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Lessons Learned

Chapter 7

The members of SG-1 understood the concept of dressing in layers. It might be cold first thing in the morning, but chances of the day warming up were good, if the weatherman was to be believed, and physical activity would warm them all the more. So tee shirts were pulled on, regular shirts buttoned over them, and sweatshirts pulled on top of those. Extra socks and the new first aid kits and flashlights were pushed into backpacks along with bottles of water and snacks. Daniel and Casey both had their journals as well; and all of the team members were carrying cameras of some sort, along with extra film.

Casey mumbled greetings to those who spoke to her when she and Daniel joined everyone at the same table where they'd sat the night before, the last to arrive...because he'd refused to let her up until after they made love. She wasn’t complaining, mind you. Making love with Daniel was the best way to start the day. But she damned sure needed a cup of coffee!

Sam grabbed two mugs and filled them with the dark, rich liquid from the pot that sat in the middle of the table, slid them in front of the two late comers, already working on her second cup.

Daniel wasn’t fully awake yet either. He would much rather have stayed in bed another hour or so, holding that soft, warm body next to his own. Their shower had been short, as they were running late, too quick to do much to help him wake up.

"Still not much of a morning person, huh?" Bernie asked, grinning at him.

Jack chuckled. "No use talking to them until they’ve had their caffeine injection. Right Danny?"

"Piss off," the young archaeologist muttered. He yawned, then looked around, his blue eyes barely focusing on his surroundings. "Where’s Mike?"

"Couldn’t wait to get up there," Willis grinned. 

He could well understand the excitement of finding a new location for a dig, certain that he was about to make the discovery of a lifetime. It hadn’t happened...well, other than the Abydonian Cartouche. Oh, he’d found some damned interesting things off world. And the excitement was certainly there when he did any type of archaeological work, even...especially...on an alien planet. But something like this...well, the potential was enormous. And, if Casey was right, about to be yanked out from under the man’s feet. He shook his head mentally. Mike would be nine kinds of pissed when it happened. Daniel knew that he certainly would be!

Casey scanned the menu that the waitress handed her. She wasn’t really hungry, but in an hour or so she probably would be. Better to eat now, while she had the chance. A lesson learned while on missions with the team. Eat, sleep, take any type of break needed when the opportunity presented itself. Because you never knew when you'd get the chance to do so again!

"What do you want, babe?" Daniel asked softly, leaning toward her.

"I think I’ll have an omelet."

"Better get hash browns with it," he suggested.

She nodded. Even if she couldn’t eat it all, the carbs would help keep her going until lunch time.

Bernie had blanched slightly at the sound of the endearment on his lips. She glanced around nervously, hoping no one had noticed. She was still feeling on edge...actually seeing the man she'd loved for so long...discovering that once again fate had conspired against her. She sighed silently. If she hadn’t been such a fool in grad school, would she and Daniel have married? If they had, would they even still be together? She pushed the thoughts aside. It didn’t matter. She'd seen the letter in his pocket last night. Suspected that he was going to try and give it back to her. He hadn’t...at least, not yet. He hadn’t mentioned it either...not that he could in front of everyone. Another inner sigh. She knew what he'd say. What he didn’t have to say...because it was so blatantly obvious. He was in love with Casey. And that, as they said, was that. Mike was a good man. A bit boring at times. Absolutely predictable. Not the most passionate lover she'd ever been with. But he was a good man. She should be satisfied with what she had. And get used to the idea that she'd never have the man she'd wanted for so long. If only she'd looked for him, searched him out...if she'd just gone to his damned room right after he'd kissed her...caressed her...if only, if only, if only! If only wishes were horses, beggars would ride! Too damned late now.

Daniel didn’t notice the woman subtly studying him. Jack noticed. Sam noticed. Teal’c noticed. They were aware that there was a ‘history’ between the two. They didn’t know what it was, but it seemed that Dr. Bernie Watson was in love with the young man. They'd continue to watch, ready to protect ‘their’ archaeologist if the need arose.

He ordered a stack of waffles, and a side of sausage. One of the perks of Immortality was the fact that he didn’t have to worry about things like high cholesterol, or diabetes, or any number of dietary problems. Hell, even his weight seemed to remain constant, although he was working out more often with Teal’c and Jack; not to mention the incredible sex, which he engaged in as often as possible, his need for his Wife nearly insatiable, which in turn probably contributed to that factor.

Casey smiled at the waitress and gave her order. Sipped from her mug of coffee, watching Bernie over the rim. The woman’s eyes rarely left Daniel. Oh, she was trying hard not to stare, not to look at him, but it was as if she couldn’t help herself. Daniel’s whispers of love, his reassurances both last night and first thing this morning had gone a long way to soothing her fears. She couldn’t sense any threats coming from this woman. But Bernie Watson had been in love with Daniel...was still in love with him.

"Will our SUV be able to get up there?" Jack was asking Willis.

"I'd think so. The road is an old logging road, hasn’t been used in years, but it’s there," the man replied.

The colonel nodded. "We’ll follow you."

Breakfast was eaten quickly, the volunteers and two archaeologists anxious to get started. The first few days of a dig were the most exciting. Then routines were established, and unless discoveries were made often enough, boredom could set in. With only three weeks to work, there was little chance of that happening on this expedition.


A   A   A   A   A   A


The sun was just coming up over the mountains, the horizon turning pink, then orange, then gold before fading into the deep blue it would be for the remainder of the day. Daniel glanced at the sky, thankful to note that there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. No doubt the days of ‘Indian Summer’ would come to an abrupt end before the excavations were even half begun.

They followed the crew cab pickup from the two lane highway onto a barely noticeable logging road. There were holes the size of the vehicles that had to be navigated over, around, and through, slowing them to a perpetual crawl. After ten miles they left what constituted a road, and turned onto a simple dirt track that was in no better shape than the road, and was much narrower.

Eventually they pulled off the dirt track into a field of grasses and wildflowers. At the edge of the valley in front of them, sunlight danced on the golden leaves of the aspen, their white trunks standing out against the dark pine tree forest behind. The sun touched the edges of the old growth pines: the hemlocks and firs and lodge pole pines and western white pines; and the green shades...which reminded Daniel of just exactly why Washington was called the ‘Evergreen State’...looked inviting, but quickly turned to a deep black curtain.

As he got his pack from the back of the SUV, he noticed that the dirt track was actually an old dried river bed. He paused to look around. The team working with Mike had spent the day before getting the area marked out, numbered, and ready to begin excavating.  He nodded approvingly...the site was very well organized.  It would make the dig go much faster, offering the chance accomplish more in the short amount of time they had.

The sides of the canyon showed some signs of the caves that possibly could have been used as dwellings. Glancing up one side of the canyon he saw what looked like a broken trail leading up to a large cave that faced south. The shadow from the western cliff would shade about a quarter of the valley. With the river and field and southern exposure it would have been a good place to live. The canyon walls and pine trees would have helped to protect it from the worst of the winter winds. In his mind he could see the Salish people living here.

Bernie had stopped to watch him as he studied the area. She'd been eager to see how he reacted to the site. Did he see how it could have been? Did he notice the location of the caves, and river bed? She was watching how he'd glanced at the sites and then shifted quickly to the valley itself, making his assessment of the natural habitat. He'd shaded his eyes, his beautiful blue eyes, she thought to herself, as he looked to the eastern ridge and then to the cave. He walked slowly toward the broken trail, looked back at the river bed and the valley in front of him. "So what did you see, Daniel?" she asked.

"Okay," he said smiling. "I feel like I’m back with Doctor Jordan and it’s exam time." He turned as he checked out the area again. "It would've been a good place to live, with the river and fields close at hand. The cave dwellings would probably be above flood level. The cave up there," he pointed to the one with the broken path, "has a good view of the area and looks like it could be used for shelter. There might have been migratory herds...elk or deer, possibly even moose...that stopped at the river that could have been hunted."

She smiled. "Doctor Jordan would've been pleased," she said softly. "You were always able to see everything with just a glance. It took me fifteen minutes to see it all," she admitted.

Mike appeared at the mouth of the nearest cave. "Get your butts up here! We have work to do!"

With good natured grumbling shovels, picks, brooms, more string and short, wooden stakes, which had been banded together in groups of twelve, were taken from the back of the pickup and carried up the path.

As soon as he'd dropped his pack and the shovels he'd grabbed, Daniel took his camcorder and began to carefully record the drawings on the wall, habit born of years of working on the team.

Watching for just a minute, Mike nodded mentally. Yep, every movement was made almost automatically...no thinking about it. Which meant that his young friend was still going on archaeological digs. Which led him right back to the puzzling question of what in the world did the Air Force have to do with archaeology? If the military had been poking around anywhere, he’d have heard about it. The archaeological community wasn’t that large... something like a group of military grunts combing an area for something wouldn’t go unnoticed. So what the hell was going on?

Jack and Teal’c had gone into ‘auto-mode’ as well, scanning the area for potential danger. Sam was taking in what had been done, and what was being done, ready and able to start helping wherever she was needed, organizing the equipment as it was brought in. Casey was taking photographs of the area, starting on one side, getting close ups of the drawings that decorated the rock walls. A well-oiled machine, as Jack liked to brag.

Daniel stopped to look over at his old friend, noted the frown on his face, then glanced at the team. Realized what Mike had seen...was seeing. "So where do you want us to start?"

Mike shook his head. "Seems to me that you already have." His voice was a bit strained.

Willis, Katelynn, and Annette, the only three in the cave with them, as Bernie and Alley had gone back to the truck for the large, battery powered lights, looked up.

"Just a little anxious, I guess," Daniel said, forcing a smile. The entire team had moved without thinking; doing what they did...and did well. "I haven’t been on a dig in almost...in awhile."

"Uh huh." Mike looked pointedly from Jack to Teal’c to Sam to Casey.

Jack and Daniel exchanged a glance, an entire conversation held in that brief look. The older man nodded toward the opening of the cave. Daniel followed him outside.

"He already suspects something is going on," Daniel said, as soon as the two men were out of earshot.

"I know."

"If we find what I think we might find-" He broke off. "Sam told Casey about Tonane’s people, and Casey told me. I'd completely forgotten. They were Salish."

Jack frowned. "We’re going to find something, aren’t we?"

"At the very least a mention of people being taken away," Daniel admitted. He ran a hand through his hair. "I don’t want to shut him out, Jack. He was...is...a good friend. He deserves better."

The older man scanned the valley that spread out beneath them like a quilt of gold and green. "I’ll contact Hammond. Have him fax out some non-disclosure forms."

"How soon?"

"I’ll call on my way back to town. There has to be a fax somewhere in Wenepo."

"Thanks, Jack," the young archaeologist nodded, then followed his best friend, and CO, back into the cave.

"I’ll be back," Jack said. He glanced at Sam. "Wanna come with?"

She smiled. "Sure." The two disappeared down the trail, the sound of an engine starting drifted up to them.

He was about to explode. If he didn’t find out what was going on...and soon, he was going to explode! Mike ran both hands over his face.

"Mike, we need to talk," Daniel said softly.

"Damned straight we do!"

By now, Mike’s entire crew was standing in the cave. Tension filled the air, there was a definite sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’. "Let’s sit down. This is going to take awhile," Daniel suggested.

Bernie had been watching Daniel since his arrival...or at least as often as she'd been able to since she'd seen the white SUV pull up in front of the hotel. She knew as well as Mike did that something was going on...something big.

"What do you remember about my theory of the pyramids being landing sites for spacecraft, possibly alien spacecraft?" Daniel asked.

Willis snickered softly.

"Only that you really believe it," Mike admitted.

Daniel shook his head. "There are none so blind as he who will not see," he muttered softly. "It’s all there Mike, in the glyphs. For anyone to find, to read."

"Are you trying to tell me that you have proof?" Mike asked incredulously.

"And then some," Casey murmured.

Daniel glanced at her, smiled. "Jack went to town to have legal forms faxed from Cheyenne Mountain. Where I work. Non-disclosure forms. You’ll have to sign them before I can tell you anything."

"Why?" Willis asked.

"Because everything I’m about to tell you...want to tell you," Daniel corrected himself, "is classified. Top secret. The people who work on the...project...know. The president knows. A committee of six senators, an oversight committee, know. The Joint Chief’s know. The Cabinet doesn’t know. The members of the House don’t know. The rest of the Senate doesn’t know. The FBI doesn’t know. The CIA doesn’t know. Only one...section...of the Pentagon knows."

"Holy shit!" Katelynn breathed. "Why am I getting goose bumps?"

"Because what you’re about to learn is goose bump worthy," Casey said softly.

Daniel looked around. "Are you all willing to sign those forms?"

"Absolutely," Mike declared.

"This is serious, Mike," Daniel warned. "You can’t breathe a word. If you do, the Air Force will find out, believe me, and you’ll be looking at the world from the wrong side of a jail cell for a very long time."

"National security," Casey added.

"If we sign this form...the government...the Air Force, they’ll watch us, won’t they?" Alley asked, tugging at her lower lip with her fingers.

"I’m afraid so," Daniel confirmed. He looked back at Mike. "Think long and hard about this. Once you sign that paper, and I tell you what I know, your life will never be the same."

"Blue pill, red pill," Annette whispered.

"Huh?" Daniel asked.

"Matrix. The movie. When Morpheus was offering Neo the two pills...one was red, one was blue...one would take him into...reality; the other would leave him...oblivious," the young woman explained.

Daniel smiled. Casey had insisted on renting the movie when she'd learned he hadn’t seen it. He clearly remembered that scene. The first time he'd seen the Stargate, he'd left what he'd known as ‘reality’ behind. Everything he'd been taught, had learned, had believed, had been turned upside down that day. "So, which will it be?"

She smiled. "The red one."

Mike frowned.

"The red one was what Neo chose," Annette giggled.

Willis was frowning, scratching at the jaw he hadn’t taken time to shave. "I dunno about this," he said slowly.

Katelynn shook her dark head. "I do. Count me in."

"Me, too," Alley said.

Bernie was staring at Daniel, as if seeing him for the very first time. Perhaps she was. He was no longer that shy, intense grad student. He was a man, a confident man. One sure of who he was, what he believed...what he was doing. Like Mike, she found it difficult to believe that the Daniel she'd known eleven years ago would so willingly work for the military. There had to be a reason! "I’m in," she said softly.

Willis sighed. "I’m in." He looked at his wife, grinned when she raised an eyebrow. "Can’t have you knowing some big secret and leaving me out, can I?"

Daniel took his cell phone from his pack. Dialed. "Jack? What’s the word?...All I’ve told them is that they’ll have to sign non-disclosure forms if they want the story...Yep, every one of them...Yeah, I do...Thanks, Jack...Yeah, see you in a bit." He closed the small phone. "Okay. In 1928, in Giza, there was a dig...one that uncovered something very...unusual," he said quietly. "Something that the government managed to...erase...any knowledge of; you might say it... disappeared. ‘It’ being a monument of sorts." He grabbed his sketch pad. Quickly drew a hasty picture of the Stargate. And told them the story that for him began on the rainy night that Dr. Catherine Langford had picked him up. It took him nearly an hour to explain all he'd seen and done because of the Stargate.

Mike opened his mouth to speak, continued to stare at Daniel, closed it, only to open it again. "Damn!" he said finally.

"You’ve met people...Salish people...who live like their ancestors did?" Bernie asked, her hazel eyes wide.

Willis snorted. "He’s met freaking aliens!"

"Tonane was the leader of the clan we met," Daniel replied.

"So, these...Guld..." Annette started.

"Goa’uld," the young archaeologist corrected gently.

"Goa’uld," she smiled, "They just took these people? Why?"

"To provide slaves. For experiments. Because they could," Daniel replied, shrugging his broad shoulders.

Bernie was studying Casey. "So this is all still relatively new to you, isn’t it?"

Casey smiled. "After what I’ve already been through, it feels old, trust me."

Willis was staring at Teal’c. "You were born on another planet?"

"It is called Chulak," Teal’c replied.

"And you were a...warrior...for one of those...things."

"I was."

"So what made you change your mind about this..."

"Apophis," Daniel supplied.

Willis nodded his acknowledgement. "This Apophis. If you'd been made his First Prime, why leave?"

"I did not believe him to be a true god," Teal’c answered. "Nor was I willing to continue to perform any of the...atrocities...in his name, that were required of me. I wish my people to be free of the influence of the false gods. O’Neill has offered me the opportunity to fight against the Goa’uld, and I am proud to fight along side of the Tau’ri, so that one day all Jaffa will be free."

Katelynn shook her head. "You say that...Jaffa...are not all black?"

"They are not."

"Pick a race," Daniel said. "And you’ll find them among the ranks of the Jaffa."

Alley was staring as well. "I don’t think you’ll have to worry about those disclosure forms," she said, shaking her head.

Daniel frowned. "Why not?"

"No one would believe us if we told them this!" the older woman exclaimed.

"It is a lot to wrap your mind around," Casey agreed.

"Can you imagine the chaos...the unbridled panic...this would cause if it got out?" Alley continued.

Daniel looked at her. He'd always thought that the program should have been made public, so that the people who were footing the bill knew what they were getting for their money. "You don’t think the public could handle knowing about this?"

Alley shook her gray head. "No, Daniel, I don’t. Oh, folks with a bit of education and a lick of sense would be able to deal with it. But by and large, too many folks would be scared to death."

"Not to mention the fact that religious leaders all over the world would suddenly find themselves under the spotlight...religions all over the world would be scrutinized...the Vatican itself could fall," Annette said, her eyes wide. She'd been raised a good Catholic girl. And her entire belief system had just been shaken to the very core.

"All of our ancient history would have to be...re-written, as well," Katelynn said.

"Chaos," Willis nodded. "I can understand why the people in charge are keeping this under wraps. I don’t often agree with what our government does, but this is one time I do."

"It will come out eventually," Casey said softly. "Air Force personnel get transferred, get out of the military, Senators leave or join the oversight committee...at first it will just be whispers...stories passed on from person to person. At some point there might even be some sort of media ‘investigation’. Which the government will...guide...in the direction those in charge want said investigation to go. There will be denials, accusations, more denials. Eventually it will be a lot like the incident at Roswell, one of the best known secrets in the country. There will be those who believe it to be true, those who don’t, those who aren’t sure, and those who don’t care."

"If it happened that way, if it did ever go...public, it might not get more than five minutes on the Six O'clock News," Bernie said.

"Possibly," Casey replied.

Mike shook his head. "Okay, now that you’ve shocked the shit out of us, we need to get busy."

Daniel nodded. "Case and Teal’c can get everything on film."

"I want to examine these lower caves first, before we climb up to those larger ones," Mike said. "If we have an idea of what's in these lower caves, we’ll know how much time we can devote to the higher ones."

Looking around, his camcorder still in his hand, Daniel was frowning slightly. "Either the tribe...clan...that lived here was large enough to need several caves, or they used the lower ones in the summer months...because of the closer proximity to the river, and the upper caves in the winter months."

"Spring thaws were sure to swell the river; I suppose it’s possible that it could flood, water make it into these caves," Mike nodded.

"So anything of value they'd have kept higher." Daniel theorized.

Mike rubbed his hands together. "Okay, let’s see what we can find down here. Then we’ll climb up."

A grid of string and wooden stakes was laid out on the cave floor, and the wide ledge that looked down on the valley. Willis, Katelynn, and Alley, all old hands at doing volunteer archaeological work, began to carefully dig in each section. They'd go down a few inches at a time. If nothing was found within the first foot, they'd move on to another section. Only when the entire grid had been ‘dug up’ would they start again, going another down another foot.

Mike, Daniel, and Bernie left the cave to examine the next largest, one most probably used as shelter. The smaller of the caves may have been used for nothing more than storage, the walls were devoid of any type of markings. Casey and Teal’c carefully recorded the drawings on the walls of the two ‘main’ caves; depictions of what appeared to be everyday life for the Salish people who had called these caves ‘home’.

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