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Heaven Called While You Slept
"Let me hold you tight
If only for one night
Let me keep you near
To ease away your fear
It would be so nice
If only for one night..."
"If Only For One Night"
Written by Brenda Gordon Russell
Performed by Luther Vandross
It was barely seven-thirty a.m. The members of SG-1 wandered into the briefing room. Jack dropped into his customary chair, watched as Casey settled across the table from him, beside Daniel. "What's so important about this place that we have to leave so early?"
"We have to help a group of people retrieve a stone," Casey replied, yawning widely.
"Radar, I’m not in the mood for practical jokes."
"Then don’t go into your office before we leave," she retorted.
Sam snorted softly, tried to hide her amusement by taking a sip from the coffee mug in her hand.
Casey had mentioned what she wanted to do...Daniel was almost certain he’d dissuaded her of the idea. He'd been busy working on a translation the night before when she'd stuck her head into the den, and informed him she had an errand to run, but would only be a few minutes. True to her word, she hadn't been gone longer than half an hour. He paused in his thoughts...only now realized she'd never been specific about what that errand had been. "Tell me you didn’t," he said, looking over at his Wife.
"Okay, I didn’t," Casey shrugged. Fought back another yawn, took a sip of her coffee.
"Didn’t what?" Jack asked.
"What is so special about this stone?" Teal’c asked at the same time, effectively deflecting the colonel's question. It hadn’t actually been his intention; he was more than just a little curious as to why a stone would be the cause of such fervor. Casey Jackson had called him not more than an hour earlier, after experiencing a ‘download’ of information which had her as near to hysterics as he’d seen her in months. He accepted the smile of gratitude she tossed in his direction with a nod of his head. Noted peripherally that whatever she had done, if it involved O’Neill, it would no doubt be entertaining.
"I’m not sure I can answer that," Casey admitted. "I only know that one group of people is devastated over the loss of the stone...it’s very important to them. And there’s something...special...about it. Something that those who’ve taken it aren’t prepared to deal with...they don't understand that they're in danger."
Jack studied Casey. The memory of her frantic call - her voice filled with tears, what she said nearly incomprehensible as she tried to tell him everything in one breath, desperate for him to understand how important this mission was - filled his mind as he watched the young seer...
"Hullo?" He tried to focus his fuzzy brain...heard...what was he hearing? Sounded like crying. "Hello?"
Radar was crying...no...not just crying, sobbing. As if her heart was breaking.
He was already reaching for the jeans he’d discarded earlier...something was wrong, Radar was in hysterics, judging by what he was hearing, and he had to get...somewhere. "Casey, what’s wrong?"
"I know it’s late or really it’s early since it’s not even three yet but this is really important..."
Her voice broke, he could hear the tears, hear the sob that had tried to escape.
"We have to go on a mission and it’s really, really, extremely important that we do because we have to help those poor people and you have to help me convince the general that we have to go!"
"Radar, slow down! What mission? What people?"
"Meet me...well, Daniel too, in the briefing room at seven-thirty. Please help me convince the general, please?"
Four hours later, sitting in the briefing room, the urgency in her voice still resonated in his mind... "So we’re going to be helping the thieves as well as the victims?" Jack asked, one eyebrow raised.
"In a way, yes."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Either we are, or we aren’t, Radar."
"It’s more complicated than that," Casey sighed.
Daniel wrapped his hand around hers, squeezed her fingers gently. She’d awakened in the night, crying out with absolute heartbreak. It had taken fifteen minutes for the sobs to subside enough for her to be able to even speak. He’d held her, feeling helpless...unable to do more to comfort her. She’d taken a ragged breath, and explained what she’d seen...confessing to him that she’d seen the same images before, when she’d gone through the MALP reports with the general. And that, while she’d felt the strong emotions connected to the images, she hadn’t felt the utter despair that had assailed her when additional information was dropped into her mind, during a vivid dream.
She’d called both Jack and Sam, begging them to help her convince General Hammond that the mission had to be undertaken immediately. She’d cried through both phone calls. He knew she’d lain awake for at least a full hour after he’d turned the light out; he knew because he'd been awake, listening to the shuddering breaths, felt her trembling beside him. Then, she’d called Teal’c as soon as she had climbed out of the shower, after getting a couple more hours of sleep; sobbing as hysterically as she had during the earlier calls. Daniel bit back his own sigh...his inability to console his Wife fueling his exasperation.
All eyes swung to the door of general’s office, where Hammond stood, surprised to find his premier team in the briefing room. As far as he knew, the team wasn’t due to embark on any missions for at least three days.
"We have to go, sir. Now," Casey said. Tears welled up in her eyes. "We have to!"
"I see. And just where is it that you have to go?" Hammond asked gently.
"The MALP report...I looked at it the day before yesterday...the stolen stone..." she paused, trying to recall the computer designation for the planet, shook her head.
"I believe the reports are still on my desk. Why don’t you find the folder you need?" The mention of the stone was enough to let him know exactly which mission report she was referring to. He certainly didn't need to be psychic to see that Casey was distressed. He didn’t know what she’d seen; whatever it was couldn’t be good, judging from the look in her green eyes.
Casey bolted from her chair, dashed into the CO’s office, and began searching through the folders that covered the desk.
"Did she have a ‘download’?" the general asked Daniel, realizing as the words hit the air the answer to the question was stating the obvious. There was no other reason for his premier team to be waiting in the briefing room for his arrival.
"Yes, sir. About three o’clock this morning. She was crying so hard-" Daniel started.
"She was hysterical," Jack interjected. "I didn’t really catch much of what she said when she called me, only that it was important that we leave as soon as possible."
Sam nodded. Like Jack, she could still hear the distraught pleas that had echoed through the phone line, the absolute heartbreak left in the wake of the download the seer had received. "I don’t think I’ve ever seen her this upset."
General Hammond frowned. "She and I discussed this mission. While I still have misgivings about what amounts to interference between two groups of people, I’ve learned to trust her instincts."
"But?" Jack said, asking the question that the general’s tone of voice had left dangling.
"The Pentagon is flexing its financial muscles. With the unexpected budget cutbacks in every department, I’m being forced to ‘prove’ the necessity of the missions we undertake," the general replied.
"Oy," Jack muttered, not quite under his breath. They were all aware that the cutbacks had been the result of the 'winning' political party in Washington, DC throwing its newly achieved political clout around. Those particular politicians were taking funding from the military to reroute it to new, loudly proclaimed and entirely redundant social programs; an attempt to appease the voters who had given them the White House, and control of the Senate. While the SGC did have a bit of leverage in retaining its budget, there were still those in the Pentagon who believed they were more powerful than they really were...and were more than eager to use what clout they did have to funnel dwindling funds to their own projects. It didn't make the cutbacks any less threatening...just more annoying. Damned politicians, anyway. Just as bad as the snakes!
"Sir, if Daniel and I look at the report, maybe we can find something," Sam suggested.
"I suppose helping these people, possibly making new allies, isn’t good enough for the brass?" Daniel asked snippily. Gave the general an apologetic glance. "Sorry, sir."
"I understand how you feel, Doctor. But for the moment, we’re limited in how we can respond to the Pentagon."
"Ya know, sir," Jack said, sitting back in his chair, resting his entwined fingers on his stomach, "maybe a subtle reminder that we could always approach the members of the Stargate Alliance for funding might help quell some of the grumbling about our budget. You and I both know that none of the brass in the Pentagon want any ‘outside’ influence on what they consider ‘their’ program. Any financial help from the Alliance is going to come with enough strings attached to puppeteer a marionette, and no doubt a military unit or two. The Russians especially would be eager as hell to be inside one of our top secret military facilities."
"I’ve considered playing that card," Hammond admitted. "What concerns me is that, for the moment, the budget is tight enough that there will be those who would push for that foreign aide."
"And we’d be stuck living with the consequences," Jack finished dryly. "Peachy."
Casey darted back into the room, dropped the manila folder on the table and pushed it toward Daniel. While she hadn't heard her teammates' conversation, she was well aware of the fact that the general was under considerable pressure from the Pentagon. She knew he was being forced to prove the validity of each and every mission undertaken. "Please tell me you can find something there," she said softly, her voice begging as much as her eyes.
With a nod, Daniel opened the folder. Sam moved to sit beside him, leaning over his shoulder to read the reports.
"Sir, there are traces of nickel, or so the preliminary test results indicate," Sam said, reading through the initial air and soil analyses. "That’s just beside the ‘gate. If there are traces there, chances are there could be more nearby."
Hammond nodded. "Doctor Jackson?"
"I’m not sure about the lineage of these people. They could be completely indigenous to this planet. That’s not something we’ve run into very often," Daniel said, frowning as he examined the few photos from the UAV. "It's difficult to tell from the photos, there aren't any clear shots of the people or their village."
"If that’s not enough to validate the mission, then we’re going to find all of our missions difficult to justify," Hammond said. "I’ll have a little chat with the president, and see if he can’t get us a bit of breathing room, as well."
"How long is this budget crunch going to last?" Jack asked.
"No idea, Colonel," Hammond replied. "But I’m guessing until the next round of elections are over."
The colonel grimaced. Two years of fighting to get every penny needed to run the SGC. Peachy. Just peachy. Damned politicians.
"Sir, the ‘gate itself is powered by the ZPM we found in that temple on the mission right after Casey arrived. The naquadah generator provides additional power for the 'gate, as well as power for all of the computers in the control room, and for most of the equipment used for experiments, including containment fields. Other than personnel and supplies, there isn’t any cost to us for going through the ‘gate," Sam pointed out. "And personnel and supplies are considered ‘normal operating’ costs."
"Is there any way to put the entire facility on the generator?" the general asked.
The astrophysicist shook her head. "Not the one we have now, it's at its limit." She grinned broadly. "But we’re already in the process of building a second generator. It should be able to run all of the lights and any equipment utilized by the upper levels of the SGC. We'll be able to run all equipment necessary for experiments, and not pull anything from the main grid."
"Good!" the general replied. Not totally certain that his glee - at knowing the less the politicians could complain about, the more apt they were to leave the 'operations budget' of the SGC intact - wasn't displayed on his face. "I’ll mention that to President Hayes. I’m sure that will give him a bit of leverage."
"Send ‘em through the ‘gate to a Goa’uld infested planet," Casey muttered.
"Not to stay," she said, glancing at the base CO. "Just to give them a firsthand look at what we’re fighting to prevent."
The general couldn’t help but smile at the thought. "I’m certain that would remove the SGC from the budget cuts list permanently. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen." He took a deep breath. "I’m going to approve this mission, based solely on the fact that Casey deems it important that SG-1 go. If questions are raised, I’ll use your reasoning," he said, nodding at Sam.
Daniel heaved a sigh. When would those in control of funding figure out that the ‘human element’ was far more important than what ores could be mined? The more allies the Tau’ri had, the better the chances of defeating the Goa’uld, once and for all!
"I will most certainly add your speculation to my report," Hammond said quietly to the archaeologist, intuitively reading the reason for the sigh of resignation. "And for the record, I agree with your assessment that the people we find out there are always of great value."
"Thank you, sir," Daniel replied.
"SG-1, you have permission to leave as soon as you’re geared up."
"Let’s go earn our pay, campers," Jack said. "Sir?"
Jack rose to his feet, saluted, and led the team into the corridor. "I’ll meet you in the supply room in ten minutes."
Daniel raised an eyebrow.
"Colonel stuff I have to do," Jack explained, a slight grimace on his face. He glared at Sam for a moment when she chuckled softly.
"Oh, yeah - the memo," Daniel said, nodding slightly. "Let’s go stash our rings, Angel. Supply room in ten," he said to Jack.
With a nod, Jack ambled down the corridor
Casey slid her rings from her finger. "Here, Stud Muffin. I’ll go ahead and start filling our packs."
"Good plan." Daniel dropped a kiss on her lips, headed for the elevator.
"I’m going to get a soil analyzer," Sam said. "I’ll meet you in the supply room." She hurried after Daniel, calling for him to hold the elevator.
Jack walked toward his office, his gait resembling that of a man walking toward his doom. If there were any requests for equipment, or purchase requests to order parts for equipment, he’d have to sign them before he left. Why he’d been stuck with this particular task he'd never know. There weren’t convenient boxes on the chit to tick off for ‘doohickeys’, ‘thing-a-ma-jigs’, or ‘what'cha-ma-call-its’; or better yet, a most useful ‘because Carter says we need it’ box right on the top of the form. No, the full, appropriate name of the equipment was required. As well as a description of any parts requested, and the reason for any of the purchase requisitions. And he had to read those very detailed descriptions to make certain that all of the information was correct. As if he had clue what the geeks and lab-rats were talking about. Why couldn’t he be in charge of requisitions for the mess hall? While it was often debatable that actual food was served, he at least understood things like bags of potatoes or cans of beets or sides of beef or crates of beans...or whatever the cooks might need.
He stopped short in the doorway of the room he frequented as little as possible. Sitting in the middle of his desk was a teddy bear. A purple teddy bear. He immediately glanced around, trying to spot any perpetrators. Approached his desk as carefully as if it were a ticking bomb...
This was obviously a blatant commentary on the dream...no, it had been a nightmare!...that he’d endured. That had been a couple of months ago...
It wasn’t as if he’d had the freaking dream on purpose...all of those fur covered females...a variety of colors at first. A rainbow of colors. Rather pretty colors, actually. Tattoos on their flat bellies. Bare, furry boobs...pert, perky boobs... Okay, he would admit...privately, mind you...that they hadn’t exactly been unattractive....
It seemed that someone found his discomfort highly amusing. Funny enough to buy a damned purple teddy bear! He couldn't remember actually telling anyone other than the four members of his team about the nightmare, though...
Standing beside his desk now, staring at that damned teddy bear...Okay, scratch that. It wasn’t just a ‘teddy bear’. It was one of those Care Bears, with the little design on the tummy. And it was more lavender than purple. And clutched in the bear’s hand...well, taped to the paw...was a pack of cigarettes. Looked like Ferretti’s brand.
It was impossible not to shudder as images and details of the dream...nightmare!...raced through his memory. Only one person in the entire SGC would do this. And that person just happened to be a member of SG-1. "RADAR!" he bellowed, grabbing the offending bear and stomping toward the door.
Waiting just down the hall, peeking around the corner from the adjacent corridor, Casey slapped her hand over her mouth, trying to smother the giggles that had her slender frame shaking.
"Casey Jackson, what did you do?" Teal’c asked from his place beside her.
She peeked around the corner again. "Just give it a second or two," she managed to whisper.
Jack appeared in the hallway, the bear clutched in one hand, the other fist on his hip. He caught sight of a blonde head. "Not funny, Radar!"
Giving in to the inevitable burst of laughter, Casey was barely able to remain standing. "It’s hilarious," she retorted.
Teal’c grinned from ear to ear at the sight of the toy. He remembered the details of the dream that O’Neill had shared, after Major Carter had finally been successful in waking him during one particular Monday morning briefing. Even more had been revealed when the team had gone to O’Malley’s together at the end of that day. Daniel Jackson had expressed concern that their raucous laughter would once again see the team banned from the establishment. The memories still brought amusement. "Will you call this particular stuffed animal ‘Red’?"
By now Casey was leaning against her tall friend, her laughter bouncing off the walls, calling the attention from any and all who were nearby. Including the remaining members of SG-1, who hadn’t yet stepped into the elevator.
Daniel came around the corner, took the situation in at a glance, then shook his head. "I can’t believe you really did that," he said, his blue eyes full of amusement.
Jack used the bear to point toward the seer. "Latrine duty, Radar. For a year."
Casey pulled her cellphone from her pocket. Her finger moved over the screen, then another chirp of laughter burst forth. Teal’c was looking over his shoulder, his deep laugh rumbled as well.
Sam, who had followed the sounds of laughter just as Daniel had, hurried over to where the two stood, took the phone from Casey’s hand, then her laughter joined that of her friends and teammates’.
Giving in to his curiosity, Daniel followed suit. "How?" he asked, his eyes crinkled with mirth as he watched the play-back of Jack’s face when he made his ‘discovery’.
"Not sure. 'Texas' Yates from SG-6 set it up for me," Casey replied. "I think he did something with the security cameras."
Marching to where his team stood laughing, Jack jerked the phone from Sam’s fingers, stared at the photo image of his face as he entered his office. The wide eyes, the look of surprise...no...shock, he’d definitely been shocked. "I’m not amused," he growled.
"I am!" Casey continued to grin, wiped her eyes. "Boss, you had to have known it was coming. And...consider it payback for those damned frogs."
It was Jack’s turn to grin. Now that was a memory he cherished. One of the best practical jokes he'd ever pulled. It had been just a matter of days after Casey's return to the base...after she'd run away, believing that Daniel was going to leave her for Sarah Gardner...that the team had been sent on a diplomatic mission. When the negotiations that established a treaty with the newly discovered group of people...who were somehow related to the ancient Gaul, if Daniel’s theories were correct...had been completed, a celebratory meal had been shared. A meal which had consisted mostly of frogs: fried frog's legs, boiled frog's legs, frog soup using frog eggs... Casey had been unable to do more than take enough of a bite to prevent their hosts from being offended. When SG-1 had returned to Earth, she’d shuddered and turned green whenever frogs were even mentioned. He'd managed to do so as often as possible for at least a week, and always when the team was in the commissary.
After searching the phone book, and making half a dozen calls, he’d found a toy store that carried an abundance of rubber and plastic creatures. Two weeks after the mission, he'd filled her ready-room locker with green rubber frogs. They had literally exploded out of the locker, all over her, when she’d opened it. Her scream had been audible two levels up. Or at least should have been, Jack thought with a silent chuckle, given the volume. When Daniel had confronted him about the prank, Jack had insisted that it had been Radar’s ‘initiation’, and had made her a ‘full-fledged member of the team’. He conveniently forgot that Daniel had been pissed at him about that particular incident - to the point of not speaking to him. At least until Casey had forgiven him. Thankfully Casey had been a better sport about the prank than her husband, and that forgiveness had been granted just a day or so later.
Sam grinned at him. "She really did owe you for that."
"That's for damned sure," Daniel growled, still somewhat miffed at Jack for that particular prank. It had taken him almost two hours to calm his Wife after that incident.
Jack looked at the stuffed animal in his hand. That freaking nightmare had haunted him for days! It hadn’t helped that his team had found the entire thing absolutely side-splitting when he’d shared the details of his ‘torture’. Believing that giving them the full account of the nightmare over dinner at O'Malley's would net him the sympathy he believed he deserved, he'd given every detail he'd been able to recall. Which had only made them laugh harder...and louder...at him. He glanced at Casey, who was still giggling. Grudgingly admitted that she’d waited, and found the perfect way to get him back for the frogs.
"I’ll get rid of it," Sam said, holding her hand out.
"Nope," Jack replied, pulling the toy out of the major’s reach. "It’ll be just fine on my filing cabinet."
Daniel coughed, then studied his friend. He hadn’t figured that Jack would take the joke so well. He was always the first in line to pull a prank, but wasn’t the most eager to be the recipient of any such goings-on. "Jack?"
"You’re all just cold-hearted, by the way," Jack said. "That was a horrible nightmare!"
Casey burst into giggles yet again. "So you’ve told us."
"And you’re keeping it because...?" Daniel asked, nodding at the stuffed bear.
"It’ll be a symbol of the fact that I can survive anything," the colonel said smugly.
"Yep, a nice symbol of surviving nearly being boffed to death by Care Bears," Casey squeaked. Her comment sent her teammates, sans Jack of course, into hysterics yet again.
"Oh, har-dee-har-har." Jack turned on his heel, and strode back to his office. Put the bear on top of the filing cabinet beside his desk. Where he’d have to look up to see the damned thing. Shuddered slightly, then sat down at his desk. There was no way in hell he’d let that skinny little seer know she’d succeeded in ‘getting him’...even if that meant carrying the damned bear around! He gave another shiver, then searched through a stack of folders for any requisition forms. There were three. He deliberately read each and every word. Even looked up a couple of the words he didn’t recognize. Took his time signing in all of the appropriate and carefully marked places. And if they were late getting through the ‘gate for this mission, it was all Radar’s fault!
A A A A A A
The MALP had been sent through the ‘gate, the team waiting for the results, clustered around Sam as she manipulated the remote controlled camera. The weather wasn’t appealing, it looked as if it were raining. It seemed that the Stargate itself was sitting on the top of a mountain...nothing but gray rocks surrounding it. Just below the ‘snow line’ was forest...dark green forest as far as the eye could see...in any direction. They had a basic idea where at least one village was located, thanks to the earlier UAV infrared images.
"Looks cold," Jack noted.
Sam checked the readouts. "Ambient temp is sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit."
"A bit warm for a rainy day on the top of a mountain, isn’t it?" the colonel mused.
"Just a bit," Sam admitted. "It’s possible that these mountains are located near the equator of the planet. And...if they’re not extremely tall, the weather would be a bit warmer than taller mountains to the north or south of this range. The above average temps could explain that dense forest," she added.
Casey took in a shaky breath as the feeling of heartbreak washed over her once again. "It’s safe?"
The major looked up, saw the tears forming in the seer’s eyes. "It’s safe," she replied, reaching out and giving Casey’s hand a quick squeeze.
Jack rubbed his hand over Casey’s shoulder. "We’ll take care of this, Radar," he said quietly. "We’ll set everything right."
Daniel shook his head in silent wonder...and appreciation. It seemed he wasn’t the only member of SG-1 damned near desperate to ease the pain that his Wife was so obviously suffering because of...whatever it was she’d seen. "That’s a promise," he said.
"Indeed," Teal’c added softly.
"Do we approach the village that we saw in the UAV photos?" Daniel asked, watching Casey’s face carefully.
Green eyes closed. "Yes. They’re the...victims...of the theft. We have to reassure them. They’ll know where the other village is."
"Good enough for me," Jack said. He lifted his pack from the floor. "Let’s hit the armory, and then we’re on our way."
Grabbing packs that waited nearby, the team followed their CO to the small armory beside the gear room.
No one was surprised to see General Hammond standing at the bottom of the ramp when they entered the ‘gate room. He stepped forward, and took Casey’s hand between his. "You’re certain this is the right thing to do?"
"Yes, sir. If we don’t...something horrible will happen," Casey replied. She had very few ‘facts’, mostly she’d been inundated with such heartbreak that just finding the images that had been left with her download had taken hours. Interpreting them had only been possible when her subconscious mind had been allowed to work on the puzzle while she slept, fitfully, after the download. But what she’d seen left no doubt in her mind that the stone needed to be returned to its rightful place, and quickly...before it was too late. "What awaits those people is bad...dead would be much better. I don’t understand what this stone is...or what it does. I only know that it’s powerful, and it’s deadly if it’s in the wrong hands. Right now, it’s in the wrong hands."
Hammond patted her slender hand, nodding his head. "SG-1, you have a go," he said quietly. "Godspeed."
"That’s the word, campers," Jack said, his own voice hushed.
Casey glance up at Daniel, then stepped forward. Smiled when she felt him immediately beside her, his fingers threading themselves between her own.
A A A A A A
A trip through the wormhole was never exactly ‘pleasant’, Daniel thought. It was cold and dizzying and just a bit ‘trippy’, to be completely honest. Expecting to walk out of the ‘gate and onto the carved steps that the MALP had ‘seen’, he was more than a bit surprised to find himself hurled into the air. He landed hard on the exposed rocks of the top of the mountain, grunting from the force of that landing. Rolled slightly. The rain they had noted had turned to a fine mist. Either way, he was still getting wet.
"What in the hell was that?" Jack grumbled from where he lay.
"I don’t know, sir," Sam replied, picking herself up as well. Teal’c had landed near her; he was on his knees, looking around warily.
"This isn’t going to be like that place where you screwed up the sun, is it?" Jack asked, brushing himself off, adjusting his pack as he rose to his feet.
"I didn’t intentionally screw up the sun," Sam replied defensively.
"Right. Something about safety protocols and them being ignored, wasn’t it?" Jack retorted.
"Guys," Daniel said quietly. Nodded to where Casey was kneeling, tears streaming down her face. He squatted down beside his Wife. "Case?"
"Oh, Daniel, we have to hurry," she whispered.
"Okay, Angel. Let’s go," he said. He helped her to her feet.
"Teal’c, take point. Carter, send the MALP home," Jack said, then moved to where the Jacksons stood together. "Gonna make it, Radar?"
"I’ll be okay," she replied, hurriedly wiping the tears from her cheeks. Completely oblivious to her ‘slip’. Her Husband and teammates, however, were not.
Daniel looked over her blonde head at Jack. Could see his friend's concern in his brown eyes. Figured there was plenty of the same visible in his own. Mixed with a sense of growing helplessness. It seemed there wasn’t a thing he could do to comfort his Wife; a fact that left him more than a little frustrated.
The sound of the ‘gate opening once again filled the air. Sam set the auto-return sequence, watched as the robot moved up the steps and into the event horizon. Pulled her radio from her shoulder. "This is Major Carter, come in SGC."
"This is the SGC," Walter’s voice answered.
"Did the MALP make it okay?"
"Not really. It hit the wall...like something threw it through the ‘gate," the sergeant replied.
"That’s what I was afraid of," Sam sighed. "Have Siler check it out. And run a complete diagnostic on the dialing system."
"Carter out." She turned to face her teammates. "Looks like the ride is rough both ways."
"Any idea why?" Daniel asked.
"Not at the moment," Sam confessed. "When the MALP returned after the initial examination of this planet, there wasn’t any sort of incident. It arrived here okay not quite thirty minutes ago. Something has happened to change that."
"As long as we can get home, I’m happy," Jack declared.
Teal’c was waiting near what looked like a narrow path.
"Lead on, T-man," Jack said. "I’ve got the six."
"Do you have any idea why the ride was so rough?" Daniel asked Casey, as they began to make their way down the steep path.
She shook her head. "None. I don’t know enough about wormholes to have a clue what does or doesn’t affect them." She cocked her head sideways. "Although...there’s the possibility that the...power...of the stone, since it’s not where it should be, is screwing around with things."
Sam frowned. "You said you don’t know what this stone is?"
Again Casey shook her head. "I only know what I saw. A stone...just a stone. Oh, it’s interesting enough, I suppose. The colors I mean. Black and gray mostly. But that’s all I see...all I know about it."
The astrophysicist’s frown deepened. "There has to be something...maybe there’s something inside the stone, a power source of some kind?"
Casey shrugged. "I have no idea."
Sam couldn’t stop the smile that tugged at her lips. Daniel had definitely been influential on Casey - she sounded just like him.
"There are powers in this universe that can’t always be explained by science," Casey continued softly.
"Are you saying that this stone has...magical...properties?" Daniel asked.
"Not ‘magical’," Casey replied. "That insinuates some sort of...trickery...is involved. This is more...mystical. As if...as if it takes its power from the very air around it."
No doubt this whole mission would be fraught with mumbo-jumbo voodoo type...stuff, Jack thought. Radar seemed to attract those types of missions like a magnet. Probably because of that psychic connection she had to the universe. "Sounds a bit far-fetched to me," he said.
"Not really, sir," Sam countered. "We can’t see or feel them, but there are light waves and sound waves all around us...we can see and hear the results of those waves. We can’t see or feel the magnetic and gravitational forces on the planet, but they exist. In their own way, those things are a type of 'power'."
"Ancient Egyptian priests were able to perform ‘magical’ feats, yet today we know that they were only taking advantage of naturally occurring phenomena," Daniel added. "Whether or not they understood about sound waves and light waves and gravity and magnetism, we don’t know."
"So this stone could just have certain properties that make it special?" Jack asked.
"Possibly," Sam said, making her way around a particularly large boulder.
"The stone is special," Casey said, moving as far away from the drop-off the trail followed as possible. "I don’t know how, or why, but I do know that much."
"We’ll find it, Radar, and get it back where it belongs," Jack said.
"Just don’t think that you can fill my ready-room locker with rocks and get away with it," Casey replied flippantly.
Jack grinned. The idea had crossed his mind. The grin faded when he thought about the lavender Care Bear that was sitting on his filing cabinet. Radar would find a way to get him back. Who knew what she might come up with? That unpleasant thought caused a shudder to move him from head to foot. "Right. No rocks."
Daniel glanced over his shoulder, noted the grin, and how it had quickly disappeared. Bit back his chuckle. Jack had met his match in Casey. No doubt the prankster in Jack O'Neill would take care to avoid future ‘payback’ from her. Unless, of course, the colonel came up with a really good prank he just couldn't resist. If that happened, all bets were off, and the Pranks Wars would begin!
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