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Know Thyself

 

"There's another world inside of me
That you may never see
There's secrets in this life
That I can't hide
Somewhere in this darkness
There's a light that I can't find
Maybe it's too far away...
Maybe I'm just blind..."
"Love Me When I'm Gone" Three Doors Down

 

Chapter 1

It was the first time in three months that SG-1 had been assembled for a full mission briefing. Sam was going over her notes, Jack was already looking bored, Teal'c was busy dipping his tea bag into the mug of hot water held in one massive hand.

General Hammond entered the room, opened the briefing file, then glanced at the empty chairs normally occupied by Daniel and Casey. "Are Doctor and Mrs. Jackson joining us this morning?" he asked gruffly.

"Yes, sir," a soft voice replied from the doorway to the corridor. Casey walked in, poured two cups of coffee. Daniel was right behind her, shuffling through the notes in his hand.

"Sorry we're late, General," Daniel apologized. "I wanted to make certain that I was on the right track."

"Right track, Doctor?" the general frowned.

"Well, sir, the images from the MALP are showing a structure that appears to be as large as the one we located on P7X-377-"

"Not ringing any bells, Daniel," Jack said immediately. He wished they'd quit using numbers and letters and just name the planets! It would be so much easier to remember them!

"The planet where we located the giant aliens," Daniel replied.

"Oh, yeah. Have you heard from your grandfather lately?" Jack asked.

"Not lately." Daniel glanced up, irritation visible in his blue eyes. "This structure isn't a pyramid, but a ziggurat. I thought that meant Babylonian influences, but what I could see of the markings are definitely Assyrian. There's considerable Sumerian influence, so I'm guessing that the text was written by those who lived here from 2092-2061 BCE. Which is much later than when the Goa'uld were forced to leave Earth, by about three thousand years."

"We've been finding evidence that several Goa'uld remained on Earth, hidden," Sam said. "Is it possible that these people were led by a Goa'uld, who then took a few through the Stargate?"

Daniel shook his head. "The Stargate was buried when the Goa'uld were overthrown. It's possible that the people were taken earlier, and for some reason their society developed parallel to those who remained here."

Casey was examining the photo's that the MALP had taken. "This wasn't built by human hands," she said softly.

All eyes focused on her. "What can you tell us?" General Hammond asked.

She looked up. "I'm sorry, what?"

Smiles flickered on the five faces around her. "You said that this ziggurat wasn't built by human hands," Daniel said.

"Okay."

He grinned. "No clue, huh?"

"None whatsoever," she admitted.

The atmospheric readings were a bit off, higher concentrations of nitrogen, it seemed. General Hammond turned to Sam. "Is it possible for a team to survive on this planet?"

"Yes, sir," the major replied. "It's a bit on the cool side, high temperatures so far have ranged from the mid to upper forties. When readings were taken in what we presumed was the middle of their night, it was nineteen degrees Fahrenheit."

"Cold," Jack muttered. He hated the cold. He hadn't minded it so much before he and Sam had been stranded for days in the Antarctic. It had taken weeks for him to warm up. Yep, he hated the cold.

"Oxygen levels are a bit low, comparable to high mountain areas," Sam continued. "It'd probably be a good idea to carry oxygen tanks, just in case."

"What about radiation?"

"All levels are within normal and acceptable parameters," Sam assured the general. "We haven't located any traces of naquadah, or any other known metals," she added.

"Explain, Major...'known' metals?"

"Well, sir, we're getting readings that indicate some sort of metal, at least, that's what we believe it to be. Although we've never seen anything like it before."

"The only structure we've been able to see is the ziggurat itself," Daniel tossed in. "We don't know if there could be anything hidden behind it or not."

The general turned to Casey. "Can you 'see' anything that might be of any interest?"

She closed her eyes. Concentrated on a mental image of the giant structure.

 

"Well, I thought you were going to be staying home for awhile."

She smiled, looked over to see the old seer standing beside her, arms crossed over her chest. "So did I."

"So what's up?"

"Freaky looking place. Daniel says it's a ziggurat."

"Take a look, Sunshine," Miss Eloise said.

With a nod, Casey focused her thoughts. Felt herself pulled toward the distant planet. Once again the thought that she was going to 'take a trip' with enough time to stop and appreciate the beauty of the galaxy flittered through her mind.

There. Goddess, the thing was...huge! she thought. Standing at the base of the massive structure, she couldn't even see the top. She ran her fingers over what appeared to be a door of some sort. Pulled her fingers back abruptly as an electrical-type shock ran up her arm. She frowned. She could feel...power. Incredible power. But she couldn't tell if it was artificial, or if it was something that occurred naturally, something that was indigenous to the planet itself.

She walked along the side of the ziggurat, noted that the text seemed to completely fill this side, the entire height of the first 'step'. No doubt Daniel would want to get all of this on film.

There was a sense of being observed. There was no threat with that feeling. More like...curiosity. The fact that anyone...or anything, could sense her astral self as she walked slowly had the tiny hairs on the back of her neck standing straight out. No danger...but definitely...weird.

Absently she reached out to touch the wall beside her. Again she felt that jolt of electrical shock. Okay, so it wasn't just something around the door.

Well then, she'd go back and tell them...

Casey frowned. Tell them what? What was it that she'd just been thinking? Oh, yeah, right. Some sort of force field. That's all she could detect. She looked around, the nagging feeling that she was forgetting something poking lightly at her. Oh, well, whatever it was, it would come to her. She located her 'entry point'. Gave one last look at the black structure, and then hurried away.

"Well?" Miss Eloise asked upon the young blonde's return.

"Big. I've never seen anything so big in my life," Casey exclaimed. "There seemed to be a force field of some kind. I'm sure that Sam can figure out how to lower it long enough for us to get inside. There are probably instructions right beside the door, and Daniel will be able to read them."

The old seer smiled at the pride in Casey's voice. "No doubt he will."

"Thanks, Miss Eloise."

"You're welcome, Sunshine." She watched her 'student' move away. Knew that Casey didn't actually need her guidance. Not any longer. But until the slender seer was comfortable traveling alone, she was more than willing to help her. She moved away slowly. It was always so much fun, watching this group. That colonel, he was a corker. If she were about fifty years younger, she thought, grinning to herself, she'd give that skinny blonde major a run for her money! She glanced up, frowned slightly. "Details!" she muttered. Ignored the soft laughter that surrounded her.

 

Casey opened her eyes. "It's big. Really, really big. And it doesn't look like stone, at least, not like anything I've ever seen. Totally black. There's gold writing all along the wall, from the ground to the top of the first 'level'. And a force field. Shocked the shit out of myself twice."

Not one of her teammates thought to ask how on earth she could have been affected while on the astral plane. "Did you sense any danger?" General Hammond asked.

Something poked the back of her mind. She checked...a hazy feeling of curiosity...gone before she could focus on it...odd that she should feel that 'poke', and not find anything. She shook her head. "I didn't sense anything," she said.

The general nodded. "Did you find anything behind the structure?"

"I wasn't able to go all the way around it," she admitted. "The only thing I could feel was the ziggurat itself. There's a very narrow...walkway...from the Stargate to what I assume is the front door. The...desert...below looked fairly inhospitable."

"Exactly like 377," Daniel nodded.

"There was nothing around that pyramid," Sam said. "Is it possible that the same beings who built the giant pyramid, built this?"

"Related, possibly," the archaeologist admitted. "It's rare for a society to vary to such extremes in their architecture. Although I suppose this ziggurat could have been built first...they were the first massive structures to be constructed. Step pyramids are a version of ziggurats...having actual 'steps' for each level, rather than having a broad ascent winding around the structure, which looks like a series of terraces-"

"So, we take oxygen and parkas?" Jack asked. If he didn't stop Daniel now, they'd get an hour lecture, at least, on the differences between pyramids and ziggy-whatevers.

General Hammond bit back his smile at the look of frustration that Dr. Jackson tossed in the colonel's direction. "You believe that this is similar to what you found on 377?"

Both Sam and Daniel nodded. The photos the MALP had brought back showed a planet nearly identical to the one where the Giant Aliens resided in their massive pyramid. The structure itself, with its colossal proportions was eerily similar, even if the style was different.

The team waited patiently. Casey hadn't sensed anything, certainly would have told them all about what she'd found if she'd located anything other than this very large, very black, very...odd...structure. "Very well, this mission is a go," Hammond decided.

"I'd like to take the MALP, sir," Daniel said. "We could use it to record, like we did on 377."

"Approved, Doctor. Major, have Sergeant Siler help you get one of the MALPs ready to go. Departure in one hour. Dismissed."

Sam nodded, and she and Jack jumped to their feet when the general stood and hurried back into his office. As always, the other members of the team had risen as well, their way of showing their respect for the commanding officer.

Jack looked at the faces of his team, grinned happily at them. "Okay, boys and girls. Time to earn our pay."

Casey smiled. The colonel was practically beside himself with joy...the team was complete once again, and they were heading out on a mission. She fought down a wave of trepidation. Caused, she assumed, by the rather lousy experiences she'd suffered as a result of the last mission the team had undertaken. She didn't examine the feelings any closer; the sooner she could put her capture by Ba'al and her abduction by Dartal behind her, completely and forever, the happier she'd be.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The MALP moved slowly through the event horizon. The team stood clustered around Sam as she monitored the progress of the machine. "Receiving telemetry," she reported.

Just as the photos taken earlier had shown, the massive structure stood silently on what appeared to be a very hostile desert floor. Even though the temperatures were low, the air was dry, the oxygen levels lower than normal.

"I suggest we wear the masks," Sam said quietly. "Measurements show that pathway to be two point five klicks long. It's going to be a long walk."

General Hammond nodded. He turned to Daniel. "Are you confident that you can get into this...ziggurat?"

"Yes, sir."

The Texan frowned. "The oxygen tanks carry a four hour supply. I'll expect you back in four hours."

"Yes, sir," Jack acknowledged. "Let's get ready to go, campers."

 

 

 

Their packs were relatively lighter than normal; they weren't expecting to remain planet-side more than a few hours. Which meant carrying the oxygen tanks was less of a burden. General Hammond gave his usual send-off, and everyone in the control room watched SG-1 walk up the ramp. The best of the best was on the job once again. Everything was back to normal for the SGC.

As soon as they were standing on the alien steps, they donned the oxygen masks. Stared at the ziggurat that seemed to fill the entire valley below the platform on which the Stargate was located. The circular stone monument was dwarfed in comparison. The narrow path that they'd follow was suspended above the desert floor, held in place by support piers that seemed to disappear into the sand.

"Wow," Sam said softly.

"Yeah," Daniel agreed.

Jack glanced around. Yep, this was just like 377. Daniel had 'vanished' for several days during that mission, out of phase with his own reality because of that crystal skull. "Don't touch anything, no staring into anything; let's just do this and get back home, all of us safe and sound and visible."

Daniel couldn't help but grin. "Right."

"How can we get inside if we can't touch anything?" Casey inquired.

"Door should already be open," Jack replied. It had been in that pyramid. The MALP hadn't found an entrance on this ziggy-thing, at least, not an open one. It had, however, photographed what Daniel was certain was an entrance. Lots of squiggles around it.

"But it's not," she argued. "Daniel will have to-"

"No touching," Jack insisted. Knowing full well that Daniel and Sam would have their hands all over everything. The first one to disappear was getting his...or her...ass kicked, the colonel decided.

Grins were exchanged, and the team fell into step behind their intrepid, and much beloved, leader. It wasn't necessary to say out loud that whatever it took to get inside of the ziggurat, was what they'd do. Because inside could be a weapon that would give them an advantage over the Goa'uld. And that was worth the risk.

The long trek over the narrow pathway began. Jack took the lead, Teal'c was on the six. Daniel had his camcorder out, carefully filming their approach to the gigantic structure; Sam was taking readings from the scanner she carried, and Casey made certain that the MALP was 'following' as it should.

The team was near the halfway point when Casey cocked her head sideways. Then glanced up at the yellow-orange sky above them. "Uh, guys?"

Jack stopped, turned to look at her. "What?"

"How fast can this MALP go?"

"Fast enough," Sam replied.

"What's up, Radar?" Jack asked.

"Fire rain," she replied softly. Her teammates exchanged puzzled glances.

"Case?" Daniel said softly.

"Fire rain...run! Now!" Without waiting to see if they were paying heed, she pushed the lever on the remote that operated the machine beside her, watched the MALP jerk and then begin to roll quickly over the rough stone bridge. She was right behind it.

The air crackled when a small object passed them, not more than one hundred feet from where they stood, and impacted on the desert floor with a resounding 'ka-boom'.

"Oh, hell," Jack muttered. "Meteor storm! Run!"

Whatever had happened to the days of nice, quiet, tree-filled planets, with small villages and people who readily...or at least eventually...viewed them as friends? Why couldn't they have a mission or ten or twenty like that, Daniel groused. He caught up to Casey, wrapped his hand around her arm, was half-dragging her along as she struggled to make certain that the MALP remained on course. "Forget that damned thing!"

At first there were only a few of the glowing balls of fire...streaking across the sky and impacting on the surface of the planet. By the time the team reached the ziggurat, Casey's description was an apt one...fire rain. Jack watched worriedly as Daniel and Sam tried to find the mechanism that would open the door, and allow them into the safety of the huge structure. If the amount of the fiery orbs increased at all, they were in grave danger of being hit. Not even Immorality would save them from being hit by burning meteors.

"Found it!" Daniel exclaimed, his finger moving over the text that spoke of entering the 'sacred mountain'. "There are five keys, and they have to be pressed in a specific order." His trained eyes scanned the symbols.

"Hurry it up, Daniel," Jack muttered. He glanced at the bridge they'd crossed. If anything happened to it, they were totally screwed. Memories of a similar storm flashed through his mind. This would not be a good place to be stuck. Especially when Sam was on this side of the 'gate. It had been her determination, her ingenuity that had made his return to Earth, and the SGC, possible. If she was here, and then...oh, yeah...they' be totally screwed.

"Okay, this should do it," Daniel said more to himself than his companions. He carefully pressed five of the hieroglyphs. The grinding sound of stone against stone filled the air, competing with the almost continuous explosions that rang out around them. "Come on, come on, come on!"

As soon as the stone slab had moved far enough, the team was slipping inside. It took three minutes for the door to be open enough to get the MALP inside. That it hadn't been hit was nothing short of a miracle.

They were surrounded by total darkness, the only light being that which came through the now open door, blood red and punctuated by flashes of orange and yellow as meteors continued to fall. The interior of the ziggurat seemed familiar to four-fifths of the team.

"Lovely," Casey said drolly, taking note of walls that appeared to be plain stone as she pointed the beam of her flashlight toward the passageway in front of them.

"So, will there be a sarcophagus with some freaky monster in this place?" Jack asked.

"No idea," Daniel replied.

Jack heaved a sigh. "Well, let's do what we came here to do. Lead on, Doctor Jackson."

With a nod, Daniel examined the walls around them. Checked the dirt floor for anything that might be a potential trap. Seeing nothing that resembled any danger that he could quickly identify, he led the way slowly, taking the team deeper into the ziggurat.

"Sir, the oxygen levels in here seem to be a bit higher," Sam announced. She'd been taking readings from the moment they'd stepped into the safety of the structure.

"Okay, oxygen off. We have to conserve as much as we can," Jack replied. Particularly after their unexpected dash for safety. They'd just cut the time they could spend on this planet by at least fifteen, possibly twenty minutes. If they were able to breathe without the oxygen tanks, there was a guarantee that each of the square, dark green tanks would hold enough to get them back through the 'gate.

 

Disturbed from slumber, the...intelligence...shifted silently. The intruders were scrutinized. It had been a very long time since their kind had come through the Sacred Circle. Had they come to worship, in the ways of the Old Ones? That would certainly be...pleasant. So long since the fragrance of incense had filled the air here. Millennia had passed since the last songs of praise had echoed within the Great Chamber.

 

"O'Neill," Teal'c said quietly. "I believe we are being observed.

"I feel it too," Jack replied. He glanced at Daniel, the archaeologist nodded his head. As did Sam. A glance at Casey confirmed that each member of SG-1 was well aware that they weren't alone. "Talk to me, Radar."

"Nothing. I'm getting...nothing," Casey said. The feeling of being watched made her skin crawl.

"Nothing as, just no info, or nothing as in you're being blocked?"

She couldn't help but smile. It hadn't taken her friends long to understand that such a question could be important. "So far, it's just lack of info. This place feels..."

Daniel turned his head, saw the shiver that moved over her slender frame. "Feels what?"

"Odd...alive."

"Alive? Someone is here?" Jack asked. Which, he thought immediately, was a stupid question...they were all aware that they were being watched!

"Alive...like...not like someone is here...like...it's as if the ziggurat itself was...is...alive."

"Oh, I so don't want to hear that," the colonel grumbled. He'd seen something like that in a movie. A house that was alive. Aware. Hadn't ended very well for the poor saps who'd gone inside, seeking shelter from a storm!

 

Interesting. The young female can sense what she cannot see with her eyes, feel what she cannot hear with her ears. Strange objects that they carry. Worthy of further investigation. If they do not approach the altar, do not make the sacrifice, they must be...examined. Identity must be determined.

 

Casey shivered again. She tried to reach out, could sense only...darkness. Not evil...just...darkness. As if something...someone...was trying to hide...or remain hidden. "I'm being blocked now," she whispered.

Jack frowned. Until the meteor shower that was raging outside - making Swiss cheese out of the landscape - came to an end, they were stuck in this thing. And if Radar's radar was on the blink...well, they'd managed to get out of trouble before they had the advantage of her gift. They'd do it again.

The passageway ended, two others opened on either side...they could go right, or left. "Is this going to be a maze, like the other ziggurat we found?" Sam asked.

"I have no idea," Daniel murmured. He'd found two stone blocks with cuneiform on them. He dropped his pack to the dirt floor, opened it and took out a piece of tracing paper.

No one said a word as the archaeologist carefully, slowly moved a pencil sideways over the engraved stones, leaving an impression of the text on the paper. Jack stepped closer, looked over the younger man's shoulder. "So what does it say?"

Daniel smiled. "Give me a minute," he replied. His hand went into his pack again. When he withdrew it, a book with worn cover was clasped in his fingers.

"What's that?"

"An Assyrian dictionary," Daniel replied.

"No kidding? I didn't know they had one," Jack said.

"I don't know if they had one, but this was written by an expert on the Assyrian written language," Daniel explained. "I'm not sure how long this will take."

Jack looked around nervously. "Until it stops hailing fireballs out there, we're not going anywhere."

"The rest of you can go on, look around more," Daniel suggested.

Bad things happened when the team was separated. But knowing what was inside this thing...perhaps finding a big honkin' weapon to whip the snake's asses with, was important. Was the reason for the mission. Jack sighed. "Don't let him touch anything, Radar. Carter, get the MALP. Stay in radio contact."

Daniel nodded. "Got it."

Casey watched her friends moving down the passageway to the right. Another shiver moved over her...as if someone were walking on her grave. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

He tossed a smile at her. "Not right now."

With a nod of understanding, she settled onto the floor. Pulled her notebook from her pack. She'd been meaning to finish a couple of her poems. Might as well do it now, she thought.

For several minutes the only sounds were those of her pen against the paper, and the soft swish of each page of the book that was turned as Daniel worked to translate the text. He grabbed his radio. "Jack? Better get back here. I think this might be a warning."

"On our way," Jack's voice replied immediately.

The Jacksons held their breath until the dancing beams of three flashlights and the steady light of the MALP appeared in the distance.

"So, what does it say?" Jack asked, when he was close enough.

"I haven't translated most of it...but these symbols indicate danger," Daniel said, pointing to three different cuneiform marks.

He glanced at his watch. "Might as well eat lunch," Jack said. He frowned when Casey pulled a small cardboard box from her pack, and opened it to reveal what looked like a turkey sandwich. "Okay, where did you get that?"

She took a bite, licked the mayonnaise off of her finger. "Commissary."

"You're such a smartass," Jack grumped. He eyed his MRE. "You realize that cardboard box wouldn't have saved it if there had been real trouble."

"Even smashed, it's better than that," she replied, nodding toward the packet he held.

Sam smiled. "I hope you brought a couple of MREs, just in case."

"Yep. But since we're only supposed to be here for a few hours..." She let the sentence fade, shrugged her shoulders, and took another bite of the sandwich.

When Teal'c produced his own sandwich, roast beef with dill pickles, one of his favorites, Jack rolled his eyes. "You two are just a pain in the ass."

"I do not understand how Casey Jackson's foresight to speak with the Major Whitmore regarding the safe packaging of sandwiches for a mission can be regarded with such negativity," Teal'c said calmly. He took a large bite of his sandwich, chewed slowly, able to hide his grin with the action.

"You had this idea, and couldn't share with anybody but the big guy?" Jack asked, eyebrows raised.

"Well, it hit me on the way to supply. Teal'c just happened to be on the elevator when I got on, and went to the commissary with me."

Daniel produced another boxed sandwich, and grinned at the look on Jack's face. "You didn't think she'd forget about me, did you?"

Sam giggled. And held her hand out, the other stuffing the MRE back into her pack.

With a giggle of her own, Casey dug into her pack and pulled out two more boxes. "One is ham, the other is turkey. I wasn't sure what you'd want." She glanced over at Jack. "We're a team, boss. I'd never forget about you."

Grinning from ear to ear, Jack accepted one of the boxes. "What do you want, Carter?"

"Doesn't matter, sir," Sam replied.

Casey watched the two bite into their sandwiches. "You know, when it's just us, it's okay to call each other by name," she said softly.

Sam shook her head. "It's better to keep work and...home...very separate."

Jack nodded his agreement. "It's helped keep the rumors to a minimum."

"And it's driving a few of the biggest gossips nuts...because they don't know for certain the two of you are doing the deed," Casey replied. "Your behavior on base hasn't changed; I suppose they thought that you two would be as bad as Daniel and I."

Daniel had been studying the book on his lap. His head jerked up. "Whaddya mean, as bad as we are?"

Casey smiled. "There are cameras in the elevator, you know."

Jack, Sam, and Teal'c all smiled. It was a well known fact that if the Jacksons were alone on the elevator, as soon as the doors closed, they were in one another's arms. Considering what the two had suffered...had endured...no one was saying a thing about that fact.

"Yeah, well, you're my Wife," Daniel mumbled, as if that were reason enough to need to touch her at every opportunity. His attention returned to the tracing, and the book of Assyrian cuneiform on his lap. He knew that it was vital that he find the translation as quickly as possible.

 

Close. These people were very close to one another. Not just their bodies, as they sat eating the food they'd brought with them. But their hearts. More than just the camaraderie of...soldiers. Yes...these were warriors. They were much closer...hearts so close...hearts entwined. The dark skinned warrior bore the mark of The Enemy. Yet...there was no...duality...no creature present. Must investigate!

 

Casey glanced over her shoulder. The feeling of being watched seemed to get stronger with each passing moment. She closed her eyes, centered herself. And found that she was unable to reach the place where she always met Miss Eloise. A frown darkened her delicate features.

"What's wrong?" Sam asked softly.

"Totally blocked," Casey whispered. "But...curious...such strong feelings of curiosity."

"No bad feelings?" Jack asked. He and Teal'c were both trying to see into the dark, having noted the way that their resident seer had suddenly looked behind her.

"No...not bad. Just...odd. Lots of curiosity," she repeated.

Jack sighed. Curious aliens could be as dangerous as pissed off aliens. And knowing that Casey was being blocked, there was always the possibility that there was more going on that she wasn't picking up. "What's it say, Daniel?"

The archaeologist took a deep breath. "So far, I have a warning for those who enter with thoughts of evil in their hearts."

"Okay, that's so not us," Jack said. "What else?"

"There's a mention of what I think are 'Holy Days', but I can't be sure," Daniel replied. "I'm not certain, but this could be a place of worship...it's possible that people came through the 'gate to hold religious ceremonies here."

"Pretty damned big place for that, don't you think?" Jack asked.

"Not necessarily," Daniel said. "Look at the size of some of our cathedrals. Granted, we don't have anything this big...but what if the beings who constructed this ziggurat are larger...bigger...than we are?"

"Wouldn't the platform where the Stargate sits, and the bridge to this place be larger then?" Sam asked.

"Not if this ziggurat is older than the Stargate system."

"Wow...that's old," Casey said, her green eyes wide.

"Extremely old," Daniel agreed. His attention returned to translating the text.

Sam was doing something to the MALP, he had no idea what. Casey was busy writing in that notebook. Must be the poetry Daniel had told him about. "Teal'c, let's take a look outside, see if it's safe out there," Jack said quietly, needing to do something.

Teal'c rose to his feet, followed his friend back the way they'd traversed earlier.

Neither man had been aware that they'd made it so deep into the structure...it seemed to be taking a damned long time to retrace their steps. When they came to a three way junction, Jack frowned. "I don't remember this."

"Nor do I," Teal'c said.

"We've been following the MALP tracks."

"Indeed."

"We can't be lost."

"I do not believe so."

"And it's impossible for the MALP to have traveled down all three of those passages."

"Indeed."

"Well, impossible or not, there are tread marks in all three."

"I believe that whoever...or whatever...Casey Jackson sensed, the being is trying to deceive us."

Jack took three steps to the right. "Seems that way. So, let's go back..." his voice faded when he turned around. There were two more passageways behind him. And no sign of Teal'c anywhere. "Now that is just damned annoying," he muttered.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Sam glanced at her watch. "The colonel and Teal'c should have been back by now."

"I agree," Casey said. "Let's go take a look. If the meteor storm has stopped, they might have headed back to the 'gate to send a progress report to General Hammond."

"They'd have radioed if they were going to do that," Sam argued.

"Probably. But we should take a look."

"We'll keep in constant radio contact," Sam said, looking at Daniel. He nodded his understanding.

The two women started out, Casey giving Daniel a running commentary on their progress. They could see the prints of the two men clearly in the dirt that covered the floor. "Well, hell!"

"What's wrong?" Daniel asked immediately, nearly ripping the radio from his shoulder in his haste to key it. He looked up when there was no response. "Casey? Talk to me! Sam? Sam? What's going on?"

He shoved his work into his pack, made it to his feet at the same time that the light on the MALP snapped off. That was odd. The batteries in the MALP could last for days. "Casey? Sam? Don't move, I'm on my way!"

Daniel grabbed the pack, took three steps...and his flashlight faded, leaving him in darkness so black it was oppressive. "Well, hell!" he muttered.


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