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Whispers From the Past

Chapter 12

Dawn broke over the horizon. Daniel stood at the window, sipping the coffee he'd made, which hadn't been an easy task, considering that a six foot, four inch Jaffa and two children were curled up directly in front of the fire.

His mind wandered, no farther than the room and the sleeping bags where Casey was curled, breathing softly. He knew without a doubt that the fact that she hadn’t ‘seen’ the children, hadn’t ‘seen’ the crash sight, hadn’t ‘seen’ the city was bothering her. She would hold herself to blame if anything went wrong. How many times had she told him, ‘I see what I see, I have no control over it’? Yet, she often forgot that very important tidbit of knowledge herself.

He sighed softly. He would do what he always did. Hold her while she cried over what she considered ‘failures’. Hold her when the demons that haunted her caused nightmares. And do his best to help her appreciate what an amazing thing her gift was. That no matter what she saw, how much or how little, that special gift had saved lives, again and again. And that, in his mind, was the single most important thing she could do. Anything else was inconsequential. Nice to have, but not absolutely necessary.

Teal’c stirred, opened his eyes. Daniel bit back a smile when he realized the warrior had no intention of moving, lest he disturb the children who were cuddled against his sides. Casey was right...Teal’c was a marshmallow inside.

Jack wandered into the room, raised one eyebrow at seeing the Jaffa holding the children, then nodded toward Daniel’s coffee. "Any left?" he asked softly.

"Just made a fresh pot," Daniel replied. A smaller pan held water for Teal’c’s tea.

The cups from mess kits were stacked on the hearth, Jack grabbed his, and poured a cup of the steaming black liquid. "Radar wants the kids bathed."

"Probably a good idea," Daniel replied.

"You can say that, you won’t be involved," Jack snorted.

Blue eyes went wide. "And just why not?"

"You’ll be doing your translating thing on that rock."

"Shouldn’t take that long," Daniel argued.

"Fine, we bathe the kids, and then you can do your rock thing, and Sam can do her dirt thing."

Daniel struggled to hold back the smile that wanted to break free. It was the first time he’d heard Jack use Sam’s name on a mission.

"What?" Jack asked suspiciously.

"Nothing." He used his best innocent expression.

Casey stumbled into the room next, her eyes still puffy with sleep. She was brushing her hair and, Daniel noted with amusement, she was still barefoot. "Coffee."

The smile Daniel had been fighting escaped. That one word had been a question, a demand, a plea. "On the hearth."

Stepping deftly between Teal’c’s outstretched legs, the seer poured a cup. "Need more," she grumbled.

"That’s the last of the water from my pack," Daniel announced.

Without a word Casey disappeared back into the small room where she had slept, only to reappear a few seconds later, pack in hand. She dropped it at Daniel’s feet. "Have at it."

Jack ducked his head to grin. Casey first thing in the morning was almost as bad as ill-tempered Goa’uld. He'd always wondered what would happen if any of the snakes or their tin-men had the inane idea of attacking SG-1 before her first cup of coffee. Chances were, there wouldn’t be enough left of either the snake or the Jaffa to identify. Which was, he decided, a very entertaining thought.

Still smiling, Daniel pulled the bottles of water from the pack, poured the last of the coffee into his mug...which he’d wind up sharing with his Wife, no doubt...and emptied two of them into the pot. He dropped in the pre-measured, filter packet of coffee, and nestled it among the hot coals of the fire.

Casey had found her bag of sugar and creamer packets, and had added the needed amount to her mug. The wooden stir stick was tossed into the fire as soon as she was finished with it. She took a sip, closed her eyes. When she opened, them, it was to see Teal’c grinning up at her. "What?"

"I will speak to you when you have finished."

Green eyes narrowed. "Just spill it, Jaffa."

Stifled snickers echoed from the corner of the room where Daniel and Jack were sitting, nursing their own cups of coffee.

"I believe these children should be cleaned."

"Duh."

"There is a substantial river just outside of the city," Teal’c continued. "I believe it will suffice for our needs."

"Good. You and Jack can bathe Illam, I’ll take care of Dara."

Jack cleared his throat. "Danny has decided he doesn’t want to miss out on the fun, and I know Sam will be willing to help you."

She nodded. Bit back a yawn. "Whatever."

"Help do what?" Sam asked, shuffling into the room. She ran a hand through her hair, stopped at the sight of Teal’c still laying on the floor, the sleeping children as close to the warmth of his body as they could get. Her smile was one of indulgence. "They’re still asleep?"

"Probably haven’t felt this safe since they were left alone," Jack said quietly.

Casey pulled out a ziplock bag filled with oatmeal packets, and Sam had brought along Pop-tarts, having hidden them in her office to snack on. The smell of the warming cereal awakened the children.

Illam sniffed at the bowl of oatmeal. Watched as the adults ate. Realizing that his little sister was watching him, waiting to see what he would do, he tried the hot cereal. Closed his eyes and savored the flavorful concoction. It was so much better than the roots!

Dara began to eat, nibbled on the pastry that the woman with the short blonde hair had given her. The little girl wanted to make the treat last as long as possible...she didn’t know when these people would leave, and she and Illam would have nothing but roots again.

"You don’t think this stuff will hurt them, do you?" Jack asked, watching the kids eat, such happiness on their faces that it made his heart ache.

"I don’t think so," Sam replied. "If they'd been starving, then yes, there would be some concern about introducing so many calories to their systems at once. I think they’ve probably supplemented their diet of roots with berries."

Casey smiled. She too, had noted the dark purple smudges on fingers, knees and toes. "Daniel, can you explain to them that after breakfast, we’re all going to clean up?"

It was habit for the team to bathe every morning on a mission, if a suitable water source was available. "I can try."

"Might be better to just show them," Jack suggested.

The young seer frowned. "Maybe."

"Let’s just hold off saying anything," the CO decided. "Keeps them from taking off to avoid a bath."

The sounds of chuckling, the smiles on the faces of the adults, brought smiles to the dirty little faces of the children. Casey wondered just what they would have been thinking if they had known what was in store for them.

 

 

 

As soon as the metal bowls had been cleaned out, and mess kits repacked into backpacks, the fire in the hearth was carefully banked, sleeping bags rolled up, and all of the equipment stored in one corner of the main room.

Carrying ditty bags and clean clothes wrapped in towels, Jack suggesting that a clean tee shirt for Dara and a clean pair of boxers for Illam could be adjusted to fit the children, the group followed Teal’c and Sam toward the river they had discovered the day before.

When the children realized where they were headed, they began to fall back. Jack looked over his shoulder. "I’m betting Poppy either didn’t know about this river, or told those kids to stay away from it."

"Probably told them to stay away from it," Daniel mused.

"For all we know, water is considered dangerous," Casey said.

"I suggest that you guys go that way," Sam said pointing to an area on the river bank that had several large bushes that hung over the water. "There’s a little spot over here that Casey and I can use."

With encouraging smiles, the adults turned to face the children who watched with open curiosity. "Illam, come with us," Daniel said lightly. "Dara, you go with Casey and Sam."

Casey held her hand out, and Dara skipped over to grab it. She noted that Illam had a frown on his face. She was willing to bet that the men of the team wouldn’t have as much success in getting the boy to join them as easily.

"Come on, Illam. Time to clean up," Daniel said, keeping his voice calm and light.

Dragging his feet, the boy moved slowly toward the waiting men. He understood what the man wanted to do. His mother had made him ‘clean up’ every day. Sometimes more often, if he had been outside playing. As they always did, thoughts of his mother made him want to cry. Something he couldn’t do in front of Dara, and certainly not in front of these strangers.

 

 

 

Dara continued to skip beside Casey as the two women walked along the bank, stopping behind a group of low bushes. The leaves were dark green and broad, offering ample protection from prying eyes. Not that there were actually any peeping-toms to worry about.

"I think the best thing to do is just start in...if she’s like most little girls, she’ll want to emulate us," Sam said.

"I agree. Besides, we have nice smelling soap and shampoo. What woman can resist that?" Casey grinned.

The women stripped and waded slowly and carefully into the water. Dara watched as they opened the brightly colored boxes they had carried in with them. 

Casey began to splash water against her body, the sudden cold making her gasp. She tossed a smile at Dara, dipped her soap to wet it, and began to run the bar over her skin.

Sam was doing the same thing, watching from the corner of her eye as Dara began to remove her clothes. She cleared her throat, then gave a subtle head nod toward the bank when Casey looked up at her.

As soon as the little girl was close enough, Casey held out her soap. Dara reached out and touched it, pulled her fingers back. Moving slowly, so as not to startled the child, Casey rinsed her own body, then playfully began to splash Sam. Who immediately did the same. Within minutes Dara had joined them, giggling loudly as they continued to play in the water.

Sam held out her bar of soap, and just as she had with Casey’s, Dara reached out and touched it.

Casey moved closer to the little girl. "Would you like to try it?" she asked softly, motioning toward the child with the bar of soap.

Obviously she didn’t understand the words, but apparently the tone of her voice, and the smile on the seer’s face was enough to convey the meaning. Dara held her arm out.

Casey rubbed the soap on her arm. Smiled when the little girl held out her other arm. Again, the soap went up and down. When Dara pointed to her tummy, Casey giggled softly, and teased the soap over her skin.

Dara was giggling as well. She began to mimic what she had seen the women doing, and began to rub her hands over her arms, seemed to be excited about the foam and bubbles the action produced.

Casey began to wash Dara’s abdomen and back, then waded to more shallow water to wash the child’s legs. It took several tries and a demonstration before the little girl was fully bathed. Once her skin had been rinsed, Casey moved back out to the deeper water, took a deep breath, and went under, just long enough to get her hair wet. Sam grabbed her bottle of shampoo, and did the same thing. Sam poured shampoo into Casey’s hand, and then her own, letting the closed bottle float on the surface of the water beside her.

Dara watched only for a minute or so before she was making motions that she wanted shampoo in her hand as well.

Exchanging triumphant grins with her best friend, Sam poured shampoo into the outstretched little hands. Both women assisted Dara, fingers working the worst of the tangles out of the wet, soapy strands.

The shouts of the men echoed down river from them. From the sound of it, Illam wasn’t being as cooperative.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Jack, Daniel, and Teal’c stripped unceremoniously, grabbed their individual bars of soap, and splashed into the water. Illam watched, but made no move to join them.

"This isn’t going to be easy," Jack murmured.

Daniel glanced over his shoulder. "Nope."

"I suggest we simply bring the boy into the river and bathe him," Teal’c said.

"Right, just grab him and toss him in," Daniel muttered. "That will go over well, and probably scare him to death."

"Daniel, the kid has got to be cleaned up, I don’t think I can handle another night in that cottage with him," Jack drawled. Before leaving the cottage, he had opened all of the windows and the door as wide as possible, hoping the smell of the dirty little bodies would be gone by the time the team returned.

The archaeologist sighed. "Illam, come on, it’s all right. You can bathe with us," he called, hoping that the kid would cooperate.

Illam shook head, began to back up slowly.

"He’s gonna bolt," Jack said, already moving toward the shore.

"Ah, hell," Daniel said, shaking his head.

"Get him!" Jack shouted when Illam turned and began to run back toward the path the men had taken

"He’s heading toward the road!" Daniel yelled, slipping in the mud as he tried to follow Jack up the incline.

Teal’c leapt over the fallen man; his long, powerful legs overtaking Jack in a matter of steps.

Illam darted into the undergrowth near the river, not expecting the huge man behind him to do the same.

Jack had seen where the boy was headed, and began to scramble toward the opening in the bushes where he should emerge...as long as he didn’t make any more surprise turns.

Daniel was behind Jack, and realized for the first time that the three of them were still naked, a fact brought home when a small sapling, waving frantically from the force of Jack’s passage, slapped his lower abdomen. "Ouch, damn it," he groused.

The colonel, at that particular moment, discovered the presence of a group of thorn bushes. "Ouch! Ow! Son-of-a-bitch!" He began to hop up and down trying to pull the long, thin needle-like thorns from his feet and ankles.

Teal’c, in the meantime, had managed to get hold of Illam’s arm, and was dragging the now screaming boy back toward the path. His own body bore the marks and scratches of the thick undergrowth.

Hobbling, Jack made his way back to where Daniel waited. "Teal’c?" he called.

"I have the child, O’Neill. We may commence with bathing him."

Muddy, winded, and not a little out of sorts, the two men rejoined their teammate. Illam was still struggling as Teal’c waded into the river.

"Teal’c don’t!"

The Jaffa looked at the archaeologist quizzically, just before releasing his hold on the squirming Illam. Who dropped head first into the water. And came up spitting, sputtering, and screaming bloody murder.

"Grab your soap, Daniel. Teal’c, keep a tight grip on that kid," Jack ordered.

It was like trying to hold onto a greased eel, Daniel thought, grunting when one of Illam’s flying fists made contact with his stomach.

"His hair is so matted, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to get it combed out," Jack said, doing his best to rub shampoo into the thick, black hair. And avoid another kick to the solar plexus.

"We should cut it off," Teal’c said matter-of-factly.

"Good idea. Keep hold of him." Jack waded back to the riverbank, sorted through his ditty bag. He had tucked an extra sewing kit inside...never knew when he might have to sew up a hole in his shorts. The scissors that came with the kit were small. They’d have to do.

"O’Neill, you will find a straight-razor in my bag," Teal’c said.

One eyebrow went up. And then to the bald head of the Jaffa. Okay, he knew from that little game of ‘switching bodies’, thanks to that really whacked out alien named Ma’chello, that Teal’c shaved his head as part of the ritual of being Jaffa, and First Prime. Yeah, they’d take the majority of the matted mess off with the razor, and he’d use the scissors to clean it up a bit. He gave a mental nod of satisfaction. Problem solved.

"Illam, stop fighting! I know your parents made you bathe!" Daniel said, gritting his teeth when one of those flying hands hit way too close to his groin. He backed up a step, leaving Teal’c to hold the squirming boy alone...he knew he really should be helping, the kid was stronger than he looked...but he really wanted children of his own someday, and at the moment the family jewels were in jeopardy! "Stop it! You’re not being hurt!"

Illam looked up at Daniel with wide eyes, took a deep, shuddering breath, and ceased his struggles.

"Should have tried that sooner," Jack said dryly, wading out to where Daniel and Teal’c stood with a now subdued little boy. "Tell him this won’t hurt, but we’ve got to cut his hair."

Daniel nodded. "Illam, your hair is too matted to comb. We’re going to cut those tangles out. It won’t hurt, but you must stand very still."

Illam swallowed hard, then moved his head up and down once in acknowledgement.

It took fifteen minutes just to cut out the thick, tangled mats. Another fifteen for Jack to snip the scissors through wet hair to give the boy more than just a half scalped look.

Feeling as if they’d already spent the day doing hard labor, the men bathed again, then moved back toward the bank. Jack stitched the waistband of the boxers so that they wouldn’t fall off skinny hips, the two sides looking odd as they stuck out three inches on each side, but the clean underwear was better than the filthy rags the boy had been wearing.

Dressed, Illam sporting the altered pair of Jack’s clean boxers, and one of Daniel’s tee shirts, the bottom hem of which hit his knees, the men walked up the path that led to the river.

Sam, Casey and Dara were sitting on an outcropping of rocks near the road, Casey brushing Dara’s hair. It had taken time to work a comb through the tangles, but using her conditioner had helped tremendously.

"Seems you had a bit of excitement," Sam said as the men approached.

"You could say that," Jack responded. He smiled at Dara, chuckled at the black tee shirt that looked like a long dress on her tiny frame. "Who knew there was such a pretty girl under all that dirt?"

Daniel grinned, then translated what the man had said. Dara beamed at him, and then at Jack.

Casey leaned toward Sam. "She’ll have them eating out of her hand within the hour," she whispered.

"No doubt about it," Sam whispered in reply.

"What did you do to his hair?" Casey asked, looking Illam over carefully. There were places where the hair was so short that Illam’s scalp was visible. There were several tufts near the crown of his head that seemed to stick straight up in the air.

"Hey, I did the best I could," Jack responded. "The kid had tangles that went clear to the roots!"

"We’ll have to just shave his head when we get back," Daniel said, trying to get one particularly long tuft of hair to lay flat.

"That would be the kindest thing to do," Sam said, biting her lip to keep from laughing out loud.

"Okay, now that all of that bath time fun is over, let’s get to work. Radar, you take Daniel and show him where that stone message is. Carter, get your gear and get those tests started. Teal’c stay with Carter, in case she needs help." He handed his ditty bag, towel, and dirty clothes to his lover, knowing that she would see that it all found its way back into his pack.

"You’re babysitting?" Daniel asked, eyebrows moving up in surprise.

"Actually, I thought I’d take the kids fishing."

Casey giggled, and shook her head. "You won’t get Illam near that river again."

"Wanna bet?" Jack challenged, a grin on his face.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Jack held Dara’s hand, and the back of the tee shirt Illam was wearing as his team split up and went on their way. As soon as the four were out of sight, disappearing around the corner created by the walls of several houses, he relaxed his grip, figuring that either one or both would take off running. He was actually surprised when they turned to look up at him expectantly.

He gave the kids a grin, started whistling, and turned back toward the woods. He sought out a tree that had young saplings nearby, testing several of them, examining them for strength and straightness. Illam and Dara followed, watching curiously.

When he had located three perfect specimens, he carefully uprooted them, pulled his hunting knife from the sheath on his leg, and trimmed off the root balls and any limbs that were trying to grow. He put a notch near one end of each of the sticks. This would be where he attached the fishing line, preventing it from sliding off of the end.

Whistling softly, chuckling to himself when he heard Illam attempting to whistle as well, he wandered further along the river, avoiding the area where the not so pleasant bath had been given. Sunlight filtered through the leaves of the trees above them, dappling the ground with warm, sunshine-colored spots. The water was moving more rapidly in this area than where they had chosen to bathe. Jack stopped and looked around, surreptitiously watching the kids, noting that they were looking around as well.

"This is the spot," he told them, even though he knew that they didn’t understand a word he said. He dug through the pockets of his tac vest, found his fishing kit, took the extra from the leg pocket of his pants.

Just as they had closed in on Daniel, watching him dig through his pack the night before, Illam and Dara moved as close as they could get. Wide-eyed, they watched as Jack tied the clear fishing line around the sticks, making certain it fit snugly in the notch he had cut.

He did chuckle out loud when the two literally bumped into him as he moved closer to the water. When he sat down, Illam sat down on one side of him, Dara on the other. He searched among the rocks that lined the edge of the riverbank, found three pebbles just the right size. Years of practice had the pebbles sitting in little slings of fishing line, a good twelve inches from the end of the line. Perfect weights, to keep the hooks from floating to the water’s surface.

Jack handed a stick to each of the children. Carefully tied a hook to the very end of the clear line. "Be very careful." He closed his eyes. What the hell was the word? He remembered asking Daniel what one of the traders had been going on about, repeating one word over and over again. The linguist had told him that it meant danger. Oh, yeah. "Tyhkan." He pointed to the hooks. "Tyhkan."

Two heads bobbed in understanding, the serious demeanor enough to make him chuckle once again. He dropped his line into the water. Shifted his butt on the ground to get comfortable. Grinned from ear to ear when two more hooks hit the water, and little bottoms wiggled beside him. Probably weren’t any fish at all. But that was okay. The kids were happy, he was happy, and they were all keeping out of the way of the scientists.

He didn’t forget for a single moment that he was on a mission. His eyes continued to move, taking in every leaf, every twig, every stone, every shadow. The planet was supposedly uninhabited. They'd been surprised before.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

It hadn’t taken more than ten minutes to locate the stone structure that Casey had ‘seen’ at the intersection of two wide avenues. Not more than five feet from the wide bed of deep, purple flowers, which were surrounded by various weeds and grasses, was what appeared to be a sign of some sort. It was engraved on the stone itself, near the door, nearly obscured by the ivy that covered most of the wall.

"Wow," Daniel said softly, setting his pack down, already reaching for his journal.

"Do you recognize the lettering?" Casey asked.

"It looks exactly like what’s on those pillars," he said. He pushed away the vines of ivy that half covered the stone. "Well, this part is different." He ran his fingers over a group of symbols that were obviously different than the others, and below the first section of text. "This is Ancient," he said.

"Maybe they say the same thing?"

"Here’s hoping," he murmured. If that were the case, then just like the Rosetta stone, he’d be able to find a key to deciphering the language on those pillars. "I’m going to get a rubbing of this. Then we’ll look around, see what’s inside."

"I could go in, and start recording it," she offered.

He glanced up. "Let me take a look first," he said, putting down the tracing paper and pencil. P90 in hand, he led the way from the bright sunshine to the dimness of the building interior. It took a few minutes for their eyes to adjust to the nearly dark room.

"We should open the windows, or the shutters at least," Casey said.

"In a minute," Daniel replied. He flipped on the light that was attached to his P90, moved it carefully around the room. "This looks like a library of some sort."

"Should I go back to the ‘gate and have extra supplies sent through?" Casey teased.

Daniel’s attention had been captured by a large book on the counter than ran the width of the room, just in front of bookshelves that appeared to be laden with books. "Huh? Oh...no need," he replied.

Casey shook her head, went back outside and unlocked the shutters. Two of them refused to budge, the hinges rusted into place by time and the elements. But the others swung open, protesting loudly with groans and squeaks.

The pages of the book were brittle, and he didn’t dare try to turn them. The books behind the counter were little better, several crumbling into pieces in his hands. His heart skipped a beat when he found a dozen leather bound books in the cupboard beneath the counter. He put the first one on the surface carefully, then gently opened the dry leather flaps. Inside were sheets of what looked and felt like papyrus. Again, the markings were identical to those on the pillars discovered by SG-12. He grabbed his radio. "Sam?"

"I’m here, Daniel," her voice replied.

"You wouldn’t happen to know how close this planet is to...um...I think it was 827."

"Prefix?"

"PX3, I think."

"Well, if it’s PX3, then it’s in this quadrant," Sam said. "Why?"

"Well, the markings on that stone and the writing I’ve found in this...library...are identical to the pillars on 611. That planet was used for ceremonies only - I think."

"Then there was at least communication between here and  827."

"I’m betting that people of the same civilization lived on both," Daniel theorized. "They both have Stargates, so travel between the two would have been easy enough, if the addresses were known."

"I’d agree."

"Okay, thanks." Satisfied that he was on the right track, he continued his perusal of the sheets of papyrus. His fingers moved almost lovingly over the ancient parchment, lifting each sheet with nothing short of reverence. Line after line of text...the cuneiform was indeed identical to that which was on the pillars. If he could only find a hint, a clue, something that would unlock the meaning of those marks!

Casey made a very precise rubbing of the stone sign beside the door. Daniel hadn’t made a sound after his short conversation with Sam. She'd checked twice, just to make certain he was still there and breathing. He was totally lost in his own world, but present physically, breathing, and safe.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Sam heaved a sigh. "Nothing. There might be ores in those hills," she said, pointing to the north of the city. "There’s not a thing here. Anything that might have been here was stripped away long ago."

"I suggest that we return to the city," Teal’c replied, helping the major repack the field lab.

"Sounds good to me. At least Daniel found something."

"I believe that was expected. Casey Jackson was given information that pertained to the message that Daniel Jackson would find."

"Very true," Sam smiled. "I wonder how Jack is doing with the kids?"

"I have not heard any screams. I believe that to be a good thing."

Sam chuckled. "I have to agree with you on that."

"Major Carter, should we examine the wreckage of that craft more closely? Perhaps there is something that would give us an idea of where the people who piloted the ship came from."

She turned toward the dark, scarred soil, visible even from the distance. "I wonder if they have anything like a flight recorder?"

"Goa’uld ships are not so equipped . However, I do know of several trading races who do have such devices," Teal’c said.

"Then let’s take a look. It would be in the cockpit...or what’s left of the cockpit."

Teal’c paused. "I shall look. You can search for any other devices that might have been present on the ship."

She nodded, gave him a smile of relief. She really didn’t want to go near the bodies, not knowing that they were the parents of the children now in the care of SG-1.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The sun had passed its zenith when Jack led the children back into the city. A call on his radio ensured that his team would be at the cottage shortly. The cottage was sufficiently aired out...although the fire had nearly gone out. Jack contemplated that fact for a moment. If Daniel and Sam had found what they were looking for, or at least had results from those searches, whatever those conclusions might be, then it would be time to head back to the ‘gate. If they wanted another day...well, he thought, he’d know soon enough.

Casey and Daniel were the first to walk into the cottage. "So, did you catch anything?"

"Not a thing," Jack grinned. "But we saw several very bright blue butterflies. And a couple of lizards. Illam wanted to keep the lizards. I think I was able to convince him to leave them behind."

"You 'think'?" Daniel said, raising his eyebrows.

Jack frowned as he looked down at the boy. "Oh, yeah, no pockets. So, unless he managed to slip one into one of the pockets of my vest, he left them behind."

"Maybe you should check now," Casey said, eyeing the tac vest warily.

"Nah. If there’s a lizard there, I’d know about it," Jack said confidently.

Daniel was fairly certain Jack had mentioned the lizard just to get a reaction out of Casey. He would never tease her about snakes. But frogs and lizards, which she had pronounced ‘disgusting’, were fair game.

Sam and Teal’c came in a few minutes later, their hands dusty and dirty. They used two bottles of water to wash with, standing outside the door to do so. "We checked around the crash site a bit, just to see if there was something like a black box," Sam said quietly.

"Was there?" Jack asked.

She shook her head. "There weren’t many pieces large enough left to identify as being part of any specific system, or even the hull itself. Whatever it was, it was a small ship."

"Indeed," Teal’c agreed. "It seemed too small to be more than a type of planetary landing craft."

"So there could be a ship up there?" Jack asked, pointing toward the ceiling.

"It is possible," Teal’c said.

Jack frowned for a moment. "I guess the Prometheus could check it out. In the meantime, did you find anything of interest?"

Again Sam shook her head. "There might be ores up in those hills. It’s a long way from the ‘gate, which would make any mining operations a bit of a hassle. Unless there’s a lot of naquadah there, it wouldn’t be worth it. If there was naquadah in the hills, I’d have found traces in the water. Which I didn’t," she reported.

"Okay. Daniel?"

"Well, the stone that Casey saw was a sign, for a library. There was a bit of Ancient beneath the cuneiform that is exactly like that on the pillars SG-12 found. I’m hoping that both sections of text say the same thing. If they do, I’ll be able to work out what that cuneiform says." He held up the leather folders he had located. "These were the only things in the library that weren’t so brittle or moldy or dried out that they couldn’t be read. There seem to be twenty pages in each folder. Same cuneiform, so I have no clue what they say...yet."

"Anything else there?"

Daniel shook his head. "No. We checked a couple of other buildings, but came up empty. That library seemed to hold everything written that the citizens of this city felt were important."

Jack nodded. "Okay, then. We’re going to eat lunch, and then head for the ‘gate."

MREs were produced, and tucked among the still hot coals of the fire to heat. Casey noted that Sam seemed a bit subdued. She moved over to sit beside her friend. "Are you all right?" she asked softly.

Sam grimaced slightly, glanced at the children, who were sitting beside Daniel, watching as he drew pictures on an empty page of his ‘mission journal’. "Teal’c said..." she took a deep breath. "When we...disturbed...them yesterday, it must have been enough movement...Teal’c said that both arms of one of the pilots had...broken free."

Which meant, Casey thought, shuddering mentally, that the arms had dropped, while the wrists and hands remained around the control sticks. "Oh."

"He also said that at this point in time, we’d probably have to bury the seats with them, he doesn’t think they can be separated now."

Another shudder, this one moving her visibly. "Oh."

"Daniel said a prayer over them," Sam pointed out. She took another breath. "It’s the best we can do."

Casey watched the heads of the children, bent so close to Daniel’s. "We can’t traumatize them further. Seeing...that...would just be horrible for them. And there would be no way to bury those pilots without the kids seeing."

"Exactly."

"It still feels...wrong."

"I know. I feel the same way."

"Have to take care of the living," Casey said softly. It was a lesson she had learned early on, working with SG-1.

"Right."

Jack glanced over at the two women, pale cheeks and averted eyes alerting him to the fact that something was wrong. "Carter?"

She looked up at the sound of her name. Smiled at the concern in his brown eyes. "Just explaining to Casey what we found."

"Which was?"

Her sapphire blue eyes went to the where the two little ones sat, then back to his. "Let’s just say that we’ve done all we can do."

He frowned, but accepted the cryptic message.

"Our examination of the dead pilots yesterday had unexpected results," Teal’c explained quietly.

Daniel’s head came up. "Such as?"

"Both arms of the pilot in the...darkest...seat had broken loose."

The darkest seat...Daniel cringed. The seat that had been covered with the most blood. There was no way to know how or why that pilot seemed to have suffered more wounds, more severe wounds, than the other. One possibility was that that pilot had lived longer than his or her companion had.

"It would be best to leave the bodies alone," Teal’c continued. His explanation was brief, concise, and left no doubt as to the condition of the dead pilots.

Casey felt the bile rise in her throat as she struggled to push the unwanted mental images from her mind.

"Which sure wouldn’t be good for those kids to see," Jack said softly. He watched Illam as he drew lines on the journal. "Is there a way to get past that wreckage without getting too close?"

"I believe so," Teal’c replied. "It would take longer to reach the ridge we must climb."

"We can spare the time," Jack said, nodding toward the kids.

Teal’c’s dark eyes followed, and softened. "Indeed," he said quietly.

As soon as the MREs were slightly warm, they were eaten, the trash dealt with, and the fire in the hearth and in the pit were carefully extinguished. Daniel explained to Illam and Dara that they would be going on an adventure to a new place. He wasn’t certain they understood, but there had been no immediate objections. That was a good sign.


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