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Man and Machine
Turk and the Marines rode into camp not more than fifteen minutes after SG-1 and SG-6 had returned. Robert had indeed been killed…deactivated…by a staff weapon. They had left the 'body' beside the MALP.
Breakfast was eaten, although it was nearly noon according to the watches of the team members. The group took time to clean up their camp, make sure that all of the supplies were safely locked away, and the fire banked.
Jack announced that since there were no longer 'Caretakers' to worry about, he felt comfortable leaving camp unattended. He sent Turk and the Marines to finish examining the ship, with instructions to get as much information from the computers as possible, if it was at all possible. They were to radio immediately if any 'Travelers' were found alive. When they were finished, if all of the aliens were indeed dead, they were to return to camp.
SG-1 and SG-6, as well as the three students, were going to the first temple. Casey lifted her face, let the sun shine on it, all of the unease she had been feeling completely gone. She let her hands move up and down Daniel's chest as they rode along streets lined by deserted buildings. Smiled when he leaned back slightly against her.
'Talk to me, Angel.'
'I'm not sensing anything. Just sunshine and peace.'
He smiled. He could feel her…happiness. 'Good. Just enjoy the ride.'
The temple was impressive. Much larger than he had anticipated. A dozen tall, square columns supported a roof at least one hundred feet above them. Every inch of those columns was covered with cuneiform. He immediately gave the three grad students the job of very carefully recording them, instructing them to get legible close up views.
Teal'c led the rest of the group inside. They all stood for a moment, letting their eyes adjust to the relative dimness of the massive room, after being in the bright sunlight. There were more columns inside, again they were covered with cuneiform. The men of SG-6 automatically grabbed camcorders and began to film the massive supports. They were aided by long, narrow openings that appeared every eighteen inches in the coved ceiling above them, which allowed light to filter into the enormous room.
At the end of the room, centered in the main 'aisle' created by the columns, was an imposing stone altar. Symbols decorated all four sides of the rectangular chantry. Marble tiles covered the floor, and in front of the altar was a mosaic that depicted a scene of children gathered around an old man, listening intently as he spoke. Just behind the large altar were six tall statues. They appeared to be goddesses…well endowed, and beautiful. The detail of each statue made it hard to believe that they weren't really women waiting to come to life. Each held a torch in her right hand, and another symbol in her left hand. On each side of the room, to the right and left of the altar, were six doorways, the frames decorated with gold and silver, and the likeness of one of the goddesses painted above each.
"So, can you read any of this?" Casey asked softly. The aura of the temple seemed to demand reverence.
Daniel was carefully examining the symbols on the altar. "It seems to be an archaic form of Ancient," he said. His attention was caught by the cuneiform on the top of the altar. "'Within the Heart of the Chorus of Goddesses lies the key to that which only the Pure of Heart may seek.' Okay, I have absolutely no idea what that means," he admitted. He ran his hands over the marble slab that was centered in the dark stone. "Chorus of Goddesses, I've never heard any reference to them."
"I'm sure that all of the columns have information about them," Casey replied. She was studying the marble bases that the statues were standing on. "Daniel, do these look like drawer faces to you?"
He pulled himself away from the altar, squatted down beside her. "Yeah, they do. Let's see if they open." He pressed his fingertips against the narrow edges of one of the 'drawers', and began to tug. Nothing happened.
"There has to be a way to open them," she said.
Daniel examined the statue. "All of them are holding something different, unique in their left hand…what if…" he touched the scroll in the hand of the goddess in front of him. Again nothing happened. He looked closer. "This was made to come off…" He pulled the scroll from her hand. The drawer in the base slid open. And revealed six scrolls. They were all at least eight inches in circumference, and the outside case of each one was intricately carved gold.
"They're beautiful," she breathed.
"Yeah, they are," he agreed, his voice hushed.
Casey looked at her husband. "Another amazing discovery by Doctor Daniel Jackson," she smiled, running her hand over his shoulders.
He tossed a glance at her, smiled. "Let's find out what the others have in them." He gently laid the marble scroll on the floor in front of the open drawer. Each drawer contained the same thing. Six gold cased scrolls. "Case, I want pictures of these statues. All four sides. Be sure to get a measurement shot. When we have the drawers emptied, we'll put these back," he nodded at the Balance at his feet, "and you can get shots with them in place."
She nodded her understanding. She was already reaching for the digital camera in her pack.
Jack, Teal'c, and Sam were exploring the rooms to the sides of the main temple area. All of the walls were covered floor to ceiling with murals. Much of the color had worn off, but there was still enough left to be impressive. The representations all appeared to be pastoral, probably scenes from everyday life in the early days of the civilization, or very romanticized depictions of their lives. All were peaceful, and beautiful. Knowing that Daniel would ask for them, Sam began taking recordings with one of the camcorders she was carrying. Teal'c had a digital camera and was taking pictures as well.
His hands resting casually on the top of his P90, Jack sauntered to where Daniel was still trying to read the altar stone. "So, Danny, how many days to record all of this?"
The archaeologist barely glanced up. "Two. Maybe three."
"Okay. Pretty impressive for an old temple." He grinned when Daniel didn't acknowledge him. That man was lost in his work. Walking back toward the entrance, he reached for his radio. "Marine 2 come in."
"This is Marine 2. Go ahead, general," Turk's voice replied.
"Just more dead aliens. We're getting as much as we can from what we think is the bridge. Franklin says that only the secondary systems seem to be working. None of the primary systems are lit, and he says there seems to be a lot of damage to most of them."
"Got it. Well, make sure that all of the aliens are dead. Then head for camp."
"Roger that. Marine 2 out."
Daniel was running his fingers over the cuneiform marks again, marveling at the beauty of the language. He nearly jumped out of his skin when the marble top began to slide to one side. He watched, holding his breath, as a hidden compartment was revealed. Inside was a large stone tablet, still intact. His heart nearly stopped beating when his first cursory glance brought his eyes to 'Lost City'. Carefully, hands shaking with excitement, he pulled the tablet from its hiding place. "Jack?"
"Yeah, Daniel?" Jack was sitting on the floor nearby, his back to the wall, his cap pulled down over his eyes.
"We're gonna need some crates for these artifacts."
"And I found something."
The gray haired man pulled himself to his feet. "Something something, or just something?"
"Something something," Daniel replied. "If I'm reading this correctly, this tablet has the Stargate address, the symbols, for the Lost City!"
Jack hurried to stand at the archaeologist's side. "Anything else?"
"Yeah. It says that the weapon of the Pure of Heart can be found there. And only the Pure of Heart can operate it."
"Well, Daniel, I think that would be you," Jack said quietly.
"Me? I don't think so. I'm not Pure of Heart," Daniel argued.
"More than you realize," the older man replied. His brown eyes held blue ones in a stare. These two men had seen much together - had fought together, suffered together, died together; both willing to sacrifice himself for the other without the slightest bit of hesitation. Two men who most probably would never have met under normal circumstances, let alone become best friends. But their paths had crossed, bringing their lives together, and now they were joined, soul to soul, heart to heart, as only true friends can ever be. They respected one another, loved one another, though neither man was comfortable examining such feelings too closely. It was enough that the other knew, words were not needed between them. And Jack understood, felt it in the deepest part of his soul, that of all the people he knew, Daniel had the purest heart he had ever come across.
Daniel looked away first, unable to continue looking into eyes so full of faith in him. He knew that he had seen too much, endured too much, done things that had left painful wounds and deep scars on his soul. No, he wasn't Pure of Heart. Not even close.
"Guess we'll just have to wait to find out, huh?" Jack grinned, breaking the heavy silence that had fallen between them.
A smile spread over the handsome features of the younger man's face. "Guess so."
"I'll head for the 'gate, tell Duncan we'll need crates and a wagon for one of the ATVs."
"You're not going alone, are you?" Daniel said, concern in his voice.
"Nope. Taking my wife with me," Jack replied, already walking toward the room where Sam had been taking pictures.
Daniel grinned. "Just be home before dark."
"Yes, Dad," Jack tossed over his shoulder.
A A A A A A
Casey had been staring at the statues, looking from one to the other. "I think I have it," she mumbled. She grabbed a notebook from her pack. The first statue held a sword in her left hand. Okay, that always signified war…defense…warrior…a protector. Goddess of War. Yep, that sounded about right.
The second statue was holding a beautifully polished crystal ball. In every civilization she had learned about, there were seers, or at least had been at one time. And crystal balls were always associated with seers. And seers were considered mystical… magical…so was this the Goddess of magic? No, that didn't sound right, didn't feel right. She sighed. Okay, so what was this woman in charge of? Weren't seers asked to foretell the future? She nodded. That was it. This was the Goddess of the Future …no…the Goddess of Time. She nodded again, wrote down her conclusions.
The third statue held a Balance. Too easy, Casey thought. This was the Goddess of Justice.
The fourth statue held the scroll. Knowledge. Scrolls always contained information of some sort…knowledge. So this lovely lady was the Goddess of Knowledge, of Learning.
The fifth statue held what could only be described as a mortar and pestle. Used by apothecaries in nearly every civilization. And apothecaries created potions and powders that healed. So, this one had to represent Healing. The Goddess of Health, perhaps? She tapped her pencil against her chin. Yep, that fit well. Goddess of Health and Healing.
The sixth goddess was holding a lyre. Or something that looked like a lyre. Another easy one. Goddess of music. Probably of all of the arts. Goddess of creativity then? Again, her answer seemed to fit. Goddess of Creativity.
She felt the weight of his eyes on her. A feeling she was becoming accustomed to, she had felt it so often since her return. She turned around to look at him. He was leaning back against the altar, watching her, his arms crossed over his broad chest. He was smiling at her. "What?"
"Do you have any idea how sexy you look right now?" he asked softly.
Casey shook her head, could feel her cheeks burning. Even after ten years, his compliments still went straight to her heart, still made her heart pound, still brought a blush to her cheeks.
"It's incredible," he said, his voice full of awe…full of love. "You're so beautiful, sitting there with a notebook on your lap, engrossed in your work…our work…you have no idea what that means to me, what it does to me."
She stood up, brushed the dust from her pants. "I think I do. It's in those incredibly beautiful blue eyes of yours," she whispered. "That I please you, make you happy…makes me happy."
"Is that all that makes you happy, just pleasing me?" he asked, reaching for her, pulling her close.
"There are a lot of things that make me happy. A pretty flower. A song that can make me cry…or laugh. A beautiful sunset. My friends, my family…my children. But you…" she sighed, wrapped her arms around his neck. "You make my soul sing. You bring the most happiness to my life."
He hugged her tightly. Her words had his heart hammering his joy against his ribs, his soul rejoicing in her love. "What you do to me, woman," he whispered in her ear.
She held onto him, breathed in his scent…the dust, the sweat, the soap that he used, all mingled together made her lightheaded with desire. She sighed heavily. Three more days. If she ever had a chance to meet Adam and Eve, she had a few choice words for them! She slowly pulled away from him. "So, want to know what I've figured out?"
He grinned. "Tell me."
"Okay, that one is the Goddess of War," she said, pointing to the statue farthest to their left. "Next to her is the Goddess of Time, then the Goddess of Justice, beside her is the Goddess of Knowledge or Learning, then this one is the Goddess of Health or Healing, and last but not least, the Goddess of Creativity."
"Impressive. But the second one is the Goddess of the Mysteries."
"I suppose it says so up here?" she asked, running her finger over the altar.
"Yep. Third one is the Goddess of Truth."
"I was close. Four out of six isn't bad!"
Daniel laughed, pulled her into his embrace once again. "Four out of six is pretty damned good," he told her.
A A A A A A
The sun was beginning to set, darkening the shadows inside the temple. Daniel called it a day, and a very happy and tired group returned to camp. The teams were amused at the three grad students and their excitement over the find.
"It's incredible! So little damage!" Ramir gushed. "I had never thought to ever see such amazing ruins in my lifetime! To actually be on an expedition that makes such discoveries…it is more than I ever dreamed of!"
Daniel smiled. "We've found a lot of amazing things out here," he said. "I'm just glad that now all of the discoveries can be shared."
"How did you do it, Doctor Jackson?" Stephanie asked. "How did you keep from just exploding with all of the astounding things that you've found, and no one to tell?"
His smile widened. "I talked to Sam a lot," he replied, glancing at his best friend.
Sam smiled. "And he did a lot of bouncing."
"Lots of bouncing," Jack agreed, grinning broadly.
Dinner was filled with talk of the discovery. Turk confirmed that no living aliens had been found on the ship. Casey insisted that the ship had to be destroyed, so that the spirits of those who had been killed would finally find peace. Jack agreed that they would blow the ship up the first thing the next day, and that she could guide any spirits that needed help. Daniel then announced that after that was done, the rest of the day would again be spent in the temple, making sure that every inch was properly recorded.
Watch was cut down to two people per shift, and only three shifts were needed. Whoever drew sentry duty for the night would not draw the following night. Neither Casey nor Daniel drew a marked toothpick, to the amusement of their friends. They said goodnight, and crawled wearily into their tent.
Daniel was pleased that she wouldn't have to get up for a watch tonight, he knew that Casey wasn't feeling her best. He could see in her eyes that she was still suffering from occasional cramps. It amazed him, surprised him, that Immortal women seemed to suffer with their menstrual cycles the same as mortal women did. He held her close, his strong, warm hand moving over her belly, offering whatever relief he could.
Casey giggled softly in the darkness.
"What?" he asked, a smile on his face.
"Well, I keep telling you that you're my god. Today you got to prove it," she said softly, giggling again.
"I'm amazed that it worked," he replied.
"It wouldn't have if they hadn't seen me revive. I think if the First Prime had been there, he'd have whisked me through the 'gate to Morrigan before I could have said or done anything. Lucky for me the help wasn't that smart," she said.
"Very lucky." The thought of her being lost to him again brought a sharp pain to his heart. "From now on, you don't go anywhere without me," he said firmly.
"No 'buts', Casey. I can't take it. If something else happens to you, I'll lose my mind," he said softly.
She could well understand the feeling. She knew, without a doubt, that if she were to lose Daniel, no matter what the circumstances, her mind would desert her, permanently. She had stood too close to the edge, too many times. That edge was worn down, there was nothing left to cling to if he was ever taken from her. "I promise," she whispered. "I'll be at your side always."
He kissed the top of her head. "Sleep, Angel."
She snuggled closer, closed her eyes, and drifted to sleep.
He lay awake, memories of the days and nights that he had endured without her flooding his mind. The pain had been excruciating. He had stopped living in the moment that she had died, and hadn't started again until she took that first breath in the infirmary. He had mourned for her twice in the past year. The first time, thankfully for only a few days. The second time had felt like an eternity. He shook his head mentally. He couldn't live without her. Had proof of that now. He was The Chosen. Which meant that he wouldn't be retiring any time soon. But he refused to take any unnecessary risks. As long as he was with her, at her side, he could protect her. Or at least die with her. When she rolled over, wrapped herself around him like a soft, warm blanket, he smiled into the darkness. As long as she was at his side, all was right in his world.
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