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Duncan was waiting in Daniel's office when the archaeologist arrived the following morning. The Highlander had a big smile on his face.
"What's up?" Daniel asked.
"I just heard from the Chancellor of UCLA. They want to confirm that you'll be speaking at their conference next week."
"Next week? I thought…" Daniel looked at the calendar on his desk. "Hell!" He had been certain that he still had time to consider the offer. He hadn't made up his mind whether or not he wanted to give a lecture.
"Daniel, I think you should do this. You have a lot of information, a lot of knowledge to share with those people," Duncan said.
"Not to mention it looks good for Gamma," Daniel replied.
The Scot grinned. "There is that. But Daniel, you deserve to stand in front of those people, some of them the very ones who turned their backs on you when you first came up with your theory on the Pyramids. You have earned, more than earned, the right to stand up there in front of them and tell them just how wrong they were."
"Won't be quite the same, doing it from the Prometheus, or the Phoenix."
"Well, we have Thor's nifty beam out devices. I don't see why you can't just beam onto the stage, give your lecture, answer a few questions, then beam out," Duncan said.
Daniel started, looked hard at the dark haired man. To actually stand in the same room, in front of the scientists who had scoffed at him, called him crazy…the same ones who were now hailing his work as 'brilliant' and 'extraordinary'…"I want Casey with me."
Duncan smiled. "No problem. Thought I'd send the whole team with you. Just for moral support."
The young man grinned. "Nothing like a little show of force, huh?"
"I'm thinking that a nice military escort is in order as well. SG-6 comes to mind. Besides, it will be harder for the NID to grab any of you if you're all together, and the more there are, the lower the odds of them trying anything become."
He rubbed his hands…which were suddenly shaking…together. "Well, if I’m going to do this, guess I'd better get busy and write that lecture."
"Yep. I'll let them know that you'll be there, and what the conditions are. If they don't agree to our security, then you'll be stuck doing it via satellite."
Daniel nodded. "Okay. Works for me."
Duncan looked around. "Where's Casey?"
"She stopped to talk to Sam," was the reply. Daniel was already at his desk, his mind working on the task before him.
With a grin, Duncan turned and left the room. He knew that Daniel never even noticed. Casey was just turning down the corridor. He smiled at her, gave her a wink. She grinned and winked in return.
"Just down here to visit?" she asked.
"Nope. Needed to talk to Daniel about that conference at the UCLA."
"He's going to do it?" Her eyes lit up with excitement.
"Yep. He's going to stand right there in that lecture hall, on stage, and deliver his lecture. SG-1 and SG-6 are going to accompany him. Should be quite a sight to see," Duncan grinned.
Casey giggled. "Should be. Not only does he get to stand there and tell them he was right, he gets to stand there and see their faces when he tells them how wrong they were! I'm glad he'll actually get to stand on that stage. I want those jerks to see what kind of a man he is. He'll be gracious, as always." She sighed. "I guess that means I'll have to be as well. Even though I'd rather stand up and scream at them, 'he told you so!'"
Duncan laughed. "Gracious will hurt them more, trust me."
"Won't be as fulfilling for me," she complained good-naturedly. "But as long as he gets to stand there, in front of that group, vindicated, that will do."
Duncan grinned again, reached out and squeezed her shoulder, then headed for the elevator.
She stopped in the doorway. Daniel was already working, and she could tell by the look in his eyes that nothing would filter through to him right now. He reached for his mug, frowned when he discovered it was empty, and sat it back down. He never even looked up. She smiled, filled the mug with coffee and sat in on the desk in front of him. A few minutes later he reached for it again, took a sip, and continued working. With a sigh, she sat down at the worktable, and began to organize the photos from three separate missions. She attached all the notes, and then took the first group and started working on translations.
A A A A A A
Daniel leaned back in his chair. It had been a long time since he had written anything for a lecture. He went back over the notes. The main focus of the conference was the Stargate, and its continued use on Earth. More and more the population was demanding that it be used for trade with already known planets, the SGC colonies in particular, and nothing else. The cost of running the 'gate was prohibitive, at least it was in the way that the economy was set up on Earth. Corporations were willing to help defray the cost, if their goods were going through the 'gate. Gamma and the other colonies were different, Duncan didn't need to 'buy' the electricity to run the gate. The power grid had been built specifically to deal with the demands of the Stargate, and the needs of the residents of Hope. Still others on Earth felt that having the 'gate available was too much of a security risk, ignoring completely the fact that Goa'uld spaceships had approached Earth numerous times. A small group was fighting what seemed to be a losing battle to keep the 'gate active and used for research. So many planets explored by SGC teams offered much in the way of plant life, and possible ores, so many that just exploring them in detail could take decades.
He shook his head. He was damned glad he was on Gamma! Chances were that his lecture at UCLA would have little or no affect on public opinion, which was being manipulated by politicians still angry over the fact that three profitable colonies were independent of Earth, and thus their individual control.
He tossed his pencil onto the pad he had been working on. He needed a break. He looked up, watched as Casey worked on a translation. She had one foot tucked beneath her, one arm was on the worktable, leaning against it, and she was tapping her pencil under her chin as she studied one of the photographs. His body hardened just looking at her. She probably didn't have a clue how beautiful, how sexy she looked sitting there. That she was doing work for him, with him, work that was his life's passion, only intensified his feelings.
"Ready for a break?" he asked, putting his hands behind his head, leaning back in his chair.
She glanced over at him, gave him a smile that threatened to melt his brain. "As a matter of fact I am. There are some glyphs here that just don't make sense. The syntax is all wrong. It’s almost as if someone were trying to write something, but didn't know the alphabet they were using. It's…gibberish."
His curiosity piqued, he stood up and walked to the worktable. She handed him three photographs. The glyphs were Egyptian, but the order of the colorful symbols was wrong. Casey was right, it was gibberish. "Okay, what was around it?"
She handed him a dozen more photographs. He laid them out in order. Perhaps one of the photos was simply mis-marked, and belonged in a different place. No, he could tell by the markers on the wall that the order was correct.
"So can your beautiful, amazing mind make any sense of this?" she asked softly.
He blushed at her compliment, smiled at her opinion of him, and his abilities. "Any film on this?"
She searched through the stack of photos and papers, found a disc, checked the label, and then handed it to him.
He slid the disc into the computer, then watched as the camera zoomed in on several sections of the wall. There! That was it, the part that didn’t make sense. He stopped the images, backed up slowly. These were new, the paint much brighter, fresher than what was around it. Was someone trying to 'fill in the empty space' that would have occurred if the symbols weren't there? Or was there a message that they just weren't recognizing?
He didn't even realize that he was pushing Casey out of the chair, pulling it closer to the table, his eyes focused on the puzzle in front of him.
With a smile and a shake of her head, Casey moved to let him sit down. When he was 'working', nothing else registered in his brain!
"This just doesn't make sense," he muttered, staring at the monitor, then at the photographs.
"Hmm, I think I recall hearing that in this room a minute ago," she said.
After a few more minutes he looked up at her. "Did you say something?"
She smiled. "Nope. Not at thing."
"Casey." His voice told her that he wasn't in the mood for teasing.
"It was nothing. I just said that you were repeating what I had already said."
He frowned. "Where was this found?"
She sighed. He was in full 'archaeologist mode' now! She reached over him, turned one of the photos over. "PR3 195."
"Who went there?"
Another sigh. Printed neatly below the planet designation was the date of the mission, and the SG team number. "Looks like SGI-4. And they took these last week." Just to head off his next stupid question, she thought.
Daniel slowly turned over each photograph. The two that seemed 'out of place' were dated a week later than the others. "Did Duncan send them back?"
Casey had a frown on her own face. "I don't know. I'll have Kyle check the mission logs."
He pulled the disc from the computer. "I'm going to take this to Sam, and see if it was all recorded at the same time."
A A A A A A
An hour later, SG-1 and SGI-4 were sitting in the conference room. Duncan was frowning at the photos and the results from the test that Sam had run on the disc.
"I just need to know who went back there, and why," he said quietly. When he was this quiet, he was totally ticked off. Mission logs showed that the 'gate had indeed been dialed again to PR3 195, but there was no record of who had gone. Someone had carefully erased that part program, and the security tapes of the 'gate room at that time.
"Mac, nobody from my team went through that 'gate alone," Willis Troughnby insisted. "We did the recon just like we've done every other one we've been on. We all worked together, got some sleep, and headed back the next day."
"Could someone have just mis-marked the photos?" Casey asked.
Duncan shook his head. "The guys in the lab process each group together. The information printed on the back of each is done by the computer."
"Then could that just be the computer date? Maybe a couple of the photos didn't get printed until the next week?"
Again Duncan shook his head. "Casey, all the information for the find, the team, the mission number, and the date, is entered into the computer. Even if they didn't process the photos until later, they would still have the same info on them."
Jack was frowning. "This just doesn't make sense. Why submit more film, a week later, with the same mission number, but different dates?"
"Why go back there at all? We still have no idea who it was," Duncan said. "As for the images, they're the same as these photos that were also taken a week later. Daniel, didn't you say that the paint is newer, fresher?"
Daniel nodded. "The difference in pigmentation is slight, but it's there."
"To the trained eye," Jack said.
The young man nodded. He turned to the CO of SGI-4. "Can you remember if there was a 'bare spot' on the wall? It would have been about two feet square, maybe 20 inches off of the floor."
The team members looked at one another. "You know, it's really weird, but when I think about it, I can't seem to remember even taking the film of that wall," Trudy Baxter said, a frown on her lovely face. "I mean, I know I did, I signed off on it, and I remember going into that building and taking all of the other shots, but…" her voice trailed off. The tension in the room grew. Someone from SGI-4 had gone back to the planet, and didn't remember it.
Casey shivered. "Did anybody think to take thermal readings while you were there?"
Everyone looked at her in surprise. "Casey?" Duncan said.
"I'm thinking that it's possible they weren't as alone as they thought. Daniel, is it possible to paint over other glyphs?"
Daniel was frowning. "If you painted a base coat of white over the first layer." He grabbed the photos, tried to discern whether the plaster beneath the glyphs looked the same.
"I'm thinking we should go back there," Jack said. "It's possible that there's something on that wall that somebody doesn't want us to find. Used one of our people to hide it."
Duncan nodded. "I'll send SG-6 with you."
"And Marine One," Casey said softly, pulling her lip between her teeth.
"Bad?" Duncan asked.
She shook her head. "I'm not sure. Not good…definitely not good."
"Okay, let's get the ATVs ready. Embarkation in three hours," Duncan said. He looked at the members of SG-4. "I want you all to have Dr. Montigue to take another look at you. We'll see if we can't find out what's going on. And don't stress over this. From the way things are looking, whoever did this wasn't in control at the time."
Willis nodded. "We'll stay on base until we get the results."
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