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The Devil In the Details
Monday 1515 hours.
It wasn't an easy thing to deal with. Bureaucrats often made decisions based on what was written on a piece of paper; names and dates and places that meant nothing to them. They believed themselves capable of making those decisions because of their ability to 'see the bigger picture'. Bunch of bullshit, he thought. No one should be allowed to set policy, or hand down orders for military personnel unless he or she had been in the heat of battle. Certainly shouldn't be able to affect policy on a top-secret program when they had no clue what was faced by the people who operated that program on a day to day basis.
General Hammond hated what he was about to do. But to put off this little tête-à-tête would be cowardly. And would certainly see the man to whom he needed to speak blindsided by the possible results of that bureaucratic bullshit. It was one thing to fear that it could happen. It was another to know that the chances were more than just fifty-fifty that it would happen.
He picked up his phone, called Dr. Jackson's office. Requested the young man's immediate presence in his office. No doubt he would come in carrying a stack of books and notes, prepared to answer questions about Ba'al, and offer suggestions on dealing with the bastard. The fact that Daniel had managed to buy them twenty-four hours was typical of the young man's abilities. He just wished that the problem he was about to face was as easily solved as those dealing with Goa'uld bent on universal domination.
The general stood, went to the antique wooden cart that served to hold his coffeemaker and a selection of mugs. He refilled his own mug, then filled a second mug, which he sat on the desk. He settled back into his chair. As soon as he'd spoken to Daniel, he would speak to his second-in-command. He wanted options - as many as possible, and as quickly as possible. The president had informed him of the conference call that should be in progress...about now, according to the clock on his wall. If the bureaucrats did what he was afraid they'd do, then there would be very little time for planning.
Daniel tapped on the door. "Has something happened, sir?"
Hammond sighed heavily. "Yes, I'm afraid so. I just spoke with President Miller. The Stargate Alliance members are holding a conference call as we speak, to discuss our current crisis."
The general nodded toward the coffee. "I didn't add milk or sugar, I wasn't sure that you take either."
"Both, actually, sir," Daniel replied, frowning slightly. In all the time he'd been a member of the SGC, the general had never offered him coffee.
"Please, help yourself," the general said, waving one hand in the direction of the cart. It was a way to buy himself just a few more seconds, he would freely admit to that. But he needed those few seconds to try and find a way to tell Daniel that Ba'al's demand that Casey be sent to him would more than likely be met.
Fear took hold in his gut, began to writhe and turn, leaving icy cold tentacles moving through him as he added a creamer and a packet of sweetener to his coffee. When he sat back down, he took a sip, watching the general expectantly.
"Daniel, the president would never agree to this. But it's very possible that he'll be out-voted."
In a flash of understanding, the meaning of the words sank into his brain. "They're going to hand my Wife over to Ba'al."
"It's a distinct possibility. I wanted you to know, so that if the order does come down, you're...prepared."
He frowned. "I won't let it happen."
"I know that, son," Hammond replied softly. "I intend to have Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c working on as many contingency plans as possible. I'm also going to have Major Carter searching through the list of planets that have been visited by our people, to find the most suitable place for you to hide."
"Thank you, sir."
"I do suggest that you prepare yourself for the...unthinkable. It's possible that there will be special UN troops dispatched, to see to it that Casey is indeed handed over to Ba'al," the general warned.
"You can't be serious! Any troops to come down here would be breaking US laws! They wouldn't have the security clearances needed-" Daniel protested.
"Daniel, in such a state of emergency as we're now in, if the Stargate Alliance deems it necessary to inform the rest of the world's leaders, they will do so. And I can tell you right now that there won't even be debate on the issue of meeting the demands of an invader with more advanced technology, more weapons, than we as a planet can defeat."
The fear that had filled him morphed into full blown panic. "No. No way in hell! I'll kill the first one who lays a hand on Casey!"
General Hammond sighed. "We'll have enough warning of any troop arrival to get you and Casey through the 'gate. The computers will be erased, and then they can whistle 'Dixie' to find her. I just want you to be prepared," he repeated.
"Yes, sir." Was it possible to be 'prepared' for something like that...making a mad dash through the 'gate in order to avoid having their own people turn his Wife over to the enemy?
"With luck, it won't happen."
"Luck doesn't seem to be in large supply today," Daniel replied dryly.
"I have faith," the general said. He offered a slight smile. "We've managed to defeat politicians and bureaucrats before. I don't believe this time will be any different."
"This time, sir, we're not just dealing with a few arrogant Senators."
"I don't want her to know. It will only frighten her," Daniel said.
"Whatever you wish, Doctor."
"Sir, may I make a request?"
"By all means," Hammond replied. Whatever the archaeologist asked, he'd do his damnedest to give it. He owed Daniel that much. Hell, the entire damned planet owed Daniel that much!
"If...if we do have to go through the 'gate, could you send Jack or Sam to our house to gather all of our photographs? If it's necessary, I'd like a guard placed there as well. I don't want to bring her home to a house that's been trashed."
"You have my word."
Daniel nodded. George Hammond's word was as solid as gold. "Thank you, sir. I appreciate the heads up."
"I'd like to ask your frank opinion of the situation."
This was what he'd expected to be discussing. His heart was still pounding, his hands were shaking at the thought of Casey being forced, at gunpoint, into the rings, to be transported to the Goa'uld ship. General Hammond's assurances did little to ease the fear that was still racing through him. There were some things that even the OIC of the SGC couldn't control. UN knowledge of the situation was one of them. The results of that revelation were another. There was every possibility that they wouldn't be given any warning of advancing UN troops, and that they could arrive, take Casey into custody, and there'd be nothing that any of them could do, short of armed resistance. Something told him that such a reaction was likely if 'outsiders' began to swarm the facility. Daniel took a deep breath. "To be honest, sir, I'd just as soon shoot the bastard as talk to him. But it might be worth the risk to see just exactly what he knows, and what his plans are. Ba'al is arrogant. It might be possible to get him to reveal what he's up to, without him realizing he's done so. All I have to do is get him to start bragging."
Hammond nodded. "That could be an advantage for us."
"Zeus is a threat to Ba'al. None of the other System Lords are going to get involved...they'd rather sit back and watch the fight, then plan on attacking the winner, assuming that the winner would have suffered enough losses during any head-to-head battles to make him an easy target."
"Ba'al knows this?"
"Yes, sir. What if he wants an alliance with us? As much as the Goa'uld don't want to admit it, we're a major threat to them. If he can make it look as if he's captured us, or at least controls us, the other System Lords might be more willing to side with him...that would be simple self-preservation. The appearance of controlling us will make Ba'al seem to have more power than he actually does. Often in the Goa'uld Empire, perceptions are as compelling as actual strength," Daniel replied.
"Do you think an alliance could benefit us?"
"It depends on who he wants to ally against. I'd hazard a guess to say that Zeus is the biggest problem he has at the moment. He won't want to try to take on Zeus, knowing that we could show up and cause trouble at any given moment. Every time SG-1 has crossed paths with Ba'al, he's not come out so well."
The general nodded, and smiled proudly. "True."
"It's possible that he'll simply ask for a treaty that would prevent any SG teams from interfering with him, or attacking him."
"If this treaty was open-ended, that could pose a problem."
"Yes, sir. I think he knows that we'd never agree to something like that. Whatever he has in mind, he wants it to benefit him, without giving up anything. Ba'al has never been in a position to deal with us on this level before. He isn't aware that we're more than capable of negotiating a treaty that will benefit us as much as it will him. Again, his arrogance will prevent him from believing us to be capable of such arbitration. That will be our advantage over him," Daniel said.
General Hammond rested his elbows on the top of his desk, tented his fingers in front of him. "Do you think that we should negotiate with Ba'al?"
"Sir, I don't think we have any other choices at the moment."
"Then we'll continue to plan for this meeting. And hope that the politicians will stay out of the way long enough for us to get the job done."
Daniel couldn't help but smile. "Yes, sir."
"Thank you for your advice, Doctor Jackson."
The tone of voice, the use of his title, let him know that this meeting was over. "Thank you for telling me about the danger to Casey."
"She's a very special woman, Doctor Jackson. We're all very fond of her around here."
"I'm aware of both of those facts, sir."
"I'm sure you are. Dismissed."
"Yes, sir." Daniel waited until he stepped into the elevator to give in to the anger that had been lurking just beneath the surface. He struck out, his fist impacting on the metal wall beside him. If anyone, and he did mean anyone, thought for one fleeting second that he'd allow Casey to be handed over to that motherfucker, they were nuts. And they'd be dead as well! He hadn't been bluffing when he told the general that he'd kill the first person to lay a hand on his Wife. No matter who that hand belonged to.
His anger continued to grow, fueled by the frustration of the entire situation. It was bad enough that the damned snake was in orbit above them...but to have made a demand such as he had...goddamned snake! He slammed his fist onto the control panel. Level eighteen.
He paced the room, anger rolling off of him in waves. Would have been unable to give a reason why he felt that hiding out in the storeroom would change the situation. He just needed time...alone...to come to grips with what was happening. Ba'al was demanding his Wife, and from the way things were looking, the members of the Stargate Alliance were going to hand her over with nary a protest falling from their collective mouths.
Daniel ran both hands through his hair, barely repressed the urge to kick something. The boxes that contained all of the artifacts that Catherine Langford had sent to him were sitting in the corner. He'd never actually taken a look at them, well, not all of them, anyway. He couldn't help but smile at the thought of the rose quartz box that was sitting on the bathroom vanity. Casey had been so thrilled when he'd agreed to let her use it for its original function, as a jewelry box. She had her pendant, diamond earrings, and tennis bracelet in that box. He'd seen her running her fingers over it several times, the smile of joy and wonder on her face always bringing one to his own.
Flipping the lid off of the top crate, he reached in and pulled out one of the tablets. He gave a cursory glance over the marked clay, settled himself on the floor. The first part of the tablet was simple, just a list of what had been buried with the Chappa'ai by the slaves who had rid themselves of Ra.
He frowned. Stood up, and searched through the box. Managed to wrestle it to the floor, so that he could open the second crate. Not there either. He was emptying the third box when he took a deep breath of frustration, and smelled her...that sweet scent of spring flowers and vanilla. He turned his head toward the door. She was leaning against the frame, her arms wrapped around her waist, one leg crossed over the other. He had the feeling she'd been there for several minutes.
"I suppose so," he admitted, his smile a natural response to the upward curve of her lips.
"Looking for something specific?"
"According to this tablet-" he stopped, looked around him, realized that he was surrounded by clay tablets. He quickly scanned them, held up the tablet that held the information that had spurred his search. "This tablet lists all of the items buried with the Stargate."
"There should be scrolls. 'The story of the beginning of all things', according to this."
"Nope. As far as I know, Professor Langford, Catherine's father, managed to keep everything that was located when they found the Stargate. I'm not sure how, he probably spirited everything out before the military showed up to lay claim to the Stargate. Anyway, they aren't here."
"Maybe she gave them to someone else, or donated them to a museum," Casey suggested.
"Maybe," Daniel replied, frowning deeply, staring into the third box. He almost missed the signs that she was experiencing an 'information dump'. He reached for her, began to gently rub her back. "Nice and relaxed, Angel," he murmured.
The routine for helping her had become second nature to him. That she claimed it made the entire 'download'...as she'd just recently began referring to the process...more tolerable, only added to his desire to do whatever he could to help her while she dealt with the visions - or whatever the hell they were. She told him that each 'dump' was different. He figured that couldn't be easy, never knowing in what form or shape the information being given to her would arrive.
Her arms went around his neck, holding tightly as she waited for the images to stop spinning; lost herself in his blue eyes rather than try to force the interpretations she was anxious to make. When she concentrated on him...emptied her mind of any thoughts but how blue his eyes were, how deep the love she could see reflecting there seemed to be, it was easier to ignore the poking and the influx of images and sounds, and even smells, that assailed her during her information dumps.
"Deep breaths, babe," he said, his hands moving up and down her back from her neck to her hips, slowly, rhythmically.
Finally! She closed her eyes. Tried desperately to make sense of what she was seeing. She could feel the heat of the early morning desert sun. The wind against her face. Could smell the dry, dusty air. She watched, her frown deepening as she found herself unable to move; allowed it seemed, only to watch from where she stood. "I don't understand," she whispered.
"Tell me," Daniel whispered in reply.
"He...he's looking around...digging...digging...he has a small cart with him...a hand cart it looks like..." She shook her head, opened her eyes. "I saw a man, wearing robes, like the Abydonian robe you have," she said softly. "He was digging in the sand, and he kept looking around, like he was afraid of being caught."
"Did you see what he was digging for?"
"No. Whatever it was, he needed a small cart for it. He felt...desperate. Whatever he was after, it was important...at least to him."
"Maybe you'll get more-" Her head was cocked to one side, her lip between her teeth, her eyes focused on the wall behind him, although he knew without a doubt that she wasn't seeing the gray wall of the SGC storeroom. "Casey?"
"Selmak knows," she whispered.
"What?" Selmak? As in the Tok'ra?
Casey shook her head slightly. "What what?"
"You said Selmak knows."
Green eyes rolled with frustration. "I am so lodging a complaint about that!"
Daniel grinned. "I suggest we get a message to Selmak."
"I have the feeling that she knows where those scrolls are." That he was able to make the connection using the information given to Casey once again eluded him. The feeling, the idea was there, and he simply followed that intuition.
"Really." He dropped a kiss on her forehead. "Give me a hand putting this stuff away."
"You trash the room, and then expect me to help you clean it up?" she asked, raising one eyebrow slightly.
He grinned unabashedly. "Yep."
"Good thing I love you, Doctor Jackson."
"Damn good thing."
"How are you going to convince General Hammond to let you send another message to the Tok'ra?" she asked, carefully laying one of the tablets among the straw and raffia that protected it from damage.
"If you got an information dump, this could be important. For all we know, it could be connected to the bastard sitting right above us." Daniel sat two more tablets into the box, pushed the lid back onto it.
"How long before we have to meet with him?"
Daniel glanced at his watch. "Nineteen hours."
"Let's go make a call. You should send it directly to Selmak, and just straight out ask for the scrolls that had been buried with the 'gate," she said.
"What?" Green eyes rolled with frustration. "Damn it! I am so not amused!" she shouted at the ceiling.
Daniel chuckled. "Think that will help?"
"I doubt it," she grumbled. "If I have to go to that plane and talk to them about it, I'm gonna be pissy!"
The chuckles turned into laughter. "Go get 'em, Tiger."
"Hmmph!" She knew that Daniel didn't understand how utterly exasperating it was to learn after the fact that she'd said something, and usually something important. It was her mouth and vocal chords being used, damn it! She should at least be able to hear it at the same time everyone else did!
A A A A A A
General Hammond looked up in surprise when both Jackson's hurried into his office. "Doctor? Casey?"
"Sir, we need to get a message to Selmak," Daniel said immediately.
"We're still waiting for a reply-"
"No, sir, not about Ba'al being here," Daniel interrupted. "We need Selmak to bring the scrolls that were buried with the Stargate."
"Doctor Jackson, I have no idea what you're talking about!"
"In the boxes of artifacts that Catherine Langford gave me, I found a tablet that listed everything that had been buried with the Stargate. It listed seven scrolls. They aren't in any of the boxes."
"Perhaps they were given away, or were never found," General Hammond suggested.
Daniel shook his head. "Casey just had an information dump. Selmak knows about the scrolls. If they weren't important, especially now, she wouldn't have received that information." He was pushing, he knew. It was possible that there was nothing in the scrolls but a list of who had fought against Ra. It could be an explanation of why the Stargate had been buried. But something told him that whatever was in those scrolls was important...and could help them to deal with the situation in which they were currently embroiled.
The general studied the young man for a moment. It was true that Casey seemed to get information dumps that pertained to whatever crisis they were facing, or whatever missions the SG teams were about to embark upon. "Very well."
"Thank you, sir." Grabbing Casey's hand, he pulled her along with him, toward the control room.
A A A A A A
Jacob could feel the absolute shock that sent shivers through the symbiote who shared his body. The message had been cryptic, at least to him it had seemed so. He read the words that Aldwin had copied down, for the third time.
'Want to tell me what this is about?' Again the symbiote seemed to writhe. 'Selmak?'
'I have often wondered if removing the scrolls, no matter that it was believed that erasing any mention of the Goa'uld would aid in the development of the Tau'ri as a free and independent people, was the right thing to do,' she said at last.
'I'm clueless here,' Jacob complained.
'One of the first Tok'ra, perhaps the first, was high priest to a Goa'uld named Anu. Who became a 'god' on the First World. This Tok'ra recorded those first days. It was only as a priest to Ra that his heart turned against the violence, the needless slaughter, the stealing of bodies. Or so the story goes.' She seemed to shake herself slightly. 'When the slaves buried all the things they wished to forget pertaining to their slavery, as well as the Chappa'ai, believing it would prevent the return of the false gods, the scrolls were buried as well. I doubt that any of the rebels knew what the scrolls contained, only that they had been hidden in the palace of Ra. That was enough to make the former slaves want to be rid of them. I understand that this Tok'ra was barely able to prevent the scrolls from being burned. After they had been buried, he went back, and took them, so that they would not be destroyed by time, nor inadvertently found before the Tau'ri were...ready...to know about what had transpired.'
He frowned. 'So what does Daniel want with them?'
'I do not know. If he is aware of them, then something was missed, some clue that detailed their existence.'
'Considering the content of their first message today, he must feel they might offer a clue, some way to defeat Ba'al, if he's asking for them now.'
Selmak sighed. 'I must assume so. The scrolls belong to the Tau'ri. It is only fitting that they be returned to them. Perhaps it is time to do so. We will take them.'
It was obvious that Selmak wasn't going to tell him any more than she already had. It was possible that what she'd told him was the extent of her knowledge regarding these mysterious scrolls. Jacob sighed. There were times she could be so damned closed mouthed about things, and then he was the one left gaping when something revealed those secrets.
'You are just as closed mouth as I am,' Selmak chuckled.
'I take it I was thinking too loudly again,' the man grumbled.
'Shouting is more like it.'
'Jacob, the contents of the scrolls are...let's just say that knowing what they say has been the guide of the Tok'ra resistance from the beginning.'
Well now, that had his attention! 'Just what's in them?'
Another sigh. 'To be honest, I personally don't know. There are none left alive who can read them...only the oldest of the Tok'ra, those who had been on the First World, were ever able to read the scrolls.'
'I don't understand,' Jacob admitted. 'Weren't they written in Goa'uld?'
'No. The Tok'ra who wrote the scrolls did so in secret. They are written in very ancient languages. Ancient Tau'ri languages. It's possible that not even Doctor Jackson will be able to translate them.'
'Will there be arguments from the Council about letting the Tau'ri have these scrolls?'
'As far as I am aware, the members of the Council do not know that the scrolls still exist.'
Selmak led him to one of the storage chambers, and an old, wooden crate that she always insisted be taken to safety each and every time a move was made. How long had that chest existed? How many Tok'ra had guarded it with their very lives?
Jacob picked the box up, surprised at the weight. The thought that he was holding the key to Earth's past in his arms made his heart pound against his ribs. 'Are you going to tell them we're leaving?'
'I'll have Aldwin pass on the message,' Selmak replied evasively.
Okay, so the old girl didn't want to have to explain what was in this box, nor why she was personally taking it to the SGC. His heart began to pound harder. He hoped that eventually he'd be clued in to what was in these apparently very important scrolls.
Aldwin was instructed to tell the Council that Selmak believed that having a Tok'ra on sight during the current crisis that the SGC was facing was in their best interest. To know immediately what was happening, and to be able to send uncensored reports would prevent the Tok'ra from being caught unawares should the unthinkable actually happen. Most of those on the rebel base were preparing for another move...just in case.
Jacob took a deep breath. The next few hours were going to be damned interesting, of that he was confident. He just hoped that he, and the SGC, survived. If not, Earth was a lost cause. The Asgard wouldn't be able to respond in time, or with enough force, to stop Ba'al; and the Tok'ra were helpless to come to their aid as well. If Earth went...he gave a shudder of dread. The Tok'ra rebels would have to hide well to avoid complete extermination if Ba'al succeeded in claiming the First World.
A A A A A A
No one had expected to hear from Selmak so quickly; certainly didn't expect to see Jacob walking down the ramp with a wooden box clutched in his arms less that thirty minutes after the message had been sent. "Where is Doctor Jackson?" Selmak asked immediately.
"Right here," Daniel replied, hurrying into the room, Casey beside him, both responding to the klaxons that were silenced as soon as the 'gate had closed.
"Your request was most...unexpected," Selmak said. "May I inquire as to how you learned of these scrolls?"
"Professor Langford, the father of the woman responsible for getting the Stargate program going again, managed to keep everything that had been found buried with the 'gate. She sent those artifacts to me. Among them was a tablet that listed everything that was buried," he explained in a rush.
"But why did you contact us? What made you believe that we were in possession of the scrolls?" Selmak demanded to know.
"Um, that would be because of me," Casey said softly. "Daniel was telling me about it, showing me the tablet, and I had an information dump about it."
Jacob smiled. "Should have figured that out for ourselves," he said.
"The scrolls are here?" Daniel asked anxiously, nodding at the box, almost bouncing on his feet to get the aged wooden crate into his own arms.
"I guess so," Jacob replied. He noted that for one brief second, Selmak seemed reluctant to let the box out of his arms. 'Relax. This is Daniel. If anyone can figure all of this out, he can.'
'I have been responsible for this box for so many years that it is most difficult to think of not having it to protect,' Selmak admitted. The fact that Daniel accepted the box with what could only be described as reverence soothed Selmak's concerns. "It is my wish...our wish...that you find within these scrolls the answers for which you seek," she said.
"I hope so, too," Daniel replied. He glanced at General Hammond, who was watching the exchange with an equal mix of curiosity and confusion on his face. "Permission to start working on these, sir?"
"Granted. Best time, Doctor Jackson."
"Yes, sir." He nearly ran out of the room, Casey on his heels.
"You're convinced there's something important in those scrolls," Casey said softly, punching eighteen, the level where his office and lab...and the storage room where she'd found him earlier...were located.
"Just a hunch," he admitted. Over the years, his instincts had been finely honed by experience. If nothing else, these scrolls would give them a hint of the final days of the rule of Ra on Earth. It might be possible to extrapolate at least a clue on how to once again rid planet Earth of unwanted Goa'uld occupation. Or stop a Goa'uld intent on recapturing the First World.
Jacob settled into the chair in front of Hammond's desk. "What's happened since your first message was sent?"
"Doctor Jackson managed to buy us a few hours before we have to meet with Ba'al. He believes that Ba'al wants a treaty."
"For what purpose?" Selmak asked.
"We believe that the arrival of Zeus has put Ba'al into a bit of a panic. Ba'al is set to take over here, but Zeus is powerful enough to challenge him. Doctor Jackson believes that since the SGC in general, and SG-1 in particular, have been a royal pain in his ass, Ba'al wants to set things up so we aren't interfering," Hammond replied.
"Good guess," Jacob nodded, listening as his symbiote agreed with Daniel's hypothesis. "What has the president said about all of this?"
"He notified the Stargate Alliance. We both expect that committee to insist that Casey be handed over, as per Ba'al's demand."
"That would be a typical, political response. How much advance warning would you get?"
"To be honest, Jacob, I don't know. It's possible that they're smart enough to understand that Daniel would never allow it, and is in a position to...disappear...with her," the general said quietly.
"All we need is three minutes," Jacob said. "I can have them on their way to another planet before any...enforcers...were able to determine where they'd disappeared to."
"Thanks, old friend. Let's just hope it doesn't come down to that."
"I'm waiting to hear from the president concerning the teleconference that the committee is holding. I don't know if it's been concluded yet, or not."
"It seems that once again you're standing on the very edge of the cliff. You know it's possible that Ba'al will just announce his presence and make his demands openly."
"More than aware," General Hammond grimaced. "Which is what we're desperately trying to avoid. The chaos that knowledge of the existence of aliens, and the Stargate Program, would incur would be catastrophic. No doubt Ba'al would simply move in and take over, and there wouldn't be a damned thing we could do to stop him."
"Any word from Thor?"
"I don't think the Asgard are in the position to offer much help."
"Nor do I," Hammond admitted. "For the first time, I'm really afraid we aren't going to be able to pull our fat out of this fire."
"Don't lose hope, George," Jacob said softly. "I've seen you and the people in this facility pull miracles out of thin air on more than one occasion."
Hammond smiled. "It certainly does seem that way, doesn't it?"
"It certainly does."
A A A A A A
Daniel carefully lifted the lid off the box, and revealed a dozen tubes carved from what looked like teak. Inside, he knew, were the ancient scrolls. He could only hazard a guess at the condition of the papyrus rolls, and the writing they contained.
He pulled latex gloves over his hands, to insure that skin oils didn't harm the delicate parchment inside each tube. Took a deep breath, and lifted the first scroll gingerly from the box, sat it on the work table. He twisted the lid, gasped at what sounded like the hiss of a vacuum seal being broken. Gently withdrew the carefully rolled sheet. "Oh god," he whispered.
"What?" Casey asked, standing at his side, watching his every movement.
"This scroll is perfectly preserved! Look at it!" He carefully began to unwind it. "This could have been written yesterday, the papyrus is still pliable, the ink is still crisp and clear! This is amazing!"
"It looks suspiciously Sumerian," Casey said, frowning slightly. She recognized most of the Sumerian alphabet now. However, understanding the manner in which those marks were used, and their individual meanings was something she was still struggling to learn.
He frowned. "Yeah, it does, doesn't it?" He took another tube from the box. Examined the scroll that it held. "So does this one."
"Why would there be scrolls written in Sumerian buried with the Stargate?" she asked.
"I have no idea." He continued to empty the box, until he'd seen the first marks of each scroll. Seven were Sumerian, five written in an ancient dialect of Egyptian that had taken him a few minutes to recognize. "Go get Cam. He's our resident expert on Sumer. You and he can work on translating these."
With a nod, Casey hurried out of the lab.
She stopped, ducked her head back inside. "What?"
"Meet me in the commons. That table is bigger."
And not covered with half a dozen 'projects', she thought with a smile. "Right."
He studied the array of scrolls that littered his worktable. What in the hell was written in these scrolls? And just what secrets did they hold? What was the connection between Sumer, Ancient Egypt, and the slave rebellion?
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