TITLE: The Power Of The @
CATEGORY: Humor, some H/C
SPOILERS: The First Ones
CONTENT WARNINGS: None really
SUMMARY: Never get an archaeologist angry with you, especially a smart one.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate SG-1. Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only. No money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Pictures can be found at P3X595 and StargateFan.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: There's a wonderful beta out there named Lems who has the courage to check all these stories. Thanks!
THE POWER OF THE @
(Or The Best Way To Annoy A Colonel)
Popeye had a saying, "I've had all I can stands -- I can't stands no more!"
That's exactly the way Jack felt. He had almost no patience when it concerned scientists. He could barely tolerate Carter's techno-babble at the best of times, but he suffered through it since she was his second in command. Daniel, well, he had put up with a lot from Daniel because 1) Daniel was his friend, 2) he owed Daniel his life several times over and 3) Daniel was way smarter than he was. All right, Jack would get fed up and testy and yell, but he knew that Daniel knew more than he did about everything from the Goa'uld to kitchen cabinets, so he'd let the archaeologist go off on tangents whether he was interested or not. Usually, it was not.
But this...this...this was too much! Okay, it wasn't Daniel's fault that he'd twisted his ankle so badly two missions ago that he couldn't go on the last one. It was Jack's fault. He knew that. He admitted it. He'd found an interesting looking artifact in the temple and did the one thing he was always warning Daniel about not doing. He’d touched the damn thing. How was he to know that it was some sort of alien crossbow? He never knew Daniel could move that fast! Of course, his landing after avoiding an arrow wasn't as graceful as anyone could have hoped, and Daniel's ankle had borne the brunt of the mad dash. Jack, however, had borne the brunt of Daniel's temper -- and he did have one!
Jack had apologized several times in his own unique fashion (which meant never once uttering the words that he was sorry), but Daniel wasn't feeling magnanimous. He was annoyed about having his foot in a walking cast for two weeks and felt slightly vengeful. He temporarily assigned Robert Rothman to SG-1 with orders to take his place on the next mission.
Daniel was confident in Robert's work. Why wouldn't he be? He'd trained Rothman himself, and they both agreed that Budge shouldn't be in print anymore. So SG-1 was the lucky recipient of a Jackson-trained grave robber that the commanding officer had a difficult time tolerating any time. Jack fumed during the entire mission, but he knew better than to say anything 'unprofessional' to Rothman since he was the one who got them in the situation. He also didn't want to give Daniel any incentive to choose Rothman again if Robert came back telling Daniel that Jack had been a pain in the...
But this was too much!
Jack knocked on Daniel's office door and heard a rather distracted, "Come in" before opening it. Daniel was sitting at his desk, as usual, delicately studying an artifact.
"Daniel, got a minute?" Jack asked nicely. He wasn't going to give Daniel any more reasons to be mad at him. One Rothman on one mission was one more than Jack could tolerate.
Daniel glanced up at Jack and motioned him toward a chair. He put away the artifact and gave Jack his full attention. Jack didn't think Daniel was angry, but he knew just how well his friend could hide his emotions. "What's up?"
"Uh, this." He handed Daniel a folder of the last mission. This was a first time event. Jack had never asked Daniel to translate an archaeological report before. He’d never had to. He had always let Carter read his long-winded accounts and write up a summary for the final mission synopsis. "It's Rothman's report. I can't make any sense out of it."
"When did you start reading scientific mission reports?" Daniel scanned the pages then handed it back to Jack. "Looks like a typical archaeological mission analysis. What are you having trouble with?"
That was blunt. Okay, Daniel was still a little miffed and hadn't forgiven Jack yet. Usually, he'd hear a polite Hi Jack, how are you? What can I help you with? Instead, he got a curt less-than-friendly reply. "I have absolutely no idea what he's talking about. It’s supposed to be about all those scribbles he found on the wall."
"Jack, I write reports about 'scribbles on the wall.' You don't have any problems reading mine. That is, if you actually do read them."
Ouch, that hurt. Yes, he was still angry with Jack. "Daniel, I do read some of yours. I may not understand what you're talking about, but at least they're not this confusing! I can pretty well guess what you’re writing about. This one is gibberish!"
Daniel took the folder back and opened it up on his desk. "Okay, okay. What's the first problem?"
“What the hell is a qwert? He mentions it about ten different times, it means something different every single time.”
“A qwert is a generic term used by archaeologists meaning an artifact that is unidentifiable. Once it’s identified, it’s given a proper name. Robert found a lot of artifacts that you didn’t give him the time to analyze or catalog on the planet, so he has to refer to them as qwerts.”
“Okay. What about this?" Jack pointed to a symbol on the first page.
"This?" Daniel asked.
"That! What's Rothman talking about?"
"That's an @, the symbol for A'at. He was a powerful Goa'uld and a contemporary of Ra's. He was the god of all things above -- that's the sun, moon, sky, stars, planets and clouds. He wielded some sort of magic known as the power of the @. No one knows
what it was, but it was rumored to be some all-powerful ability granted to his acolytes. The thought was, the path of those who follow the @ is uncertain, but the abilities gained therein will make masters of those who attain the knowledge."
"Why is Rothman using the @ symbol?" Jack wanted to know.
"Do you have any idea how cumbersome and time consuming it is to write out ancient names when we have symbols that will do the job just as well?"
Oh. "It's some kind of archaeological shorthand?"
"Yes, you could call it that.” Daniel glanced up at Jack, knowing well what Jack would never admit. “That's right. You wouldn't know it since you don't read archaeological reports. We routinely use symbols like this. The symbol is referenced at the beginning and then used repeatedly afterwards."
Jack knew he should have paid a little more attention to Carter’s summaries. "What's that?" he pointed to the next symbol.
"That's an &. It's the symbol for the goddess Amp'sand. She was the goddess of the earth, consort to A'at. Together they created the world and all living things, ruled over them until they were defeated by a great enemy. They fell into the oceans they created, and they turned to sand which was washed up on the shores of the great waters."
Amp'sand was a goddess with an & for her symbol? If Jack didn't know that Rothman didn't have a sense of humor, he'd swear that this was just a joke. "Okay, what's that?" He indicated the next symbol.
"That's an *, symbol for the demigod Arstrix. He --"
"Now wait just a minute! Qwert? An & for Amp'sand, an @ for A'at, and an * for Arstrix? Daniel, those are all symbols on a keyboard! We use them."
"So? Daniel, do not sit there and tell me that we're using Goa'uld symbols on our keyboards!"
"Jack, everything we have is influenced by our history. Language, architecture, mythology, astronomy, astrology. Why is it so difficult to imagine that some of the Goa'uld symbols have survived, and we use them in our everyday language?"
Daniel did have a point, but Jack still wasn't convinced. "Rothman's doing this on purpose, isn't he? He's bound and determined to drive me crazy."
"Don't worry, Jack. It'd be a short trip."
"Robert's used to writing reports for me, not the military. These are the types of reports I get. He didn't realize that you wouldn't be up on archaeological shorthand since you're supposed to be reading my reports, so he wrote them as he usually does." Daniel closed the folder. "How long have you been trying to read this?"
"About an hour."
"An hour? You tried for that long?"
Jack knew his reputation for avoiding anything scientific would come back to haunt him. "Look, you said Robert knows what he's doing. Fine. I tried to read this report, and it was gibberish then and it's gibberish now. Maybe you know what he's saying, but I think this must be language number twenty four for you!"
Daniel smiled, obviously pleased with the goings-on.
"It's not funny!" Jack protested.
"All right, all right, I'll ask Robert to rewrite it, but he's working on a project for SG-5. I'm sure he'll get to it when he can, but since you have to send the completed mission summary to General Hammond today, you'll have to try to remember what Robert told you he found on the planet."
"I wasn't listening when we were on the planet."
"You weren't listening when I told you not to touch the alien crossbow either."
Revenge. That's what this was. "You did this on purpose, didn't you?"
"No, I didn't. Jack, our work is every bit as important as the military’s. I wouldn’t let any of my people act unprofessionally no matter what the situation. That little accident sidelined me, so SG-1 had to have a temporary replacement. Robert knows the Goa'uld language, and his expertise is invaluable to the SGC. That's why I’ve assigned him to the mission to 888 next week. We’ve been given the go-ahead for a three-week archaeological excavation. We may have found the planet where the Goa'uld originated."
"That's next week?" Jack didn't realize that he was going to be Daniel-less again that soon. That means they’d have to have another temporary replacement, and Jack didn’t like any of the other scientists at the base. They were too…geeky.
"Yes, Jack. It was in the report I sent you two weeks ago. Remember?"
"No. I --"
"Didn't read it," Daniel finished for him.
Enough was enough. "Look, I'm sorry I touched the artifact. I'm sorry you had to sit here while we went on a mission. I'm sorry I don't understand anything you write. I'll try to read every one of your reports as long as you don't ever stick us with Rothman or any of the other grave robbers again! Deal?"
Daniel looked at Jack, seeing true remorse for the first time. Daniel finally got his real apology. "Deal. Besides, you don't have to worry about any of the archaeologists. Hammond told me that he's grounding SG-1 until I get back. Something about Sam needing to work on experiments and you needing to catch up on paperwork."
Jack just shook his head and sauntered out of Daniel's office. He didn't know if anything had been accomplished, but he had the feeling that he'd just been bamboozled by the best.
After Jack left, Daniel picked up the folder and limped his way down to Robert's office. His friend didn't need to ask why Daniel was there.
"How'd it go?"
"Pretty well," Daniel said as he threw a fifty dollar bill on Robert's desk. "I think Jack has a new respect for the power of the @.”
Robert folded up the money and stuffed it in his pocket. “Next time, get one of the other archaeologists to pretend he wrote something when you want to drive O’Neill crazy. It’s not exactly conducive to my health if he thinks I wrote that. Where did you come up with the power of the @ anyway?"
"Easy. Have you ever gone to an IRC chat room?"
"The moderators have an @ beside their names. The have complete control during the chat, which means --"
"They have all the power of the @." Both men grinned at the joke.
Robert took the folder and handed Daniel the real mission report. "What have you got in mind for O'Neill next time?"
Daniel thought for a moment, and then said; "I think I'm going to introduce him to the word tilde."
“Won’t he know what that means?”
Daniel just looked at Robert until his friend realized the absurdity of that statement. “So what are you going to tell him it means?" Robert was curious.
Daniel smiled a mischievous smile as he limped out of the room.
Rothman sat back and relaxed for a moment. So many times he’d witnessed Daniel and O’Neill and their very unconventional friendship. Only Daniel could get away with playing jokes on the colonel and not worry about being seriously harmed.
Robert wondered, given Daniel’s imagination, what would he tell O’Neill the word tilde meant?
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