Older Enemies: Part 9

I thought back at Daniel, Me too. Because I don’t even dare to touch some of this stuff.

Next to the scrolls on the desk were clay tablets with the odd triangular marks and lines of cuneiform. There was even a clay cylinder with a kind of scene. In addition to the cuneiform, there was a scene that showed a man in what looked like a kilt and another creature with a man’s torso, a lion’s body, and what appeared to be wings on its back.

I wasn’t sure what, if anything, it meant, but if it was really from Sumer, it had lasted longer than the civilization that created it by thousands of years. Touching it with a suit made to deliver tons of force seemed like a bad idea.

Daniel appeared to have the same thought, walking up to the desk and looking down at everything, “I’m surprised you’ve got this just out here like this.”

Lim nodded, “I know. In our defense, this place is climate-controlled. All this stuff is here because the last guy to own it was literally storing stuff of a similar age down here—magical texts, mostly. It was Dr. Transylvania. We have him in to consult about how to keep the place running sometimes.

“Look, it’s crazy to have this out to look at, but honestly, we’re not treating this as an irreplaceable piece of human history. We’ve got it out because we need people to look at it. We’ve gotten everything we can out of it. We need people like you now.”

Daniel gave a nod, “What do you have? Translations? I don’t think any of us can read Sumerian.”

Over to my left, Cassie stood over the desk, frowning, and then looked up from the tablets, “I can.”

“It’s the gun. It knows the languages that were current when the Abominators were using it on Earth. Plus, it’s synchronized with other Abominator tech that it was stored with. So it knows a lot of ancient crap.”

Jaclyn, who’d walked around to the other side of the desk to look over a pile of books, said, “That’s new.”

Nodding Cassie said, “As of a few seconds ago, yes. Mr. Sparkles volunteered that for the first time now.”

Lim blinked, “We haven’t translated all of it. We’re still trying to find researchers that we’re confident haven’t been compromised.”

I raised an eyebrow that Lim couldn’t hope to see through my helmet, “It’s been a few years since I brought it in.”

Over to my right, looking over the eagle banner that might have dated from the Roman Empire, Izzy said, “The Nine have hooks anywhere people study ancient history. Between my grandfather and my anthropology major, it seemed like the FBI or Stapledon teachers were always checking in on me.”

Taking a breath, Lim said, “I’m sorry about that, but we had to be cautious.  I’d be more surprised to learn that the Nine don’t have someone in Berkeley’s anthropology department than that they did. The Nine have scooped up more Abominator tech than we’d like and your professors were excavating the right places to find it.”

Thinking about what Grandpa Klein had said about meeting Grandpa Vander Sloot, I wondered how long that had been true. Back in 1971, there might not have been a Nine, but there had to be precursors. Thinking back to the Amethyst Archer and my travels off Earth, I knew the Dominators were around.

“Hey Cap,” I looked over at Cassie, “you’re the League’s official translator now.”

Cassie let out a breath, “I guessed. Where do you want me to start?”

Daniel and I both said, “The tablets.”

Cassie rolled her eyes and Lim’s mouth twitched.

Daniel looked around at the group of us, “I’ve got a feeling about the tablets.”

Cassie picked up the nearest one, “A positive feeling?”

Throwing his hand in the air, Daniel said, “A significant feeling. I get that about a lot of things around here, but a little more from the tablets.”

Raising an eyebrow, Cassie began to look over the tablet, “Give me a second to get into the right mindset. The gun knows the language, but it doesn’t translate very well. That’s not what it was made for. I’m using the Xiniti implant to help.”

She stood there, breathing in and then breathing out, several times longer than a second. Then she said, “The record of Urin of the city Uruk, the greatest city where men dwell. Its great walls and teeming crowds show the blessing of Anu, lord of the sky, whose ziggurat with the White Temple stands as a testament to our power.

“I am Urin, once a man of no consequence, a man who came to the city alone and with few possessions and rose to become a man of wealth—“

Cassie stopped, “And for next paragraph… No, for the rest of this tablet, he talks about his wives and children, his house, his servants, and all the people that live there. It sounds like he owns a lot of sheep.”

She turned to look at Daniel, “Significant sheep. He also owned oxen, donkeys, pigs, and goats. Does anyone want to know how many goats?”

I shook my head, “No.”

“A fuckton of goats. I’m pretty sure that’s what it says here.”

Jaclyn turned toward Cassie, “Seriously? Can we keep on moving?”

Cassie picked up the next tablet, “It looks like he’s done telling us all how wealthy he is, but for the first part, he tells about all of his accomplishments, buildings he’s had built… All this guy has done is brag so far. But… This looks interesting. You’re going to want to hear this next bit.

“Some wonder at the wealth my household has collected, but they don’t understand my nature. While I don’t always lead my household and sometimes another, perhaps a son or servant, takes over for a time, I am always there. I have had many times the life of most men to collect and grow my wealth.

“I do not grow old.”

8 thoughts on “Older Enemies: Part 9”

  1. Every now and then I find myself looking up things I didn’t anticipate looking up before writing an update. For example, I recently found myself looking up what kind of animals were domesticated and used in Sumer.

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  2. “Izzy said, “The Nine have hooks anywhere people study ancient history. Between my grandfather and my anthropology major, I got extra attention.”

    Taking a breath, Lim said, “I’m sorry about that, but we have to be cautious.”

    Extra attention from the Nine? Or from the Government? Is Lim apologizing for the extra attention, or for her not being brought in to help decipher all the stuff, or what’s going on here?

      1. Why is Lim apologizing for the Nine having moles in Berkeley’s anthropology department, and what is the government being cautious about in that scenario, and how/what is that caution helping?

        Also, is Izzy saying she’s had run-ins with Nine recruiters, as a civilian out of costume? How’d she resist the mind control, and how’d she resolve that long term problem (in general, and without blowing her cover)?

        This is a pretty minor nitpick, I wouldn’t devote any more energy to it than you already have, it’s just a weird little bit of dialogue (to me).

        1. His apology is phrased in a way that sounds like “us being cautious is responsible for Izzy being contacted by the Nine”, which just doesn’t make a whole heap of sense.

          1. I’d be interested to find out if anyone else was confused, but I do think I understand what confused you.

            It may not have been clear that Izzy was commenting on the fact that she was getting attention from the FBI and not the Nine.

            That’s now in there.

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