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25 March 2007 @ 02:42 am
The L World Part 8: Learning Curve  
The L World
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the shows involved or any of the characters, and I’m not making any money out of them, I’m just doing this for the love of the shows and the love of Richie. All rights and ownership belong to whoever actually owns them, I’m just trying them on for size and I promise to return them good as new.
Warning: This story contains a non-graphic same sex relationship, so don’t read it if that sort of thing offends. There’s also the occasional bit of bad language, but I try to keep it to a minimum.
8. Learning Curve
Daniel sauntered up the path towards his building, his mind already on the delicious cup of coffee he was about to have. He had been off-world for nearly a month, living out of a tent on an uninhabited planet examining an Ancient temple. He didn’t mind roughing it on a dig, but after three and a half weeks without civilisation he was relishing the thought of a cup of java and a long hot shower. Of all mankind’s inventions, he thought idly, running hot water was almost certainly one of his favourites. Sometime he would have to ask Jack exactly how he felt about it, but he had a feeling the ancient Immortal’s answer would be either beer or television. He was shaken from his thoughts as he put his key in the door by the Buzz of another Immortal. Not now, thought Daniel, not before I’ve had a shower. Still, he looked around for the source and spotted a beautiful, slender woman standing in a small park across the road from his building, sword in hand. Checking nobody was around; Daniel pulled his own sword from his coat and crossed the road. As he approached, the woman slipped into a small copse so they wouldn’t be seen. That doesn’t bode well, Daniel thought.
“Hello, I’m Doctor Daniel Jackson. You look familiar, have we met before?”
“My name is Mary Warner and I know who you are Daniel Jackson, even if you don’t know me. I’ve come to stop you spreading wild theories about who built the pyramids.”
“Is that all? Well, I’m sorry you came all this way for nothing, but I gave up on all that ten years ago. I work for the government now, don’t even give lectures much.”
“I know, that’s why it took so long to find you. You shouldn’t have given that lecture a year back. Imagine my surprise when I discovered you are one of us. I only came to silence you but I’ll happily have your Quickening.”
“Is that really necessary? Look I said I’ve stopped talking about aliens building the pyramids, can’t we just go our separate ways?” Mary raised her sword, and Daniel noticed that it was Egyptian in style, although made of steel not bronze. He sighed and raised his own sword. “I guess not then.” She muttered something that sounded a lot like Goa’uld to Daniel and charged at him. He parried her attack and returned his own, a Jaffa move. He hoped that she would underestimate him and he could end this quickly, he was too tired for a long fight. But to his surprise she anticipated his move and countered it with another move that was distinctly Jaffa in origin. Daniel might have dismissed this as coincidence except that he was now certain that she had spoken Goa’uld. The two locked blades and Daniel used his weight advantage to press against her, giving him chance to speak to her, in Goa’uld. “Who are you? What do you want?” Mary was startled, not expecting Daniel to know Goa’uld, but clearly understanding it and an icy dread gripped Daniel’s stomach. He pressed the advantage he had created, disarming his opponent and bringing her to her knees by running her through the gut. He knocked her sword from her hand and leaned in close, repeating his previous questions in English, “Who are you? What do you want?” She snarled at him in defiance and pulled a secondary blade from her waistband. Acting on reflex, Daniel swung and delivered the final blow. As he did, he distinctly saw her eyes glow, but he had no time to assess this information as he was hit by his first Quickening. She was old and powerful and the Quickening would have been a lot to handle for anyone, but especially so for a first timer like Daniel. The trees around him exploded into fire and the lightning seemed to strike again and again unceasingly, but eventually it did stop and, exhausted, Daniel dropped to his knees. As he pulled himself to his feet, he glanced at the body and stopped, the icy dread closing tighter around him as he saw the familiar shape of a dead Goa’uld lying next to the body. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and hit a number on speed dial.
“Colonel Carter.”
“Hey Sam, its Daniel. Listen do you think you could come by the park opposite my building? I’ve got something for you to add to your report.”
“Something on the ruins? Can’t it wait until morning?”
“No Sam, your other report.” There was a brief pause from the other end of the conversation.
“I’ll be there in five minutes.”
Sam placed the Goa’uld in a specimen jar and helped Daniel to dispose of the body, and then the two of them went into Daniel’s apartment. Daniel went to have his much deserved shower whilst Sam plugged in her laptop to find Mary Warner in the Watcher database and email her report to Joe Dawson, minus one or two details. She just finished sending it when Daniel came out of the bathroom.
“It’s a shame you couldn’t have simply captured her so we could interrogate her.” Sam said as she punched up the info on the database.
“I tried, but it was a kind of kill or be killed situation, she didn’t leave me much choice. Sorry.” Sam grinned apologetically and turned to the screen.
“Wow you certainly know how to make enemies. According to the database, Mary Warner was 3500 years old. You’re not going to believe this, but you just killed Nefertiti.”
“My god, I knew she looked familiar. It’s because I had seen her before, or at least her bust, that famous statue recovered from Amarna. Nobody ever found her mummy, although a rather ridiculous woman thought she had a few years ago.” Daniel was warming to his topic and grew animated, “O and of course! Many scholars believe that the pharaoh Smenkare was actually Nefertiti. One of his names was Ankhkheperure-Merywaenre. Mery-Waenre/Mary Warner, do you see? It’s actually quite clever really. This proves that she was Smenkare! Yet again I have some of the most revelatory news in Egyptology in the last fifty years and yet again I have to sit on it.”
“Well what concerns me more is the fact that she was a Goa’uld as well as an Immortal and has been living here all this time, undetected.” Daniel grew sombre at that.
“Yes, that is a concern. It’s also disconcerting for Immortals if the Goa’uld know about us and can take us as hosts. Actually, why haven’t they? They wouldn’t need a sarcophagus anymore.”
“Perhaps only she knew, or maybe even only took an Immortal as a host by accident. That kind of knowledge would give any Goa’uld power over the others, and they aren’t known for their sharing. Perhaps we should try making tentative enquiries of the Tok’ra?”
“Um, I’d rather not just yet. It can’t be common knowledge among the Goa’uld or Teal’c would have known about us. Let’s talk to Jack first, see what he thinks.”
“He’s never exactly been trusting of the Tok’ra though; he’s not likely to say yes.”
“Still, I can’t take responsibility for possibly revealing the existence of Immortals to the Tok’ra. Too much would be at stake.” Sam nodded in agreement. They would go to see Jack the next time they had some leave, and until then they would let the subject drop. Sam packed up her laptop, and, after making sure Daniel was okay, she headed back to her lab. Daniel was too wired from the Quickening to sleep, so he worked on his own reports until he eventually nodded off on his couch.
He awoke with a start, sweat dripping from every pore. He had been having a nightmare about Abydos and Ra, only in his dream, he was the Goa’uld and he couldn’t stop himself as he used a ribbon device to kill Sha’are. He walked into his bathroom, splashed cold water on his face and looked up at his reflection in the mirror. The eyes of the reflection flashed like a Goa’uld, and Daniel fell backwards, and off the couch. Disorientated, he looked around and realised that he had still been dreaming. Relieved, he noticed it was light and checked the time. Seeing it was already 6:30am, he decided he’d slept enough and headed for his shower.
Sam looked up from her workbench to see Daniel standing in the doorway. He smiled and she smiled back.
“Morning.” She looked at her watch.
“Is it? Huh! I didn’t notice.” Daniel grinned at her.
“Feel like joining me for a little breakfast? I spotted blue jel-o.” Sam smiled and got up. They walked down the corridor toward the mess hall.
“So, I was thinking it might be a good idea to check out that Mary woman’s apartment, if the Watcher’s have that information.” Sam looked at him quizzically.
“I thought we weren’t pursuing that until we’d got outside advice?”
“No, I know, but I thought that someone of her, experience, might have a few useful bits and pieces. Items that perhaps might be safer in Area 51.”
“Ah, yes I see what you mean. Well perhaps I can get that information for you. I’ll check the database after breakfast. We aren’t scheduled off-world again for a while so I’m sure we can clear some leave with the General.”
“Thanks Sam.” They had entered the mess and were selecting their breakfast. Sam raised an eyebrow as Daniel piled a huge amount of food onto his tray. “Last night has given me an appetite.” he said in response to her look. “It gave me something else as well.” he said as they sat down. Sam looked at him, concerned, “Nightmares. Specifically that featured yours truly as a Goa’uld.”
“Well that’s hardly surprising, is it? After what happened last night.” she whispered conspiratorially.
“Yes, but no, it was more than that.” They ate in silence for a few moments, Sam digesting what had been said as much as the food.
“Perhaps it was more than that. Perhaps…” she lowered her voice and leaned forward, “We know that the Goa’uld have a genetic memory, and that a Quickening is the absorption of all the knowledge and power of an Immortal. What if, with Nefertiti’s Quickening, you also absorbed the genetic memory of the Goa’uld?” Daniel looked horrified by the thought.
“I don’t want it.”
“Come, on Daniel! Think about it, we’ve been after that kind of information for the last decade. Think what we could do with it.”
“Yes and think what I might do with it, what I might become. Don’t you remember the vision that the Harsesis child showed me?” Sam looked abashed.
“I’m sorry, you’re right. It’s too much for one human, even one like you. But what if you have no choice as to whether you remember it or not? I’ve read other Watcher accounts of Immortals who took on personality traits of Immortals they had killed.”
“Really not helping. I’m going to call the old guy and get him to meet with us. If anyone should be able to help with this, it should be him. Get that address please.” Sam nodded and Daniel left the room. Sam watched him go and hoped that his snippiness was down to lack of sleep.
The members of SG-1 entered the apartment of Mary Werner and fanned out. The Watcher database said she lived alone in her Washington apartment, and Daniel couldn’t detect another Immortal, but they were still on their guard. They had had too many nasty surprises in the past to take any chances. They cleared the apartment, and then began looking for any Goa’uld technology or artefacts she might have stashed. They turned the place upside down, but couldn’t find anything, until Cameron noticed something odd about the fireplace.
“Is it me, or does that seem deeper on the outside?” He walked over to it and tapped the wall. Instead of the sound of brick, a hollow wooden sound echoed back. “Looks like we got a secret compartment here.”
“We should look for a release of some sort.” Sam said as Mitchell simultaneously used the butt of his sidearm to hammer a hole in the wall. “Alternatively, you could just trash the place.” Cameron gave her a scathing glance before going forward to examine the contents of the secret compartment.
“Ho ho ho! Looks like we hit the jackpot boys and girl!” He reached in and pulled out a ribbon device, a healing device, several tablets with text on, and one strange device that none of them recognised. It looked a little like a hand device, but modified for another purpose. Daniel picked it up and examined it.
“Any ideas?” Sam asked.
“None whatsoever. But I get a funny feeling when I look at it, a tingle at the base of my neck.”
“At the base of your neck?” Sam asked darkly, “Like where a Goa’uld would take up residence?” Daniel looked at her, then nodded once. “Well that can’t be good. Teal’c, have you ever seen a hand device like this?”
“No, indeed I have not, but the initial design is primitive, similar to an earlier design for the hand device. Similar but not the same.”
“Well that makes sense,” Daniel mused, “Nefertiti would have been here on Earth for millennia, so she would only have access to the Goa’uld technology that was around then. We should take it back to the base so Sam and I can analyse it further.”
“As far as the General is concerned, we were acting on intel that this Mary Warner was a member of the Syndicate and upon investigation we discovered that she had indeed been compromised.” Sam said. The others all nodded their agreement. None of them particularly enjoyed deceiving the General, but telling the truth raised too many questions that risked exposing Jack and Daniel.
Back at Cheyenne Mountain, Daniel and Sam ran every test they could think of, including Sam trying to use it on a test dummy, but nothing shed any light on the mysterious object. Daniel translated the tablets they had found, but it was nothing more than Nefertiti’s diary. Historically fascinating, and Daniel was once again kicking himself that he could never publish such information, but no help in figuring out the device. Daniel was briefly concerned at how easily he read the tablets, but he hoped that came from Nefertiti’s Quickening rather than the inherited Goa’uld knowledge.
Three days later the members of SG-1 were sat in the briefing room, waiting for the General.
“So any luck with that hand device thingy?” Cameron asked. Sam and Daniel both shook their heads.
“I think Angus might be able to help.” Daniel said enigmatically. Jack’s real name had become the codeword SG-1 could use to discuss their former CO when they weren’t sure who was listening.
“Do you think?” asked Mitchell
“Well, yes, apart from Adam who else knows as much about this period of history? Plus he knows about the context, doesn’t he.”
“Ah, yes, context. That’s always important.” Daniel glowered at Mitchell, then chose to ignore the jibe.
“Well Adam knows a little, but he doesn’t have clearance for everything and he’s in the UK somewhere at the moment anyway. Besides, I trust Angus more. Sam and I are going to discuss all this with him when we get back from this mission.” Cameron was about to ask when exactly they had arranged that, as they hadn’t been off-base since their return from Washington and none of them would be dumb enough to call O’Neill from the base, but he was prevented by the arrival of the General. He was concerned that Sam and Daniel were keeping something from him, but he’d try to get it out of them during the mission.
“No, absolutely no way! There is no way you are going to ask the Tok’ra if they know about Immortals! Have you completely lost it Danny boy?” Jack was pacing around his living room like a caged tiger.
“But sir, if the Tok’ra can help us figure out what this device does…”
“Carter, you should be thinking like a Watcher here, not a member of the SGC. I know I’m not exactly objective when it comes to snake-heads, but do you really think the sane option here is to let them know that there are potential hosts out there who CANNOT DIE?! All it takes is for one operative to be compromised or for one of them to be a spy and we’ll have what’s left of the System Lords’ armada breathing down our necks before you can say ‘off the rack sale’.”
“Jack, we know that, that’s why we came for your advice. We’re in the dark here. Our most pressing concern is that device and if it connects to us somehow.”
“Plus stopping Daniel’s nightmares.” Carter chipped in. This made Jack stop in his tracks and look at his student.
“Ever since the Quickening, I’ve been having nightmares about being a Goa’uld. Sam has this theory…”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Jack sniped.
“..Sam has this theory that the Goa’uld genetic memory somehow got transferred to me with Nefertiti’s Quickening.” Jack finally sat down, opposite Daniel and looked at him.
“I wish I had something comforting to say, but I think it’s a possibility. I’m sorry. But it may just be that because hers was such a powerful Quickening, and your first, that it hasn’t settled yet. It’s common to dream the memories of the person you…fought, right after the Quickening.”
“I know that Jack, Richie told me about something that happened to him when he took on personality traits of someone he killed. But in the first nightmare I had, I was the Goa’uld and I killed Sha’are with a ribbon device. How could that be Nefertiti’s memory?”
“Danny boy, sometimes a nightmare is just a nightmare. Even Immortals get bad dreams. Look, as far as we can tell, this Nefertiti was the only one right? I mean there are no Watcher records of Immortals with glowing eyes?” Sam shook her head, “Right, so I think we can assume she was the only one. She’s dead, so just let it be. The more you worry about it, the worse the nightmares will be. You have to let it drop Daniel, okay?” Daniel nodded. “Good lad. We’ll pay a little visit to Seacouver, visit Richie, I have some Immortal contacts in the city that may know something about the device if it makes you feel better. But it’s over, there’s no conspiracy here, nothing to worry about.”
As Methos kneeled down to recover from the Quickening, Captain Jack walked over to his teacher and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“Well now that can’t be right.” Jack said. Methos looked up at his student and then followed his gaze. There, partially hanging out of the neck stump was the body of a small snake-like creature.
The L World will continue in Part 9: Losing My Religion
This week I am mostly feeling: gigglygiggly