Disclaimer: Any characters you recognize do not belong to the authors. Some of the ideas were inspired by Xanthia Morgan's wonderful fic, Brother of My Soul.
Archiving: Please ask first!
A/N: This story is coauthored by Rina and Shade—we hope you enjoy it! Thank you so much to everyone who posts reviews—your reviews encourage us to edit faster! Feedback is greatly appreciated. We've decided to start posting chapters twice a week—on Tuesday and Friday evenings. The story is done, and most of the rest of the chapters are edited. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: Ancient Secrets
Ardeth led the way through the dark tunnels, pointing out different passages now and then to Rick. "The basic setup is similar to the rest of the ruins—it makes it easier for us to do our job if we know about where all of the traps will be." The boy paused outside of one section of the wall. "This is the way into the main chamber, and there is a creature sealed into a sarcophagus. We don't want to stay in there for very long, my friend, or it will try to ensnare our minds to force us to free it. I will show you where the trap triggers are, then we'll leave."
Rick followed closely behind Ardeth, holding his shot gun over one shoulder. He shook his head. "One lifetime just wasn't enough for these guys. Couldn't they just have left well enough alone?"
Ardeth grinned over his shoulder as he started the complicated task of releasing the locks to the door so that it would open. "Of course not—they want to rule for all eternity. Rather arrogant, really," Just as Ardeth got the door open, there was a brilliant flash of light, and the two boys found themselves facing strangers. Heavily armed strangers.
Rick's gun was aimed at them in a heart beat and the newcomers returned the favor. "Put the guns down, boys," the stranger in front yelled.
Ignoring the command, Rick's eyes swept them over carefully. "Well, they don't look like temple guards," he murmured out of the corner of his mouth.
Ardeth scowled at the strangers, his scimitar in hand and angled defensively in front of him. "No, they don't resemble any temple guards that I've ever seen before." The boy straightened some, torchlight dancing across the tattoos on his face. "Who are you, strangers, and how did you come to be in this place? You are not welcome here."
"Um, we're explorers from Earth. I'm Daniel—" but his line of introductions was cut off by Rick's scoff.
"Right, no kidding. Where else would you be from?" Rick's tone was sarcastic as he peered at them down the barrel of his weapon. "Daniel" seemed confused by his words slightly.
The first one spoke again. "I'll tell you what. We'll answer your questions when you put your weapons down."
"You go first, stranger. You have no authority here," Ardeth snapped at the man, doing his best to keep his attention on all five of the adults. Suddenly, an unearthly screeching filled the air from where the creature was buried in the chamber. Ardeth paled. "Get out! Now!" he ordered, already reaching for the door locks to seal the chamber again.
"Oh great! That can't be good!" Rick groaned as he followed Ardeth, keeping his aim on the strangers until Ardeth got the door open in case one of them decided to take advantage of the distraction.
"Wait, what's going on?" Daniel asked.
"You're gonna have to trust us on this one!" Rick shouted over his shoulder as he followed Ardeth out the door and down the corridors to where the creature was kept.
Daniel and the rest of his companions exchanged confused glances.
"Med-jai! To me!" Ardeth yelled, hoping the echoes of his call would get through to the guards posted outside the entrance to the tunnels. The prince took in a deep breath as he approached the chamber housing the creature. "Rick, make certain the strangers stay well back. I must make certain that the creature is still buried."
Rick nodded, pumping the shot gun to get the round into the chamber and quickly loading in another from his bandoleer. He could already hear the strangers starting to make their way out of the chamber from where they found them. He rolled his eyes, disgusted. "Why can't people ever listen to us for once?" But he took a moment to cover Ardeth as he went in before he resumed his guard on the hall-side of the door.
Ardeth opened the door to the chamber after activating the shields on the door that would prevent anyone who wasn't a Med-jai from going in or out. It wouldn't stop the creature completely if it was free, but it would slow it down. The boy slipped into the room, glancing at the sarcophagus to make certain it was still sealed.
The strangers appeared around the corner and found themselves once again on the other end of Rick's shotgun. The leader of the group seemed thoroughly annoyed at the idea of being held at gunpoint by a boy. "Look, kid, put the gun down or I'm gonna shoot you. I don't wanna have to hurt you, but I will if I have to."
Rick growled at him. He didn't like being outnumbered by adults with guns. He was also particularly angry at them, because if he didn't have to stand here and protect them from the creature behind him and the barrier surrounding the room, he would be in there where he belonged, covering Ardeth's back. "Stand down! Like he said: 'You're not welcome here!'"
Daniel pushed forward to stand just behind Jack. "Jack, maybe we should listen to him. After all, we don't know what's going on here . . ."
Just then, Ardeth stepped back through the shimmering field of energy and started redoing the protections on the door.
"The creature is still sealed in. We need to get out of the tunnels quickly, though."
Rick breathed a sigh of relief at Ardeth's words, his grip on the shot gun easing slightly. He turned to stare at Jack, who rolled his eyes and slowly put his gun down. The other four in the group followed suit as Jack turned to glare at Daniel. Seeing them at least partly willing to cooperate, Rick at least stopped aiming his gun at them, nodding to Ardeth to lead the way.
"Follow me," Ardeth ordered, sheathing his scimitar and slipping past the strangers to lead the way out of the tunnels. They were almost to the entrance when Ardeth paused, frowning. "Rick, did you seal the passageway back up?" he called to his friend, who was at the rear of the group.
"Yeah," Rick called back, still casting glances over his shoulder every few minutes to be sure they weren't about to be attacked from behind. He knew it was secure, but still he didn't like the chill running through his blood right now. His instincts told him they weren't out of the woods on this just yet. "So what was that sound then?"
Once they were all out of the tunnels, Ardeth slid the heavy stone door closed and pressed a locking glyph on it. Now only a Med-jai could open it again. He turned to look at Rick, keeping a nervous eye on the strangers. "Something caused the creature to wake up. It was trying to get out of where it is imprisoned."
Rick thought about it. "Their arrival at just the same moment can hardly be a coincidence. The question though is: are they trying to wake our pal up?"
"Let's find out." Ardeth and Rick turned to face the strangers at the same time, both boys looking strangely intimidating for their age. "So, strangers," Ardeth began, taking a step forward and focusing on the older man who seemed to be the leader. He trusted Rick to watch his back. "How did you get here, and what do you want?"
All five of the adults seemed to regard the boys curiously. Finally, the leader sighed. "Listen, junior, I need to speak to whoever's in charge of this place."
"You're talking to him," Rick replied curtly.
The leader looked back at Ardeth, seeming to evaluate him. He still seemed uncertain but answered his question anyway. "Well, like my friend said before he was so rudely interrupted," here he tossed a glare a Rick, "we're explorers from Earth, and we got here through the Stargate. I'm Col. Jack O'Neill, two L's, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson, Major Samantha Carter, Jonas and Teal'c."
Rick eyed them suspiciously. "Do we look like we were born yesterday?" he asked, incredulous.
"Do you really want me to answer that question?" Jack retorted.
Ardeth rolled his eyes slightly at this. "Rick, remember, we're supposed at least appear to respect our elders," the boy said and turned to Jack. "I do not know where you are from, Col. Jack O'Neill, but this is a sacred area—you are nearly a hundred miles away from Cairo, and this is Earth."
At Ardeth's explanation of where they were all five exchanged glances. Jack immediately turned and looked at Sam. "Carter?"
"I'm not sure, sir," she answered his unspoken question. "It is possible that another solar flare could have sent us back in time."
"Jack, she's probably right," Daniel added. "I mean look at their weaponry. It seems reminiscent of the early 1900s."
"Yeah, ok. So the question remains. How do we get back?" Jack asked.
Several warriors came running up just then and moved to surround the strangers. Ardeth stopped them with a raised hand. "My Prince, who are these people?" one of the men asked, keeping a wary eye on their unexpected guests.
"I am in the process of finding that out, Hakim. Double the watch and send a message to my father—the creature here is stirring and fighting its imprisonment." Ardeth turned back to the five adults and crossed his arms. "I think you owe us some answers."
O'Neill turned to Ardeth when the prince addressed him. "What do you want to know?"
"How did you come to be in the sacred area? Only my people are able to get that far inside, and none of the guards saw you enter the tunnels." Ardeth hid a sigh when he realized that while the tribe had obeyed him and set up a double watch, they were also watching the strangers carefully.
"Sir! We have to be careful what we tell them," Carter warned before he could say anything.
"Carter! If you give me one more lecture on that grandfather paradox thing, I swear I'll scream!" Jack said.
"But we're not supposed to say anything that could change the future!"
"You think they're going to believe it if we tell them the truth? Besides they've got a whole lot more guns than we do right now." He turned back to Ardeth. "Ok, here it goes! We travel to other places through a Stargate. Apparently, this one is located in your 'sacred area', specifically in the room you found us in. We got here—or rather now—by accident. And if you'll just let us back in there to use that device, I'm sure Carter will have us back home before dinner, and you will never have to worry about seeing us ever again."
Ardeth raised an eyebrow. "Unfortunately, that is not possible at the moment. Until the creature quiets down, no one will be going in there. There is too much risk."
Of course, that would be too simple wouldn't it? Jack moaned inwardly.
The boy studied the five adults carefully for a moment, then sighed. He couldn't exactly leave them here. "If you will come with me, I will have a tent prepared for you to stay in until we can figure out more about this situation."
The colonel said nothing as he led SG-1 to follow the prince, again with Rick behind them, still toting his shot gun. Rick's eyes flitted occasionally to the symbol on Teal'c's forehead. He kept running through all the cult sects he was familiar with since he became a Med-jai. It didn't match up to any of their symbols that he could immediately recall, but he would ask Ardeth about it later.
The young Med-jai brought SG-1 into the tent he shared with Rick. Thankfully, they had picked up that morning, so there was enough room inside for everyone. "Please, make yourself comfortable," the boy said, gesturing to the rugs and cushions spread across the sand.
O'Neill and his people sat down off to the side, kind of grouped together. Jack turned to Daniel who was intently studying the design on the rugs. "Okay, Daniel. You're the historian. Who are these guys?"
Daniel frowned, pushing his glasses back up his nose. "I'm not really sure, Jack. The tattoos on the one boy's face are in a dialect of Ancient Egyptian I haven't seen before. I suppose a rough translation would be 'Protector of Mankind,' but I can't be absolutely certain about that."
"That's a great help," Jack said slowly. "So, their clothing, their weapons, their accents, none of that tells you what race they are, if they're particularly aggressive, if they'll mind if I don't eat their food…? Nothing?"
"Well, I won't be offended if you don't like this food, since it was my cousins who sent it, but the stuff on that side of the tray is safe for human consumption," Ardeth's amused voice cut in as he lowered a tray full of food and drinks to the floor in front of them. "I am Ardeth Bey—I apologize for not introducing myself earlier." There was a screech from just outside of the tent, and the boy sighed. "Rick, would you let Horus in, please?"
Rick stood and lifted the door on the tent somewhat. The falcon swooped in gracefully and came to rest on Ardeth's shoulder, seeming to be both possessive and protective of the young prince. "And I'm Rick O'Connell," the other boy said as he sat down again next to Ardeth. He watched the newcomers carefully.
"You're an American," Jonas was willing to wager a guess. Over the past year or so, he had been serving as a member of SG-1 in Dr. Jackson's place after he had ascended and even now continued to provide helpful insight even after Daniel's return. From what he had studied of the archaeologist's notes, the young Kelownan historian had learned much about the human cultures of the inhabitants of Earth. O'Connell's accent, his skin color, his colloquialisms, and even his general way of carrying himself seemed to scream "American."
"Yeah, but I've lived here in Egypt all my life."
Ardeth grinned at Rick. "I told you the outfit was very American. You ought to consider robes sometime—after all, Jamilia did make some for you." He turned to their guests and studied them carefully for a moment. "I am going to guess that you three—" he pointed to Jack, Sam, and Daniel, "are American, although you have spent a great deal of time out of that country. You two I cannot place."
All five froze. "Daniel," Jack said without turning to look at him, "Please tell me that Niirti has no history of her weird DNA voodoo in Egypt during the early 1900s."
"He's not a telepath?"
"Then how did he do that?"
Rick just about died laughing at that comment.
"It would seem the boy possesses an incredibly keen perception," Teal'c acknowledged with a nod of respect.
Ardeth looked at the five adults and Rick, a little confused by the discussion, then shrugged and poured himself some tea. "May I ask where you are from?" he asked Teal'c and Jonas, nudging Horus off his shoulder and over to the perch set up for him in the corner. It was awkward to eat with the bird sitting on his shoulder.
"I am from a world called Chulak," Teal'c answered.
"And the country I'm from on my homeworld is called Kelowna," Jonas said.
"Homeworld?" Rick asked, shaking his head in confusion.
"I think I remember mentions of travel to different worlds in one of the oldest history books in Father's library, but that happened thousands of years ago." Ardeth's brow furrowed as he tried to remember which book the information was from.
Rick frowned, more than a little skeptical of the idea. He had seen much since he had become a Med-jai: mummies raised, magical incantations in action, and other mysteries he could not sufficiently explain away. But traveling to other worlds? He doubted that was possible. But he didn't voice his opinion, knowing that they would see soon enough. "And you got here through a 'stargate'? What is that?"
Daniel glanced over at Jack, silently asking how much the man wanted them to share. Before the colonel could respond, a clang suddenly rang through the air.
Ardeth jumped to his feet, hand on his scimitar, looking furious. "Mummy's breath!" he spat and snatched an ancient book from a stand in the corner. "The creature broke out of the crypt! Horus, fly high and watch for the creature!"
Rick lifted the tent door again, allowing Horus to exit the tent and follow the prince's orders. Then, he went to his bag in the corner, drawing from it three bandoleers. He donned two and tossed the third to Ardeth. Rick then pulled out four hand guns, shoving two into the holsters on either side of his chest and the other two into the back of his belt. Bending over, he took up his shot gun again. "How do you think he got out?" Rick asked as he ran back over to Ardeth's side.
"I don't know—I had the protections up, but he might have gone straight through the wall." Ardeth glanced over his shoulder at the strangers. "Either stay here or head for the mountains—this area is not safe any longer. Rick, find Gen and check the perimeter—I want everyone in pairs. I'll take Hakim and start searching the tunnels. Remember to call for help if you spot it."
"Be careful, Ardeth," Rick said nodding before he ran off to find Gen.
Jack stood. "You know we have guns, too. Maybe we could help."
"Have you had any experience in dealing with the unusual?" Ardeth demanded, finding his gun and double checking to make certain that it was loaded.
Jack seemed amused by the question. "We've had some experience here and there."
"Just say 'yes', Jack, for once," Daniel groaned.
"Very well, you may come as long as you remember that I am in charge here. Will this be a problem?" Ardeth inquired, striding to the entrance of the tent and glancing back.
"Not since this is your turf and your bad guy," Jack sighed after a short moment, shaking his head. He made a motion, and all his teammates pulled out their firearms, except for Teal'c who seemed to be carrying some sort of strange staff.
Hurrying out into the bright desert sun, Ardeth snapped out a command in Arabic for Hakim to join them, then led the group hurriedly to the entrance to the tunnels. He placed his hand on the door, willing the defenses to acknowledge him and open. He didn't, however, expect the creature to be standing right there when the door opened.