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Parallel-o-gram

 

"...You're my angel
Come and save me tonight
You're my angel
Come and make it all right...
...You're the reason I live
You're the reason I die
You're the reason I give
When I break down and cry..."
"Angel" by Aerosmith

 

Chapter 1

"Yo! Daniel, come on! Let's go!" Jack called from the doorway of the office occupied by the SGC's brilliant archaeologist. He was anxious to get off on this mission before the general came to a decision regarding the Tok'ra's request. The last time that the Tok'ra and Tau'ri had 'worked together', it hadn't ended so well. It had only been diplomatic meetings, but still...all those zanex things running amok...so not good. Two of his people blowing their heads off. And he and Carter...he pushed that thought aside. No sense dwelling on what couldn't be. And the sooner they were out of the SGC, the sooner the Tok'ra would forget about asking General Hammond to lend SG-1 for that mission of theirs. "Come on!"

"I'm coming," Daniel mumbled, gathering a half dozen books and three folders. He put a yellow legal pad on top of the stack, then picked it all up, balancing the load expertly in one arm, a feat born of repeated practice, as he reached for his coffee mug with the other hand. Some days it was...convenient...to know that Jack would come to his office to remind him of meetings, or briefings. Some days it was annoying. Today it was a combination of the two.

The colonel took in the armload that the archaeologist was carrying, shook his head. Typical. No doubt the briefing would go into extra innings. Daniel couldn't give just a 'briefing'. Which, by the nature of being called a 'briefing' should be...brief. Oh, no. He had to go into painfully boring detail. Not that General Hammond seemed to mind. But then, the general had practice at sleeping and still appearing to be paying attention. Carter didn't mind because she was just as bad. Teal'c...Jack didn't think anything ever got to that Jaffa.

"The images sent back from the MALP are just amazing," Daniel said, following his CO and best friend to the elevator. "If I'm right, this will be the first time we've ever found Phoenician ruins that aren't...ruined. From what I could tell, the temple is in pristine condition-"

"And this helps us how?" Jack asked, knowing that to wait for Daniel to take a breath could mean listening for at least another five minutes.

"It might give us an insight on how the culture developed. There's always the chance that their culture is different than the Phoenician's of Earth, given that they were taken during what appears to be the apex of the society. Of course, that fact alone suggests that the ruins will be very similar to what's been discovered in Jordan-"

"Right," Jack interrupted. He had no desire to listen to all of this...stuff...twice.

Daniel bit back his grin. Well aware of the fact that Jack actually listened to much more than he let on. "No doubt we'll find more about Ba'al. Possibly the reason why so many people were taken from the First World."

"What I want to know is where the bastard is now," Jack drawled.

The two men walked into the briefing room. Sam walked in at almost the same moment from the other direction. Not surprisingly, Teal'c was already seated, his hands folded casually on the table in front of him. They settled into their 'usual' places, Sam and Teal'c on one side of the table, Daniel and Jack on the other.

The two Air Force officers rose from their seats when General Hammond walked through the door. "Tell me about this planet," the general said, as soon as he was seated.

"P3X 482," Sam said immediately. "There are extensive ruins, Daniel will tell you about those. There do seem to be traces of naquadah; until I can run a complete soil sample survey, I won't know how much might actually be there. There were also traces of titanium. We don't normally see the two ores so close together, so it's possible that one of them was 'planted', or that the naquadah is left over from something built there. I'd be willing to bet on the latter, since it's obvious that these people were taken from Earth."

Hammond nodded, turned his attention to Daniel. "Are these ruins anything of value?"

For one moment Daniel was tempted to tell the career military man that all ruins were valuable, the history preserved in each stone incalculable. But he managed to rein in his irritation. "There are references to Ba'al," he replied. "It's possible that we might learn just when Ba'al took these people from Earth, although we have to assume that it was before Ra and the others fled the planet due to the slave rebellion. It will be interesting to learn how their culture developed independently of the Phoenician's here."

"And knowing when they were taken helps us how?" Jack asked.

Daniel looked over the top of his glasses. "It helps us establish a time-line for Goa'uld occupation of earth," he said.

"Oh. And we care because..." Jack said, baiting the young man, hoping to get a rise out of him, just for something to do.

"If we can establish that time line, we'll know just how long the Goa'uld were here. How much of our own modern societies were influenced by them. From what we've already learned, nearly everything that makes a society just that, was learned from or through the Goa'uld. If my theories are correct, and the pyramids in Giza predate so-called 'modern man', the proliferation of Goa'uld took cave dwellers and created city-dwellers. Language as we know it, the ability to communicate through writing, and subsequently reading, the study of the stars and constellations, and the sciences such as math, astronomy and astrology were given rise by the influence of the Goa'uld. Methods of construction were most likely taught to the slaves as well. Simple things like farming and weaving had to be learned from somewhere, and the fact that our ancestors seemed to 'suddenly' develop those skills indicates outside influence. Even the art forms that we find in the ancient ruins were well beyond simple cave drawings that we know the first bands of humans created. It might also give us an idea of how far flung human colonies are," Daniel said, barely suppressing a sigh when Jack rolled his eyes. It wasn't militarily important, he knew. But from an archaeological standpoint, the information was priceless. He would use the same, tired argument that always seemed to buy him at least a few hours to examine the ruins left behind by human ancestors. "It might also put us on the track to any cultures who might have defeated the Goa'uld, and have technology that would aid us in our own battle against them."

The special ops officer couldn't help but grin. He had no doubt that Daniel didn't know for certain any such intel was available. He suspected that the younger man was just spouting shit, something that sounded good, and would get him what he wanted. Which was a chance to look at those rocks.

General Hammond was well aware of the fact that Dr. Jackson found all ruins to be 'important'. That was the man's job. But he also knew that the young archaeologist could learn more, extrapolate from just a few clues an accurate picture of the Goa'uld they faced, and in a very short amount of time. Daniel had a knack for taking obscure facts, long-forgotten myths, and deriving the truth about the Goa'uld involved. Information that went a long way in developing strategies for dealing with each very individual enemy. "Very well. Major, how long do you think you'll need for your tests?"

"Two days at least," Sam replied immediately. She smiled in return when Daniel grinned at her. She could probably run the tests in a single day, but he'd been so excited about the ruins that she wanted him to have as long as possible. Too often he was granted mere hours to do the work he so loved.

"Granted. I'll expect you back no later than tomorrow evening," the general replied. He wasn't unaware that the major was 'padding' her time estimate. Nor the reason she had done so.

Jack rolled his eyes. "Two days, sir?"

"Is there a problem, colonel?" General Hammond asked.

He looked from Daniel to Carter and back again. Well, hell! No way would he deny his 'kids' what they wanted, not if he could help it. On the upside, the longer they were off base, especially if they were gone a couple of days, the higher the chances were of the Tok'ra going away..."No, sir," he admitted. "Just thinking about having to pack all of that gear. For two days."

The general frowned. "I could see clear to grant you another day."

Daniel was nearly bouncing in his seat. "That would allow me time to do a more thorough investigation," he said, his voice deceptively calm.

"If Doctor Jackson finds anything of particular interest, you have permission to stay as long as necessary," Hammond said. He grinned to himself. No doubt the young man could find a myriad of reasons to stay. And keeping SG-1 on a relatively 'safe' mission meant they weren't off getting themselves captured or killed or having some other disaster befalling them. His ulcer could use the break as well.

Jack barely bit back his grin. The two-day mission now seemed to stretch endlessly in front of him. Granted, he'd probably be nuts by the time they returned, from being so bored. This could work, though. The Tok'ra weren't the most patient when they decided they wanted something. Yep, he'd work on his tan, let Carter play in the dirt and Danny play with the rocks, and Teal'c could do that Kellogg's thing, and they'd be spared working for the damned Tok'ra. Sweet! He kept his face studiously neutral. "Yes, sir."

"Colonel O'Neill, this mission is a go. Embark in one hour. Dismissed." The general rose, nodded to the two officers who'd jumped to their feet, and the two civilians who were standing as well, and returned to his office. The Texan sighed as he settled into the chair behind his desk. It was a well-known fact that SG-1 could get into trouble on even the most innocuous of missions. However...he reached for the message that had arrived from Jacob Carter. A 'heads up' about a possible mission that the Tok'ra would be requesting assistance on. From SG-1, of course. And Dr. Jackson specifically. Any such joint missions were always dangerous. Usually ended with his premier team returning to base through sheer determination, and worse for the wear. Yes, his ulcer needed a break before facing what was about to happen.

 

 

 

Daniel hurried back to his office. Only when he dropped the stack of reference materials did he realize that he hadn't been called upon to give a full report. He shook his head. No doubt Jack was thrilled about that little development. He sighed, began to sort through his notes. When the database was finished...

Database? Finished? Where in the hell had that thought come from? He'd mentioned to the general several times that a database, which cross-referenced known myths about the 'gods' and what they were learning about the Goa'uld, would be a useful tool when he was preparing briefings. But he didn't have the time to dedicate to such a project. And it would take a lot of time. He'd hinted about bringing someone in specifically for that job, pointing out that it would need to be maintained and updated constantly. So far there had been no response to his subtle...or direct...requests.

The archaeologist dropped into his chair. His eyes moved over the framed photograph of Sha're, the photo he'd taken of her sitting just outside of her father's tent. Her smile was soft, and full of happiness, because they'd announced their betrothal the night before. Two months after Jack and the others had gone back through the 'gate. Usually he could put Sha're's death behind him. He frowned. Something felt so...not right...about that photo. The loneliness that was part of his life - something he pushed aside and ignored most of the time - seemed especially cold and bitter today. There was an edge to it...a touch of grief as well. An overwhelming sense of loss. Both emotions were far too familiar to him. But today...it felt as if something was horribly wrong. He'd never experienced such a feeling before.

Tired. He was just tired. He'd been working on a rather difficult translation until nearly one in the morning. Had been back on the base by seven. He pushed away the odd, unsettling feelings, and began to gather the books he'd need for translating the cuneiform he'd most likely find on the walls inside of the temple. He downed the last of his coffee, cold now, and hoped that it would drive away the emotions that his weariness had let loose.

 

 

 

Twenty minutes later, Daniel joined Sam and Teal'c in the supply room. He located the pack with his name stenciled on it, began to fill it with water, MREs, a package of batteries for his camera, another for his flashlight, extra CDs, three full changes of clothes and two extra sets of underwear and socks. He was tying the sleeping bag to the bottom of the pack when Jack walked in. The two military officers smiled at one another. Tried to pretend they were nothing more than friends. That they were only co-workers. Daniel watched the silent by-play between them. They're so good together... Once again his shook his head. Where in the hell had that come from? He was aware that they cared for each other. They'd both confided in him, separately of course; he was well aware of their feelings for one another. If only the damned military would see fit to allow them be open with those feelings. Didn't saving the entire galaxy mean anything? Not to mention the number of times that the SGC, and SG-1, had prevented one Goa'uld or another from succeeding in their plans to re-take the First World. Surely that warranted a bit of leniency!

"Danny?" Jack asked, frowning slightly.

"What?"

"Is everything okay?"

Now Daniel frowned. He was feeling a bit...off. His emotions seemed...raw. But that was all. Nothing he could put his finger on...nothing specific. "I'm fine, why?"

The colonel shrugged. "You just...you're flakier than usual today."

He smiled. Jack accused him of being 'flaky' on a regular basis. He supposed that he was, at least from the point of view of a career military man. "Sorry."

"Let's hit the armory." Jack turned, started to leave the room. "Oh, and Daniel? New Simpson's episode. That's all I'm saying."

The smile widened to a grin. "Learned how to set your VCR yet?"

"You're annoying, Jackson," Jack grinned.

"Yeah, so you keep telling me. I heard that Major Anderson asked for my help on his mission."

"Forget it. You're not going anywhere with that team. You're SG-1."

"But if I'm annoying-"

Jack huffed a sigh. "Fine. You're not annoying. Get your damned weapon and let's go."

With a triumphant smile, Sam giggling softly behind him, Daniel followed Jack into the corridor.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

As it always did, walking through the Stargate and stepping out onto an alien world left him breathless with excitement, anticipation. What would he find? What pieces of Earth's ancient mysteries would he discover? His thoughts slowed for a moment, as he acknowledged once again that no longer was the question 'will I find Sha're this time?' one of those that bounced through his head as his boots touched the dirt of a distant planet. He frowned when that thought didn't seem as...painful...as is usually was. It had been over two years since his wife had died in his arms. But even so, there was still that nagging sense of loss each time he stepped through the 'gate. Except...it felt so different today. There was still that overwhelming feeling that there was something...missing. But he had no clue what it was.

"Teal'c, take a look around. Make sure the MALP and UAV images were right, and there's nothing out there waiting for us. Carter, mark out your perimeter. Daniel, don't touch anything," Jack said, putting the team into motion.

"Ja-ack!"

"Daniel, do not touch anything."

He bit back his grin. It was part of their routine. He studied the empty city for a few moments, then dropped his pack, knelt on one knee beside it, and pulled the relevant images from the leather-bound journal he carried. Squinting against the bright, midday sun, he determined the location of the temple he was most interested in. Had taken three steps before Jack's voice stopped him.

"Not until Teal'c has taken a look."

Daniel huffed a sigh. Looked around for the Jaffa. He caught the large man's dark eyes, then pointed toward the entrance to the city. Saw the nod of acknowledgement. Without a word exchanged between them, the two men met and entered the city.

Jack watched for a moment, then shook his head slightly. Teal'c would see to it that Daniel stayed out of trouble. He looked around, then watched as the team gizmo expert gathered soil samples. He'd follow her around, and see to it that she stayed out of trouble. Although, being a military officer, she was less likely to walk into a situation she shouldn't.

If he were honest with himself, it would be much better for him, for his sense of well-being, if he followed the Space Monkey around, and let Teal'c keep an eye on Carter. His reasons for leaving things as they were, as they always seemed to be on missions, were two-fold, and totally subconscious. First and foremost, any chance to be with Sam Carter, even under the guise of working, was not to be missed. Just being near her was enough. Well, it wasn't, but considering the circumstances, it had to be. Second, he tried to avoid being alone with Daniel too often. Not because he didn't like the man. Hell, the archaeologist was his best friend! But certain rumors had him watching any and all contact between them. He didn't give a damn about himself. Particularly since said rumors didn't actually tarnish him or his reputation. But he knew exactly how much they bothered...they hurt...the younger man. He did what he did in an unspoken effort to protect his friend...to prove the rumors to be false.

Sam glanced over her shoulder, watched the retreating figures of Daniel and Teal'c for a moment. There were times she wished that the two weren't so quick to take off, leaving her alone with the colonel. It wasn't always easy to keep her mind on her work when what she wanted to do was turn to the man her heart loved, and hold him. Be held by him. With a sharp mental shake, she forced her wandering thoughts back to the task at hand.

 

 

 

The city was in remarkable condition. There were signs of decay, it was apparent that the buildings hadn't been occupied for centuries. But for the most part, he was seeing a Phoenician city as those on Earth must have looked during the time of Ethbaal, one of the kings responsible for expanding Phoenician rule. Just as Abydos had been, this city represented 'living' history to him.

Daniel pointed to the temple. "Let's start there."

With a nod, Teal'c led; his trained eyes missing nothing as he moved into the dim shadows of the building.

He paused at the top of the stone steps to savor the moment, hearing the siren's call of the hieroglyphic text that covered the walls from ceiling to floor, telling the story of the people who had lived and worshipped their gods within this once sanctified temple. His expert eyes moved quickly, located the 'starting point' of the inscriptions.

Camcorder in hand, Daniel began to record the walls. It would help if he had someone to do the job for him, so that he could examine the rest of the temple. Teal'c would refuse, kindly of course, reminding him that Jack was depending on the Jaffa to protect him. Something poked the back of his mind...something about having the 'assistant' that he'd longed for so many times. Someone who shared his passion. Someone who listened to him when he was excited about what he'd found, really listened to him. With a mental shake, he pushed away the distracting thoughts, focusing on what he was doing. The walls were beautiful, the colors still bright, as fresh as if they'd just been painted.

His hand dropped, the camcorder momentarily forgotten. The dry heat of the desert was perfect for preserving buildings. If the winds didn't whip the sand, causing erosion, ruins could, and had, lasted for millennia. But this wasn't a desert planet. He wandered the room, reading quickly, finding nothing that seemed out of place. So why did the temple feel more...contemporary? And why did he keep wanting to turn and speak to...someone? Share his observations, his questions.

"Is there something wrong, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked, watching the archaeologist closely. Three times the man had turned to speak, each time looking bewildered, as if surprised to find no one beside him.

"What? Oh, no. Nothing's wrong," he replied, absently. Although he knew that something wasn't...right. He took a deep breath. There was nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing wrong. He had two days to find out everything he could about this city, and the people who had lived here. Determined, he resumed recording the walls. He'd examine them at the SGC later, when he had time to do so.

The altar was the next thing to be examined. Experience had taught him to film any and all hieroglyphs or cuneiform first; he had a tendency to become distracted with examining altars and other artifacts, and then not having time to get a full record of what he wanted.

He searched for and found the definitive book on Phoenicia, at least according to the author. Although he'd admit that the volume did indeed cover everything that was known about the ancient civilization. Which in turn was the reason for the size and thickness of the tome. He scanned the first line of text. Decided it would be best to get close-ups of the entire altar before losing himself in the work of translating what it said. Once again the odd thought that someone else should be doing that for him flittered across his brain. He frowned. Forced himself to concentrate. He had two days. And this altar alone would take most of that time.

Teal'c continued to divide his attention between the archaeologist, and the grove of trees just beyond the cobblestone road that led to the temple steps. The shadows that clung to the lower branches would easily conceal an enemy. He didn't feel the prickle of being observed. However, it would not do to relax his guard. An enemy not present at the moment could be so in a matter of seconds. His gaze took in the way the gray and black stones were laid out in front of the temple itself. The circular pattern left no doubt in his mind. That was a ring transport. One that could be activated from a ship in synchronous orbit above the planet. His eyes automatically scanned the sky, even as his brain reminded him that he would not see any Goa'uld ships which might be lurking there.

Daniel had reached into his pack once again, pulled the pad of tracing paper from the side pocket. He tore out several sheets, then carefully positioned the paper. Then he took a pencil and began to make a careful rubbing. When he had the entire top of the altar 'copied', he settled down on the floor beside it, and set to work.

 

 

 

Sam frowned slightly. She glanced around, then moved to her right. She took another soil sample. Went back to her original position, then took the same number of steps to the left. Another soil sample.

"What'cha doing?" Jack asked.

"If I'm right, the only naquadah we're going to find is right here. Since naquadah is the power source for Goa'uld ships, the traces left in the dirt are nothing more than...exhaust."

Jack frowned. "What about the titanium?"

The blonde major turned slightly, pointed to the low hills behind her. "The best place to look will be up there."

He put his hand over his eyes. In spite of the sunglasses on his face, the bright sunlight was bothering him slightly. His eyes had been sensitive ever since the explosion that had nearly blinded him. Thankfully he'd been too far from it to receive much in the way of physical wounds. But the fact that it had been a surprise, he'd been looking right at the device when it detonated, had left him with hypersensitivity to bright or direct light. "Looks like a bit of a hike."

"Yes, sir," she replied automatically.

"I'm not going to get to see that new episode of the Simpson's, am I?"

"Sir, if there is titanium here, we could use it," Sam replied.

He gave a resigned sigh. It was never good when the team was split up. He glanced around. So far, the plant life that was in apparent abundance was the only life around, other than the four visitors. He reached for his radio. "Teal'c, do you copy?"

"I am here, O'Neill," the Jaffa's voice responded immediately.

"Carter needs to do some test in the low hills to the south of here. We'll head there. Probably wind up spending the night there. Contact every thirty."

"I understand."

"Don't let Daniel touch anything."

"I will not."

Sam bit back her giggle. If Daniel had heard that order he was no doubt rolling his eyes, and protesting loudly.

"Let's go, Carter," Jack said, picking his pack up and swinging it onto his back.

A night alone with the colonel. The thought made her pulse race. She shoved the thoughts down. He was her commanding officer. And even though they were both aware of the mutual attraction, fought it daily, they never spoke of it, never acknowledged it. Would never act upon it. She sighed.

"Carter?"

"Nothing, sir," she replied quickly, cursing herself mentally for allowing that tiny lapse.

Me too, Carter, Jack thought, certain that he knew exactly what his second-in-command was thinking. Thoughts of the major as anything other than a part of his team would remain just that, thoughts. Very private, body stirring, heart-wrenching, soul-tormenting thoughts.

 

 

 

Daniel huffed a sigh. After three hours, he'd done little more than decipher the praises of Ba'al. He sorted through the carefully numbered pages. Decided to work on the bottom corner for awhile. He moved through the text quickly, jotting of the words and phrases he recognized at a glance into the journal that was open on his lap . He'd only been working for fifteen minutes when a 'new' phrase caught is eye.

"...see the course of paths chosen..."

He translated carefully. Examined the text around the phrase. "Teal'c, I think there might be something inside this altar. Or beneath it. I'm not certain which context three phrases were meant to be in, the grammatical marks around them have been damaged slightly."

Teal'c hurried across the expanse of the room. "A weapon?"

"I have no idea," Daniel murmured absently, as he began to move his fingers over and around the stone altar. Frowned slightly. "Okay, give me a few minutes, there have to be instructions here, somewhere."

The large man nodded. "In what way can I assist you?"

"See if you can locate any hidden levers or switches," Daniel replied. "Don't activate them, not yet, just see if you can find something like that."

With a nod of understanding, Teal'c's large fingers began to move with precision and gentleness that belied his size.

The silence of the temple echoed around them as the two men hurried to discover the hidden secrets of the ancient shrine.

 

 

 

Jack watched as Sam moved the hand-held scanner. "Just what is that thing, anyway?"

She glanced over her shoulder. "Commercial soil tester. I tweaked the software a bit, so that it'll register naquadah or titanium."

"Ah." If every team used one...he frowned. "Have lots of those things, do we?"

Sam smiled. "About twenty."

"So, what's it say about this dirt?"

"There seem to be traces of titanium. We'll have to do a more in-depth field analysis, but that won't take long. The equipment I need is on the MALP."

"So, we take a bit of dirt back with us?"

"Yes, sir."

He studied the horizon. There was maybe an hour of sunlight left. It had taken them well over two hours to reach this spot. "Do you want to go back now, or wait until morning?"

If she picked the smart answer, it would be to return now. Even if they had to travel in the dark for an hour or so, they'd be able to camp with Daniel and Teal'c. Which would be so much better for her peace of mind. If she chose to stay, which she so badly wanted to do, it would mean being alone with the man she loved, and could never have. It wasn't like they hadn't been in that particular situation before. It was the fact that each time became more difficult. "Your choice, sir."

"Might as well head back. Then you can run your tests first thing in the morning." And I won't have to fight myself all damned night to stay away from you, he thought sadly.

"Yes, sir." She hoped her disappointment didn't show.

Once again he read more in her sapphire blue eyes that she'd ever realize. It would be so much easier to deal with if she didn't reciprocate his feelings. If she wasn't interested in him, he could deal with his love for her. But knowing that she felt the same way...he shook himself mentally. Until one of them was ready to retire, or move on from the SGC, it wasn't going to happen. And neither of them were ready...or willing...to give up going through the Stargate.

 

 

 

Jack radioed that he and Sam would be back within the hour. Daniel glanced up at Teal'c when the message came through. Apparently traipsing around in the dark was preferable to being alone with one another all night. He shook his head. Damned regs should be changed, or at least suspended for them! Maybe he'd have a word with General Hammond about that.

Teal'c had taken two of the large battery-operated lanterns from the MALP, and had them sitting on the floor on either side of the altar, giving Daniel the much needed light to continue working. He'd been examining the stone base of the altar, searching for the hidden release mechanism that the archaeologist was certain was there. "Daniel Jackson, I believe I have found something."

Daniel nearly threw the book and tracings aside in his haste to get to his feet and join the Jaffa. "Where? What?"

"There is a gap here. Not large, but it might indicate that the altar can be moved."

His fingers moved over the spot where Teal'c pointed. "This is it!" he said excitedly. He aimed the beam of his flashlight at the bottom of the altar. "Help me push this aside. Easy, not too fast."

The stone altar was hollow, the single slab of granite on top negating any need for center support. The stone 'walls' of the altar rested on a thick platform made of another slab of rock, the bottom of which had been smoothed and polished until is was like glass. And would slide with relative ease across the equally smooth stone tiles of the floor.

Inch by inch the altar was moved. And revealed a hidden storage chamber. The hole was approximately three feet wide, two and a half feet across, and at least four feet deep. Inside was a miniature pyramid.

"The Phoenicians didn't build pyramids," Daniel said, frowning slightly.

"It is likely that Ba'al, or someone working for him, hid this device," Teal'c replied.

"Probably. Let's get it out of there."

Both of the men examined the gold pyramid as closely as possible, eyes searching for anything that might be a trap. There was barely enough room to get their hands around the ancient artifact and lift it. It was also considerably heavier than its size would indicate.

When the pyramid was sitting on the floor beside him, Daniel inspected it closely. Three of the sides were covered in cuneiform and hieroglyphs. He'd need a magnifying glass to read any of it. The 'front', however, was what caught and held his attention. A Stargate. A miniature Stargate. Thirty-nine symbols, just like the real thing. It appeared that the inner wheel spun freely, just like the on the real thing. He was certain that it was a lock of some sort. Thirty-nine glyphs. Nine chevrons. It could take weeks to come up with the correct combination to open the device. He reached out, ready to touch it, to confirm what his eyes told him...

"Don't you dare!"

He pulled his hand away, looked over his shoulder.

"Didn't I tell you not to touch anything?" Jack asked, his brown eyes glaring at the archaeologist as he entered the temple.

"How can I determine what this is if I can't touch it?" Daniel countered.

"Look at it. Take pictures of it. Do not touch it!"

If his own instincts weren't already in high gear, telling him that the potential for danger was high, he'd have spun the inner circle just to prove his point. But something in the back of his mind nagged at him, warned him that to activate the device was not something he wanted to do. Not without the benefit of knowing exactly what it was, what it was used for. The most annoying thing, he thought, sighing silently, was that it looked so damned familiar, as if he'd seen it before.

Jack and Sam walked toward the altar where Daniel sat examining the newly discovered artifact. They both looked tired, and it was agreed that it was time to break out the MREs, have a quick meal, and get a bit of sleep. Camp was set up just outside of the city walls, within running distance of the 'gate. Close enough for a quick escape if need be, far enough that any arrivals wouldn't go unnoticed, and would give them time to prepare for any unwanted guests. Jack assigned watch duty, and crawled into his sleeping bag.

Daniel had pulled first watch. It was difficult to keep from thinking about that pyramid. Who had built it? Couldn't have been the Phoenicians, they hadn't built pyramids. They hadn't built any massive structures, other than their city walls. He couldn't shake the feeling that he'd seen it before.

"...see the course of paths chosen..."

Just what did that mean? He didn't dare attempt to work on that puzzle right now. His responsibility at the moment was to see to it that his friends remained safe. There hadn't been sign nor sound of any living creature on the planet since they'd arrived. But that didn't mean that there wasn't something out there, perhaps something nocturnal. He tossed a few more sticks onto the fire.

He looked up at the stars. It had been on Abydos that he'd finally gone from digging in the dirt to looking up at what was above him. During those first difficult days after his return to Earth, he'd stayed with Jack. They'd spent several nights sitting on the roof, looking at the stars. Jack would point out the constellations, and Daniel would tell him the myths that had been created about those particular groups of stars. For a few fleeting seconds a thought...almost like a memory, flitted through his mind. Stargazing with someone he loved very much. And it wasn't Sha're. Oh, they'd spent a night or two lying on their backs, watching the stars. He'd spent far too many nights in the temple he'd discovered, caught up in translations and extrapolations. Before he could fully focus on it, the thought was gone. Once again he was left with the feeling that something was very...not right. As if a very large part of his heart...his very soul...was missing.


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