Part 17: Burning Records, Burning Books

Nicko: So … how did the meeting go?
Steve: Ts, he called in sick today. What a whimp!
Bruce: Hehe, too afraid for his balls, I guess.
Janick: Does that mean we're not going on a mission today?
Adrian: Cool, see ya next week, guys.
Steve: Actually, his secretary handed me the new mission.
Adrian: Damn. No luck!
Dave: Yay, a new mission.
Bruce: Owkay, let's punch in some numbers …

Janick: Woah! It's blazing hot again.
Nicko: Yes, I wish they wouldn't switch climate zones so often. Last week - ice-age. This week - tropics, that's no good for me health.
Steve: Don't tell me you caught a cold again!
Nicko: Not yet, but who knows …
Bruce: We're again in an ancient, fortified city, I guess. Glazed brick walls, pretty large, paved streets. And ... aha: a public eating place. Looks like they're selling some sort of kebab ...
Dave: Really?
Adrian: What's the mission, Arry?
Dave: Missionary?
Steve: Oh, yes, wait ... "Bring back a famous book."
Bruce: ... Those linen dresses are so cool. And the brooches to keep them together. Neat ...
Adrian: Can't they be more precise? "Famous" is very subjective.
Steve: Hm. It doesn't specify what kind of book.
Janick: Maybe they mean the Bible? This might be Jerusalem.
Dave: Kebab shops in Jerusalem? I thought they weren't supposed to eat cows?
Adrian: Cows are venerated by Hindous, not Jews. And anyway, kebab is made of pork meat. You're mixing things up, Dave.
Nicko: Back to the mission: where's the next bookshop?
Bruce: ... did you just see that kid? It had a little clay toy on wheels! ...
Janick: Doesn't look much like bookshop-era to me.
Dave: Wow, have a look at that wall over there. The figures all have noses like Nicko.
Nicko: Let me see. 'Kin perfect. I'm gonna film this. Maybe they're me ancestors.
Steve: Bruce?
Bruce: ... and the kid even had sandals on. Cork slippers, with leather bindings. So interesting ....
Steve: Bruce!
Bruce: … eh? Yes? You were saying?
Steve: Have a look at that wall.
Bruce: Wall? Where? Holy kin moley, my goodness! I feel like in the British Museum.
Adrian: I don't. ... Why do you?
Bruce: Well, these are Assyrian sculptures, and the British Museum is full of them …
Steve: Thanks. That's what I wanted to know.
Bruce: Don't mention it.
Janick: So we're in Assyria?
Adrian: We might be in the British Museum …
Nicko: I bet me money on the real thing, though.
Adrian: Yeah well, it's not like I was putting much hope in the museum-idea, either.
Steve: Fuck! I hate it when they send us to countries that don't even exist anymore.
Janick: When is Assyria?
Bruce: Ehm, I think the Assyrian empire had its heyday in the first millennium before our era. King Assurba...
Dave: Any chance we landed in a friendly period?
Steve: Any chance the Easter bunny really exists?
Dave:
Bruce: To my knowledge, Assyria didn't know many friendly periods, Davey. They made the history books, didn't they? Gotta have a war-crazy bunch of looneys as kings to manage that. So the answer to your question is: nah, probably not.
Nicko: Well, of course not, peaceful times wouldn't be exciting enough for BBC.
Steve: Fuck. Do they think they only get an audience if they can show footage of us running for our lives?
Adrian: Apparently they had the highest audience rates so far for Nicko's film footage from the torture chamber of the Spanish Inquisition.
Steve: Bloodthirsty bastards.
Bruce: Do you mean BBC or the audience?
Steve: Both.
Bruce: Nice answer.
Dave: Anyway, it can't be helped now. Let's try to solve this mission.
Janick: Yeah, I was wondering whether they already had books back in those times? Didn't they rather have scrolls?
Nicko: I remember seeing ancient papyrus scrolls in Alexandria. On the Virtual XI tour. Remember when that 'kin camel almost bit Dave, Jan?
Janick: Fuck yeah, that was funny.
Bruce: Actually, now it makes sense …
Dave: It wasn't funny. I don't know why camels always try to bite me.
Adrian: Doesn't make sense to me …
Dave: No, to me neither. I'm just trying to make friends with them ....
Adrian: I was talking to Bruce, Dave.
Dave. Oh.
Bruce: King Assurbanipal was the founder of the first library, so to speak.
Adrian: Who?
Dave: Asserbanipple.
Adrian: You know that guy?
Dave: Ehm, no.
Janick: And you guys think he will just let us walk off with one of his books?
Nicko: Well, first we have to find out where he stores them. This city is 'kin big.
Steve: Hm. We'll probably have to find his palace or something. Damn, there will be tons of guards again. We need a good strategy.
Bruce: Actually, if you had listened to what I said … he was the founder of the first LIBRARY. So the books are in a LIBRARY.
Steve: Well, maybe the library was IN the palace, smartass.
Bruce: Ok, that could be.
Steve: So there.
Nicko: We look much too conspicuous, if you ask me.
Dave: Why?
Nicko: Look at the guys all around you. They all sport such stupid beards.
Adrian: What's stupid about a beard?
Nicko: Depends on the beard. Just look at them. So curly.
Dave: They look like on the paintings on the wall.
Janick: Seems to have been the fashion back then.
Bruce: Nicko is right, we need a beard.
Adrian: Ha, good luck then. You think that will grow in a few minutes?
Bruce: Yes.
Adrian: Huh?
Bruce: Anybody got scissors?
Steve: Scis … oh no, mate, forget it. I'm not gonna cut my hair to provide you with curls for those stupid beards.
Bruce: But Steve …
Steve: No! We never needed camouflage to do our missions before. Why now?
Nicko: It would be less obvious that we're strangers.
Steve: NO!
Adrian: Shhhh! Duck down, there are guards approaching.
Bruce: Pill! Gimme that Babel pill!
...
Soldier: … and we took many hostages. The king will be pleased.
Guard: He is indeed. There will be a promotion ceremony tonight. And Zarah promised me a dance ...
Soldier: We have covered ourselves in glory. The Babylonian dogs will rot in our prisons.
Guard: Can you believe it, some of them don't even have beards?
Soldier: Yes, it's disgusting. Don't they have any pride? Well, I see you tonight then. And good luck with Zarah, mate.
Guard: Cheers, buddy. I'll see you tonight.

Adrian: Hehe, don't you have any pride, guys?
Steve: Hm. I guess under the circumstances it wouldn't be such a bad idea to sport a beard after all. Fuck. Gimme those scissors.
Bruce: Good to see you're being sensible, Harry.
Steve: Hm. One lock will be enough, I hope. What do I look like?
Janick: Honestly?
Steve: No.
Janick: Ok, it suits you.
Steve: I feel like a fool.
Bruce: You look like a f…
Steve: Bruce!
Bruce: It suits you.
Adrian: Ok, I guess, my goatee isn't good enough to live up to their latest fashion, so … off with one of my curls as well.
Dave: This is fun. But I don't have curls. Can anybody lend me his hair?
Janick: Sure, take one of mine.
Dave: Thanks, mate.
Nicko: You are probably the only two guys with permed beards. Now it's my turn. Scissors!
Bruce: Ehm …
Steve: What?
Bruce: Well … I don't have long hair to make my own beard, so I thought …
Steve: … you thought I would give you some of mine? Well, think again. It's not my fault that you cropped your hair short in the nineties.
Bruce: Hey, what kind of team spirit is this? You're the only one matching my hair colour, so it's gotta be you.
Steve: Do you think I'm having fun cutting my hair on each mission?
Bruce: Do you think I'm having fun pasting your hair on my chin? And don't exaggerate, you're not cutting it off on every mission.
Steve: Well, I did with the Vikings.
Bruce: That's been weeks ago. Nah, months, even. They have grown back already.
Dave: Can you stop quarrelling, please? Let's enjoy this mission, ok?
Steve: Hm. All right, I give you a lock. There. Take it and be happy with it.
Bruce: Is that kiwi shampoo you're using? Smells kinda funny.
Steve: Stop that, Bruce!
Bruce: Ok, ok. So, what do I look like?
Janick:
Dave:
Nicko:
Bruce: Ok, I get the picture. Thanks for the feedback, though. Always appreciated.
Janick: So … now that we blend in perfectly, what's the plan?
Nicko: In a nutshell: find the library – grab a book – get back to the TM.
Adrian: Translated into real-life speak: find the library – try to grab a book – get into some sort of trouble – run for our lives.
Dave: Don't be so negative, H.
Steve: Ok, let's get moving. Look out for a building that could be a library or a palace. And no matter what happens: we stay together!
Bruce: Yes, daddy ...

Janick: You think that's the library?
Bruce: It might be. There are guards outside, though.
Steve: What did I tell you? Fuck! How do we get in?
Dave: Maybe the easiest way is to just go in.
Steve: Huh?
Dave: Well, look at the other guys. They go in and out, the guards don't seem to bother. It's a public library.
Nicko: Yes, Davey's right. Maybe this time it's really as easy as that.
Janick: What if it's not?
Adrian: Plan B, as always.
Janick: What is Plan B?
Adrian: Run for your lives.
Janick: Aha.
Bruce: Ok, let's go read some books. … Hello, Mister Guard. Fine summer day, isn't it?
Steve: Don't draw attention to us, Bruce! Just get the fuck in.
Bruce: I just wanted to be polite!
Steve: He's a guard, he doesn't understand polite. He will think it's suspicious.
Bruce: How do YOU know?
Steve: Believe me, I'm starting to get a feeling for antique paranoia.
Dave: We're in, guys. And nobody stopped us. I was right.
Janick: Woah, I didn't imagine it like that!
Nicko: Let me film this.
Bruce: You better film it, this is history. Boys: this is the famous library of Nineveh!
Dave: Didn't you say it was the library of that Asser-something-with-nipple guy?
Bruce: Assurbanipal. Yes, that's the king. Nineveh is his capital.
Dave: Ok.
Adrian: Books. Hm. I can see clay tablets. Loads of it. That's probably the books.
Steve: Sure. Ok, grab one and off we are.
Nicko: Not so near the entrance, the guard is already looking in our direction.
Bruce: Yeah, why don't we go a bit further in?
Steve: Bruce! You stay with us.
Bruce: Yeah, yeah. .... Wow! Look at that inscription on the wall. I wonder what it means?
Janick: Strange. The Babel Pill makes us understand the language, but we are unable to read it.
Steve: Interesting. I have never thought about that before. A flaw in BBC's preparations. He. Good to know.
Bruce: Ehm, excuse me, sir. Can you tell me what is written there?
Visitor: Of course I can. What are you doing in the library if you cannot read?
Bruce: Well, it's not like I can't read. Actually, I loooove cuneiform writing, can't get enough of it. But, you see, I'm a bit short-sighted. Too much reading, I guess. My eyes hurt. So, could you, please .... ?
Visitor: Oh, ok. It is written: May all these gods curse anyone who breaks, defaces, or removes this tablet with a curse which cannot be relieved, terrible and merciless as long as he lives, may they let his name, his seed be carried off from the land, and may they put his flesh in a dog's mouth.
Adrian: Damn, Bruce, did you have to read this? Now we know we're cursed!
Dave: Oops, you think they mean us?
Steve: You are not going to believe in a curse, are you?
Dave: Well …
Bruce: Nah, don't worry, Dave. That's just to scare off thieves.
Dave: Well, somehow we are thieves …
Bruce: Hey, see that bloke over there? That must be a scribe. Cool. I'm having a short look. Very short, very quick, promised. Be right back.
Steve: Bruce!
Janick: Don't shout, Arry. The guard is still watching us.
Steve: Damn. Ok, let's get a bit further in. I just hope Bruce is staying with that scribe. I guess he will be occupied for some time until we find a book we can nick.
...
Bruce: Hey, interesting job you have here.
Scribe: Thanks. I trained hard for it. I can now proudly say: I am the king's scribe.
Bruce: Is that difficult, inscribing words on clay?
Scribe: You have to be conscientious, accurate and fast. Once the clay hardens, it's almost impossible to change anything, so you must be precise.
Bruce: Cool. What's this text all about?
Scribe: These are the latest reports from our war with the Babylonians. The king wants to inspect it today. Excuse me, but I have to finish my work.
Bruce: So, the king will come in today? Fantastic.
Scribe: Actually, he is already here. He's in the great archive. That door over there. You can go in, if you wish.
Bruce: Wow, thanks, I will do that.

Nicko: Here is a small tablet. Maybe that will be enough. I could hide it in my pocket.
Steve: Ok, I guess that should satisfy BBC.
Dave: Somehow we are stealing ancient material, aren't we? I'm thinking about that curse …
Adrian: We can always give it back to the British Museum later on, then they have their collection complete again.
Dave: True.
Steve: Hm. Look, we shouldn't linger here. If we leave Bruce unsupervised for too long, he might start out on a tourist spree again.

Assurbanipal: Take a look around. Thousands and thousands of records are stored here. The largest library Mankind has ever seen.
Bruce: It's amazing. All this has been achieved in a lifetime? Incredible.
Assurbanipal: One day, my body will turn to ash, but the records will live on and on. For future generations to learn about my life and accomplishments. My name will be known in all Four Corners of the Earth for millennia to come.
Bruce: You don't know how right you are, great king. May I have a look around?
Assurbanipal: Of course. I am proud of my achievements, and I'd like to give you a tour around. I'm always pleased to converse with learned men. Care to see my office?
Bruce: Sure. Great.
Assurbanipal: It's a bit further down the hall. Hidden from the public. Come with me.

Nicko: Did you hear that?
Adrian: Sounds like people shouting.
Steve: In a library? That's bad news. Let's get the hell out of here.
Dave: Does anybody know which way we came?
Janick: I was lost after we took the first turn.
Nicko: Well, luckily we have our little boyscout with us. So, H, where is the exit?
Adrian: Ha-ha. I think we have to go down that aisle and then right. That's where we left Bruce, and it was not far away from the main entrance.
Dave: Great how you always remember which way we have to take.
Adrian: Maybe I'm paying more attention to detail than you, Dave.
Nicko: Maybe you are just more eager to get out again.
Adrian: True. That as well.
Guard: People, leave the building immediately. All of you!
Steve: Why? What happened?
Guard: Be quick or you'll be dead. The East Wing is burning. It's probably a Babylonian treason. We have to evacuate all visitors.
Steve: Shit, let's get out.
...
Nicko: Seems like you were mistaken this time, H. This is not the place. Bruce is not here.
Adrian: I'm sure it's the same room.
Steve: Fuck! It IS the same room. But Bruce is not here. I'll ask the scribe, maybe he knows where he went.

Assurbanipal: In here, the walls are so thick that I am undisturbed by outside commotion. This is where I retire to read and to work on my tablets.
Bruce: You are not only a king, but a scribe as well?
Assurbanipal: Yes, I am a trained scribe as well. Does that surprise you? A king should be knowledgeable. Empires rise and fall with the wisdom of its rulers.
Bruce: Oh mighty king, this saying tells me more about your wisdom than you could imagine. ... So: what's this?
Assurbanipal: I am currently working on the Tale of Gilgamesh. It will become a mighty epic. The largest story ever written.
Bruce: Yeah, I read it once.
Assurbanipal: How so?
Bruce: Ehm, I mean, I heard it. Excerpts of it. Recited. Was neat.
Assurbanipal: It's one of my favourite tales. The story of Gilgamesh is very inspiring. I put my heart into this work.

Steve: I'm gonna kill him if I find him.
Janick: If he's somewhere in there, the fire might do that job for you.
Nicko: Did the scribe tell you where he went?
Steve: He entered that room to have a chat with the king. Can you believe that? The cheek of that man. Let's go get him before this place burns to cinders.
Janick: There's nobody in here.
Steve: I'm going to have a heart-attack. Where the fuck IS Bruce?
Adrian: Let's ask the scribe again.
...
Scribe: Oh dear, the East Wing is burning. I have to save my work. I have to get out. No time. Have to hurry.
Janick: Wait! Do you know where the king has gone?
Scribe: How should I know that? He was in there.
Steve: He isn't now. So, where could he have gone?
Scribe: Maybe into his private offices? … I hope not, though.
Adrian: Why not?
Scribe: Because they are in the East Wing.
Dave: You mean in the part of the library that's burning?
Scribe: Yes. I have to go. I have to help extinguish the fire. We have to save the records. Have to hurry. No time for conversation, sorry.
Steve: Trust Bruce to enter that part of the building that's burning down. Damn! He should have stayed with us.
Janick: We have to help him.
Steve: Of course we have to help him. So, where's that fucking East Wing?
Nicko: A sure bet is to run in the direction where the others are coming from.
Steve: Yeah, you're right. Can't believe I'm doing this. Let's go.
Dave: This library is a real maze. Amazing. .... Hey guys, did you ever notice the similarity between the word "amazing" and "maze"?
Steve: Dave!
Dave:
Janick: Adrian, make sure you remember the way back out again.
Adrian: I'll do my best.
Steve: Wait. Hey guard, is this the way to the king's private offices?
Guard: Yes, but don't go there, the hallway to his door is already burning. You wouldn't reach it anyway. We will try and extinguish the fire in a minute. You may join the water chain, if you want to.
Steve: Let's not lose any time. I can simply FEEL that Bruce is in there.
...
Bruce: You can be so proud of what you achieved. This library will make history.
Assurbanipal: Thank you. … Do you smell this?
Bruce: Yes, it smells like burning wood. I hope you don't have a barbecue in here.
Assurbanipal: There is smoke coming in from under the door. The library can't be burning! I'll have the heads of those who are responsible for this. I will put their balls onto spikes for public display.
Bruce: Oh, damn, you remind me of our bassist. Show mercy great king. If ever we get out of here alive, that is. The hall is burning. We better lock the door. Is there another exit?
Assurbanipal: No, I'm afraid not. It's the last room in this corner of the library.
Bruce: Great. So how do we get out?

Janick: No chance we can pass under those burning rafters. What if they crash down on us?
Steve: Well, they will crash down, and soon probably. So we have to get Bruce out, no matter what.
Adrian: I'll get us some wet blankets from the water chain. Come on, Dave. We'll be back in a minute, Arry.
Steve: Just get back as fast as you can, man.

Assurbanipal: I don't fear death. But without these records, it will be more than death. Eternal oblivion. Nothing will remain for people to remember me. My name will be forgotten. I am shattered.
Bruce: There's no time to be shattered. We need to get out of here somehow. Why did you put the windows so high up?
Assurbanipal: Less interruption from the outside.
Bruce: I wouldn't mind a bit of interruption from the outside now. Maybe we should try the hallway after all?
Assurbanipal: No, it's blazing hot, we won't manage to get through. But I have an idea!
Bruce: You're a mighty king indeed. Spit it out!
Assurbanipal: I have a sword. We will end our lives in a flash of the blade before we burn.
Bruce: What? No way! That was only a song, mate. I'll find us a way out of here.

Dave: Here are the wet blankets. We only found three, I'm afraid.
Steve: Let's not lose any more precious time then, before they dry up again.
Janick: Or before the rafters crash down.
Steve: Exactly. Ok, I'm off.
Nicko: Should I come with you?
Steve: No need to endanger us all. Anyway, I need two spare blankets in case I find Bruce and that king in there. Wish me luck, guys.

Bruce: If only we had some water in here, we could wet our clothes and just try to run through the smoke.
Assurbanipal: I only have a water jug, but that won't help much. I will opt for the sword after all.
Bruce: No! … Did you hear that?
Assurbanipal: Somebody is trying to force the door. The Babylonian henchmen coming to finish their bloody work?
Bruce: More likely Arry coming to get me out. Damn, I'm so happy to see you!
Steve: There you are. ... Fuckin' smoke.
Bruce: Any chance we can still get back the way you came?
Steve: Not like we had any other option, is it? Take these blankets and let's get out before the hall crashes down.
Assurbanipal: We need to save my records.
Steve: Ok, you save your records. I'm saving my life and that of my singer. Come on, Bruce.
Bruce: We cannot …
Steve: Yes, we can, let's get outta here.
Bruce: You cannot save all these records, my king. But you can save your life and start anew. Be sensible.
Assurbanipal: These are wise words. Let's get out.

Dave: I can see them, they come running down the hall.
Janick: Man, we have to get out, I have already problems breathing.
Steve: Ok, which is the shortest exit?
Assurbanipal: Follow me, I know a shortcut.

Bruce: Ah, fresh air. For one second, I thought I would end up as toast.
Steve: Yeah, and it would have been your own fault. Why didn't you stay with us as I told you?
Bruce: Hey, how was I to know that the library would burn down?
Steve: If I find out that this is a recorded incident: the great fire of the library of Nineveh or some such …
Bruce: It's not, at least I never heard of it.
Adrian: It can't be, if the British Museum have their stuff.
Assurbanipal: The library will not burn down. See, my people are already forming a chain to extinguish the fire. They might not be able to save everything, but I will start anew. My library will rise from the ashes, vaster than ever before. My name will be remembered ...
Bruce: I'm sure it will. It was an honour meeting you, my king.
Assurbanipal: I have to thank you and your friends for saving my life. I am in your eternal debt. Why don't you stay for the ceremony tonight?
Bruce: Yeah …
Steve: No! Sorry, but we have to leave. There are people waiting for us. But thanks for the offer.
Bruce: Ehm, yeah, I guess we don't have time. Pity, though.
Assurbanipal: Then let me at least give you this clay tablet. It contains the ending of the story you like as much as me.
Bruce: Hey, thank you. That's great, now we have a famous book for BBC.
Nicko: Fuck my old boots! Are you saying the tablet I nicked wasn't famous enough?
Bruce: I wouldn't know. Anyway, two tablets are better than one. That way, we can keep one as souvenir for ourselves. Farewell, my king.
Assurbanipal: Farewell, my friends.

Nicko: I have a historic fire on tape here, amazing.
Steve: Can you believe this? I got wet yet again.
Dave: At least you didn't have to jump from a great height.
Steve: Hm. That's a consolation. ... What's this? My hair is singed. Bruce!
Bruce: Only the split ends. Besides, that's not MY fault. You decided to run through the burning hall.
Steve: Decided? I wouldn't have had to run through that burning hall if you had stayed with us in the first place.
Bruce: You're right, I'm sorry. I appreciate that you came to rescue me. It's great to have mates on whom you can rely so completely. Honestly, I'm sorry that I put you through this. Thanks, guys. I'll try not to play tourist too much on the next mission.
Steve: Ts, you don't want me to believe that, do you? Too nosy for your own good, you are. Crazy boy.
Dave: Well, no-one got seriously hurt and that's the most important thing.
Adrian: Yeah, let's just forget the whole thing and go home.
Steve: Yeah, let's do that. And, Bruce: I don't have split ends.
Bruce: Hehe.
Nicko: Ok, I'm pushing the red buttons, guys!