Date: February 26, 2012
Synopsis: Lucy Seton and Daniel Jackson meet at the Great Library and discuss their mutual love of books, the nature of magic, and the meaning of life.
Location: The Great Library
ven though each passing day has made Daniel Jackson less and less adamant about trying to find his way home, he hasn't given up completely. He still makes regular stops to the Great Library, studying up on portal theory and the like. He's talked to gate-navigators and interdimensional treasure hunters and several other types of fascinating folk, but none have given him any direct link back home. He's even wandered the spaceport a couple times to see if any of the vessels look to be from familiar races. No dice (so far).
So with all that done? Daniel is now reading….a comic book. Well, a “graphic novel.” Technically a “collected edition.” The large hardcover tome has the title “Planetary” lettered on its' spine, and Daniel looks thoroughly engrossed. Also of note? A few old-style pamphlets are on the table before him, labelled with the title “Planetary Guides.”
At least he's engrossed until someone who isn't really watching where she's going practically trips over him and books go flying. Lucy has a bad habit of reading while she walks sometimes, and as a result, there are old books - very old books - and two Egyptian scrolls - that briefly sail up through the air before making a spectacular landing across the table. “Aaaah! Oh no!” Lucy is left with a last second catch of a clay tablet grabbed in her hands before it shatters across the marble floor, another vellum scroll caught in her lap. “Ah, not the Book of Enki!”
The redhead is standing rather precariously, and flushed in embarrassment as she receives several shocked stares from nearby library guests. “Sorry!” She whispers to them, then looks over at Daniel. “Sorry! So sorry…” She gently places the cuneiform tablet on the table and then starts gathering up the scrolls and books, one of which might be recognized (at least by someone familiar with cryptography and languages) as the never-deciphered Voynich Manuscript.
“Whoa!” Comic book versus Egyptian scroll? Daniel knows where his priorities lie, and the book he's reading is summarily dropped as the linguist inadvertently shows off reflexes honed by years of being a reluctant warrior fighting on the front lines of defending the Earth, reaching up and plucking first one, and then the other of the two scrolls before they too receive any damage from an unexpected flight. Then he's quick to start helping Lucy gather up the scattered books and such, “No, it's all right. It'd be pretty hypocritical of me to hold it against you…I've done the same sort of thing a time or t-…” He frowns as his eyes fall on that particular named item, “Is that the Voynich Manuscript?”
Lucy looks down at the book in question. “You mean The Gramarye?” One can practically hear the capital letters. “I think it's been called that, yes. It's got one of the best herbals I've found anywhere, honestly. Extremely efficacious and very helpful, and the map to the Hanging Gardens is–” She pauses and tucks a lock of red hair behind her ear as she straightens. ”—uh…something I shouldn't probably bore you with.” She coughs and smiles, looking a touch embarrassed. The red deepens as one of the Librarians nearby gives a loud 'SSSSShhhh' and she turns and waves before looking back at Daniel. “Thank you,” she whispers in a lower voice. “You're very kind.”
The redhead is dressed in a many layered and gathered gypsy skirt of lace and velvet, and a several layers of shirt that have been stitched and sewn in such a fashion that even though the material is normal, the overall effect is vaguely medieval. Lucy looks at one of the pamphlets curiously. “Planning a vacation?” she asks.
“So…it's been translated here?” Daniel pauses, then shakes his head, “Of course it's been translated here…infinite possibility.” He murmurs, more to himself than anything, then glances to the pamphlets at Lucy's question and shakes his head, “Oh! No…not exactly. I…met the author of these…” He indicates the pamphlets, who happens to be a character in these…” the comic books are now indicated, “And…I think he offered me a job. So…I guess you could consider it researching a potential employer?”
“Translated?” Lucy blinks. “Oh no, it just requires the proper magical charm to be able to read it. It's a very simply concealment and confusion spell. See?” She opens up the Gramarye and waves her fingers in front of the pages, and the writing seems to rearrange itself into English lettering. “It's to prevent people without any actual training from running across a tome like this by accident and uh…well…hurting themselves or others.” She waves her hand again and the book's lettering become incomprehensible, and then she closes the book.
She nods at Daniel and picks up the graphic novel. “Oh I see. That's clever. Though of course he may not be the way he's described in this book, since of course there can be endless variations throughout the multiverse. Don't judge a book by its cover has never been quite so important as here.” She grins and offers Daniel her hand. “I'm Lucy Seton by the way. A pleasure to meet you.”
“Magic?” Daniel's brow furrows, and after a moment he comments, “And I bet you're not talking about the “any sufficiently advanced technology” variety of magic, are you?” Daniel shakes his head, sounding just a touch petulant, “That's cheating…” There's no accusation in the tone, more a resigned sort of amusement. Lucy's comment about the infinite variation draws a nod, “I suppose so. No way to tell yet, really. From what little interaction I had with him he seemed pretty similar….”
Another pause, and the realization that he hasn't introduced himself, and Daniel does redden a -tiny- bit, “Oh! Sorry…Daniel Jackson. The pleasure's all mine. So if you don't mind my asking, what are -you- doing with about a hundred million dollars' worth of priceless manuscripts?” It does boggle Daniel at times how free they are with the information here.
Lucy grins rather broadly. “No, I'm rather not. Clarke's Law and I aren't really on speaking terms. I have some friends who are in a deeply committed relationship with him though, but I'm operate more under Hogwartz rules, save perhaps without the wands.” She chuckles as she gathers the books and scrolls together. “Researching. Specifically researching a magical spell dealing with plant growth and fertility. Thus the herbal,and the scrolls of Isis, and the Book of Enki. I'm specifically interested in the accounts of Oannes. And this book here has a really fascinating account of this particular dimensional equivalent of the Garden of Eden…” She takes a moment to tie her hair up at the nape of her neck. “And it's all right - I have a library card.”
“On my world I'd be lucky to lay eyes on any of these firsthand…” Daniel notes with a touch of wonderment, “Even when I was at the top of my field. I was scheduled to have a crack at the Voynich Manuscript but well…got a bit sidetracked with some other things.” Daniel notes, “And as far as I know…the genuinely mystical side of magic didn't really seem to exist in my universe. Though I suppose it's not completely impossible, it always turned out to be more along the Clarke Postulate.” He pauses, then notes, “So I'm guessing you're not just looking for ways to make your garden grow bigger tomatoes?” See? He -was- actually listening to what she said, even if bedazzled by the antiquities.
“That is the wonderful thing about being in the Great Library,” Lucy agrees. “This-” She holds up one of the scrolls. “Destroyed in almost every universe where the Library of Alexandria went up in flames. But here? Multiple copies. And if your universe's Voynich Manuscript anything like this one you'd have been trying a very long time without success to break it - although who knows-” She glances at Daniel oddly. “Your soul has a fascinating kind of aura, almost like an echo of divinity. You're not exactly a normal person are you?”
Lucy sits down on the edge of the table and looks at her books for a moment before giving Daniel a smile that's almost shy. “No, not quite looking to make bigger tomatoes. Everyone thinks that destruction magics are the most difficult, but really it's opposite. Life? Life is the tough one. It's much harder to build than it is to destroy.”
“Well, that doesn't surprise me. Just like the non-magical act of creation is much easier than destruction. Civilizations can take millennia to build and just a few short years to disappear altogether…” He looks…a bit sad at that, remembering the Asgard. Though at Lucy's accusation of not being exactly a normal person, Daniel rubs at the back of his neck a bit self consciously, “Well I…I'm normal -now-…at least…relatively speaking. But I did spend some time living on a higher plane of existence a couple years back. I don't really remember much of it…hardly anything, really, but I guess I wasn't so good at following those “noninterference” rules the folks living in the same neighborhood clung to so they evicted me.” There's a trace of humor in his tone and expression as he describes it, giving the impression that his demotion to mortal-hood isn't something he considers a punishment, or that the loss of “enlightenment” is something he's bitter over.
“So…what are you trying to create?” Daniel considers a few moments, “Maybe making some fertile land where otherwise things wouldn't grow?”
“That's true, although echoes of them can last for a very long time, especially here. If you ever been to the palace of Babylon, for example, well, I find it very soothing.” She smiles, a bit sadly truthfully, but then the brightness returns to her. “It still lingers a little around you. I dare say if you ever decided you wanted to study magic, you would probably find it comes easily to you.” She pulls her feet up under her skirt, leaving her perched precariously on the edge of the table, although she seems to be in no danger of falling off. “Yes, I'm not really very good at following rules either. I guess you might say I'm something of a free spirit.” She shrugs at the idea.
“Yes, that's basically it exactly. Imagine a place where there should be life but which has been stripped of it utterly, down to the bacteria. And this was a world with a very strong mystical signature - that's gone too. So nothing grows, nothing can grow, and if one were to transplant seeds and bacteria and all the essential nutrients, the world is still missing that vital spark of anima which would allow life to flourish.”
“Really?” That's…a possibility that had never so much as occurred to Daniel. Studying magic? He may be a scientist, but he's never been a particularly “close minded” variety of scientist. “That…might be fascinating, actually.” Add another bullet-point on the ever-growing list of reasons this place is awesome. However, Daniel's focus turns back to Lucy and he frowns rather deeply, “It sounds like something monstrous happened to this place.” He has, of course, had some experience with galaxy-scouring menaces, but he doesn't know if there was anything that would scour a world down to the level of bacteria.
“Something monstrous did. Literally. At least that's my understanding. A kind of demon fed off the whole world, killing every living thing down to the smallest microorganism.” Lucy sighs unhappily. “I understand the creature itself has been destroyed, but that didn't return life to the world. And of course there is no magic bullet - that is the saying, isn't it? - to restore the horrors that occurred, but would it be nice if flowers could grow again one day?” Lucy looks down at the tablet in her lap. “I don't know it's possible, but it seems worthy of checking. It would be a deity-level magic, but this is The City - we can find such beings here easily enough.” She looks over at Daniel. “Really? There's no magic and all in your world? So what you were? That wasn't a god or an angel?”
“Sounds like a worthy pursuit.” Daniel agrees, then tilts his head curiously, “Well, I suppose the possibility for magic was there, but everything my friends and I encountered that would have seemed like magic eventually had a technological explanation. As for me, well…yes, in my world the Ancients were often mistaken for those kinds of spiritual beings, but from a scientific perspective, they had evolved into beings of energy and occupied a different plane of existence, like I said. That's…where I was, for a little while.”
“The difference between science and magic starts to get a wee bit shaky if you go high enough up the branches of the quantum tree,” Lucy agrees. “I think even Arthur C. Clarke would throw up his hands in disgust and walk away if the scientific explanation for something was 'energy being with vast cosmic powers.'” She's teasing, if just a little. “But labels are important, so we'll go with 'no magic' - at least not what most people think of as magic.” She grins as a mischievous twinkle comes into her eye, and draws a finger along the edge of the graphic novel. “So have you looked yourself up yet?”
“I…no. Not yet.” Daniel admits, looking a bit…troubled. “I mean…every time I think I've made peace with the concept that I might be someone's fictional creation, I find myself…growing profoundly unsettled by the notion. I've spent most of my life trying to at least study all those typical philosophical questions: “Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going?”” He pauses a moment, frowning, “And I don't know how I'd take it if it boils down to “Because some writer invented you for the entertainment of others. That just seems to…trivialize everything I and my friends have gone through.” He glances to Lucy, looking…well, a bit vulnerable, all told, “Am I just overthinking all this? It's been hard enough restructuring my entire view of the nature of reality. Maybe I haven't quite adapted it -enough- yet…”
Lucy smiles, giving Daniel a look that suggests she finds his reaction worthy of sympathy and also that it might be kind of adorable. “Daniel, you have it backwards. You exist. Your existence radiates through the dimensional boundaries as waveforms of potential and creative energy, which is picked up by those sensitive to that energy - writers, artists, actors. In a multiverse of endless possibilities, of course there's going to be TV shows, movies, books that feature 'you' - or someone who seems very much like you. All of that is a reflection of you. You are not a reflection of /it/. It's an important distinction.”
Lucy traces the edge of the tablet in her lap. “Those questions of philosophy still very much matter - it's not so easy as to say: we exist for the entertainment of others.”
Lucy adds: “I just thought looking yourself up would be sort of fun. Like - oh what's the expression Yama uses? - uh, yes. Googling yourself.”
Daniel listens intently, seeming a bit surprised at Lucy's explanation, and genuinely mulling it over in his head. “Well…that's comforting to hear. It always seemed that all those metatextual fantasy and sci-fi stories always made the fictional settings and characters as the intellectual spawn of their creators, not so much that the existence of these characters in another reality had somehow “synced” with them.” He rubs at his chin, “Still, it's a fascinating notion, either way. Makes you wonder what makes some people more sensitive to those vibrations and such.” He does laugh at the mention of google, nodding, “Now -that- at least, I'm familiar with.”
“Well that's because most people would rather believe that they created a universe through their artistic endeavors than simply taped into the energies and vibrations of a universe that already exists. The second method cheapens the creative endeavor, never mind how the people who actually exist and breathe and have complex lives feel about the matter.” Lucy grins at Daniel's recognition. “You know, I should probably have you talk to Yama - he's kind of in a similar situation to you, I suppose. He used to be a god too.” She pauses. “Well, I suppose it's not quite the same. His whole species were pretending to be gods in order to keep their worshippers docile and subservient. Which is really kind of horrible. But he doesn't do that anymore! He's a musician right now - although honestly I'm not sure how far that is from the days when he was worshiped as a Hindu god…”
“He…pretended to be a god?” That seems to set Daniel significantly on-edge, “Uh…he's not possessed by a little reptilian symbiote called a Goa'uld, is he?” Daniel adds, “I don't meant to be rude, I just…well, my friends and I spent a lot of time protecting Earth from an alien race that had once masqueraded as Gods. Although there was a faction among them that was on our side, too.” Daniel's a big believer that no species is -inherently- evil. Well, OK, maybe the Ori, but even that's not entirely their fault….
Lucy ponders that. “I don't think so? I mean, he only has the one soul, and if he was a symbiote possessing a human, there would be two souls in there, so…I'd say probably not. And to be fair, he did end up helping the rebellion that eventually overthrew the other false gods so I do have to give him props for that.” She smiles. “He's nice. Kind of creepy sometimes, but I think that's a hold-over from being a god of death….or being worshipped as one anyways. Goa'uld, hmmm? They sound like…” Her expression turns serious. “Tell me more about them?”
“Well…where to begin?” Suffice to say, Lucy might have to -stop- Daniel, because he does have a rather encyclopediac knowledge (by human standards) of the Goa'uld and their history, which he will happily regale in great detail to Lucy. Though perhaps that's not such a bad thing, as Daniel is a reasonably good storyteller in that regard. But suffice to say with a bit of gentle prodding when he rambles, he can manage to cut it down to the cliff's notes version. ”…so that's kind of the short version….the people of Earth overthrew their Goa'uld ruler, Ra. It was archaeological evidence of the Goa'uld that led me to develop some of my uh…at the time considered outlandish theories…but it also got the attention of the Stargate program, and…that's how I winded up joining up with them, more or less.” There is, however a brief flicker of emotional pain that accompanies the memory, though it's wrapped up in details of the story he hasn't shared yet.
Lucy is not going to be a good influence on Daniel - at least not as far as teaching him to cut back to cliff notes versions are concerned. Not only does she listen with rapt attention, but she asks questions, begs for elaboration, makes salient points of her own and actively encourages rambling. They could easily be there for hours going over Daniel's experiences with the Stargate program.
Finally though, she reigns in the discussion. “That's extraordinary. The entire history of your Earth has been so strongly shaped by these races. I mean, I've known several Asgardians who aren't anything like what you describe, and yet your Asgardians sound like an extraordinary race, and a great loss that their light has been taken from your universe. And the Goa'uld? Fascinating. Although also quite creepy. Seriously, seriously creepy.” She ponders. “So you're an archeologist? Have you been to Old Town yet?”
“Yes…more or less.” He doesn't go into his three separate Ph.Ds, “An archaeologist with a specialization in linguistics, I suppose you could say.” Daniel clarifies, then nods, smiling brightly, “Oh yes…amazing place. But sort of like the Library here, it's daunting just to even consider where to begin. So much to see and potentially learn.” He pauses, then frowns, “Is it…wrong…that I can actually feel myself becoming less concerned about getting home with each passing day? I mean…I haven't seen anything in my research that indicates that it's a natural effect of the city, but…there's just so much -here-. A dozen lifetimes probably wouldn't be enough to see and learn it all.”
“I can't really say,” Lucy admits. “I was born here. I've been to other worlds, but I've always thought of The City as home. But-” She raises a finger. ”-knowledge without application is wasteful and unfulfilling. The City is a wonderful place to learn but it also a wonderful place to genuinely help. And you don't seem like the type would spend all your days learning and not applying.” She picks up the graphic novels and flips through its pages. “Or I'm guessing you wouldn't be checking up on this gentleman.”
Lucy grins at Daniel. “What if you could go home? What if you could go home today? Would you? I mean, I'm assuming you came here by some horrible non-repeatable accident. But what if you had a way to come and go? What would you do then?”
“I don't know…” Daniel admits, honestly. “I mean, in a perfect world we'd find a way to travel between my world and the City permanently, and then we might be able to use knowledge we find here to better protect ourselves in the future, but…” He frowns, “That comes with its' own dangers. It isn't as if our world doesn't have plenty of people that would try to use the knowledge here for their own gain.” He sighs, “And honestly? As soon as I was home…I'd probably be thinking about how to get back. How do you return to just one reality when you've had a glimpse of infinity?”
“You don't,” Lucy agrees. “I have friends that I met in some of those other worlds. And after they came to the City…well…at first it was just coming here for special parties or because they needed some special research or artifact. Then they kept finding more reasons to come back. And now they live here.” She shrugs. “And it's so frustrating for a government. I mean, it happens all the time - worlds find a portal - usually just one government controls access and tries to keep from everyone else in their dimension. They make contact here, try to act special and find out that they aren't special, they don't get concessions – that the government here isn't going to just hand over technology because someone asks - or threatens.”
Lucy bites her lip a moment and then brightens. “If you want to go home, well, lots of people use technology but I'm biased, as you might imagine. Learn magic and a simple sympathy spell would show you the way home AND you could conjure your way back here too.” But she might be selling that a little thick, so she relents. “Of course there are many other ways, but no, I really don't think it's wrong of you to fall in love with this place. I know I love it. I always will.”
“Well, I don't know if I'll be throwing around unforgivable curses anytime soon…” Daniel notes, “Besides, I'd have to convince someone to teach me, which is probably a task in and of itself.” He adds, “It would be nice to see my friends again, though. Even if it were just to tell them about all this. They deserve at least that much.” He notes, “And yeah…then it'd be…finding a purpose here beyond just learning, because you're right…I don't think I can just bury myself in academia…not anymore.” He pauses, frowning, “I've seen and lost too much for that.”
Lucy blinks at Daniel. “You do…realize…that the largest Magical Academy in the Multiverse is here at the Great Library, right? I'm just saying…” But then grins. “If you ever decide to enroll and need a recommendation, just look me up. I'd be happy to remind those professors that one can be older than eleven and still learn a spell or two. Anyway, the bartender at the Saints and Sinners Bar in Bohemia usually knows where to find me.” Lucy gathers up her things. “I should get back to studying, but it's really been lovely meeting you, Daniel.”
“Oh of course…I've kept you far too long.” Daniel notes the time rising to his feet to see Lucy off in a gentlemanly-like manner, “Nice meeting you, Lucy.” He adds, “And uh…thanks. For the talk. It helped put a lot of things into perspective.”
“Oh it's my pleasure,” She grins and starts to shake his hand, but stops when she realizes it would mean dropping books. “And on second thought, if you decide you want to learn magic, just come by the bar. Those stodgy old magicians would only teach you all the wrong things anyway. They're so caught up on procedure and ritual it makes me grind my teeth. Until next time Daniel!” And with that as farewell, the redhead is on her way, this time seemingly watching where she's going.