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The 'valley' turned out to be nothing more than a depression in the desert floor, several miles long and at least two miles wide. Daniel counted ten large pyramids that sat randomly throughout it. They seemed to have been built at different times, several of the pyramids differed from the others.
"Most of them are simple mud mastabas," he said, when they had all dismounted and gathered together. He pointed to three of the farthest 'structures'. "Those look like they could have been attempts at step pyramids, but using mud bricks instead. Apparently the size made mud bricks the wrong choice." The others agreed. It appeared that the 'pyramids' were collapsing in on themselves.
Daniel walked to the closest of the 'pyramids'. "Let's start with this one. From the design and placement, I'd say that it was the last to be built. If it's not safe to enter, then none of the others will be." He plopped his boonie on top of the bandanna that covered his head. "Let's set up camp, wait until it cools down a bit before we start doing any heavy digging."
Jack nodded. "Sounds like a plan. Okay, kids, let's set up over by that cliff. Good protection from the afternoon sun, and good protection from anybody trying to sneak up on us."
The teams set up camp; Sam and Jack, and Daniel and Casey setting their tents just slightly apart from the others.
"Any water near here?" Sam asked, setting the cases of bottled water in the shade against the cliff.
Daniel looked over at the two guides, who were busy unloading the rest of the supplies from the backs of the camels. "Ishram, is there a source of water nearby?"
The young man smiled and nodded. "There is a well but a half-hour walk from here. Do you wish me to bring water?"
Daniel returned the friendly smile. "Not just yet. Unless you and Khusa need some. When you need it, I'll send a couple of these men with you, so that they can fill the barrels we have." The barrels were actually twenty-gallon plastic containers. But everyone called them the 'water barrels'. It would give them water to bathe with, at least.
The man nodded, then turned back to what he had been doing.
A A A A A A
Khusa watched as they set up a canopy near the first 'hill'. Tarps were carefully spread on the ground, and then several canvas pouches and bags were opened. One of the large boxes, made of material he did not recognize, was dragged to the canopy and opened. He watched Dan'yel and his beautiful wife. They seemed to be in charge. When the sun moved lower into the sky, the dark blonde haired man began to walk around the hill, stopping every few feet and tapping the side with the shovel he held. The beautiful blonde woman followed him. She was speaking into a small black and silver box. Occasionally she held it close to the man, and he spoke into it. Once again the feeling that this woman was a link to his past filled him. He narrowed his eyes. If he learned that she belonged to him, he would kill Dan'yel for taking her!
Casey carefully recorded how many steps between each attempt to locate the opening, or door to the pyramid. It was the side farthest from the rocky pass through which they had arrived where Daniel struck what he believed to be wood.
Excited beyond words, he began to carefully shovel the dirt away from what he hoped was the door. When he was close enough, he took a large broom head and began to sweep the dirt away. "Here's the seal!" he exclaimed. He stepped back, and let Casey take detailed photographs. Tony was capturing it all on the camcorder. He also took several close up shots of the seal, a large round ornamental object, which looked as if it were made of hardened clay. Satisfied that the seal had been carefully and fully recorded, Daniel brushed it off carefully, then began to try and translate what it said. "From what I can tell, it says: 'Beware those who would disturb the slumber of the Pharaoh before he embarks on his journey to the Field of Reeds'."
"Sounds ominous," Casey said.
"Actually, it's rather vague. Most seals have more detailed warnings," he replied. "According to this cartouche, the Pharaoh Nakhtnebef is entombed here."
"You aren't going to break that seal, are you?" she asked nervously.
He glanced at her. "No, I'm not. We should be able to just take the entire door off."
She sighed. "Good. I don't want to piss off any protective spirits."
Daniel laughed out loud. "I don't think they'll be too happy about us just taking the door off, either. But if we don't break the seal, they'll know we're not just tomb robbers."
She shivered slightly. "Okay. You're the expert." She looked around. "We're just curious, not thieves," she said loudly. Tony chuckled at her.
Daniel grinned again, then began to examine the edges of the door. "The dry desert air is good for preserving most things. Except wood. It dries it out and makes it shrink. This door should lift out easily." He began to run the large blade of his hunting knife around the door itself. "Tony, go get the rest of the guys. We're going to pull this straight out."
Tony gave a nod and hurried to the canopy, where the rest of the team waited. "Doc found a door. He says we can lift it out. He needs some muscle to help him," he said.
The men gathered near the door. Daniel had managed to clear enough room for them to slip their fingers between the door and the doorjamb. They all donned gloves, and positioned themselves. After several false starts, the men were able to get enough of a grip on the thin door to pull it away from the tomb opening. The door was carried to the canopy. Daniel wanted impressions of the seal.
Casey stepped up to the opening, and reached out tentatively. She could feel nothing. She looked at Daniel and shook her head.
Jack handed the young archaeologist a flashlight, and with a deep breath of excitement, Daniel stepped inside. He followed the narrow passageway. There should be another door, he thought. But there wasn't. His heart sank when he stepped inside the chamber. It was completely empty. And devoid of any decoration whatsoever. He walked back out to join his friends.
"Well?" Casey asked.
"Nothing. No sarcophagus, no burial goods, no hieroglyphs, nothing," he said. His disappointment was palpable.
She wrapped her arms around his waist. "One of the others will have everything, just the way it was put in," she said softly.
He hugged her. "Maybe." He turned to look at the door. "There wasn't another door blocking the inner chamber. It's as if…" He broke off, and began looking at the low mountains to the south of them. "These aren't the real tombs. The real burial sites are in those mountains! Just as they did in the Valley of the Kings before they began building pyramids!"
"Why build these then, if they weren't going to use them?" Casey asked.
Daniel had his arms crossed in front of his chest, tapping a finger against his lips. "Maybe the pyramids were built, with the plan to move the kings…the Pharaohs…from the simple rock tombs in the mountains, into them. Something happened before they were completed and the move was made. If the other tombs prove to be empty, that is."
"Why seal them?" she asked.
"I have no idea," he admitted.
"Let's eat, get some sleep, and then we'll check the rest out tomorrow," Jack suggested.
The young man nodded, and the group made their way to camp. The two guides had chosen to camp near the area where the camels were now corralled with long lengths of rope tied to extra tent poles.
A A A A A A
Casey was sitting on the sleeping bags, brushing her hair. Daniel entered the tent, having made a stop at the hastily dug latrine. He pulled off his clothes, sat down behind her, took the brush from her hand. "I'm sorry, Daniel."
"For what, babe?"
"That the tomb was so empty."
He shook his head, kissed her bare shoulder. "I've been disappointed before."
"I know. But this promised to be so…big!"
He smiled. "All digs promise that, Angel. Then reality sets in, and you deal with what you find. Or don't find."
"How long would it take to find the tombs if they're in the mountains?"
She frowned. "Unless we're going to move here, which we are not, you won't be the one to find them."
He chuckled. "Won't be the first time that's happened, either."
She turned around to face him. "What if we used the sensors on the Persephone, or the Phoenix? Would they be able to find rooms, or caverns in the mountains?"
He frowned. "I don't know. I guess we could ask Sam. She would know what the sensor capabilities are."
Casey nodded. "Good. We'll ask her first thing in the morning. Let's get some sleep. You'll be up before the sun," she said softly.
He kissed her, then settled inside the sleeping bags, pulled her close. "Love you, Angel."
"Love you, too, Sweetheart." She snuggled close, and drifted to sleep.
The tunnel was long, and dark, she bumped into the walls as she tried to hurry along. It was difficult to breathe. There was danger behind her, she had to keep moving. She didn't know what lay ahead. She wished for a flashlight and her P90. Her heart was pounding with fear, her body shaking more with each step she took. She was separated from Daniel…she had to find him, she had to! Surely he was nearby. She called out to him, her voice muffled by the thick, mud brick walls around her. She was alone, and terrified. Where was he? He had promised to never leave her! He should be here! She reached out…could sense him, but couldn't reach him. Alone…so alone!
She woke up with a start, gasping for breath, her heart racing. She ran a shaking hand through her hair.
"Angel?" he asked sleepily.
"I…I had a bad dream, that's all," she whispered.
"Must have been pretty bad, you're shaking like a leaf. C'mere." He tugged at her until she was lying on top of him. Experience had taught him that often she would relax and sleep if she was on him, her head on his shoulder, his arms around her.
She settled on his chest, her fingers painting invisible tattoos on his sides.
"Want to tell me what it was about?"
"I'm not sure what it was about…I was in a tunnel…a very narrow tunnel. There was something after me…and I was alone, and looking for you. I could feel you, but I couldn't find you. I was…terrified."
He kissed her forehead. "I would have found you, Angel. I would never leave you alone. And I would have kept 'talking' to you, kept telling you how much I love you," he whispered.
She snuggled deeper into his embrace. "Love you."
"Love you, Angel. Sleep now. I have you. Nothing can hurt you."
With a sigh, she allowed sleep to reclaim her. Daniel was back asleep just as quickly.
A A A A A A
Khusa watched as Dan'yel braided his wife's hair. It was unusual for a man to do such a thing. Certainly none of the men of the tribe would ever arrange the hair of their wives. Although they would probably unbraid their wife's hair in the privacy of their alcove. The feeling that this woman, Ca'see, he had heard them call her, was a link to his past, to his forgotten memories, grew stronger with each passing moment. Her eyes haunted him, the images of her body tormented him. He knew this woman, he was sure of it!
Casey sipped on the cup of coffee that Sam had given her. She had been feeling uneasy since waking up. Her nightmare…no, it was more like a simple bad dream…had not returned. If she had dreamed again, she had no memory of it. She looked around the 'valley'. Daniel was going to open two more of the 'pyramids' today. If they were empty, then he was going to search through the tablets they had found in the library to see if he could find a clue to where the real tombs were. There was enough film footage of the library walls that he could translate them as well, although with luck the Whitman's and the grad students would have completed that job by the time they returned to the empty city of Sothis. She shivered suddenly.
"Casey?" Sam asked quietly, having witnessed the shudder.
"I don’t know," the young blonde admitted. She closed her eyes, began to 'search' through the area. "There's something wrong, but I don’t know what it is!"
Jack, Daniel and Teal'c shared worried looks. "How bad?" Jack asked.
She shook her head. "I don't know! It's…I've never felt anything like this before! It's…I don't know!" she said irritably.
Daniel wrapped his arms around her from behind, rested his cheek against the side of her head. "It's okay, Angel. Just relax. When you get something, you can tell us," he said softly.
She nodded. "Let's get that tomb open."
"Mind if we eat breakfast first?" Jack asked, a grin on his face.
"If you must," she replied, a smile lighting her face. She glanced at the sky, almost expecting to see storm clouds gathering. Her smile turned to a frown. Why storm clouds?
Daniel didn't miss the expression on her face. "Case?"
She shook her head once more. "I don't know. All I know is something isn't…right."
All of them were now a bit nervous. Breakfast was eaten in short order, camp cleaned up and all the supplies put into the tents. Major Parker made sure that SG-6 packed extra ammunition. The men of the team glanced at Casey often, noticed that her lower lip was between her teeth. Not a good sign.
When she insisted that everyone carry extra water and MREs, Daniel began to worry. Something was about to happen. And the way Casey was behaving, there wasn't a damned thing they could do about it.
A A A A A A
The second tomb they opened proved to be just as empty as the first. Disappointed, but not particularly surprised, Daniel led the team to the third tomb. If this one proved to be empty as well, he was going to call it a day. The other tombs didn't appear to be in good enough condition to warrant trying to open. There was no sense in finding something if it was only going to collapse on them.
He was walking down the narrow corridor, to the opening for the burial chamber, he had already surmised that it was possible these people did not put in secondary doors, when she cried out to him. 'What is it?'
'Bad, Daniel, really bad, and we all need to come in there with you. Is there room?'
He frowned. 'Yeah, there's plenty of room, Angel. But why? What's going on?'
Before she could answer, Daniel could hear Ishram begin to yell about something. He ran back up the corridor to the doorway. The native guide was pointing toward the opposite end of the valley. "Oh, shit!" he muttered. "Everybody in here, now!"
"Sandstorm!" Jack yelled. He and Teal'c grabbed the wooden door, and pulled it in behind them. Daniel led the way to the burial chamber. Ishram was nearly beside himself with fear. Khusa was afraid, it was in his eyes, but he remained outwardly calm. He was standing beside Casey, his eyes on her.
Flashlights showed that this tomb was the same as the others. Daniel was checking one of the walls when he noticed a fine crack that ran vertically from the floor. He followed it with his fingers. It met up with a horizontal crack just a few inches above his head. Again his fingers followed the thin line. It ended at where it met a second vertical crack. "I found something," he said softly.
The sandstorm chose that minute to hit. The sound of the wind echoed down the narrow corridor, creating a moaning sound that had them all instantly on edge.
With a glance at the corridor, Jack went to stand beside the young archaeologist. "What'd ya find, Danny?"
"A door." He took his knife and inserted in into the crack, the blade disappeared all the way to the hilt. "We need to find out how to open this."
Casey hurried over, began to carefully scan the wall with her flashlight. Sam and Teal'c joined her, adding their light to hers, making it brighter against the dark wall.
"What are we looking for?" Sam asked, speaking loudly, in order to be heard over the incessant howling that echoed from the corridor.
"Instructions or trigger mechanism," Casey replied.
Daniel grinned. "How do you know about that?"
She shrugged. "Makes sense, doesn't it?"
"Yep. And you're right. We should find something. Only it won't be beside the door," Daniel replied.
The group split up and began to meticulously scan the walls. Ishram and Khusa watched, curious as to what these strangers were doing.
"I think I found something," Trenton called out.
Daniel hurried over to where the young SF stood. "Good job, Allen!" The marks were faint, nothing more than lines scraped into the hard packed dirt wall. He carefully read the hieroglyphs, then searched the stone floor. There. That stone. "I have no idea what's going to happen when I activate this," he said.
"Please tell me it won't be some Indiana Jones type stuff," Casey moaned. "No poison darts from the wall, or punji sticks, or anything like that."
Daniel glanced at her. "I don't know, babe," he admitted. "It might be better if you all moved into the passageway until that door opens," he said.
"No way, Danny. We all stick together," Jack replied.
With a nod, the young doctor of archaeology stepped carefully onto the stone. For several seconds nothing happened. With the sound of stone grinding against stone, the door on the wall began to slowly open.
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