Category: Action/adventure, a little humour, a little H 'n' C.
Synopsis: During a holiday trip, Daniel makes an important archaeological discovery which takes S.G.-1 to a Graeco-Egyptian world.
Spoilers: set around series 4 - passing references to 'The Curse', 'The Light', 'Hathor', 'Bane', 'Stargate' - the movie and 'Emancipation'.
Date: 6 FEB 2002.
Notes: ~ italics between swung dashes indicate unspoken thoughts ~
Disclaimer: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This little tale is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.
Daniel was on holiday. It was a bit of a busman's holiday really... After Dr. Jordan's death, he'd realized that not everyone from his academic life regarded him as a crackpot and a pariah. Well, not a pariah anyway. On an impulse, he'd updated his e-mail address with the University archive department, just in case anyone might like to get in touch.
Several weeks later, and greatly to his surprise, someone did.
~ Oh, yes, very funny, Ashley, very original ~
He flicked the cursor over to the delete button, then hesitated and read on:
At the end of the next de-briefing session, immediately after their almost disastrous experiences in the Goa'uld pleasure palace, Daniel raised the subject of taking a holiday.
"I don't see why not," Hammond responded, "in fact, I think it's a good idea. You're all long overdue for some leave, and we don't have anything coming up that the other SG teams can't handle."
"Yeah, we could do with a break," Jack agreed, smiling beatifically around the group. "Come on, Teal'c, we can get some fishing in. Sam?"
"Er, yes, thank you, Sir, that sounds very pleasant," she responded smoothly, "but I really feel I should go visit my aunt in Albuquerque. She's always saying she doesn't see enough of me."
Jack gave her the puzzled look he usually saved for one of her technical expositions. "Oh - Kay... Well, have a good time, kids. See ya in a week."
Daniel felt quite a buzz as the plane touched down on Egyptian soil. He felt he was getting back to his roots, doing what he had studied for, only now he was doing it purely for pleasure. He laughed softly to himself as he appreciated the irony of the situation.
Before, he'd been desperate to convince his academic colleagues that an alien race had been involved in ancient Egypt, and had been derided for it. Now that he had the proof - been there, done that, got the T-shirt ~ and the scars - he couldn't cast the whole damn thing in their faces. And he realized that he wouldn't really want to do that now anyway. The pressure was off. He'd enjoy his holiday.
The hot dusty air swirled around him, as he stepped off the plane and walked across the tarmac, bringing back many memories. Once through customs, someone waved from the small waiting throng. He recognized Ashley Vaughan. His blonde hair really stood out among that crowd. Daniel sauntered over to him, an inquiring smile on his face.
"Ashley! This is a pleasant surprise."
"Likewise, ol' buddy. Come on, I'll take you home and you can dump the luggage."
"Yeah - didn't want to land an old buddy with hotel bills, and it'll be just like old times."
Daniel put his bags down.
"Listen, could we have a little bit less of the 'old'?"
"Sure Daniel, ol' - er, Daniel. Say, what're you doing these days? Haven't seen any papers from you in ... years."
"I'm - working. Field work mostly - and translating, research, you know... "
"Still searching for little green men then?"
Daniel gave a little introspective smile.
~ Little grey men, little men with pinky Afro hair - snaky things... ~
He stopped smiling.
University of Alexandria:
and then a second cartouche:
"Alexander the Great," he mused, "Wow! - Do we have a date on this, Ashley?"
"From what we've translated so far, we're thinking 332 B.C.E, the beginning of the thirty-second dynasty."
"So that would be around the time Alexander first came to Egypt after he destroyed Tyre and was welcomed as a liberator by the Egyptians?"
"We think so" Ashley began.
"Ah, I'm not so sure. Is there any mention of Kallisthenes, the official court historian?"
"No, there isn't! There's Ptolomy and Aristoboulos, but not Kallisthenes. I see what you're getting at. If he was dead, then it must be 331 B.C.E. or later."
Daniel felt a thrill of excitement.
"Where were these papyri found?" he asked, giving Ashley a piercing look.
"In a ruined settlement in the desert, about 200 miles south-westish from here. I'm guessing that when they were building the road between Marsa Matruh and Siwa a few years ago, it disturbed the desert somehow."
"Jeez, Ashley, don't you realize what you've got here? This is a contemporary account of Alexander's journey to the Oracle of Ammon at Siwa! You know, where the chief priest greeted him as 'the Son of Go' Oh no. " His voice dropped to a whisper. "Oh no. Oh no,oh no,oh no... "
"What's the matter, Daniel? You've turned quite pale."
"Er, it's nothing. Really."
He could see that Ashley was no way convinced. Suddenly, it had all made perfect sense, but he couldn't very well explain the sudden flash of intuition, nor its ramifications. In a trance-like state, he followed the thought:
~ Olympias, Alexander's mother, had claimed, right from the off, that Philip the Second of Macedon was not the father of her child - that she had been 'visited' by Zeus in the form of a snake. Could Alexander have been another Harseisis child? Or,,, He'd declared himself to be a god. It had to be... Alexander the Great was a goa'uld. ~
Daniel's attention was so focussed on what he now referred to as The Oracle Papyri that he lost all track of time. It was not until the caretaker, unaware that anyone was still in the department, shut off the lights, that Daniel returned to the twenty-first century. He shook off his initial irritation, accepting that the caretaker probably had a home to go to, and went in search of Ashley.
"You seem to have made a fair amount of progress today, Daniel. Guess we'll have to think about paying you for your time."
"No, that's okay. I'm grateful that you called me in and I ought to be paying you. It's it's... fascinating," he ended rather lamely.
"That sounds like an understatement if ever I heard one," Ashley grinned.
"Oh, sorry. Didn't mean to keep you away from home."
"How far have you gone?"
"I just reached the eighth day of their journey. The oasis is in sight."
"Christ Almighty, you're a fast worker, Daniel!"
"Well, I don't have much time here and there's something I'd like to get to the bottom of."
"Hey, don't hold out on me, buddy!"
"Ah. I'm probably barking up the wrong tree anyway."
The following day:
Daniel found it harder to concentrate. Part of it was jet lag, but most of it was Ashley who was determined not to be shut out of anything potentially world-shaking. Daniel hadn't been so tight-lipped in the past. Ashley suspected that it involved more of Daniel's quirky obsession with aliens, so maybe it was just that he'd learned his lesson. Or maybe he really was on to something. Thinking back, there'd been nothing jokey in his suggestion about his paying Ashley...
"Hey, buddy, you any idea what these glyphs could mean? I can't make any sense of it and I can't find any useful references anywhere."
Daniel looked across at where Ashley was pointing.
"Naquadah," he said without thinking and continued with his own papyrus.
Suddenly, it sank in. Daniel stood up sharply, knocking over his stool in his haste.
"Let me see that," he demanded, elbowing Ashley out of the way.
There it was in black and white, or rather, faded brown and dark cream. Naquadah... It wasn't easy, fobbing Ashley off. Resisting trying to take over translating that particular papyrus was even harder, but eventually, Ashley would have to take a leak, or go get something to eat, or something
Two hours later, he had his chance:
~ 'Neheb-ka-hetep, the chief priest of Ammon, did welcome our Lord Setep-ka-en-Ra-meri-Amen, se Ra, Aleksantres, as the son of god and did take him into the Adyton to receive his oracle from the god in person.' Da..., da..., da, ... 'When he returned, he carried a small box containing naquadah... ~
"And what were you going to do with that?" Daniel muttered to himself, "as if I couldn't guess."
"Do with what, Daniel?"
"Ahh, ye-es, salt of natrium - used in embalming?"
"Y' know, you're a terrible liar, Danny."
Daniel blinked and raised his eyebrows as he always did when he was at a loss.
"I'm afraid I can't explain, Ashley. It's kind of classified. The Government would have my ass for it if I did."
"Oh pull the other one Danny! I'm not buying that!"
Daniel looked even more uncomfortable.
"You're really not kidding, are you." It was a statement more than a question.
"No, I'm not. I wish I could tell you, but I can't."
"Well, I just hope you're not in over your head, that's all," Ashley grunted, his tone suggesting that he hoped just the opposite.
"I don't think so, but it is important, and I may need your help soon."
He turned to the next papyrus awaiting translation and scanned it hastily. Yes, that must be it:
~ 'Our Lord did send a man ahead with an escort of guards to his house at the sea, that work begin immediately upon his sarcophagus ~
"Ashley, you remember a few years back when Liana Sovaltzi found those three limestone tablets near the tomb at El-Maraqi? And she said they proved that it was Alexander who was buried there? Is there any chance you could arrange a site visit while I'm here?"
"I guess. You reckon she's right?"
"I don't know. Possibly. There are so many conflicting stories. As you well know, ask seven Egyptologists about practically anything, and you'll get seven different answers. Almost certainly he was poisoned in Babylon" ~ who by? ~ "and brought back to Alexandria" ~ in his sarcophagus? ~ "then possibly taken to Siwa or somewhere nearby. So far, nobody knows for certain."
"And you aim to change that?"
"Would be good, but I doubt that'll happen."
"So why the field trip?"
"Be nice to get out - see a bit of the countryside."
"In a desert?!"
Daniel gave a noncommittal smile and refused to be drawn further on the subject.
El-Maraqi, next day:
Daniel acknowledged the merry quip with a smile that held more than a hint of gritted teeth. He and Ashley donned hard hats and headed for the tomb. The entrance was guarded by two huge limestone lions. Regardless of any other signs, they themselves indicated that the tomb belonged to someone of great importance. Passing the guardians, they set off down the sloping twenty-foot-long passageway.
Any artifacts had already been removed, leaving a clear view of the pale walls. To either side of the door were niches like bricked-in doorways. No doubt they had held decorated chests or cabinets at some time. There were three further niches on the opposite wall and single niches in the shorter walls. The walls were decorated with hieroglyphics which mostly seemed to catalogue domestic details of life in the hereafter.
Daniel was in archaeologists' heaven. He worked his way around the walls, scrutinizing the glyphs carefully, but found nothing of great interest, and no mention of Alexander - not until he reached the niche in the short wall furthest from the main entrance.
"Hey, look at this," he said, beckoning Ashley over. "I can't believe they missed this."
"What? What've you found there?"
Tell me if I'm wrong, but isn't that an eight-rayed star?" Daniel asked, pointing to the underneath of the lintel.
"Ye gods, you're right! Alexander's symbol! Let's go tell Dr. Qureshi!"
Daniel grabbed Ashley's arm.
"Ah, let's not. Not yet anyway."
"Are you coming over all mysterious on me again, ol' budd Daniel?"
"Just let's not get too hasty, O.K.? It may be something, or it may be nothing..."
Daniel examined the star more closely with his fingers. Yes, there were thin cracks forming a square around the star. He pushed upwards hard on the small block. Nothing happened. He took out a small flat trowel and ran it along the junction between the back wall of the niche and its sides. Plaster trickled on to the floor.
"I don't think you should be doing that without consulting Dr. Qureshi first," Ashley said anxiously. "I don't want your maverick antics jeopardizing my job."
"I won't," Daniel responded calmly, scuffing the fallen plaster into the rest of the dust with his shoe.
Having cleared the plaster from the edges of the back wall, he pushed on the star again. The wall shuddered slightly. Daniel leaned heavily against it and it began to move.
"Could do with a little more beef here," he grunted.
Reluctantly, Ashley joined him in pushing the huge block. It slid slowly backwards until a growing dark outline appeared as it parted company with the sides of the niche.
"Don't suppose you considered how we're going to get it back into place afterwards?" Ashley asked grimly.
"It was done before, so there must be a way."
Scepticism coursed through the word, but Daniel was already out of sight. Ashley switched on the light on his hat and followed him...
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