Helen normally wouldn't have gone chasing after rumours, but these particular rumours had interested someone else. Someone from a top secret military project.
She had friends in the highest of places.
A device that caused genetic mutations, in both humans and abnormals, wasn't something she wanted in the wrong hands. She had always wanted something that dangerous and grand, either destroyed or locked away in her care. Perhaps even studied, she liked the idea of such a device if it could be controlled.
It was rumour though, a myth. Helen had found only fragments of information, mentioned in relation to the Egyptian Gods. Nothing concrete to suggested the device actually existed, or she would've gone chasing after it year ago.
It seemed, however, that this Dr. Jackson had found much more information than she.
She found the archaeologist in the middle of the Sahara desert, with a small well-armed camp and wondered if she should've at least brought Will or Kate with her. She holstered a 9mm at her hip, checked the knife was securely in her boot, and climbed out of the jeep, treading through the sand towards the camp. Men and women in military greens were digging holes near ruins of pyramid, a grid mapped out with string, and Helen couldn't see Dr. Jackson.
As she approached, two young military airmen of undetermined rank stepped forward, and she saw no markings on their uniforms at all. The mark of a secret project if she ever saw one, but she knew they were with the Air Force. She smiled at them, putting her hands up.
"I'm looking for Dr. Jackson," she said.
"This is a secure dig site ma'am," one of the military airmen said, pointing his P-90 at her, eyes on the weapon at her side. "Please step back."
Helen was suddenly surrounded by half a dozen armed airmen, weapons trained on her.
"Can we have your weapon please?"
Moving slowly, she pulled her 9mm from her hip and dropped it to the sand.
"I want to see either your commanding officer or Dr. Jackson," she said, refusing to put her hands up, and pulling out her cell phone as slowly as she had pulled out her gun,
"Wait here," he said, and Helen smiled as he crossed the invisible threshold onto the camp and walked towards one of the larger tents.
Her first thought, upon seeing Dr. Jackson exiting the tent, was that his file photo needed updating. His file photo was of a young man, with large rim glasses and long hair. The man walking towards her was a few years older, and wearing it well, his hair shorter, the glasses a smaller size. He was handsome, terribly so, and she felt a wider smile on her face.
"Can I help you?" he asked.
"My name is Dr. Magnus," she said, shaking his hand. "I'm here about the artifact you're looking for. The device."
"Device?" he said, projecting a fake innocence quite convincingly. "We're just looking for ancient artifacts Dr Magnus."
"You don't have to worry about my clearance, Dr. Jackson. I know all about the SGC."
She didn't really know all about Stargate Command, just a few things, but she had been playing poker for longer than the young doctor had been alive. Her bluff worked well enough for him to make a phone call, to check up on her. With her story verified, he nodded to the airmen surrounding her, who lowered their weapons and she was allowed to cross the threshold on the dig site, collecting her 9mm on the way.
"I assume you know all about the Artan device?" he asked.
"I thought it was a myth," she said, following him over the sand to the large tent from which he had emerged.
"So did I once," he said with a smile. "But I've found a lot of myths to be true over the past few years, Dr. Magnus."
"Call me Helen," she said, as they ducked into the tent.
He had a nice smile, and she returned it, looking around the tent. Books and notes lay scattered everywhere, even on the little cot set up in the corner where the young man obviously slept. Or didn't sleep perhaps, considering the sleeping bag was still rolled up on the floor at the end of the cot.
"Maybe you could show me exactly what made you believe the Artan really exists, and what led you here." she said.
He regarded her carefully, still a little suspicious if the slightly raised eyebrow was anything to go by. Despite having spoken to someone in authority to about her credentials. She wondered if there were more research she could've done to help bolster her story a little.
"Exactly where are you from?" he asked.
"I run a private research facility," she said. "In Old City."
He nodded, only slightly placated by her story, but enough that he was willing to share, she hoped
"I have some pictures, on a laptop. Let me go get it."
"I'll wait here," she said, watching him leave and moving to the table She rifled through the papers there, finding the young man's journal. She put it to one side. She was more interested in the Artan than the man. At the moment at least.
She was leafing through another of his notebooks when he returned. He coughed, that eyebrow raised again, and she put it to one side.
"My apologies, I was curious."
"Impatient?" he asked.
"Perhaps," she said, with a smile
He smiled back and proceeded to take her through everything he knew about the device, the two of them sitting together in the hot tent. Helen learned a few things her connections had not let her into at all. Soon she was making notes of her own, planning to look into the Goa'uld and some of the other things Daniel had brought through the Stargate.
"I'm starting to think our two facilities should work together more often," she told him.
"Maybe," he said. "Though I don't really know what you do. Private research facility doesn't tell me much."
"I don't suppose it does," she said smiling, without offering any more information. He didn't push her though, didn't ask any questions. He just smiled at her and continued to take her through his notes.
"Dr. Jackson, we found something," a young woman said, head popped through the opening of the tent.
He got to his feet and turned to her.
"Coming?" he asked, and she smiled.
She joined him on her knees in the hot sand, watching as he took over from the archaeologist, taking he the little brush from him to gently uncover the last layers of sand from the stone. It took a little while, and she helped with a little brush of her own, the hot sun heating her up, making her pull off the cream shirt she was wearing, laying it lightly over her shoulders, her vest cream too, and pulling a bottle of suncream from her bag. Daniel paused to watch her, blushing a touch when she caught him. She smiled at him, and turned her attention back to the stone.
"What do we have here, Dr. Jackson?" she asked.
"It looks like," he paused, reading. "It talks about the Artan, some of the history of it."
"What language is this?"
"A very ancient form of Egyptian. I think I can move this."
Helen moved back a little, and he ran his fingers around the edges of the stone tablet. Daniel dug beneath it and pulled it up so she could get her hands underneath and help him lift it up.
"It's pretty solid."
"We must be close," Helen said, helping him move it towards tents, where some of the equipment had been set up in the shade.
"This might help us narrow down the search a little."
They worked on the tablet the rest of the afternoon, and into the evening. They had picked up and took it into Daniel's tent after dinner, not even realising how late it was until Daniel was yawning uncontrollably and both the tea and coffee had completely gone.
"We should get some sleep," Helen said, glad at how easily they worked together, how willing the young man had been to share information with her.
"I'll get you a tent, we probably have spares."
"I can sleep in my Jeep, Daniel."
"We have room, Helen," he said.
"Just set me up a cot in a corner somewhere; that will be more than adequate," she said.
"You can have a corner in here," he told her, thinking for a moment before leaving the tent and coming back with a cot and a screen a few minutes later. He set it up in the corner as suggested, and then put the screen around it.
"For a little privacy," he explained. "It's not much, but it's better than nothing. I do have the biggest tent on site."
"And possibly the best manners," she said with a smile.
He blushed at that, his cheeks colouring a touch, and she felt there was a sexual tension between them suddenly. Helen let her smile turn from amused to coy, enjoying Daniel's reaction to it, his cheeks going redder, his breathing a little harder, and he stepped towards her.
She had to focus though. They needed to find this device. Then she was going to take it away from this handsome young man, and they wouldn't be smiling at each other then.
"Good night, Dr. Jackson," she said, taking her rucksack behind the screen.
"Night," he muttered, and through the thin screen she could see him standing in the middle of the tent for a minute, before taking the lamp over to his cot.
Helen had taken part in more than a few archaeological digs over the course of her life, and it seemed to surprise Daniel that she knew what she was doing, his eyes widening when she asked for the right tool. When she instructed some of the airmen and other civillians on setting up the grid which made him laugh, and she had to pause to ask him what was so funny.
"Nothing, just the way they do what you say without even questioning it," he said. "You don't have any authority here and they know it, but, you shout, they jump."
Helen didn't reply to that, she wasn't sure if she was embarrassed or not.
Making notes in his Dictaphone for him didn't annoying him as she thought it might, he thanked her the first time, and found her a spare Dictaphone for herself. When she explained to him she was a medical doctor, and her main disciplines were in crypto-zoology and xenobiology, he hadn't asked her to explain the terms, or expand on them. She wondered exactly who she knew in that area expertise that was working in the mountain with him on these Goa'uld.
He was delighted too; every so often he'd randomly smile at her, a brilliant smile that lit up his handsome features. She wasn't sure if she was amused or patronised by his reaction.
It probably said a lot about him that he was so impressed by her sifting ability, though he was as equally distracted by her legs. She'd worn shorts for her first full day at the dig, and later when they were back in the tent that evening, he barely paid attention to the report on his laptop, scrolling through it, eyes on her bare skin, and that did amuse her.
And flatter her.
"Are you going to tell me anything about yourself or your work?" he asked, when she crossed her legs, resting a book on her lap. They were using his cot as a sofa, the oil lamp burning on the table near by, and she enjoyed the ambiance it created. There was a reason she read by candlelight, she preferred the softer light so much more.
"No," she said. "But what about you Daniel? How does a young archaeologist get involved with a top secret military project?"
"You don't know?"
"I know the nature of the programme, that's all. The basics," she explained.
"The basics," he mused to himself, closing the laptop slightly. "Well, I had no where to go, and I got a job offer that came with a place to stay."
"Really that simple."
"And it was raining," he added.
"Any regrets?" she asked. "You've left the academic world behind almost entirely. As far as I'm aware this is the first dig you've taken part in for some time. And you seem to enjoy it quite a bit."
"It is nice to get back to the roots of my career," he said. "But I don't regret it. I have regrets, of course, but not that."
She wanted to know more, but felt it was a little unfair to ask so much of him, when she wasn't going to share anything of herself. When she didn't say any more, he opened up his laptop again, and she watched him as he finally concentrated on the report before him.
It felt and looked liked they had dug up half the desert after a couple of days. Helen's skin was tanning nicely, and Daniel's nose had burnt a little, even though he'd been wearing sun-cream daily. She'd watched him apply it every morning since she'd moved into his large tent, having added her own books and notes to his.
"I think you need this today, Dr Jackson," she said, putting the large rim hat on his head. She'd found it in the tent the day before but hadn't see him wear it. It was the same desert camo. colour as the rest of his clothing, and would provide shade for his nose. It looked a little silly, and she grinned at him.
"I'll manage without it," he said, pulling it off, hair ruffled up.
"You need to protect your nose. It's starting to burn, and it's hardly an attractive look."
"Maybe I can borrow a cap from one of the airmen," he said.
"This does look a little silly."
"I used to wear it a lot," he admitted.
"I'm sure it looked better when you were younger, with the longer hair. You were cute."
"I'm not cute now?" he asked.
"Now you're handsome," she said, reaching up and tidying up his hair a little. He didn't blush, but she felt a slight flush in her own face, and let go of his hair stepping away from him.
"How did you know I had long hair?"
"Your file photo needs updating."
"Right," he said, smiling. "It was a phase. I could do with a cut actually. And a shave."
She cupped his cheek, feeling the stubble beneath her palm, and shook her head.
"I quite like it," she said, leaning towards him gain, only to be interrupted by a voice at the tent opening.
"Dr. Jackson." They turned, Helen dropping her hand quickly, to see an airman at the door.
"Time to get to work," Daniel said to Helen.
That day they found the Artan.
It was deep in the sand, inside what used to be a grand pyramid, and both she and Daniel looked on as a large chest was slowly pulled from the ground and dropped down before them like an offering almost. It was red in colour, the intricate gold designs still perfectly clear and glinting in the hot desert sun. Helen stepped back and let Daniel have his moment; he knelt, ran his hands over the chest and pushed the lid open.
The Artan itself sat inside, a cuboid shape, made of a metal that didn't seem to be gold or silver, but a dull grey colour. It was much like some of the ancient drawings Daniel had. Helen didn't recognize the lettering on the dial adorning its face, but Daniel looked to be reading it anyway.
She found it rare to be the one who had to defer to another's expertise, even as a young 19th Century woman, and while it was an interesting experience to have to waiting for Daniel to confirm it was the device they were looking for, it did wear her patience a little thin.
"This is it," he said, looking up at her. "It's the Artan."
"What language is that?"
"A rare form of Latin," he said.
She squatted down beside him, touching the dusty symbols. It wasn't any version of Latin she recognised.
"Are you sure?" she asked, wiping the dust on her khakis.
"Very rare," he said, and she frowned, not sure what to think.
He took the Artan out of the chest, standing up slowly, Helen mimicking the move so they were both standing up looking at the device in his hands.
She realised this was the moment their friendship was going to end.
Daniel seemed to realise it too, and they didn't say anything for a moment, just looked at each other. They were unaware of other members of the dig team moving around them.
"We should talk," she said, finally, eyes on the device rather than doctor.
With the Artan in his hands, Daniel led her into his tent once more, and she watched as he considered putting the device onto the table, going to drop it down carefully on the surface. Instead, he lifted it back up and kept it in his hands.
"You want to take it," he said.
"That's why I came here."
"Because it's not something that should be used. Or even studied. Not by just anyone."
"Not even me?"
"I don't know you, Dr. Jackson. And I don't know the intentions of the people for whom you work," she said, almost sad about what she was doing.
"You can call the President and find that out."
"I'd rather have the Artan in my possession, where I don't have to deal with any politics, and where I know exactly what's happening to it."
"You don't trust me."
"I trust very few people," she said. "It's not a personal reflection on you, however."
"I'm not sure whether I should be insulted or not," she said, with a smile. "You could come with the device, work with me."
"I don't think so."
"I can't just let you take it, Helen."
"I understand that, and you won't be just letting me take it. You'll be ordered to."
"I've got sway with the President too you know," he said.
"I don't doubt that, he had some nice things to say about you when I spoke to him last week, but he'll still defer to me," Helen said.
"Why?" he asked. "What makes you more suitable? More responsible?"
She didn't know how to answer that, not without telling him certain things about her and her work. Though she wasn't entirely sure she was the more suitable and responsible of the two of them. Perhaps Daniel might prove the more suitable between them, but Helen knew the Artan should reside in her Sanctuary. She could lock it away; without the risk of government intervention.
"Nothing," she admitted finally.
He smiled at that and she waited for him to say more, argue his point further.
"I need this device," he told her, after a minute's silence.
"And that worries me Daniel, no one should truly need a device like this," Helen said. "Years ago, when you are still an archaeologist, you'd study it and it would end up in a museum, thinking it was another decorative piece. Now though, you'll study it, and it'll send up in an air force laboratory with people trying to figure out exactly how it works."
He had been looking down at the Artan as she spoke and when she finished her speech, he looked up at her, his sad look on her face as he handed it over to her.
"You're still going to have to make the call though," he said.
"I will, I promise," she said, moving closer to him. "Thank you," she added, kissing him on the cheek.
A week later, Helen was back in her Sanctuary, away from the sand and the heat, the Artan locked away in the office safe. She had no idea what it said, or how it worked, if it still worked at all, but she was still glad it was in her possession. As Daniel had asked, she had made a couple of phone calls, so there wouldn't be any repercussions for the man when he returned empty-handed. Considering how hard it had taken to get the dig up and running in another country, she did feel bad for taking away the very reason the doctor had gone there for. She hadn't had a chance to do any more research on the programme, or any of the things she and Daniel had talked about in Egypt, and was about to do just that when Will interrupted her.
"There's a guy at the door, says he met you in Egypt," he said, poking his head round her office door.
"Daniel?"she said, surprised.
"Yeah, Dr. Daniel Jackson."
She grinned, and stood up, heading out of her office.
"Who is he?" Will asked.
"As he said, someone I met in Egypt," she told him, as they walked the corridors to the front door.
Daniel was stood in the open front door, a rucksack over one shoulder, and he smiled when he saw her.
"Dr. Jackson," she said, shaking his hand.
"Dr. Magnus," he replied, his smile growing to match her own amused grin.
"This is Dr. Zimmerman, my protégée," she said.
Daniel raised an eyebrow at the word protégée but didn't comment on it. He simply shook the other man's hand politely. Will looked like he wanted to ask a few questions, but Helen gave him a pointed look and he nodded, then disappeared into the Sanctuary.
"How did you find me?" she asked.
"You're not the only with a few contacts, Helen," he said, taking a few steps into the building, looking around. "Nice place."
"Thank you. I must ask, what are you doing here?" .
"I know you haven't deciphered the Artan, and I know you haven't just locked it away forever"
"No, not yet."
"I've brought you something," he said, handing her the rucksack. "Some books, copies of my notes, everything you need to translate it."
"Thank you," she said, taking it from him. "That's very generous of you. Was there much trouble when you returned without it?"
"Not really," he said.
"I'm glad," she said.
"What have you done with it, out of interest?" Daniel asked.
"It's in a safe, until I find it a more permanent home."
"You're desperate to take a look aren't you?" she said. "To study it."
"I wouldn't say desperate," he said, smiling.
"I could probably use some help," she said. "From you."
"Sure," he said, stepping back into the building, and she closed the door behind her. "One thing though."
"You're going to have to tell me what you do here first."
She laughed at that and pulled him closer to her, looping her arm with his.
"In that case, a tour is in order," Helen said.
"I don't think I mentioned this, but you look a lot like someone I work with," he told her as she led him through down the corridor.