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The Devil In the Details

Chapter 3

Tuesday 0430 hours

Daniel frowned in concentration as he worked on the last of the scrolls which were written in a seldom used, forgotten dialect of Ancient Egyptian. So far there weren't many surprises, just a running documentary on Ra, and his abuses of power, the deeds that made heavier the yoke of slavery for thousands of innocent people. Two spoke of the other 'gods' leaving from 'that which had become their home, and reaching out unto all of the universe'. So the exodus of Goa'uld from the First World had begun long before the slave rebellion. The majority of Goa'uld 'gods' who had found Ra's rule too burdensome had simply left. Whether they had done so through the 'gate, with Ra's approval, or by ship, slipping away without his knowledge, was unknown. Those who had remained might have started that rebellion, whether on purpose, as a way to dispose Ra, or accidentally, their actions spurring the slaves to stand up against their oppressor; and that was another question that the scrolls left to speculation.

He was convinced that whoever had written the scrolls had worked in the palace of Ra, and had been a Tok'ra. Perhaps one of the first to take a stand against the most powerful Goa'uld who'd ever existed. Well, that they were aware of, anyway. It was especially evident in the scroll that spoke of the rebellion, written with flowery, descriptive phrases which glamorized what had to have been a bloody, costly battle.

Across the table Cam Balinsky and Casey were working on the scrolls written in Sumerian. That had been one hell of a surprise. The Tok'ra in possession of seven ancient Sumerian scrolls. Selmak had been damned evasive about just how that had happened. When Jacob had stopped by to see how the translations were going, the only thing that Selmak would admit to was that the scrolls had been in the possession of the Tok'ra for as long as she could remember. Daniel had his theories, using the images Casey had seen during her information dump. He'd bet the farm that the man she'd seen digging so desperately in the desert was the Tok'ra who'd taken the scrolls. Considering the connection between the Goa'uld rebels and the Egyptian 'god' Ra, the others were unremarkable in the fact that they'd been in Tok'ra hands. But the Sumerian scrolls...that was a puzzle.

That Casey was able to help the man Daniel considered to be his most able assistant, after his Wife, was due to Cam's steady tutelage, and her absolute thirst for knowledge. Cam had commented twice that 'assignments' that had taken his students in the Academy weeks to complete, Casey had finished in a matter of days. She was going to be every bit as proficient in Sumerian, Cam predicted, as she was becoming in Goa'uld and Ancient.

He had to smile when he thought about their last conversation concerning Casey, and her eagerness to learn, her ability to absorb knowledge like a sponge. Both archaeologists had taught classes at the prestigious Oriental Institute, both being alumni from that distinguished bastion of learning. And both had admitted that having just one student like Casey would have made their memories of days spent giving lectures and grading mediocre papers something to cherish. Daniel looked up when he heard Casey gasp.

"Cam? Would you look at this, please?" Her voice was calm, but her eyes were wide, and filled with surprise.

The two worked diligently for another thirty minutes, Cam broke the silence only when he softly corrected one of the phrases Casey'd written down. When she'd finished, she slid the pad toward her coworker. The redheaded archaeologist leaned toward her, read the scroll, then checked her notes. "Holy shit!"

Daniel was on his feet, moving to stand behind the two. "What?"

"You're going to have to revise your theory on Ra being the first to settle on Earth," Casey said softly. "Anu beat him to it."

"Anu?"

"The first gods of Sumer were the Anunnaki, who were often depicted as reptilian. Sort of fits with the drawings we found with these scrolls," she replied. "I have no idea when they were drawn, or by whom, but since they were with the scrolls, I'm betting they're not contemporary pieces of artwork."

He picked up the folder she pointed at. There were four drawings. Looking at each one made his heart beat a little faster. Two of the drawings were sketches of a human, looked like a male, from the back. The spine was carefully detailed, each vertebra in place. And coiled around it, from the top of the spine to the bottom, was a snake. The third was nothing more than a reptilian looking creature. Sort of favored an Unas. The eyes had been drawn very large, and the vertical irises had been darkened carefully. He went back to the first two, read the notes that were attached, written in Cam's handwriting. "These are related to the Hindu yogic concept of Kundalini?"

Cam nodded. "The first thing I did was to try and find anything similar. That's what I came up with."

"Wow," Daniel muttered.

"To say the least. Check out the drawing of Quetzalcoatl," Casey said. "We looked for that as well, and found several that had been done by archaeologists in the 1920's. Copying what they'd found on several temple walls. In South America."

He was staring at the fourth square of papyrus, and what could have been a drawing of Chaka, wearing the ceremonial robes of a Mayan priest.  He'd seen such images before.  But never had the depiction been so obvious.  Given what he knew now...

"Daniel, the more we looked, the more references to snakes and reptiles we found," Casey continued. "Now, personally, I think the damned things look like eels. But for those landlocked groups who'd never seen an eel..." her voice trailed off.

"Think about the caduceus, for example," Cam said. "Most ancient cultures had some sort of snake myth connected to health and well-being. Goa'uld are extremely healthy, and we know from experience, well, General Carter knows from experience, that a symbiote can heal a human host of any of a number of diseases and ailments. If these people witnessed any of those 'Taking' ceremonies, then watched as that person remained youthful and healthy for years...decades, it's easy to see how they made the correlation."

"You said Ra wasn't the first to establish himself here?" Daniel asked, tapping the yellow legal pad in front of Casey.

She shook her head. "He wasn't. A little background here...Anunnaki means 'those from heaven to Earth came'. They were gods and goddesses who came here to create the human race. Some sources claim they were gods from 'Nibiru', which means 'the planet of the crossing'. The Assyrians and Babylonians called it 'Marduk', and that just happened to be the name of their chief god. Which came first is anyone's guess," she added. "The Sumerians claimed that one year on planet Nibiru, which they called a 'sar', was equivalent in time to thirty-six hundred Earth years. Anunnaki life spans were one hundred and twenty 'sars'. I did the math. That's 432,000 years. According to the King List - one hundred and twenty 'sars' had passed from the time the Anunnaki arrived on Earth to the time of the Flood."

"Which is another universal 'myth'," Cam added. "And which most archaeologists agree is probably a result of the fact that it happened in a pre-historical era, in the most populated area of the world at that time, and as people spread out, they took the story with them."

"And as time passed, and cultures changed to fit the needs of the people, so did the details of the story, and of all the myths they'd brought with them. It's possible that the flood myth predates the arrival of the Anunnaki," Casey added. She looked up at her husband. Took a deep breath. "According to this scroll, Anu had many sons. He chose one, and claimed him as his heir."

"I'm not going to like this, am I?" Daniel asked drolly.

"Oh, you're gonna love it. First of all, the Sumerians never called the Anunnaki, 'gods.' They were called 'din.gir'. As in d-i-n dot g-i-r. 'Din' meant 'righteous, pure, and/or bright'; 'gir' was a term used to describe a sharp-edged object. So, the Anunnaki epithet 'din.gir' meant 'righteous ones of the bright pointed objects'. Sounding familiar?"

"Just a bit," Daniel agreed, images of the pyramid-shaped ships that the Goa'uld preferred skittering across his mind.

"Now, like the flood, just as many creation myths speak of gods, or sons of gods, falling in love with the women of Earth, and bedding them. Creating an entirely new race, so to speak."

"You aren't going to tell me that the Goa'uld in Unas' did the deed with human females," Daniel said.

"No. But I am going to tell you that the Goa'uld who took hosts from among the humans who were still living in caves at the time did the deed with them. And I think Anu was the first to do so. No proof, just a feeling. It makes sense, though, when you think about it. After all, Anu was the 'god', right? But I think there's more," Casey said. She picked up one of the scrolls. "This talks of Anu 'creating' men and women in his secret chambers. I'm thinking a little DNA work was going on...maybe a bit of tweaking."

Daniel nodded. "Possible."

"Now, it goes on to talk about Anu creating many sons with 'she-who-dwelt-in-the-waters-of-Anu'. Could possibly be a reference to a Goa'uld queen, in a breeding vat."

"Agreed. Go on."

"It says here, 'He chose one from the hundreds of sons who were spawned from his loins. And he called him 'Amun'."

Daniel's eyes went wide. "Amun? As in Amun-Ra?"

Cam nodded, tapped one of the scrolls. "According to this, Amun rose up against his father and slew him. But being afraid for his own life, he disappeared 'into the lands of the setting sun'. The next we hear anything about this particular...person...deity if you must, is when Amun-Ra has appeared and 'gathered the scattered tribes' who lived 'near a great river'."

"The Nile," Casey tossed in.

"Ra rewrites history a bit, making himself the great creator. He has a few friends, possibly actual brothers and sisters, upon whom he bestows 'godhood'. Basically, he'd somehow had gained possession of the symbiotes, and found hosts for them," Cam continued.

"He named each of them, designated their place in the pantheon he was creating," Casey said.

"Which he modeled after Anu's," Daniel said, following the line of reasoning.

"Which Anu seems to have patterned after the ideas and myths of the humans living in the caves, and already worshipping 'natural' gods: earth, sky, water, wind, rain, and so on," Cam added.

"It gets better," Casey said, pushing the tablet toward him. "Anu must have made it to a sarcophagus. Probably helped out by his First Prime, if he had one then, or one of his guards, or even a favorite slave. By the way, this scroll," she picked up another of the delicate, yellowed pieces of rolled papyrus, "details just how the Jaffa were 'chosen'. There are vague references to a device that Anu created that was used to 'touch' the Faithful Ones, to prepare them for the 'honor' of carrying the young of their gods. It's probably the same doohickey that the priests use to this day during the prim'ta ceremony. Anyway, when Anu 'returned from the underworld', he was a 'new man'"

"The host died," Daniel said flatly. "And he took a new one."

"Sounds like it," she nodded. "New host, same name. He moves to what will become Assyria, time passes and he then becomes a powerful god among the Babylonians. Known as Anu, or An. He was supposed to be the son of Anshar and Kishar, and he's the chief god of the Great Triad, with Ea and Enlil. In Sumerian mythology, he was the god of sky, husband of Nintu, also known as 'Ki', and the father and ruler of all gods. This is the first time we see the 'adoption' of an entire pantheon by a separate group of people. Same job descriptions, just different names. So, the Assyrians and Babylonians are 'born'. Something happens, maybe he learned of another assassination attempt, maybe Ra was getting suspicious. Anyway, Anu seems to just disappear, and El takes his place. There's a bit of confusion in this scroll about El and En-lil. Mythologically, they seem to be two different gods, but it's possible that it was one Goa'uld, using an alias, for whatever reason. Again, he has a son."

"Do I want to know?" Daniel asked, his mind spinning from the implications of the information they had in front of them.

"Take a wild guess," Casey grinned. She pointed toward the ceiling.

He looked at her. His eyes went wide. "You're kidding!"

"Nope. None other than Ba'al himself. Only he was known as Hadu at the time. Ba'al literally means 'master' or 'owner'. He began calling himself that to remind everyone around him of just who he was...their master, their owner."

"So what happened to Anu?"

"Hold onto your hat. This is where it gets freaky. It seems that Anu, who at the time was El, or En-lil, was killed again...by Hadu. I'm assuming that's when Ba'al made the name change. For the second time someone dumps his ass into a sarcophagus. But something must have happened, because it was several centuries before he crawled out. And whoever dumped him into it, took the sarcophagus where they thought it would be safer. As far from the bickering children in what we know as the 'Cradle of Civilization' as he...or she...could get. Straight into the heart of what is now known as China."

He studied her, expecting her to continue. She was grinning from ear to ear, waiting for him to make the connection. "Oh my God! Yu!"

"None other than!"

"According to these scrolls, no one knows that Anu of the Sumerians was the same Anu of the Assyrians and Babylonians, didn't know he morphed into El and/or En-lil, and they sure as hell don't know that he's now Lord Yu," Cam said. "It's possible that whoever wrote all of this out knew Anu personally. Might have even been the one to have saved his ass so many times."

"That would explain how the author knows the connections," Daniel replied. If he thought his mind had been spinning before, he was dizzy from the revolutions it was making now!

"It's a safe bet that neither Ra, nor Ba'al, or any of the others know that Yu is the daddy of them all," Casey said.

"So he was the first to take a human host, not Ra," Daniel mused. His frown deepened. The trickiest part of dealing with theories detailing the ancient world, was remembering that often hundreds of years passed between one significant event and another. "Or Ra was the first to take a human host," he mused. "If Anu was depicted as a reptile, it's possible that for a time the Goa'uld didn't know that humans would make suitable hosts.

"So Ra took a human host because he was here, and not on the Unas home world," Cam said, nodding. "Makes sense."

"So then Yu, or rather, Anu decided to take a human host as well?" Casey asked.

"Why not, if it was good enough for the son why not the father?" Cam said. "What I'd like to know is just how Anu and company got here in the first place. I mean, did they find something among the Ancient writings, when they were stealing every piece of technology they could find, that led them here?"

Daniel grabbed his pad, tore off the pages of notes he had been taking. Drew a straight line on the fresh page. "Suppose Anu came through the Stargate-"

"He'd have wound up in Egypt. Or where Egypt is now," Casey said.

"Not necessarily. The 'gate could have been moved by Ra, after he killed Anu." He made a mark on the paper, then labeled it as 'Anu through 'gate'. "There's no way to know exactly how long he was here, how long it took him to establish the civilization we know as the Sumerians. We do know when the first Egyptian dynasties were established." Another mark on the paper. "What we don't know is what happened before the first writings of Sumer." A third mark on the paper, in front of the slash that indicated the start of Egyptian history.

"What happened between here and here, might have been centuries," Casey said softly, her fingertip moving from the mark representing Anu/Yu's arrival, to the beginning of Sumerian history.

"Exactly. The best we can do is guess...we have proof of cave dwellers that go back several million years. The first signs of 'civilization' begin appearing between six and eight hundred thousand years ago. No doubt Anu discovered at least one, possibly more of these groups of people, who weren't far removed from the caves. If our theories concerning the Ancient's are true, they were the ones who helped move the humans from caves to the first crude shelters, and started the first attempts at farming," Daniel said.  He tapped his finger against his lips for a moment.  "Okay, we know that Ra arrived by ship, and took the first human host. But what if Anu had come through the 'gate first, set up shop? If Anu had a breeder queen with him, obviously at some point he was going to need viable hosts. It's possible that Anu never even considered humans for hosts because no Goa'uld had ever taken anyone, or anything other than an Unas as host." The memory of the creature in that ziggurat made him shiver involuntarily. That had been proof that a Goa'uld could take any living creature as a host. "For all we know, he had Unas slaves with him, and chose one to be Ra's first host. It's also possible that he just intended to bring more Unas through the 'gate. Anu had ships, that was the reason for the pyramids-"

"But Anu was here long before the first of the pyramids were built," Cam pointed out.

Daniel pointed at the paper, his finger on the first mark. "Ra built them. We know that the three largest were built by Pharaoh's who were either Goa'uld, as in Ra taking a new host, or at the very least, Goa'uld that he had set up to sit on the throne to rule in his stead. I'm betting he built them after killing Anu. With his father out of the way, everything belonged to him. He was setting up his own 'empire'. Ra wanted total control of the 'gate, for whatever reason, and Anu prevented that from happening. So he killed Anu, feared reprisal from those who served Anu, so he moved it to Egypt, where he'd already been setting up his own cities."

"There's nothing in this text to tell us when Anu created his sons, or chose Ra. I was just assuming it was here, but it might not have been," Casey said slowly. "Maybe Ra was already with Anu, when they came here."

Like Klorel had been with Apophis, he thought briefly. Images of the time spent on the pyramid ship bound for Earth flashed through his mind. He pushed the rather unpleasant memories away. "Father and son, exploring and conquering the galaxy," Daniel said softly. "Technically, it's possible that Ra did have an Unas as his first host, and he was the first to discover the...advantages...of having a human host. He could have led Anu here."

"So what was the reason that Anu wound up in what's now modern Iraq, rather than Egypt?" she asked.

Daniel perched on the edge of the table. "That's where the 'gate was located, is my best guess. Remember, from what we know, these areas were lush and fertile several hundred thousand years ago, so it wouldn't be surprising to learn that the Ancients had settled there. Maybe it was centralized, gave them the opportunity to study the indigenous people we know were spread from Africa to northern Europe at the time," he shrugged. "These dates are when we know these civilizations started keeping record of their history, at least, keeping records that we've been able to find, and decipher," he said, tapping his notepad. "That doesn't mean that's when they came into being."

"It's possible that Anu didn't know that Ra had taken a human host, at least not for awhile," Casey said, adding another theory to the growing web of conjecture.

"That's a good possibility. That might be how he was able to get to Yu...Anu...and kill him, because no one knew it was him," Cam offered.

Daniel shook his head. "The Goa'uld can sense one another, because of the naquadah. If there'd been a disagreement between the two, it's possible that Ra used the fact that he was in a human to confuse any Jaffa who might have been around."

Casey shook her head. "I don't think the Jaffa had been created yet, at least, not as living incubators for infant Goa'uld."

"Okay, so it might have been easier as a human to get near Anu," Daniel allowed. "So he killed Anu, because the Stargate was in Sumer, and not Egypt. Ra killed Anu for control of the 'gate."

"Controlling the 'gate gave him the ultimate power," Cam nodded.

"Considering how far back we need to go..." Daniel frowned. "What if it went down like this...Ra somehow stumbles across Earth, I'm thinking he arrived by ship. For some reason he needed a new host...maybe looking for a way to save the Goa'uld race."

"Save them?" Casey asked.

Daniel nodded. "Ra told me that his race was dying when he found the humans, although he wasn't very clear about when or how that happened. If that's the case, he finds Earth, discovers a band of nomads or cave dwellers...takes one as host, maybe just as a temporary measure to stay alive. And he finds out that humans make damned good hosts. Now, it's possible that Anu discovered the Stargates, or the address to Earth, at about the same time...or Ra discovers the Stargate, and sends word to Anu. Either way, Anu decides it's an interesting enough place to settle down for awhile. Whoever was writing down all this history already knew that Amun, who would become Amun Ra, was Anu's son. Thus the family history bit. Then Amun kills Anu, takes the 'gate, and settles in the Nile valley to build his own civilization."

"And, as one of the oldest, there wasn't anyone who knew the truth, no one to contradict Ra's version of events," Casey said. She sat back and crossed her arms over her chest. "I guess the irony of the fact that he was behaving like Anu in controlling the 'gate was totally lost on him. Okay, my question is this...why did Yu fight side by side with Ra against the Asgard? And why hasn't he taken Ba'al out?"

"What? Yu fought with Ra against the Asgard?" Daniel said, frowning slightly. He tried to remember any information pertaining to such a battle. Something about the three names in connection with one another poked at him. He'd seen those names, in cartouche form, he was certain of it...but where?

"It was in your journal, the one from Abydos, that has all of the hieroglyphs that you copied from that temple wall," Casey replied absently, toying with the pages of the legal pad.

Daniel couldn't help but stare at his wife. Of course! He remembered showing the journal to her, explaining that it was the first 'find' that explained just who and what Ra was, and how people so like ancient Egyptians had wound up on a planet so far from Earth. That was where he'd seen the names together! He couldn't recall the details, he hadn't actually translated most of those symbols. As he remembered, he'd just finished copying all of those glyphs into the journal when he found that second temple...and all of those Stargate addresses...

Casey lifted her mug, frowned to find it empty. "Time for coffee."

Cam stood, ready to grab the pot from the counter.

"Not that stuff," Daniel said, shaking his head. "For this, we need real coffee."

With a grin, Cam followed the couple into Daniel's office, where they kept a coffeemaker of higher quality than the one in the commons room, and Daniel's 'designer coffee', as he'd heard Casey describe it a time or two. He leaned against the work table as the slender seer busied herself making a fresh pot.

"We should draw out some sort of family tree," Casey said.

"It would be total conjecture," Cam replied.

"Isn't that what we've been doing? Isn't that what archaeologists do best?" Casey asked, a smile tugging at her lips. "You take what information you have, and try to come up with the most probable theory to explain the artifacts and ruins and writings."

Daniel chuckled. "Sometimes it's easy. I'm not so sure we have enough information to work with here."

"Well, we do have our own historical timeline. Wouldn't that make it easier to extrapolate just who came when? We already know that most of the Goa'uld that we know as 'gods' were actually created here," she said.

"Good point," Daniel allowed. He watched for a moment as Casey started the coffeemaker. Watching her always brought a rush of love, feelings of joy that she was a part of his life. That moment was no exception. He couldn't help but smile as those warm feelings flooded his heart and soul.

Cam grabbed a roll of drawing paper from one of the shelves, moved several statues, three tablets and half a dozen books from the middle of the work table, and stretched a long piece of the paper from one end of the table to the other. "Okay, so we know that Yu, as Anu, was the first Goa'uld to settle on Earth."

"We also know that Amun, or Amun Ra, was the son of Anu," Casey said. She watched as Cam wrote down the names and drew a line from Anu to Amun Ra. "The next one that we're fairly sure about is Ba'al."

Cam wrote the name, drew a line from Anu to Ba'al. "So just where does Zeus come into this? Was he the next symbiote to be claimed as a son?"

Daniel was tapping his finger against his lips. "Zeus isn't Ra's brother. I'm thinking son. Or grandson."

"What?" Casey asked.

"Think about it...there were Sumerians. Then the Egyptian civilization began. The Babylonians didn't come onto the scene until midway through the Egyptian era. The Greeks...and their Olympian 'gods'...arrived even later. Myths of the Jade Emperor are parallel to the Greeks."

"Well, that could mean that Yu was stuck in his sarcophagus for awhile after he was killed the first time," Casey pointed out. "So Zeus could still be a brother of Ra."

"Possibly," Daniel allowed. "But I'm not so sure. From what we've just learned, it's safe to say that the Egyptian pantheon was made up of Anu...Yu's...children. But what about all of the other 'gods' who came later, civilizations that didn't 'appear' until several thousand years after the Egyptians came on the scene?"

"So Ra didn't 'bring' those symbiotes to Earth, they were already here...well, created here," Casey corrected herself. "By Anu and his breeder queen."

"Right. Remember, the myths of the gods would have already been established among the people who evolved into the 'modern' civilizations. The Goa'uld were here several hundred thousand years ago. Ra was basically the last to leave...well, he was tossed out. And that happened between eight and ten thousand years ago. Myths of the gods are just that...myths...the remnants of stories told over and over, created by those who were witness to the events," Daniel reminded her.

"The symbiotes in that lake on...the Unas planet...are parasitic, right?" she said, shivering slightly, recalling that it was there where she had been for nearly two months, in a coma and battling with Dartal.

"Absolutely," Daniel replied. One of his friends had been taken as a host, and subsequently killed on that planet. Trying to rescue him from Chaka. Another thought continued to poke at him - his brilliant mind, his ability to 'think outside of the box' allowing him to take the next step of speculation. "We believe that the transition from predator to parasite happened at least two million years ago. Give or take a few thousand years. That would give the Goa'uld a few hundred thousand years to evolve. They took hosts from among the Unas, learned how to use the Stargates, somehow located all of the technology left behind by the Ancients, including their ships. It's a safe bet that Anu, or Yu, was from that planet."

He paused. Focused on the thoughts, the ideas, that continued to whirl around in his head. "We know that the Goa'uld have genetic memories. Passed on from the queen. We also know that it's possible for the queen to...withhold...that genetic memory. What if they only pass on what they want their offspring to know?" Daniel asked.

"Well, they can only pass on what they themselves know," Casey pointed out. The coffeemaker had finished working its magic on the bottled water and ground Sumatra Mandheling beans; she filled the mugs and passed them to the two men. She sipped from her own mug, sighing softly as the caffeine entered her system.

"Exactly," Daniel replied. "Which means that it's likely that the Goa'uld we know about have no clue about their true origins. What if Ra instructed his breeding queens regarding just what was to be passed on? And if that's the case, I'm betting he killed every Goa'uld spawned by Anu that he could find...he didn't want anyone to remember the first Goa'uld. Those already in hosts probably swore loyalty to Ra, just to stay alive. And we've seen how they buy into their own hype. It wouldn't have taken long for them to believe the story that Ra was the first 'god'. Or at least propagate that belief."

"Sounds typical," Cam agreed.

"No wonder they don't have the picture straight," Casey murmured. "Their own genetic memory...their history...could be nothing more than propaganda!"

Daniel nodded. "We just have to figure out how this helps us now." He lowered his head, his chin nearly on his chest, his fingers still tapping against his lips; his thoughts moving with incredible speed through his mind, searching for an answer that would get them out of the situation with Ba'al.

"What about asking Yu to take care of his spoiled rotten kid," Casey muttered.

His head came up. "Say what?"

"I said we should call Yu and lodge a complaint about his kid," Casey said, repeating her comment.

Daniel grinned. "You just might have something there. If none of the others know exactly who Yu is, it's a sure sign that he wants to remain...anonymous. Maybe letting him know that we know the whole story will put a bit of pressure on him."

"Would he do anything?" Cam asked.

"Yu might at least get the others together against Ba'al. And that might cause enough heartburn to get him away from our front door for awhile. Long enough to figure a way out of this mess," Daniel replied. He frowned, staring at the paper where they'd begun filling in the names of every known 'god' who was actually a Goa'uld. "It seems that our civilization today, that our ancient civilizations, were the product of earlier Goa'uld intervention. Or interference, however you want to look at it. Every pantheon of gods is virtually the same...the only difference is names, and we can link those names to Goa'uld. I agree with Cam, the Goa'uld were smart enough to 'assume' the identities' of the gods already worshipped by humans."

Casey shivered. "That is just so wrong. I hate the idea that every good thing we have came from those damned snakes!"

"They brought the bad, too, Angel," Daniel said softly. "Slavery, oppression, turning brother against brother. The Ancients planted the first seeds of civilization. The Goa'uld did what they do best, they took, they added to, they changed things to suit themselves."

"Too bad they didn't just stay in the damned rivers and oceans on the Unas planet," she huffed.

"When the Goa'uld moved from simple predators to parasitic creatures, I think the path of their...evolution...was inevitable," Daniel replied. "When naquadah became a part of them is when we theorize that change occurred."

"I've always wondered just how naquadah wound up a part of the Goa'uld genetic code," Cam mused as he sipped from his cup of coffee.

"Robert and I had a theory about that," Daniel said quietly. The death of the man who had been his research assistant and friend still stung at times, especially when Robert's death had been a tragic result of a search for him.

"Which is?" Casey asked. She'd seen the pain that flickered for just a moment in those beautiful blue eyes. She knew about Robert, and she was aware of the guilt that Daniel carried as a result of his friend's death.

"We know that the Ancients built the Stargates, and lived on most of the planets that are linked through the Stargate system, millions of years ago. We believe that Earth was one of the last planets they visited, settled, and lived on. Somewhere along the line, long before they came here, the Ancients came across the Unas planet. We believed...I believe...that the Goa'uld were still nothing more than river and ocean predators at that time. Maybe the Unas were living there as well, maybe not. It's even possible that they're a mutation of whatever species they evolved from, caused by the naquadah.

"We can be fairly certain that the Ancients mined the naquadah that was on the planet. Used it to build the Stargate that's there now," Daniel continued. "Maybe they built more there, I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the caves where the Unas live now are the remnants of those mines. Somehow, there was an accident of some sort, that put radioactive naquadah into the river, contaminating it, and somehow affected all of the Goa'uld that lived and bred there. It could be why the Ancients left, or they might have been completely unaware of the event. But somehow, the naquadah was introduced into the river, it remained concentrated in that area, and affected the Goa'uld."

"And over time, it became a part of their DNA," Cam mused.

"It's one theory," Daniel admitted. "Our own experiences here on Earth with pollution show that it doesn't take many generations for a mutation to become part of the genetic code. It's also possible that a symbiotic relationship had already come into play between the Unas and the Goa'uld. Maybe the Unas were water creatures, and for some reason adapted to life on land. What might have been a useful relationship between the two in the water, suddenly wasn't as necessary when the Unas were walking upright and breathing air. Maybe that's when the Goa'uld internalized, crawling inside of the Unas, because they couldn't adapt to living out of the water." He paused, took a sip of his coffee. Blew out a breath. This would be the first time he'd ever voiced his theory. "What we found on the Unas planet points to the fact that Goa'uld were first predators, and then parasitic.  If not for the naquadah, that would have been the only change. I think the naquadah is what made them sentient."

Cam frowned. "Naquadah gave them their pissy attitudes and delusions of grandeur?"

Daniel shrugged. "It's just a theory."

Casey rubbed her temples with her fingers. "All of this 'what if', and 'could be' and 'it's possible' is giving me a headache."

Daniel grinned. "Part of being an archaeologist. Building theories out of what few facts we can find."

"It's all a house of cards," she retorted. "Find one fact to refute any of it, and it all comes crashing down."

"Not if the majority of the people involved refuse to accept, or even acknowledge that one fact," he said quietly.

Cam and Casey exchanged knowing glances. Daniel was still hurt over what had happened to him; people who had known him well, who had worked with him, had turned their backs on him when he'd put forth his theory about the true purpose of the pyramids, and that life here had been influenced by beings not indigenous to the planet.

He shook himself mentally. He knew the truth. Had proof of that truth. That was all that mattered. Someday, without a doubt, the Stargate program would become common knowledge. Someday, his theories would be proven correct publicly. And it was just too damned self-centered to worry about any of that, especially right now, he thought irritably.

"So, how does what we know help us?" Casey asked.

Daniel grinned. "We do just what you suggested. We contact Lord Yu. And see what happens."

"I'm sure General Hammond is going to love that idea," she replied, rolling her eyes. "If I were a betting woman, I'd wager that Yu isn't going to do a damned thing."

"I dunno, Angel. I don't think he'd be anxious to have us 'expose' him. Especially with Ba'al poised to take over everything. Ba'al killed him once, it wouldn't bother the bastard to do it again," Daniel argued. "And with Zeus added to the mix, well, I'm thinking Yu would rather keep his identity unknown."

"Why would Zeus care?"

"Because Yu is the oldest. And regardless of how screwed up their genetic memory is, the respect for age, for rank in the hierarchy, is still very much there," he said softly.

"So why wouldn't Yu want to declare who he is? It could set him up to be the Supreme System Lord," she argued. "Zeus and Ba'al would back down because of that respect."

"Not if he's afraid of being killed again. We know that the sarcophagus doesn't work for him, not the way it used to," Daniel replied. "Yu probably won't be around much longer. One thing struck me about him..."

Casey watched his eyes. He'd never talked about his time onboard Yu's ship, as the Goa'uld's lo'taur. "What was that?" she asked softly.

"Yu plans things carefully, works out every detail," Daniel replied.

"Do you think he's been plotting his revenge all of these centuries? Maybe that's why he established himself so far from the others, and seems content with what he has, not really expanding, just defending what he already owns," Casey mused.

Daniel nodded. "Very possible. If we threaten to spill the beans, it might force him to set whatever plans of revenge he has into motion. I'm willing to bet Ba'al is his target, now that Ra is dead."

"So going to Yu really could be the ace in a hole that we need," Cam said.

"I hope so," Daniel said. "Let's get this written up. General Hammond is going to be interested in hearing this."

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Ba'al stretched out on his bed. In less than six hours, he would meet with the representatives of the blue and white globe that spun slowly beneath his ship. He would make his demands. A show of superiority wouldn't be needed. He'd overwhelm the men who would negotiate for the still primitive Tau'ri simply by being himself. The fact that they would be on a spacecraft, a feat that only a very few of the former slaves could attest to achieving, would further awe them, and give them a healthy respect...and fear...of him. He couldn't help but smile. Considering all circumstances, negotiations would probably last little more than an hour or so. Less than eight hours, and Casey would be with him, at his side once again.

Scout ships sent to locate Zeus had done just that, and reported that he was moving with his fleet, albeit slowly. His destination was unknown for the moment, but Ba'al was certain in his mind that the Goa'uld would be in orbit within a day or so. As the newly negotiated protector of the Tau'ri, a position that would garner him the support of the other Goa'uld who remained just strong enough to oppose him, he would declare Zeus an interloper, an invader. And would destroy him. Then immediately he would take the First World in fact, rather than just appearance. The Asgard would be helpless against the combined strength of the Goa'uld Empire.

His heart beat faster as he fantasized about the battles, the capitulation of the other Goa'uld, the complete surrender of the First World, the end of the threat of the Asgard. He would rule the galaxy with Casey at his side. A slow smile spread over his face. Careful planning, patience, cunning...all had worked in his favor. Proving him to be the most capable of ruling the Empire. He was just hours from completing his most ambitious plan. Just hours from declaring checkmate.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Ares pulled his cloak closer, tugged the hood further over his head, hiding his face in the shadows. His dark eyes watched closely as the Jaffa went about their business, loading the supplies onto the platform to be ringed to the ship that hovered above them. It had been many years since he'd attempted such an attack. Thanatos had been at his side on that day. How he longed for the presence of his best friend. The steady comfort of his confidence. The certainty that the plan about to be executed had covered every contingency, secure in the knowledge that Thanatos would not have forgotten even the tiniest detail.

For one moment panic closed cold fingers around his throat. No, he had missed nothing. The Goa'uld who owned the ha'tak was a minor player in the game of domination at best. One who had three ships, two planets, and nearly a thousand Jaffa. One who would be easily removed from his throne.

Two of his most trusted Jaffa stood beside him, waiting for his signal to move forward. Brilliant in its simplicity, the plan was guaranteed to work because of the element of total surprise. Ares continued to observe. He'd already determined the pattern of the activity around him.

"Stay alert," he whispered. "We will move as soon as the next load is ready to be taken up." He felt the Jaffa tense, ready to spring into action.

The three became nothing more than shadows, moving against the walls of the buildings that surrounded the ring transport. When the Jaffa in charge of the slaves loading supplies turned their backs, they were shot down. Screams from the terrified slaves filled the air, harshly silenced by the whine of zat'nik'tels.

Standing beside the pile of crates and leather bags within the circle of stone, Ares counted the seconds. Right on schedule, he thought smugly, as the bright light of the rings surrounded him and his men.

Those waiting on the ha'tak were taken down as soon as the rings disappeared, leaving no time for the Jaffa, nor the slaves, to raise any alarms. His own ship was waiting just above, he ordered that the men assigned to fight at his side on this day be brought in as quickly as possible.

It took nearly fifteen minutes for that task to be completed. Half of the men followed the First Prime to take control of the engine room. The others followed Ares as he made his way to the pel'tak. He strode through the corridors, his mind barely registering the fact that he was moving with such ease on an enemy vessel.

On the planet below, more of Ares' Jaffa were rounding up those of the soon to be dead Goa'uld. Taking them to the transport ring as ordered. No doubt their god would ring down with the body of his rival. The Jaffa who served the unfortunate victim would be given the opportunity to swear their allegiance to their new god. Or they would die.

Ares walked through the open door of the pel'tak, using his disguise to gain entry past the guards, telling them that he had a message for their god. He continued with the charade as he walked across the room, knelt in front of the very young host. It occurred to him that perhaps this Goa'uld was the son of one of the more powerful System Lords. A situation that could quickly bring him grief. It was too late to wonder about such things now, he thought, wishing again for Thanatos. His friend would have had the answers to his questions

The young man listened as the Jaffa whispered to him, eyed Ares warily. "You have a message for me?"

"I do," Ares replied. He pulled the zat'nik'tel from beneath his robe and fired, three times. His men rushed into the room at the sound of the weapon discharging. He stood to his feet. "I am taking this ship."

The stunned Jaffa of the young Goa'uld hesitated, which was exactly what he'd been counting on. Those on the planet had been too careless to be trustworthy. A condition that would be rampant among all of those serving the Goa'uld to whom they bowed.

"I am Ares, your god!" he roared, yanking the robe from his shoulders, tossing it to the floor. "Kneel before me, and vow your loyalty now, or die!"

To die in battle in the name of their god was one thing. To defend the name of a god now dead, one who could no longer protect them, nor provide for them, was not as valiant a thing. Exchanging one master for another was not always easy, nor desirable. It was, however, a much better choice than death. Glancing at one another, the men began to kneel.

Ares grinned. "Very good. Status report!"

The newly captured Jaffa jumped to attention, began to call out the status of each station. According to the First Prime, the dead Goa'uld had been known as Sahu. He wasn't a System Lord, although he did hold two planets, twins in a nearby solar system. Neither had any residents, but both supplied gold and iron ore, and one had trace amounts of naquadah. It seemed that neither had a Chappa'ai.

It was a pitiful beginning. But it was a beginning nonetheless. To try to take any slaves from among the people on the planet would bring down the wrath of the nearest System Lord. Who just happened to be Ptah. Not the most powerful of the Egyptian pantheon, but more than capable of destroying Ares.

"Finish loading the supplies. I shall see my new holdings," he decided. And from the well hidden location, he would plot his final revenge against Ba'al.


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