Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Summary: SG-1/The Mummy. Daniel could hardly wrap his mind around the discovery; it could be the greatest breakthrough in the study of the Stargate since the day he'd opened it.
Spoilers: General for Stargate SG-1 and "The Mummy Returns" (2001)
Notes: A sequel, of sorts, to "Where it Began". Possibly chapter one of a longer tale, but it took me two years to write this much, so the odds of another chapter appearing soon are rather low. (Updated to fix a factual glitch; thank you, raven).
Daniel frowned at the name above the return address on the thick envelope in his hand. Dr. Alex O'Connell had been a contemporary of Catherine Langford's, if he recalled correctly; it had been years since the aging archaeologist's name had appeared with any regularity in the journals Daniel followed, and he had never shown any particular public interest in Daniel's theories. Daniel thought he remembered that his parents had been acquainted with the man, but he couldn't remember ever meeting him in person, nor hearing from him in the thirty years since his parents' deaths. What reason could Dr. O'Connell have for contacting him now?
Daniel slit the envelope open carefully and slid its contents onto a cleared space amid the piles of paperwork, artifacts and translations on his desk. Two sheets of heavy, aged paper tumbled out, closely covered in a strong, flowing, masculine hand, followed by a compact disc labeled in permanent marker and a short stack of photographs.
Curiosity led him to examine the photographs first. He fanned them out carefully, handling them by their edges so as not to leave smudges on the smooth surface, and retrieved a magnifying glass from the desk drawer for a closer look. At first glance, the images could have come from any of a number of Egyptian excavations; they appeared to depict a series of hieroglyphic inscriptions on one or more interior walls, likely part of a tomb or temple. Unusually, however, the inscriptions were in a remarkable state of preservation; the colors of the paint were still bright, and no weathering or other damage was visible.
More importantly, in the middle of the third photograph in the stack, one group of symbols immediately stood out: those he had retranslated a decade ago on a blackboard his first day at Project Bluebook. The closest English equivalent for the phrase was "Stargate", or as the original linguists on the project had awkwardly put it, "Doorway to Heaven".
"My God," Daniel muttered. So far as he knew, the only writing ever found on Earth that had explicitly referenced the Stargate was found on the cover stone sealed over the artefact itself; all of the knowledge and documentation the SGC had accumulated about the device over the years had come through experimentation, finds on other worlds, and occasional assistance or interference from various alien races. Daniel had eventually come to believe that Ra himself had ordered as much knowledge destroyed as was possible when he'd fled Earth, and that the revolting slaves had taken care of the rest afterward, deliberately destroying any concrete reminder of their former masters. Here before his eyes, however, was proof to the contrary. At least one historical reference to the Goa'uld occupation of Earth had survived.
At that thought, Daniel put down the magnifying glass and scooped up the letter he'd so hastily set aside. However significant the inscriptions depicted in the photographs might be, the question still remained of why they'd been sent to him. He'd never seen any publication referencing a find like this one nor heard any related rumors in the archaeological community, and he would have, between all the research he'd done and his known 'fringe' reputation. Whoever had discovered it had clearly known better than to expose it to public view.
The letter contained no immediately useful information, however; it wasn't even addressed to him, nor had it been written by Dr. O'Connell. In fact, it appeared to be a copy of a letter written in Arabic from a man signing himself Ardeth Bey-- the title Bey and lack of surname suggesting that he was a leader in one of the more tribal Arabic cultures still ruled by chieftains-- to a Rick O'Connell, a name Daniel vaguely recalled from his parents' bedtime stories. If he remembered right, that had been the name of Dr. Alex O'Connell's ex-legionnaire father, who had, along with his librarian wife Evelyn Carnahan O'Connell, been involved in the discovery of many unusual Egyptian artefacts and excavation sites in the early part of the twentieth century. Only the Doctors Jones had been more notorious in active archaeology in their day... and like the Doctors Jones, they had disappeared from the pages of history at some point during the Second World War.
Daniel skimmed the content of the letter-- the dialect was rather archaic, but not beyond his knowledge of the language-- and was surprised to find that it primarily concerned a rather lengthy exhortation to the man's-- friend?-- on the subject of destiny. It seemed to have very little to do with the photos-- at least, until he spotted the glyph drawn near the end of the second page.
The symbol was very familiar to Daniel; he vividly remembered filling it out with a marker on a computer screen two weeks into his research regarding the Stargate. Had he not recognized it, Ernest would have remained the only modern member of the Tau'ri to travel through the 'Gate, and Daniel's life would have followed a very different path. It was the origin symbol for Earth-- a pyramid with two kings, one on each side, and the eye above. It was jarring to see it here, drawn in faded ink in the middle of a personal letter; where would the author have encountered it? It made no sense.
One final paragraph of text followed the symbol: "As you see, it is the same sacred mark which you bear; the meaning must be clear ever to you. You are the stranger traveling from the West, my friend, and hiding in London will only make matters more complicated when destiny wakes once more. Please, arrange a visit to the tribes that we may discuss this further."
The second sentence of that paragraph rang a dim bell in Daniel's mind, and he spent a few moments sitting there, clutching the letter absently, as he dug through old memories. He'd been very young when he'd heard it, accompanying his parents on yet another dig; his father had been warning him about unexpected visitors--
He furrowed his brow, then straightened in his chair as he abruptly remembered the context. "If you ever hear someone saying the words, 'I am a stranger traveling from the East, seeking that which is lost,' you are to come get me immediately, Daniel," his father had told him. "Do you understand? Don't try to talk to him, just come and get me right away."
Daniel, already unbearably curious at that age, had asked determinedly why that should be, and what it meant; his father had eventually explained that it was a password, set up by friends of Daniel's deceased Grandfather Jackson who liked to dress up and pretend that they were ancient Egyptians. The answer to the riddle was, "I am a stranger traveling from the West, it is I whom you seek," but only Daniel's dad could give it; Daniel wasn't to attempt to answer them himself.
No such man had ever come, and Daniel's parents had died before he got around to asking his father more about the mysterious passwords and what they meant. Clearly, however, it had been more than just a simple re-enactment game, if Dr. O'Connell's parents had also somehow been involved.
Daniel turned back to the photos, sorting through them more slowly this time, and was not surprised to discover a Stargate address buried in the hieroglyphs on one of the columns: the address of Abydos, as it might have been dialed from the Earth five thousand years ago. Could it be a history of Ra's occupation on Earth, perhaps, in counterpoint to the one etched on the walls of forgotten corridors in Nagada? Moreover, a history with which his father, and one of his father's friends, had apparently been well acquainted?
The mind boggled. It was going to take him days to decipher all of the hieroglyphs in the photographs, and to analyze the letter and CD for any further clues; he'd have to show them to Jack, and to the General, and ask for time off to go and meet Dr. O'Connell in person. He could hardly wrap his mind around the discovery; it could be the greatest breakthrough in the study of the Stargate since the day Daniel opened it.
Breathlessly, he shuffled the photographs back together, squaring them into a single stack, then lifted the envelope again, preparing to slide them back inside. As he did so, however, a torn square of newsprint fluttered out and settled slowly to the cluttered desktop.
Daniel's heart sank as he set the photos down and lifted the article for a better look. It was, of course, an obituary notice. Evidence, perhaps, that someone else entirely had been responsible for the photographs? Or perhaps merely evidence of a bequest left in his will, documents he had carefully, and secretly, preserved while he lived but which should be sent to concerned parties upon his death.
Daniel refused to believe, however, that that could mean a dead end. It was too much of a coincidence, the letter arriving while he was actually working with the Stargate, containing tantalizing hints that his family had been involved with it before Daniel himself had even been born. However unlikely, it seemed to be the truth-- and Daniel was determined to discover the story behind it.
He picked up the envelope again, replaced its contents, and reached for his phone. Time to start the ball rolling.
"Jack?" he prompted, as his team leader picked up on the other end. "You're never going to believe what I just got in the mail."