<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>
Picking Up the Pieces
What with duffel bags filled with clothes and toiletries, extra bags or plastic boxes that contained equipment that would most probably be needed during their mission to recover the components of the Ancient weapon, as well as a box filled with notes, images, star charts and three reference books, the team had the appearance of arriving for an extended stay.
"Yep, we’re moving in," Casey quipped when the transporter tech gave them a quizzical look.
"You can thank us later for all the excitement we’ll bring," Jack grinned.
"Careful, Jack," Daniel said drolly. "That ‘excitement’ could get us all shoved out an airlock."
Sam chuckled. "At the very least!" She turned to the tech, who was wearing a bemused smile on his face. "We need a room to work in, is there one available?"
"I’m not sure, ma’am, but I can have the supply clerk check the roster," the tech offered.
"We need a room large enough for both of us to work in, one with a large table would be appreciated," Daniel added.
The tech nodded. "I’ll do my best."
"Thank you," Daniel said, flashing his winning smile.
Glancing at the beautiful blonde who was clinging to the man he knew was Doctor Daniel Jackson, the tech smiled in return. One of the last group to be assigned to the new ship, the tech had been on board just three days now, and thus hadn’t been among the crew the first time SG-1 had been ferried from one place to the other by the Daedalus. The rumors, he thought, with just a bit of awe, about the good doctor’s wife certainly hadn’t been exaggerated! She was gorgeous. And, he sighed mentally, if the looks she was giving her husband were any clue, she was totally in love with him.
"In the mean time, let Colonel Mitchell know we’re here," Jack said. "We’ll leave our things in our quarters, then head up to the bridge. Carter needs to run a scan."
"Yes, sir," the tech replied.
"Let’s go, campers. The sooner we get this trip started, the sooner we’ll be home. Just remember, there’s a Simpson’s marathon coming up."
"You so need to learn how to TIVO," Casey said, rolling her eyes.
"Latrine duty, Radar."
"Heard it before, colonel."
"You’ve said that before, too."
"For a year."
"I’ve read a lot about summer camp pranks, always wanted a chance to try some of them out. Like taking out the bolts that hold the toilet seats in place," Casey retorted.
Jack stopped walking, turned to look at her. "You would, too, wouldn’t you?"
"In a heartbeat. And I’d have cameras set up to catch the action," she cracked.
"Daniel, your wife is a pain-in-the-ass," Jack grumped.
"Really? Never noticed that," Daniel replied glibly.
"You’re a pain-in-the-ass, too."
"Now that I recall hearing you mention a time or two," Daniel nodded sagely.
Jack rolled his eyes. "We’re on a space ship."
"Very astute, Jack," Daniel snorted. "What was your first clue?"
"You shouldn’t be so insubordinate. There could be an accident. Airlock malfunction. It could suck you right out. Into space. Which is a vacuum, by the way."
"So I’ve read. Was that a threat, by the way?"
"No threats, just an observation. Take it as a warning."
"A warning could be construed as a threat," Daniel countered.
"I would never threaten you, Daniel," Jack sighed.
"Ha! You do it all the time!"
"No I don’t!"
"Yes, you do!"
"No, I don’t!"
"Yes, you do!"
"All right, you two, we have work to do," Sam cut in, rolling her sapphire blue eyes heavenward, as if seeking the patience needed to deal with her CO and teammate.
"Yeah, lots of work to do," Casey taunted. "General Hammond wants this job done as quickly as possible."
"You started it," Jack grumbled.
"Me? What did I do?" Casey squeaked in protest.
"I believe your comment regarding O’Neill’s lack of ability to TIVO his favorite television programs spurred the conversation," Teal’c replied.
Casey looked up at the Jaffa. "Whose side are you on, anyway?"
"My own." The tall man brushed past his teammates and punched the call button for the elevator.
Sam snickered loudly.
"Radar, you have been a horrible influence on Rocco," Jack accused.
"He was warped when I met him. That was your fault," she argued.
"Shall we not get started again?" Daniel asked. He brushed past his wife to join Teal’c.
Grinning, Sam went to stand with the two men. Casey watched the backs of her teammates, then looked over at Jack. "How rude!"
"Very," Jack agreed. "No sense of humor, either."
"They just don’t understand us."
"Never will," the slender blonde said.
"So, will we be home by the weekend?"
Casey sighed. "I don’t know, Jack. I certainly hope so. But so far, I’m not ‘seeing’ anything."
"Let me know immediately if you do. Even if it’s just a funny feeling," Jack said quietly.
"I promise. Unless you’re in the shower or something. I’ll wait for you to get dressed."
"Appreciate the thoughtfulness," Jack tossed back.
"I figured you would."
The elevator doors opened, and the team entered...each of them grinning from ear to ear.
A A A A A A
Mitchell was waiting for them when they entered the small bridge of the ship. "We’re just above the Southwest corner of the US, as requested," he told Sam.
She nodded. "Begin scanning for any traces of naquadah. They’re going to be faint, and that might mean deep. So increase the range by thirty percent. We’ll increase further if we need to. Standard search grid."
The young navigation officer nodded. "Increasing range by thirty percent. Beginning scan...now."
Sam watched over the young woman’s shoulder. Glanced at her teammates. "This could take awhile."
"I’ll try to figure out exactly which ‘cradle of stars’ we’re looking for," Daniel said.
"Got your request for a room. You can use the briefing room, I figure it’s big enough for y’all to do whatever it is ya’ need to do," Cam offered.
"Thanks," Daniel replied. He wrapped his hand around Casey’s, and the two started for the hatchway.
"Anything we can do to help, Danny?" Jack asked.
"Actually, if you’re willing to simply go through notes and look for any stellar references, that would save some time."
With a nod, Jack clapped Teal’c on the back. "Let’s go, Rocco. Carter has this under control."
Daniel led the way down the corridor. A sign placed conveniently above the door led them directly to the briefing room. The box he’d been carrying under one arm went into the center of the long table. He pulled several folders out, handed one to each of his teammates. "All we’re looking for is some idea of the constellation we need to be searching in. Anything that might be related to a constellation should be marked."
"Got it," Jack nodded.
Settling into chairs, the four began sorting through notes, skimming to find any relevant sections, carefully reading those that did. The only sound in the room was that of their quiet breathing and the rustling of paper.
The signal was weak...much weaker than she had anticipated. But it was definitely showing as a source of naquadah. Very small, from what the scan revealed. Sam frowned. "Increase sensitivity another twenty percent."
"Give me coordinates."
"Thirty-five degrees, one hour, thirty-eight minutes north, one hundred-eleven degrees, one hour, twenty-one minutes west," was the reply.
"Can you give me an approximation of what’s nearby?"
"Sure, it’s...um...Major Carter, that’s the Meteor Crater, in Arizona," the young woman said, her eyes wide. Everything she'd been told during her training at the SGC insisted that naquadah had never been found on Earth...it was an alien metal/ore. "Near Winslow, according to the ‘net."
Sam watched the scanner carefully. "The readings seem to be concentrated in one spot. Depth puts them below the impact crater. Pull up everything you can on it," Sam said, frowning slightly. Naquadah...there? Were there other traces of the metal on Earth?
"Here it is."
Sam read carefully. She checked the readout a second time. What little there was, it seemed to be deep, at least two thousand feet beneath the bottom of the crater, if the scanner readings were correct. "Thanks. Probably ought to save this...just in case."
"Problem, major?" Cam asked, noting the frown on Sam’s lovely face.
"I don’t know, sir," she replied honestly. "This just seems so odd! This crater is young in geological terms. Probably one of the ‘newest’ impacts that have happened. And it just seems too ‘recent’ to have been something that would have affected the Ancients."
Cam frowned. He didn’t know much about this Ancient weapon, or the Ancients themselves, for that matter. Only that the Ancients had been on good ol’ planet Earth a hell of a long time ago, and they'd built the Stargates. No clue which had come first. And as for the weapon, all he needed to know was that it had General Hammond and SG-1 spooked, and determined not to let it fall into Goa’uld hands. It was his job to help the team prevent that from happening.
"I’ll see what Daniel has to say...maybe he can figure it out," Sam said, giving the colonel a reassuring smile.
With a nod, Sam hurried off the bridge, into the corridor. She wasn’t a psychic by any stretch of the imagination. But something felt totally wrong. She opened the door of the briefing room.
"Well?" Jack asked, looking up. If Sam was here, she’d found something.
"Traces of naquadah. Beneath the Meteor Crater in Arizona," she replied.
"Beneath it?" Daniel asked, his eyebrows going up in surprise, although for the moment his attention was still mostly focused on the report in front of him.
His feet, which had been propped up on the table to keep him steady as he leaned his chair back on two legs, hit the deck. "What?" Jack said, frowning slightly. "Ya wanna explain to me how there can be naquadah in Arizona and we never knew about it before?"
"We didn't know it was there, because we never had a reason to search for it," Sam replied. "Naquadah isn't a naturally occurring ore on Earth. And, no one digging in or around the crater has gone that far down, at least, not as deep as these trace deposits seem to be..." Her voice trailed off for a moment. "I just read about the crater. It’s only fifty thousand years old."
The comment brought Daniel’s head up...his teammate had his undivided attention. "That’s relatively new."
"That’s what I thought," Sam declared. "We know the Ancients were here, that they developed the Stargate at least three million years ago. And they were on Antarctica before it froze, given that the DHD and the Stargate the colonel and I were tossed through were completely buried in ice. If the event horizon hadn’t broken through that ice, we’d have been killed."
He shook his head in obvious disagreement. "We theorize that the Ancients were on Earth, that they built the Stargates around three million years ago. And we know that Antarctica was ice free until fifteen million years ago."
Casey frowned. "Um...Stud Muffin, that doesn’t add up. If the Ancients built the Stargates, which are three million years old, how could they have left one behind on Antarctica before it froze over?"
"Nobody said the Ancients arrived before it froze. The Ancients probably found Antarctica to be the perfect ‘hiding place’ when they first arrived on Earth," Daniel explained. "Since Antarctica was so far away from the other continents, it was ‘safe’ for them...so far we haven’t found any indication of settlements or occupation of any sort from any later time periods. We were hoping that satellite scans would offer us something...we’ve located dozens of prehistoric ruins through satellite scans," he added, almost wistfully. "Of course, it’s possible that when the Ancients left Earth, they removed all traces of their own residence, and might have inadvertently removed any signs there might have been of previous inhabitants.
"Anyway," he continued, "the Ancients were advanced enough to be able to survive in such a harsh environment, and the fact that the Stargate...which we think was the first one on planet Earth...and the DHD could have become buried in ice simply as a result of the passage of time. They could have been sitting on the surface, but earthquakes, storms, cycles of partial melts and freezes, all could have caused them to be found where they were, and the condition they were in." Daniel’s frown deepened. It had been a bitter disappointment to learn that the DHD was not only buried in ice, but when it was eventually removed from the glacier that had partially covered the cavern, time and the elements had rendered it completely useless. Not even Sam understood the technology well enough to be able to repair it. He was certain that having a ‘true’ DHD...rather than the computers, with their dialing programs...would have afforded them more safety, and possibly more power to the ‘gate itself. He had often wondered if having a ‘true’ DHD would have allowed travel through the ‘gate to far reaching galaxies, rather than having to add additional power to the ‘gate itself.
"But we know that the Ancients interacted with our cave-dwelling ancestors," Casey argued. "They couldn’t have done that from the Antarctic...not easily at any rate."
"We theorize that the Ancients interacted with the cave-dwellers," Daniel corrected gently. "Who’s to say how the Ancients approached the cave dwellers? Like I said, they were highly advanced. For all we know, they had some sort of flight capable vehicles to move from continent to continent. However, the interaction between the Ancients and our ancestors explains the ‘sudden’ jump from cave dwellers to people who learned to farm, build crude shelters, make pottery, weave cloth, even make candles. It wasn’t until the Goa’uld arrived that those primitive farmers were turned into city dwellers who learned writing and mathematics and astronomy, and began to express themselves in art forms other than stick drawings on cave walls. Granted, without written proof, at this point in time all we have are theories, and the timelines of civilizations that we can trace to their beginnings...there’s nothing certain about our origins."
"All I know for certain is there are traces of naquadah at least a half a mile beneath the bottom of that crater," Sam sighed. "And that crater was formed fifty thousand years ago."
Daniel frowned. "That just doesn’t make sense! The Ancients were gone by then, or we’d have more evidence of their presence in the ancient writings of our own indigenous peoples!"
"Okay, let’s not get hung up on what can or can’t be," Jack said. "For the moment, all we need to know is that there are traces of naquadah in that spot. That can only mean some sort of Ancient doohickey. If Radar says what we’re looking for is there, then it’s there."
The comment brought a hint of pink to her cheeks, a slight smile to her lips, and a feeling of warmth that completely enveloped her. Even after two years, Casey was still surprised when her ‘predictions’ were treated as fact, when no one blinked an eye in doubt or disbelief.
"Getting it might not be so easy," Sam said. "There are tourists all over the place on a daily basis, as well as scientific studies that are done almost continually on site."
Jack frowned. "That could be a problem," he admitted.
"Why don’t we concentrate on the other pieces for now," Daniel suggested. "As soon as we have the right constellation, we’ll know where the final piece of the weapon is. Once we have the two that are still out here, we can worry about whatever is buried in Arizona."
"I agree," Casey said. "Let’s worry about one problem at a time."
Sam nodded. "I concur."
"As do I," Teal’c said.
"Okay, campers, let’s find a group of stars that Daniel likes," Jack said. "I’ll let the general know what we’ve found. He can deal with making arrangements for us to get that thing when we get back."
Sam accepted a folder from Daniel, sat down between Jack and Teal’c. And temporarily pushed the problem of the piece of Ancient weapon in Arizona from her mind.
A A A A A A
Casey frowned. "Okay, this might be something...it’s highlighted anyway."
"What?" Daniel asked, somewhat distractedly. He was sorting through three folders, his gaze moving from one page to another with practiced ease.
"It’s a phrase...um...the notes say it’s from an Ancient tablet found near ruins that were similar to Babylonian ruins on Earth," Casey replied. "Kinda vague, but here goes...‘Look unto the Plow that hovers above you, for there you will find the beginning of all things.’ Could that be it?"
"That could definitely be a reference to a stellar nursery," Sam said.
"But what is this ‘plow’?" Teal’c asked.
Jack glanced up at Daniel, expecting him to spout off the answer. When nothing was immediately forthcoming, he cleared his throat. "The Plow is part of a constellation."
All eyes turned to stare at him.
Daniel shook his head. He should have just asked Jack about the clues they’d found in the first place! The man was a astronomy buff with an amazing memory for stellar details. "Do you know which constellation ‘The Plow’ is in?"
"Triangulum," Jack answered immediately. "It’s bordered by Pisces, Andromeda, Aries...what’s the other?" he mumbled to himself, closing his eyes. "Oh, yeah...Perseus."
Sam grabbed her notes; she had written down every known or identified stellar nursery she could locate in the search she had done.
"The Triangulum Galaxy is located there," Jack continued. "Looks like a pinwheel. You can see it with the naked eye if you’re away from light sources. There are some great places in the Rockies to go stargazing...I’ve seen it several times."
"And that particular galaxy is home to the Giant Stellar Nursery," Sam said, her blue eyes wide.
"Jack, you surprise me, sometimes," Daniel said softly. "I keep forgetting that you know more about the stars and constellations than I’ll ever know."
He studied his best friend. Steadfastly believed that the archaeologist was probably the most brilliant man alive. "I doubt it. The knowledge is there, in your head somewhere. So, is this what we’re looking for?" Jack asked.
Daniel frowned. That feeling - a tingling in the back of his neck that always seemed to alert him to the fact that he was on the right track in his research - was getting stronger. "I think it is."
"So far, it’s the only reference...the only such obvious reference," Casey amended, "that we’ve found."
"Casey, can you take a look, make certain it’s the right place?" Jack asked.
"I guess so...what do I look for?"
Daniel shrugged. "Just see if you can sense anything connected with the Ancient weapon."
The young seer nodded slowly. Thought about the stele that was now sitting in Warehouse Two, and examined the feeling connected to it. Daniel was scooting his chair away from the table before she even began to rise from her seat. Which brought a smile to her face. She settled onto his lap; took comfort from the strong arms that locked around her. Closed her eyes.
It felt as if it had been ages since she’d been so free...so able to drift wherever it was that she needed to go. Concentrating on the names of the constellations that Jack had listed, Casey felt herself pulled north of the Daedalus’ position. Stars, distant galaxies, nebula, all spread out before her. It was beautiful...breathtaking. For a brief moment, she wished that Oakey could see her ‘garden’...and the beauty it contained.
Pinwheel...there it was! She sighed...the colors were so beautiful! Focusing on the feelings the stele had stirred, she felt herself pulled toward the pinwheel. "Picture, I need to see it," she murmured.
Daniel reached out, tugged the folder closer, began to sort through the stellar images. Jack stretched across the table, tapped the photo of the galaxy. Sam located the nebula, and passed the photo to him. "Here," he said quietly, putting the photos into his Wife’s hands.
Casey opened her eyes, examined the images, compared them to what she had just witnessed. "That’s it. I could feel it. Not sure of the exact location, but it was there."
"That means the planet we’re looking for is somewhere in this nebula," Sam frowned.
"Is that possible?" Daniel asked.
"I don’t know," the astrophysicist replied. "If it’s not in the nebula, then it’s nearby."
"Remember, ‘nearby’ can still be a few hundred or a few thousand light years away," Jack pointed out.
"If we were to travel to this nebula, would Casey Jackson be able to locate the precise planet without the Daedalus appearing to ‘search’?" Teal’c asked.
"I’m sure that I’ll be able to ‘feel’ it the closer we get, and be able to give a more definitive location," the young seer declared quietly.
"Even if we do adjust our course," Sam said, "it could be construed as nothing more than taking a closer look at something."
"Okay, campers. Let’s go pick ‘em up, shall we?" Jack grinned.
"I think it would be best to have a planned route...get the closest piece first, then move on to the next," Daniel said. "Then we can just loop back home."
Jack nodded. "Good idea. It will give the impression we’re not looking for anything specific."
Daniel checked his notes. "Our first stop will be the planet that the dialing computer designated PK2-331. The ‘gate address was on the bottom of the stele," he explained, when Jack gave him a blank look.
"Right," Jack replied. "Then on to the Triangulum Galaxy."
Nodding, Daniel gathered his notes. "Let’s hope that the general gets news about Ba’al’s whereabouts soon."
Rubbing his hands together with obvious glee, Jack stood to his feet. "Home for the weekend!"
Casey giggled. "Only if Ba’al cooperates and sticks his head up so we can find his ass."
"Don’t rain on my parade, Radar," Jack warned.
"Head or ass, if he shows either one, we’ll have him," Daniel grinned.
"I’d like to shove his head up his ass," Casey grumbled. Her teammates chuckled around her.
"Radar, after we find that scepter, you can do whatever you want to Balls," Jack offered generously.
"Really? Thanks!" She paused, frowned slightly. "Do you think he’s limber enough for me to bend him in half?" Her friends erupted into gales of laughter. "What? It’s a legitimate question!"
Mitchell tapped on the door, then entered the room. "I take it that things are going well?"
"Yes, they are," Jack said jovially. "We have two specific destinations."
"Cool!" Mitchell replied.
"Major, I’ll let you and Daniel give Colonel Mitchell the pertinent information. Radar, come on, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee."
"You’ve got a deal!" Casey said, rising to her feet. She hastily gathered the contents of the folder she’d been searching through, and put them into the manila holder. Accepted the other folders as Jack, Sam, and Teal’c followed suit; put them all into the box.
"Thanks," Daniel said, tossing a smile at her.
"You’re welcome." That half-shy smile always made her weak-in-the-knees. Made her heart patter against her chest.
When her eyes seemed to focus on his lips, Daniel felt his breath catch in his throat. For that moment, they were alone in the universe.
Before she could do something totally inappropriate...at least it would be with others in the room...Casey shook herself mentally. "Coffee," she murmured.
Mitchell watched the two - observing the looks of love that flashed through their eyes. Glances that spoke volumes to anyone who witnessed that exchange. "Major, do you have coordinates for me?"
"Sure do," Sam smiled. She hadn’t missed what was going on between Daniel and Casey, either.
Jack took Casey by the arm. "Quit screwing with Daniel’s head, Radar. He’s still got work to do."
"What work? All we have to do is just pick up the pieces!"
The older man rolled his eyes. "C’mon."
With a smile of his own, Teal’c fell into step behind Jack and Casey.
Daniel’s gaze was focused on the sexy sway of his Wife’s hips as she left the room; he looked up to find Mitchell watching him with an amused smile. "She can be a major distraction, sometimes," he smiled, giving a ‘what-can-I-say’ shrug of his wide shoulders
"Sometimes Daniel needs that distraction," Sam said quietly. "He tends to get caught up in his work...doesn’t eat, doesn’t sleep." She grinned broadly. "Or at least he used to. Now Casey’s taking care of him."
Lucky bastard. Mitchell shook his head mentally to clear the errant thought from his brain. He might have been given the ‘antidote’ to her pheromones, but Casey was a damned beautiful woman, and he wasn’t immune to that!
"Let’s get the coordinates for this location, and have both addresses entered into the navigational computer," Daniel said, his cheeks ruddy. Sam had often voiced her concern over his work habits, the hours...or days...he could spend working on a project, subsisting on coffee and the occasional catnap in his office. Something that she’d had no cause to worry about since Casey had entered his life.
Via the computer connection between the Daedalus and the SGC, Sam was able to make her inquiries without voice contact. Having netted the exact information needed, she sent a reply and thank-you email to Doctor Lee, then turned to Mitchell. She handed a slip of paper to him, on it the corresponding numbers of the glyph address. The navigational computer on the Daedalus, as on her sister ship, was equipped to ‘interpret’ the dialing address of any planet in the SGC system. "Okay, now it’s up to you to get us there, sir."
The ship’s commander grinned. "Not a problem. Open communication with the SGC."
"This is the SGC," Walter’s voice echoed in the small room.
"This is the Daedalus. Preparing to leave orbit for the first target," Mitchell replied.
"Understood, Daedalus," Walter responded.
"Good luck, colonel," General Hammond’s voice added.
"Thank you, sir." He looked at his bridge crew. "All right, boys and girls, let’s see what the Daedalus is made of. Best time to the first set of coordinates."
A A A A A A
Casey sipped from her mug, savoring the rich flavor of the coffee. It was certainly better than the ‘base sludge’ that was available at the SGC. "Jack, do you think the brass at the Pentagon will insist on using this thing?"
"I don’t know," Jack replied honestly. "I sure as hell hope not, if you don’t think we should put it together."
The seer heaved a sigh. "I say we tell them that the damned thing doesn’t work, and bury everything we find. On that ice planet!"
"Not a bad idea."
"I can’t give you details," Casey said softly. "All I know is that thing scares the hell out of me. I think about it, and I feel like I can’t breathe. I start shaking when anyone even mentions putting the thing together."
"That’s good enough for me," Jack declared quietly. He patted her hand reassuringly. "I have the feeling that the president will listen to you."
"I hope so," she sighed. Her face lit up when Daniel stepped into the dining room.
Jack couldn’t help but grin. No need to turn around and look. Her expression told him who had just walked in.
"We’re on our way," Sam announced, sitting down between Jack and Teal’c.
"General Hammond knows?"
"Yes, sir," Sam replied.
"How long until the first stop?"
"No idea," Daniel said, settling beside Casey. "I’m sure that Colonel Mitchell will tell us when we’re close.
Jack nodded his understanding.
Casey reached into the thigh pocket of her BDU. "I’d say we have time for a hand or ten of poker."
"I’d say you’re just eager to lose," Jack retorted.
"You still owe me three dollars and fifteen cents," the seer scoffed.
"I’m good for it."
"I don’t give credit. You lose today, you have to pay everything you owe."
"Deal the cards, Radar, I’m feeling lucky," Jack grinned.
<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>