the scrolls were building plans - valuable information in its own right. The scrolls he had held on to were, as he had suspected, the inner most level of security - a particularly complex sequence of codes and instructions. Right now he was puzzling over a nasty set of glyphs that were refusing to make any sense no matter what approach he took to the translation.
Daniel jumped as somebody tapped him on the shoulder. "Wh.. what? Oh Boland. Sorry. I was err..." Daniel pointed at the glyphs. "Any suggestions? I'm kinda stuck."
"Suggestions? From me?" Boland was stunned to be asked. He peered at the glyphs uncertainly.
Daniel smiled to himself, as the young man screwed up his face in concentration. There was a lot about Boland that reminded him of himself at that age. Enthusiastic. Still willing to consider ideas that others would reject as being politically incorrect. And bright. Very bright. Daniel had already suggested to General Hammond that the SGC could do worse than to recruit the linguist on a permanent basis.
"Hmmm." Boland sucked in his cheeks and absently rubbed at his chin. "It is a tricky one isn't it. You know if I didn't know better I'd say that that symbol there was 'rice' but in this context that wouldn't make any sense." His finger backtracked across the page. "Beware the rice?"
Daniel laughed. "Well that's the conclusion I came to too. And you're right. It doesn't make any sense. Unless of course the next paragraph is going to warn about killer tomatoes."
Boland grinned. "Perhaps we've stumbled on to the Curse of the Vegetarians?"
Daniel chuckled at the thought and then remembered that Boland had interrupted him, presumably for a reason. "You wanted something?" he asked politely.
"Oh yes." A hint of colour crept into Boland's cheeks. "I was... wondering if you were free this evening. Only I'm giving a talk on a dig I was on over the summer, and... I'd be really honoured if you'd consider coming. I mean I'd value your opinion on what we found."
"Oh." Daniel's eyes wandered back to the scroll in front of him. He'd been planning to putting in a few more hours on the translation. "Well, I don't really do that academic stuff any more." He glanced towards Caroline. "And I'm sure you've heard that my opinion doesn't carry a whole lot of weight in such circles..."
"Personally I value your opinion, Sir," Boland said slightly louder than he needed too. "And I think you'd be more than interested in some of our findings - particularly the Linear B tablets."
"You were on that dig? With Professor Wolff?"
Daniel knew he was snared. A hint of a smile crept onto his lips as he looked at the eager student in front of him, but he couldn't prevent himself from issuing a warning. "Well, if you're really sure you want to risk your reputation by inviting me along..."
"Then how can I refuse."
"Great!" A huge smile spread across Boland's face. "6.30. Lecture room 1 in the History Department at the University. Do you need a map?"
Daniel shook his head. "I'll find it." He turned back towards the scroll and then looked up again, adding. "Boland. Thanks."
"Dr Mayers, you OK locking up?"
Caroline Mayers glanced up at her colleague, and acknowledged that she was the last one left in the office. "No problem," she replied with a wave of her hand. "Have a good evening."
Alone. At last. Caroline slipped out of her seat and headed to the door. A quick glance down the corridor confirmed her hopes - everyone else had gone home. Now at last she could satisfy her curiosity about what wonderboy was studying.
Moving to Daniel's workplace she carefully unrolled the scrolls he had been working on and studied the glyphs. He was right when he'd mentioned to Boland that the translation was a tricky one. Even with Daniel's crash course in linear A script and the latest reference books to hand, Caroline was hardpressed to decipher the basic meaning. In addition, several of the glyphs were badly formed, their meaning bordering towards ambiguity. An idea formed at the periphery of Caroline's mind. No, she couldn't. Could she? Well he deserved it. But it wasn't playing by the rules. So what? He hadn't played fair with her. And it wasn't like it was anything important. What effect could it have? Embarrass him in front of his military friends. Make him look foolish. Oh yes. She liked that idea.
Heading back to her desk she rummaged in her drawer for a fine brush and a bottle of ink. Settling herself back at Daniel's work station, his notes on one side, a pile of reference books on the other, Caroline smiled happily to herself. Time to put her other talents to work.
"Whoah! Is that pure linear A script?" Sam commented as Daniel displayed a picture of one of the newest scrolls on the slide projector in the SGC conference room. "I didn't think anyone could translate that?"
"Yes it is. And yes, before Manos Tsikritsis, it was virtually impossible to translate," Daniel conceded.
"Manos Sickitis? What's that?" Jack asked. "Some kind of disease?"
"No." Daniel smiled at the humour, glad that the colonel was still paying attention, although he had noted at least one rather pointed yawn. "Manos Tsikiritsis is a Greek mathematician who has spent years attempting to decipher Minoan Linear A. In a recent book he suggested that Linear A incorporates some of the phonetic characters of the very early Greek language - doric, aeolic, cypro-arcadian..."
"More diseases," Jack commented wearily. "Daniel, get to the point."
"I was trying to when Sam... Never mind." Daniel waved his hand in surrender as Jack raised his eyebrows. Instead of continuing the debate he turned to the one person in the room that he needed to convince. "OK. The point is, General Hammond, that this scroll contains the key to the inner most levels of the goa'uld armoury. And the translation means that we can, in theory, walk right into it."
"Just how confident are you that your translation is accurate, Dr Jackson?" George Hammond's gaze moved from the projector to Daniel.
The General's eyebrows mimicked O'Neill's in their upward motion.
"OK, not totally, as in 100% totally, " Daniel admitted reluctantly. "Some of it is direct instruction - do this, do that. Other bits are slightly more cryptic. The translation itself isn't the issue, I'm sure we've got that right. It's the application that may need a little refining. But I'm positive we'll be able to handle that in the field."
"In the field?" Jack repeated, his voice mocking Daniel's casual use of the term. "Daniel, we're talking about walking into a booby trapped goa'uld armoury here. This isn't one of your undergraduate digs."
"I know!" Daniel's reply was terse. "Trust me here. I can get us into this place."
"But can you get us out again?" Jack demanded. "In one piece?"
"Colonel," Sam interrupted. "I'm sure Daniel knows what he's doing."
Daniel shot her an appreciative look. "Yes, I do know what I'm doing. I can get us in - and out."
"And what if something were to happen to you, Doctor?" Hammond asked.
"Well I've thoroughly briefed Sam and Teal'c." Daniel glanced across the table and added sourly. "And, despite his usual pessimism, Jack."
Hammond's gaze followed Daniel's. "And you're confident about this, Colonel?"
Jack shrugged his shoulders, apparently dismissive of his own academic abilities. "Personally, Sir, I'll be making real sure nothing happens to Daniel."
Sam gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. "With all due respect, Sir. Daniel's briefing was extremely detailed. If anything were to happen to him, I'm confident that any one of us could follow the instructions given in the translation."
Daniel caught the sympathetic smile on Sam's face, and quickly looked down at his notes. Contingency plans. He knew how important they were, but it made him slightly uneasy to think they were being made on the assumption that he was at best badly injured or, putting himself in the Jack O'Neill role of worst case scenario prophet, dead.
"I concur with Captain Carter." Teal'c added, speaking for the first time since the briefing had begun. "Daniel Jackson has prepared us adequately for this mission."
Hammond leaned back in his chair and surveyed the team before him. "Well, if I had to put money on somebody breaking into this armoury I guess I'd be offered decent odds for the team that took down Apophis. And given the amount of potential firepower you say this place might hold, Dr Jackson, I figure this is one time when the SGC might be prepared to gamble a little. Very well, SG1. You have a go. But I want you to take SG3 and SG7 with you for support. And at the first hint of trouble you turn back. Is that clear, colonel?"
"Crystal," Jack replied smartly.
"Yes, General. Perfectly clear."
It was here. It was really here. Despite the days of translation and careful preparation, Daniel could barely believe that they had stepped through the Stargate and found exactly what they were looking for. Not only that, but the place was apparently deserted. No jaffa waiting to blast their heads off. No hostile indigenous people. In fact no indigenous people - period. Just a huge white building that glistened in the light of a blazing sun.
From the plans he had, Daniel knew that it was 20 stories high, but he hadn't been prepared for the scale. It was enormous. And, if the plans were accurate there were another 20 stories below ground - the thought of just how deep that would take them was mind-blowing. Whoever had built this place had been one hell of a structural engineer.
Apart from the sheer size of it though, there was something else that impressed Daniel - the decoration. The entire outer surface was covered with intricate carved symbols. As SG1 and the accompanying units approached from one side, Daniel could make out some of the larger ones, the most imposing of all being a giant eye that gazed sightlessly towards them.
"Oh shit," Jack muttered. "Ra!"
"I'd expected that might be the case," Daniel replied distractedly.
"You didn't mention that in any of your briefings," Jack complained.
"I didn't have any evidence." Daniel was gazing up at the huge eye trying to decide if the shimmering effect in its iris was caused by some sort of artificial decoration or a natural phenomena of the stone. "It was more just a gut instinct. I mean - what other system lord do we know of that would have the ability to stockpile such a huge supply of weapons?"
"Assuming there is a huge stockpile," Jack retorted. "This could still be a visit to old Mother Hubbard."
Teal'c frowned. "I am not familiar with that name."
Sam smiled. "It's from a children's nursery rhyme. Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to fetch her poor doggy a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare, and..."
Daniel glanced over as Sam paused and saw that the captain was blushing at the bemused expressions of SG3. A tiny smile curled his lips as Sam indignantly rounded on the men.
"What? You guys never sing nursery rhymes to your kids?"
Almost immediately though Teal'c reclaimed the focus of attention. "I do not think this cupboard will be bare."
"No?" Jack's voice was sceptical. "And why not?"
Teal'c looked at him straightfaced. "My larval goa'uld is uneasy here. So I, like Daniel Jackson, have a gut instinct."
"Oh yeeuuh!" Jack protested as he turned to Daniel. "Please!" He gestured towards the building. "Daniel. Lead the way."
"Well that was enlightening," Jack commented as they drew to a halt. Daniel had led them on a 360 degree walk around the building - three times. "So what now, Joshua? We walk around four more times and the walls come down?"
He caught Teal'c's look and shook his head. "I'll explain later." His gaze returned to Daniel just in time to catch the anthropologist's glare.
"I need to familiarise myself with the layout," Daniel explained tersely.
"Large rectangular building," Jack replied immediately. "Two long sides. Two short sides. No door!"
"The layout of the glyphs!" Daniel began to walk again, his left hand trailing along the line of glyphs just above waist height.
Jack shook his head wearily as he trailed behind, watching Daniel's lips move in a silent chant. He knew he was being a pain in the butt, but for some reason he couldn't seem to shake the feeling that they were walking into trouble. The O'Neill alarm bells that he had learnt to trust over the years were ringing loudly. And, as much as he wanted to trust Daniel - and as much as Daniel had reassured him over and over that everything would be fine - he still couldn't get the icy chill that was residing somewhere between the base of his spine and his neck to budge. He was missing something. Something he was going to kick himself over later. He cut off the thoughts, realising it was pointless chasing shadows. Instead he glanced over his shoulder, instinctively double checking on the team members, his mind preparing for risk assessments - just in case.
Abruptly Daniel stopped, his fingers brushing over the smooth stone surfaces of the glyphs.
The archaeologist lifted his left hand, his raised index finger a clear signal for quiet. Jack sighed and fell silent, watching as Daniel carefully pressed the centre of the glyph immediately in front of him. Moving quickly to his right, the scientist located an identical glyph and did the same. Another few steps to the right and he repeated the action.
For a long moment nothing happened. Then Jack heard, or rather felt, a low rumbling. At first he couldn't figure where it was coming from, but then he realised that a large portion of the wall in front of him was slowly recessing, revealing a narrow passageway into the building. "Open Sesame," he whispered to no one in particular.
As Daniel shot him a triumphant look, Jack
tilted his head in acknowledgement of the scientist's success. "Hi ho," he said
with false enjoyment as he turned towards the SG units. He nodded towards the
two members of SG7 that were staying behind to provide back-up. Already briefed
with the mission to pull the others out if trouble arose, and to make sure that
no surprises crept up on them from behind, the two men shed their backpacks
and took up defensive positions.
O'Neill nodded again, this time in approval of their action. "You guys have fun watching our backs. Everyone else - we're off to see the wizard."
With an assurance that impressed Jack, Daniel led the group through the twisting maze of passages, marking their route with a set of low-light beacons as he went.
Within minutes they reached their next goal. A second level of security, a second set of glyphs. This time more complicated, but still requiring little more than an eye for detail and a good memory.
As a second doorway slid open revealing a set of steep steps, Jack momentarily took charge. "And this is as far as you go boys," he said turning to the remainder of SG7. Two faces nodded as another level of back-up slipped smoothly into place.
"Good luck." The commander threw Jack a swift salute.
Responding in kind, Jack turned back to Daniel, and nodded toward the steps.
Flashlight beams criss-crossing in the dark, SG3 and SG1 descended, the air stale and musty in their lungs.
"How far down do you think we've gone," Sam asked, breaking the hushed silence that had fallen over the group.
"Three, maybe four hundred metres," Daniel replied. "We should be almost... there!"
He stepped into a large room and let out a long whistle as his flashlight illuminated a huge gold statue of a bull's head.
"Is that gold?" The voice belonged to Colonel Makepeace, who cautiously approached the statue.
"Uh-huh." Daniel circled the statue which was almost his own height. Finally satisfied with his inspection he moved to the walls and slowly walked around the room, trying to work out if there was a hidden doorway somewhere. "Nothing," he said returning to the statue.
"So this is where we do the feed the bull thing, right?" Jack said. He eyed the statue warily.
Daniel nodded and pointed at the inscription that ran along the base of the statue. "Those are exactly the same glyphs as we found on the scroll. 'Make a present to the horned creature.' But if this armoury did belong to Ra, it's odd that we've got essences of Minoan culture here. I mean I'd have expected evidence perhaps of Mayan or even Polynesian..."
"And we don't know what happens next?" Jack cut sharply across the beginning of Daniel's lecture.
"What? Oh. Well not exactly. The translation simply said the way would be made clear," Daniel replied.
Jack gave a tight smile and the slightest of shrugs. "Better feed it then."
Nodding, Daniel slipped off his back pack and pulled out two large bags of sand. He lifted one in his hand as though testing its weight despite the fact he knew exactly what it weighed. The translation had been clear about that. Moving towards the statue he looked at the large hole that was its mouth, and hesitated.
"What?" Jack demanded, the tension clear in his voice.
"I don't know if I should pour it in slowly or just..." Daniel glanced at Jack, uncertain for the first time on the mission. "Throw it all in at once."
Jack's eyes did a 360 degree of the room. Daniel could almost hear the colonel's brain ticking over as he checked for booby traps. Not that Daniel believed that Jack would be able to see anything. The goa'uld and Ra, if that was who they were dealing with, were too clever to make a booby trap obvious. Jack's gaze returned to Daniel. "Chances are this *thing* is some sort of balance mechanism, right?"
Jack turned to Carter. "Captain? You're the physicist. Suggestions?"
Sam frowned. "Well given that the mechanism - whatever it may be - is probably several hundred, if not thousands of years old, it could be corroded. In which case throwing the sand in might be a good idea. The sudden impact could work in our favour."
"Right," said Daniel.
"But!" Sam added hastily. "If it isn't metal, or at least a metal we're familiar with, it could still be very sensitive, in which case..."
"Great!" Jack interrupted. "I have a better idea." He rummaged in the pocket of his pants and pulled out a coin. He turned towards Makepeace. "Heads it's slow, tails it's fast."
"Heads." Makepeace neither hesitated in his choice or showed any surprise at the colonel's actions.
Jack flipped the coin and caught it deftly with one hand, slapping it on to the back of his other one. "Heads it is. Pour it in slowly, Daniel."
"Right." Daniel licked his lips, opened the bag and began to pour the sand into the bull's mouth.
For a long moment nothing could be heard except the soft susurration of the sand sliding into the golden orifice. Then suddenly a second noise joined it - the sound of the floor beneath their feet beginning to tremble.
Loved it or hated it? Click my sig and let me know!