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nightspear ([personal profile] nightspear) wrote2009-05-19 10:39 am
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Archaeology (7/30)

Title: Archaeology (Table of Contents)
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Pairings: Gen.

Chapter1 Chapter2 Chapter3 Chapter4 Chapter5


Chapter 7: Anterograde Amnesia


10 October 2000; Infirmary, SGC; 0800 hrs

Martouf walked around the corner just as Daniel did, making him wheel backward to avoid crashing into the man who'd just undergone brain surgery.

"Whoa...good morning," Daniel said, taking in the clothes Martouf was now wearing instead of scrubs--the healing device and presence of a symbiote had clearly done a lot for his recovery. "Hey, you're looking better. You, uh...should you be walking around by yourself?"

"I was told it is fine for a few minutes," Martouf told him with his polite almost-smile. "I was becoming tired of following a nurse each time I needed to stretch my legs."

"Well, good," Daniel said. "Uh...great. How's everything going?"

Usually, in response to questions like that, Martouf gave some vague, courteous answer that translated into 'I'm fine, stop asking me.' This time, he hesitated, looking around himself carefully while holding onto the wall, then looked away and said, "I seem to have...lost my way. Could you remind me where the infirmary is?"

Daniel forced his expression not to change as he gestured with a hand and said, "Sure. Here--I'll walk with you."

Martouf had gotten lost inside the infirmary itself once, until he'd learned which signs marked which doors and walls. Daniel had seen him trying to memorize the objects around his bed, and once, he'd sat back down on the wrong bed when someone moved a cart out of its normal place. A Tok'ra spy used to long journeys in unfamiliar places should never get lost like that.

They started together back to the infirmary, slowly, because Martouf tended to lose his balance when he moved too fast. "Samantha says you have a mission scheduled for today," Martouf said as they walked. "I hope I am not inconveniencing you, Daniel."

"Oh, it's not for a few hours," Daniel assured him. "We have a briefing in, hour, but I've got plenty of time."

Neither of them mentioned that Martouf's remembering what Sam had told him was fairly significant; the man sometimes forgot things only minutes after being told, at least without the help of Lantash.

Lantash remembered new things a lot better than Martouf, but Martouf had to learn to rely on his symbiote to remember all new events. Janet said that learning how to do that was a different kind of memory than actually learning a fact, that it wasn't completely conscious, and that they would eventually be able to function relatively well together; it would just take time. Daniel didn't understand how it worked, but he had rarely been so grateful for the presence of a symbiote before.

"Wait, uh, this way," Daniel said hastily as Martouf started to walk past a turn.

There was a short pause as Martouf looked down both corridors and then, without a word, followed him down the right way. There were still some gaps left unfilled.

A minute later, Martouf slowed. Daniel did, too, as the older man stared at the floor and stopped, still hugging the wall, his lips pressed tightly together. Daniel looked around, then said hesitantly, "Are... Martouf, are you...?"

Instead, his eyes flashed and Lantash raised his head. "Martouf is recovering as well as can be expected, Mr. Jackson," Lantash said. "We are simply unaccustomed to the amount of time required."

"According to the Tau'ri, you're both healing very fast," Daniel said.

"So I have been told." Perhaps because Martouf was somewhat less steady these days, Lantash seemed to have temporarily taken over the role as the calm one, though Daniel thought he could sometimes hear the restrained impatience in his tone.

"Come on," Daniel said, gesturing down the hall. "We should get you back to the infirmary. You can call me 'Daniel,' by the way, Lantash."

"I will remember that," Lantash said, even though he'd already forgotten it once before.

Then Martouf returned, looking a little embarrassed, and said, "Forgive me."

"It's okay," Daniel said, trying not to show how much it bothered him to see Martouf as something other than the calm, reasonable presence he usually was. "It took me weeks to figure out how to get around base. Actually, if you look down, the colored lines can help to tell you where to go."

"I see," Martouf said once he'd glanced down and noted the lines.

"Also," Daniel said, reminding himself to slow down when Martouf had to stop for a minute and catch the wall, "Sam says you're better at research while confined to a bed than most people are on their feet, so we should be thanking you. For a lot of things, actually--"

"You know that I do not remember working on the treaty with your people?"

Daniel nodded. "I know. But trust me--a lot of the credit is definitely yours. You can read it yourself and then decide whether you think someone untrained like me or someone diplomatic as Jack could have written it."

That brought a smile out of Martouf. "You are not untalented, Daniel, and the colonel has been very...polite."

"That's because he likes you," Daniel admitted. "You haven't seen him talk to Anise." Well, Martouf had seen Jack talk to Anise before, but not in his memory, so it didn't count.

"Freya seems quite fond of Colonel O'Neill."

Daniel raised his eyebrows. "You think so? Well, they--wait. You mean...fond of him?"

"I do," Martouf said, quirking another smile.

"Oh," Daniel said, unable to picture that and not particularly wanting to. "Well, no offense, but I don't think he'd take that too well."

"Before she returns to Vorash," Martouf joked, "perhaps I should remind her that not all humans are as open in their affection as the humans of Freya's planet."

After a moment, Daniel managed a weak laugh. "Yeah. Uh...we should do that. She actually...left last night, though, so we'll have to wait until next time to talk to her."

Martouf fell silent for a while, his eyes unfocused in the way that Daniel had learned meant he was talking to Lantash. "I had not..." he started, and then, "We must have forgotten that."

Before Daniel had to think of a way to respond, Sam's voice called, "Martouf! There you are."

Martouf looked so pleased to see her that Daniel felt like an intruder. "Samantha. Daniel and I were discussing forms of expressing affection among humans of different worlds," Martouf said.

Sam looked sharply at Daniel. "He was talking about Jack," Daniel explained, and then, "No, no, I mean, Jack and Freya." Sam's eyes widened. "Not that there's anything between Jack and Freya," Daniel said awkwardly.

"Uh...huh," Sam said, sounding confused. Martouf looked honestly amused, the way he so rarely did. Daniel decided to believe it was a side effect of being off-duty for a while and able to spend time chatting with Sam rather than a side effect of having part of his brain gone.

"Do you guys need anything? If not, I'll, uh, go now," Daniel said, pointing his thumb the other way. "I'll be in the commissary until the briefing."


Daniel found Jack sitting alone at a table. He dropped his notebook in the seat across and went to seek out food and coffee. Jack at this hour of the morning was either ridiculously full of energy or very focused on eating, after which he had a lot of energy. He seemed to be the latter today, and Daniel knew from experience that, at times like these, it was best to let the man eat.

Sam joined them eventually, took a look at Jack, and decided the same, sitting next to Daniel. Daniel waited until he decided he'd been quiet long enough and said, "Where's Teal'c?"

It took a few moments for Jack to stop spooning Froot Loops into his mouth and answer, "Doing something for someone in some lab."

"Great," Daniel said. "Thanks for the details."

"You're welcome," Jack said around a mouthful.

"So. Mission today."

"Yup," Sam said. "Daniel, thanks for finding Martouf. The nurses were getting worried."

That caught Jack's attention enough to make him look up for a moment. "Where was he?"

"In the hallway," Daniel said. "He just got turned around, that's all. He's okay."

Jack nodded. "Glad to hear it. That seems to be happening to him a lot."

"He's still having some memory problems," Sam said. "Lantash wasn't, uh, damaged as much, and he compensates for certain things--there are events that one of them remembers when the other doesn't--but not everything. Symbiotes have a huge capacity for factual memory, but spatial memory, hand-eye coordination...they have to learn to cooperate for tasks like those, but it's still Martouf's body and two brains trying to work together and control it. Certain reflexes and thought-forming processes have to be relearned."

"Spatial memory," Daniel repeated, even as he thought that hand-eye coordination was something a Tok'ra operative should be very good at, and that Martouf might never be able to go on missions again at this rate. "Janet mentioned that, too--what does that mean?"

"Well," she said, pausing in the familiar way that meant she was trying to think of a simplistic way to explain something to him, "you learned how to find your way around the base, right? Or if you went to Nagada, you'd know how to get from, say, Ra's pyramid to the village gates."

"So it's what lets you find your way," Daniel said.

"It's like a...a sort of map in your head," she said. "Basically, certain types of maps in Martouf's head don't work properly anymore. So he needs to make up for that Let's say you can picture a layout in your mind and recognize where to go. He's learning to use a list of instructions from Lantash instead: go past the door labeled '17B,' then turn left two corridors cetera."

"That's a lot to remember," Daniel said.

She nodded. "He's learning. It takes time to get used to. Martouf and Lantash are working on improving their, uh, tandem motor control so he'll be better at writing things down to help remember. The anterograde amnesia he was showing before is better now, though. Lantash is still good at processing new events."

"You know what's strange about anterograde amnesia?" Daniel said, cutting into his cooling pancake and talking around a bite. "Not Martouf's exact case, but a really severe one. Can you imagine not remembering that you'd already done something or...or said something... It would be basically like waking up every day and, you know, living the same day over and over."

She tilted her head. "Well, it wouldn't be exactly the same day, not if different things were happening around you. You'd have to have a completely controlled environment to have the same day happen, whether or not you remembered it."

"But that's just it," Daniel said, pointing a piece of pancake at her. "If you don't remember having lived it, does it matter to you if it's the same or different? Does it matter if you live the same day over and over, or do similar things, if you don't realize it's already happened? This is an extreme case, obviously, in which you don't remember...not remembering."

Sam took a quick sip of coffee. "So this is hypothetical."

"Yeah. Like...if I had severe amnesia, I could have had this conversation with you five minutes ago, and I just forgot. And I'd never know unless someone told me, and then five minutes later, I wouldn't know again. I mean, life is based on your perception of the world around you, right? Would it matter what I did each day if I didn't know I'd done it?"

She tilted her head back to think. "First of all, you could've written yourself a note to tell yourself you'd had this conversation already. And either way, it'd matter to someone--whoever was around you that didn't have amnesia. You don't agree?"

"I think...I think we could all have anterograde amnesia right now and just not realize it."

She shook her head. "I think it's a little too theoretical for practical purposes."

"Maybe you think that because you don't remember learning that it's happening," he said, earning an eye roll and a laugh, then turned to Jack. "Anyway, that's just how I feel about it. What do you think?"

Jack stuck his spoon into his mouth, chewed, and swallowed. He paused, and Daniel waited for his answer. Then Jack scooped another spoonful of cereal and went on eating.

"I don't think he was listening," Daniel told Sam, disappointed. She grinned. Daniel resisted the childish urge to poke Jack with his fork to see what would happen.

Ironically, their silence seemed to catch Jack's attention better than their chatter had, and he looked up, eyeing both of them suspiciously. "What?" Jack said.

Sam smothered another smile and checked her watch. "We're going to be late to the briefing."

Daniel put down his fork and stood.

"What?" Jack repeated, following them out.


10 October 2000; P4X-639; 1800 hrs

As it turned out, the man named Malikai had picked up English from SG-15's trip, when the radiation hadn't been as strong and the other team had stayed considerably longer. Malikai's native dialect was a proto-Canaanite language related to many other central Semitic languages Daniel knew, and with that as an aid, communication was quite easy.

The writing on the walls was definitely Ancient, and after just a few hours, it was clear that they represented some sort of planetary history.

"I agree," Malikai said when Daniel said as much.

"What I don't understand," Daniel said, looking at the altar before which the man stood, "is what this is. It's, uh, obviously in good condition, compared to everything else in here." The surface looked like it was made of buttons. He really, really wanted to push one of them and see what happened. He was pretty sure Jack would yell at him if he did.

"The storm is approaching, Daniel Jackson. The radiation may be dangerous for you and your team."

"Major Carter will let us know when we have to leave," Daniel assured him. "What's this line here? It seems to repeat several times. Um...domavetus vestul motabilum."

Malikai looked like he was getting nervous about the radiation, but Daniel knew, after their close brushes in the past, that Sam would keep an eye on it and that Jack would make her check every few minutes even if she forgot. "Conqueror of time," Malikai suggested.

Daniel tilted his head, thinking as he looked over the rest of the altar. "Is it? I think it's, uh...motabilum would refer to uncertainty or lack of stability, and obviously, something more like 'master of the uncertain past.' So in a way, yes, but in this context..."

There was a beeping sound. Daniel looked up and found Malikai holding something in his hands.

"What's that?" Daniel asked, wondering where the device had come from.

"The geomagnetic disturbance is reaching its peak," Malikai said. "I have to act now."

Confused, Daniel watched as the archaeologist pulled something else from his bag that looked a lot like a gun. And then Malikai pointed it at him and it looked a lot more like a gun. Frozen in place and staring at the weapon, Daniel could only say, "What?"

Then something jolted through him like all-too-familiar agony of electricity burning through his body. Daniel's last thought was that he wouldn't have said anything about the translation if he'd known the man would be so angry about it.

10 October 2000; Commissary, SGC; 0855 hrs

"Anyway," Daniel said to Jack, "that's just how I feel about it. What do you think?"

Jack stopped with his spoon halfway to his mouth. "What?" he said.

Beginning to suspect that Jack hadn't been listening, Daniel exchanged a knowing glance with Sam. "What do you think?" he repeated.

Jack looked at his spoon. Looked around the room. Looked back at them. "Daniel?"

Huh. This was different. Jack didn't usually get quite so involved in his food. "Jack?" Daniel said.

Jack looked at his spoon again.

"Colonel?" Sam prompted. "Is something wrong?"

"Maybe," Jack said, looking confused. Daniel frowned--he knew he sometimes used run-on sentences and convoluted structure when he spoke without thinking things out first, but he was pretty sure he hadn't said anything to make Jack look like that. "Weren't we just somewhere else?"

Sam wrinkled her brow and glanced at Daniel. "Where?" Daniel said.

"Some planet," Jack said.

"Like...Earth?" Daniel said.


"So, a...?" Daniel gestured off into the distance.

Jack nodded. "Yeah. Just now."

"No," Daniel said.

"You sure?"


For some reason, Jack didn't seem to find this comforting. Instead, he put down his spoon of Froot Loops and said, "Everything just changed."

Now Sam frowned, too. "Sir, we've been sitting in the commissary for the last half-hour."

"Really?" Jack said, looking genuinely surprised.

Daniel barely resisted rolling his eyes. "Well, I often look around myself and think this planet seems pretty alien," he offered, "but I have an excuse..."

Sam almost smiled again, then stood. "We're going to be late for the briefing."

"Briefing?" Jack echoed, not moving.

Daniel looked down at Jack's cereal, then back up at Sam. "Are you okay?" he asked, a little suspicious, because this wasn't really Jack's style, but Jack did like to play dumb sometimes. "Or are you just trying to avoid answering the question?"

"I'm fine," Jack said, then stood and started to leave. "What question?"


Daniel would have been content to think of it as simply an odd Jack thing, that he was remembering some previous mission and was simply confusing it--somehow--with the planet where they weren't supposed to go for another six hours.

And then, Teal'c said, "I am in agreement," and Jack said, "solar activity" and "corona," and the general scowled at them all.

Sam looked just as confused as Daniel felt. Since Sam didn't usually look confused without a good reason, he decided he was still sane.

But then Jack said SG-12 would come back early and unscheduled, and Teal'c said that one of them was injured. Which seemed ridiculous, of course, until SG-12 came back unscheduled with Captain Haller injured.

"It's like Cassandra," Daniel said.

Which, of course, made more than one person say, "How is this like Cassie?"

And then he had to follow them to the infirmary while explaining that he hadn't meant Cassandra Fraiser, but rather the prophetess who could predict the future whom no one had believed until the Trojan Horse came and killed everyone. "So I guess we might want to listen," he suggested, only partly joking.

"Did you just call me and Teal'c a little girl?" Jack answered. Daniel sighed.

"Colonel O'Neill, Teal'c, get yourselves examined," the general ordered once they'd reached the infirmary, where Martouf was walking around slowly but paused to watch the commotion. "Mr. Jackson, stay with them; Major Carter, I have some questions for you."

With a scowl, Jack allowed himself to be shooed toward one the nurses while Teal'c perched on the side of a gurney. Janet raised an eyebrow and walked a short distance away to ask Daniel why they were there.

"Well," Daniel said, "they're remembering things that haven't happened yet."

"Okay, then," she said, and then, "Really?" Daniel shrugged. "Well, that's a new one," she muttered, and reached into her pocket for a penlight.

Once it looked like Jack and Teal'c had both gotten their blood drawn and had both settled into being examined, Daniel asked, "Okay. So. What happened...on the planet?"

"Well, Carter was setting up her instruments," Jack said. "I was looking at the sun. Teal'c was patrolling. And you the altar deal with the guy."

"I was..." Daniel said, blinking. "What?"

"Malikai," Teal'c filled in, removing the thermometer from his mouth to talk.

"Oh!" Daniel realized as the nurse put the thermometer back in. "The archaeologist, right."

"You got along swell," Jack told him. "And then...I didn't actually see this part, but I think he killed you." Daniel looked down at himself. Janet glanced at him, as if to check that he wasn't actually dead. "Or possibly just knocked you out," Jack added. "Not really sure."

"Oh," Daniel said, thinking there was something wrong with him if Jack thought he got along well with people who tried to kill him.

"And then a beam shot out from the altar and the ruins around it and hit the Stargate."

Teal'c took the thermometer out again. "There was a blinding flash of light."

"Then I was back in the commissary, eating my Froot Loops," Jack finished.

"Is this a normal mission for SG-1?" Martouf asked.

"We haven't had a mission yet," Daniel said.

"Yes, we have," Jack insisted.

"No, we haven't," Daniel said.



"Havmph," Jack said as Janet stuck a thermometer into his mouth.


"Daniel!" Nyan called as he made his way toward his office. "You do not have a mission today?"

"It's been...rescheduled, I guess," Daniel answered. "Complications of...uh..." He trailed off, looking for where he'd put the folder of images SG-15 had brought back from P4X-639 last time.

"Then you are still busy?" Nyan asked, looking like he hoped Daniel would say 'no.' Nyan's deal here was that his time was his own, usually, to study and take courses as well as he could from underground, but he picked up the slack in archaeological analysis when things started building up too fast for others to handle. Even though Daniel was still behind Nyan and Robert in archaeological knowledge, he could usually assist in some way or other.

"Sorry, yeah, I am," Daniel said, giving up on his own desk and moving over to search Robert's. "Jack and Teal'c say we've already gone to the planet, where Sam left a lot of equipment and I died, so... Yi shay, where is it?"

"Oh," Nyan said uncertainly.

"Yes!" Daniel said when he finally found the folder. "Sorry, Nyan, we really need to figure this out. I'll, to you later," he said as Nyan ambled out toward his own office. Daniel followed him out and then moved toward the elevator to find someone on his team.

He was lucky on his first try and met Jack in the hallway outside the commissary. "Jack!" he called, rushing past a few people. "Wait--"

Someone walked past in front of him, forcing him to stop to let the airman pass. Fortunately, Jack had stopped as well and was waiting with...well, no less patience than usual.

"Okay," he said once the path was free, opening the folder to pass one of the images to Jack. "You said that a beam came out of the altar and the ruins, right? Right, well, SG-15 took these images, and I thought there might be some clue in here about how it works or...or what was going on." Jack was looking at one frame of the text upside-down and didn't answer. "Anyway, this is the equivalent of hundreds of pages of alien text, which would take a while, so I was hoping you could tell me more about--"

A blur crashed into Daniel, and he landed hard on the floor, vaguely aware of hundreds of pages of alien text scattering around him.

"Gee, sorry, Daniel," Sergeant Siler's familiar voice said.

"Uh," Daniel coughed out as hands grabbed his limbs and hauled him to his feet, where he saw Jack still standing as if frozen in place, holding the upside-down picture and looking like he wasn't sure whether to laugh or yell at Siler.

"Should've seen that coming," Jack said.

"Some Cassandra you are," Daniel said, looking with dismay at the scrambled images.


In the end, Daniel spent his time grumpily putting the data back in order. As with most images brought back for analysis, they were all carefully labeled; unfortunately, sheet number two-hundred and thirty-seven was either missing or stuck to the back of something else.

"Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said, walking in.

"Hi," Daniel said without looking up. "I think the writing's some kind of planetary history, and of course I would be missing the frame that comes right after, '...and all the people fled because...' so I'm not having a lot of success."

"Perhaps we would do better to resume our duties," Teal'c said.

"Yeah, maybe all that stuff this morning was just a bunch of coincidences," Daniel said absently, because as fascinating as this history was, he was pretty sure he'd get more work done if he could go and see the ruins and talk to this Malikai person...

"Indeed," Teal'c said.

"On the other hand," Daniel said, looking up, "it was a lot of coincidence."

Teal'c folded his hands behind his back and raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps I will ask for the opinion of General Hammond," he said.

"Okay," Daniel said, going back to work.

And then Sam walked in to ask, "Any luck?"

"The Ancients used to live there," Daniel told her.

"R...right," she said. Daniel glanced up, then back down. " luck?"

"Nope," he said.

"Unscheduled off-world activation!"

They stopped and looked up at the speaker for a moment before rushing out together. "Whoa," Sam said as they stepped out and found themselves in a darkened corridor. A moment later, the lights flashed back on. "Something's happening--we should get down to the--"

10 October 2000; Commissary, SGC; 0855 hrs

"Anyway," Daniel said to Jack, "that's just how I feel about it. What do you think?"

To his surprise, Jack put down his spoon immediately and sat up straight, his eyes wide.

As Daniel stared at him, Sam said, "Colonel, something wrong?"

"Oh, yeah," Jack said, looking around the commissary. "Something."

Which explained absolutely nothing, but then they had a briefing, so Jack went loping off in the direction of the briefing room and Daniel had no choice but to follow. Sometimes, Jack could be very hard to figure out.


Apparently, Jack was even harder to figure out than he'd thought.

"We've done this!" Jack announced in the middle of Sam's presentation.

Already a little annoyed by not understanding what was going on with Jack today, Daniel pointed out, "We do this every day."

"I'm not talking about briefings in general, Daniel," Jack snapped. "I'm talking about this briefing--I'm talking about this day!"

Which made no sense at all.

But then Teal'c said, "Colonel O'Neill is correct. Events do appear to be repeating themselves."

"Since when?" Daniel said.

"Since we went to P4X-639," Jack said.

"We haven't been to P4X-639," Sam said, looking about as confused as Daniel was.

"Yes, we have," Jack said. Daniel opened his mouth, but Jack turned to him and said, "No, we haven't. That's what you were going to say."

"Of course that's what I was going to say," Daniel said, blinking.

Jack paused. "Okay," he said, "bad example."

"Hey," Daniel said, frowning now, "are you... Is this some kind of joke about what we were talking about at breakfast? About know, the..."

Jack gave him a blank look. "Were we talking about something at breakfast?"

Daniel sighed.


Daniel met Jack in the hallway outside the commissary. "Jack!" he called, rushing past a few people. "Wait--"

Someone walked past in front of him, forcing him to stop to let the airman pass. Fortunately, Jack had stopped as well and was waiting with a bored expression on his face.

"Okay," he said once the path was free. "So you said that a beam came out of the...well, from the altar and the ruins, right? Right, well, SG-15 took these--"

"Hundreds of pages of alien text," Jack said. Daniel stopped. Right. They'd probably been through this before. Which was really interesting, because, like he'd said earlier, the--"Daniel?" Jack said, looking impatient.

Daniel passed some of the images to him. "Right. So I thought translating it might help."

Jack was looking at one frame of the text upside-down. "Looks familiar," he said.

"Well, you spoke and read and wrote it for a while," Daniel said. "It's Ancient."

"Well, if you're looking for help translating it, you're barking up the wrong genius."

"No, I know you're back to normal," Daniel said, and with the distance of time, he could feel the pang of disappointment that all that knowledge had been lost. "Which is...a good thing. I supp--"

Jack's hands grabbed him and yanked him away just as Sergeant Siler ran through where he'd been standing a moment before.

"Wow," Daniel said, honestly impressed as he looked up at Jack. "That's really amaz--"

A moving blur crashed into Daniel, and he landed hard on the floor, vaguely aware of hundreds of pages of alien text scattering around him.

"Shit--sorry, Daniel," Major Ferretti's familiar voice said. "You okay? Here, let me help..."

"Uh," Daniel coughed out as hands grabbed his limbs and hauled him to his feet, where he saw Jack holding the upside-down picture and staring at him with wide eyes.

"That's pretty funny," Jack said, looking amused.

"Colonel!" Ferretti rebuked.

Jack shrugged. "Better than last time."


The only good thing about Jack and Teal'c going crazy was that they had a good excuse to go to the planet. Daniel wasn't sure why this was a good excuse, since the usual solution to things like this was medical watch, but the general said to go, so he got a chance to look at lots of Ancient text and talk to an alien archaeologist.

Better yet, there was an alien archaeologist speaking in English about an Ancient device covered with writing about the planet's history. There was nothing that could make that anything other than incredible.

"Hello!" Daniel said, hurrying forward when he spotted the man at the altar. "My name is--"

The familiar sound of his friends' guns rising into place stopped him.

Malikai raised his hands. "Hello," he answered nervously.

"Kree lo'sek," Teal'c said to Daniel. Confused, Daniel moved out of his friends' line of fire and drew his gun but left it pointing low at the ground. This was an archaeologist--they didn't really have to start shooting the civilians off-world, too, did they?

"That's the guy," Jack snapped. "That's the one who started all this!"

"I do not understand," Malikai said, looking like he wanted to get far away from all of them. Daniel didn't blame him.

"Colonel," Sam said, though she didn't lower her guard, "I don't think he knows what you're talking about."

"Perhaps he has no memory, O'Neill," Teal'c said.

"Oh, he remembers," Jack said darkly. "He was the one pushing all of those buttons."

Daniel glanced past Malikai toward the altar. The surface looked like it was made of buttons. He kind of wanted to push one of them and see what happened. He was pretty sure Jack would yell at him if he did that, though.

"Please," Malikai begged, "I am archaeologist. I have been trying to translate these alien symbols. I have been making periodic visits to the planet for some time now--my research is almost complete!"

Jack walked forward. Daniel glanced at Sam, who looked just as confused as he was. It was perhaps the most surreal day Daniel had experienced in a long time--what Jack and Teal'c were saying didn't make any sense, and yet, at the same time, they'd predicted things no one could otherwise have predicted. It was like Cassandra the prophetess, and no one had listened to her either, and if they didn't listen now, they might end just as messily as Troy had.

Or they could be crazy. Sometimes that happened, too.

"What kind of archaeologist carries a gun?" Jack barked, retrieving a weapon from Malikai's bag.

"Robert does," Daniel pointed out. "And Cameron. And Nyan did, once." But he was starting to think Jack and Teal'c might be right after all, too, so he took the safety off his own weapon.

Then the altar started moving.

"What did you do?" Jack demanded.

Sam, who'd been standing closest, insisted, "I didn't do anything!"

Jack's gaze left Malikai long enough to fix both Sam and Daniel with a glare. "Well, turn it off!"

"How?" Sam said. Daniel narrowed his eyes and noticed a phrase that kept repeating throughout the altar. Domavetus vestul...what was that?

"There's nothing Major Carter can do," Malikai said, backing away.

Motabilum, Daniel decided. 'Master of the uncertain past,' perhaps, though if he could get closer to see...

Actually, that did fit with the idea of time loops, he supposed. Just as he'd been about to take a step forward to examine the altar more closely, Jack said, "Excuse me? How'd you know her name?"

Uh-oh. Daniel turned around to see Sam's eyes widen in understanding, because this was one coincidence that couldn't be faked.

"Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said, gesturing toward the altar as Jack yelled at Malikai some more.

"Wh--but," Daniel said helplessly, reaching out a finger to touch the altar but afraid to do something wrong and make everything worse. "I wouldn't even know where to begin! I can start to translate it, maybe, but I don't even have enough--"

10 October 2000; Commissary, SGC; 0855 hrs

"Anyway," Daniel said to Jack, "that's just how I feel about it. What do you think?"

Jack dropped his spoon and dropped his head onto his arms on the table.

A little disappointed, Daniel muttered, "It was just a question."


"Sorry, Nyan," Daniel said. "We really need to figure this out. I'll, to you later," he said as Nyan ambled out toward his own office. Daniel followed him out and moved toward the elevator to find someone on his team.

Before he could go far, though, he literally walked into Jack, who grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him back into the office, Teal'c right behind. "You're better off in here," Jack assured him, steering him back to his desk.

"I was just coming to find you," he said.

"I know," Jack said pointedly.

Daniel considered that. "Right," he said. "Well, during the pre-mission analysis, I was able to translate part of the wall, which seems to be some sort of planetary history--"

"Daniel," Jack interrupted, taking his images and sifting through until he'd found what he was looking for, "that's very nice, but focus on the altar."

"Malikai initiated the time loop by manipulating the symbols on the surface," Teal'c added.

"Yeah, it is sort of like a surface made up entirely of buttons, isn't it," Daniel agreed, peering more closely at the image. He wondered what Jack would do to him if they went to the planet and he pressed one of them at random.

Fingers appeared before his nose and snapped sharply. "Hey! Focus!" Jack said.

"Okay, okay," Daniel said, sitting down at his desk. "You realize we don't actually know...I mean, what are the chances that there are instructions written on it? I could tell you what it says--given a lot of time to work on this--but it might just be an Ancient fairy tale."

"It might what?" Jack said.

"Well, the chances of that are pretty low, too," Daniel allowed, "but..."

Teal'c glowered at him. Daniel thought he might be more afraid if he didn't know that they needed him to translate the Ancient. Jack slapped a hand on it. "Start working," he said.

"How long does it take to loop?" Daniel said. There was an interesting sense of uncaring detachment around everything today--if he was just going to forget this tomorrow, did it really matter what he did now?

"Less than ten hours," Teal'c said.

"Okay," Daniel said, counting back in time and carefully placing the writing on the table, "Well, I can't translate all of this in a few hours."

Jack looked around, then picked up Daniel's tape recorder. "Here. You can start now and keep going tomorrow where you left off."

"I do not believe this plan will be successful," Teal'c said. Daniel agreed--if things like tape recorders held onto their records after a time loop, computer records should, too, and then there wouldn't be all of this confusion. Either way, before Jack could say anything else, the phone rang.

"Mr. Jackson, are Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c with you?" the general said.

"Yes, sir," Daniel answered, narrowing his eyes at the printed images as he noticed a phrase that kept repeating throughout the altar. Domavetus vestul...

"We need all of you in the briefing room. Major Carter has a theory."

"Yes, sir," he repeated. Sam's theories were always a good thing.


Except, of course, when those theories didn't work. They all stood together at the control room window and watched the Stargate prepare to dial out to make sure that the Ancient device on P4X-639 didn't dial them and make them loop, but--

"Chevron seven will not engage," the technician said.

"Uh-oh," Daniel said, looking over his shoulder and Jack and Teal'c, who wore identical looks of resignation. And then--

"Incoming wormhole."

"Ah, crap," Jack sighed as Sam dropped into a seat to figure out what was going on.

"This doesn't make any sense," she said. "There's nothing wrong on our end. We should--"

10 October 2000; Commissary, SGC; 0855 hrs

"Anyway," Daniel said to Jack, "that's just how I feel about it. What do you think?"

Jack stopped with his spoon partway to his mouth, then slowly lowered it and slumped back in his chair. "Ask me tomorrow," he said unhappily, which was odd, because Jack in the morning after eating large amounts of sugary cereal was usually more lively than that.


"Yeah, it is sort of like a surface made up entirely of buttons, isn't it," Daniel agreed, peering more closely at the image of the altar on P4X-639. He wondered what Jack would do to him if they went to the planet and he pressed one of them at random.

Hands grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him back. "I'm telling you," Jack said, looking a little maniacal as he pointed at the images, "that the only way to stop this loop is to figure out how to run that stuff!"

"Okay, okay," Daniel said, sitting down at his desk. "You realize we don't actually know--"

"It could be a fairy tale, I know!" Jack yelled. "But it's not!"

Daniel stopped and looked up. "Uh. Oh. I guess...we've had this conversation before."

"Indeed we have," Teal'c said, glaring at him. Daniel thought he might be more afraid if he didn't know that they needed him to translate the Ancient, but then he realized that, if this day kept repeating itself, someone could kill him and then he'd be resurrected again the next day. In fact, they could do anything and it wouldn't matter, would it, at least to the people within the loop...and for the people unaffected, they could do anything with no consequences at all. Well, true, it would delay the solution, but since the people in the loop would never know...

"Huh," Daniel said aloud.

"Daniel..." Jack said, looking like he might actually explode. Daniel wasn't sure Jack would be resurrected if he exploded, since he wasn't looping the same way as everyone else, so he supposed he should get to work.

"I'm assuming I told you last time," Daniel said, "that I'm not going to be able to translate this in a few hours."

"Oh, I am so ahead of you," Jack said, reaching out to grab the tape recorder on Daniel's desk. "I put the whole thing on tape last time so you don't have to start from scratch."

Jack pressed the PLAY button. Daniel listened to static come out. "Doesn't...the recording get looped, too?" he said. Jack scowled at him and threw the recorder back onto the desk.

"Did I not say your plan would be unsuccessful?" Teal'c said.

Jack raised a finger and looked like he was restraining himself from poking Teal'c's eye out. "Careful--be careful," he warned.

"'re the only ones who don't forget everything the next day," Daniel said. "Maybe...if you memorize this as we go, you can act as human tape recorders."

"Oh, first I'm a little girl, and now I'm a tape recorder?" Jack said.

"What?" Daniel said.

Teal'c took one of the images and said, "We will assist in whatever way we can."


Robert was meeting someone he wanted to hire from a school in California, so Daniel found someone else to help instead. Through a combination of dragging and begging, he managed to convince Nyan that, if Nyan didn't help him, those artifacts needing analysis would never get analyzed, and then he would have to catalogue them and then catalogue them again the next day, and the next...

"Oh, no," Nyan said, looking horrified. "It is like Sisyphus!"

"Yeah," Daniel said, "so--hey, you've been reading about Greek mythology."

"Yes, certainly, and many others," Nyan said, nodding. "It is very interes--"

Jack threw Nyan over his shoulders, walked into Daniel's office, and deposited the Bedrosian on the floor.

"I believe I shall help you," Nyan said with a sigh.

So Nyan wrote out the Ancient on the blackboard while Daniel started filling in the translation under it where the meaning was immediately obvious.

"Pot-err-ay-muss," Jack said. Daniel winced but continued. "Puh-tair-uh. Pot-er-rat."

"Okay," Daniel said to stop Jack from butchering Latin. "How many times have you looped?"

"Four?" Jack said.

"This is the fifth time we have lived through this day," Teal'c said.

"What about Abydos?" Daniel said, suddenly worried and writing faster, as if he could speed the process that way. "If Sam says we're cut off from the rest of the...universe, then what if they try to contact us?"

"I believe Abydos is one of the closest planets to Earth in the network of Stargates," Teal'c reminded him. "It is likely that they are trapped in the same way."

"Nice, huh?" Jack said. "Crem. Air-uh. No, wait, that's air-us--"

"I will find a dictionary," Nyan said, dusting the chalk off his hands and leaving the room.

"Unscheduled off-world activation!"

Daniel continued writing as much as he could in the hopes that either Jack or Teal'c was still paying attention and starting to memorize as much as possible, but instead, he heard Jack's voice behind him say, "You know the worst part about this? Every time we loop, Daniel asks me a question, and...I wasn't listening the first time."

"You are not the only one who must endure some discomfort, O'Neill," Teal'c said.

"Jack," Daniel said, rolling his eyes, "my question was--"

10 October 2000; Commissary, SGC; 0855 hrs

"Anyway," Daniel said to Jack, "that's just how I feel about it. What do you think?"

"Skip the briefing," Jack said, dropping his spoon so abruptly that milk splashed up from his bowl.

"No," Daniel said, and then, "What?"

"We have to translate the altar."

Sam had stopped mid-chew and looked at Daniel, and then at Jack. "Sir?" she said.

"Not you," Jack said impatiently, waving a hand at her. "You need to work on how the altar accesses the subspace field from the Stargate and stop the geomagnetic storm from powering it and making us all loop again. Daniel, let's go, and get Nyan. Where's Teal'c?"

Daniel blinked at his pancakes, wondering what they'd put into it this morning. Then he looked into his coffee cup, which looked and smelled and tasted quite normal. Sam looked like she was trying to make her eyeballs pop out of her head. "What?" he repeated.

"Daniel!" Jack said.

"Jack," Daniel protested.

Jack stood up, pulled Daniel's chair away from the table with a jerk, and latched onto the back of his jacket and began to stalk out the door.

"Sam," Daniel said as he was led forcefully out of the commissary. "Um...could you, uh...tell the general that Jack'"

"I'm not crazy," Jack said, dragging him into the elevator.

"That's very comforting," Daniel told him.

"Domavetus vestul motabilum," Jack said, punching the button for the eighteenth floor. "Master of the uncertain past. That's what you said, so you get to spend all day translating hundreds of pages of alien text."

"Huh," Daniel said, mulling that over and trying to piece it together. "That doesn't sound so bad."


"Okay, so, perennial inventus," Daniel said, looking at the untranslated sections while Nyan wrote in what Jack and Teal'c remembered. "You called Shifu perennial once, so--"

"The approaching disaster," Teal'c provided.

Daniel stopped in surprise, then started to write it in. "Right. Okay. How many times have you looped?"

"Ten," Teal'c said.

10 October 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 1200 hrs

"What about Abydos?" Daniel said, looking up from his work. "I mean, if we're trapped in a loop, then won't they wonder...?"

"You have asked that question before, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. "Abydos is within the space that is undergoing the time loop."

"Oh," Daniel said. "Okay. Hey, how many times have you looped, anyway?"

"Eighteen," Jack said.

10 October 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 1200 hrs

"How many times have you looped?" Daniel asked absently.

"I don't know," Jack said.

"Twenty-nine times," Teal'c said.

"That's, uh...huh. That's a lot. Anyway...the...approaching..." Daniel wrote onto the blackboard. Nyan coughed. "...disaster..." Nyan coughed louder.

Daniel turned around. Jack was juggling. So was Teal'c. Daniel was pretty sure they were juggling his notes. "I will never finish analyzing my artifacts," Nyan said sadly.

10 October 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 1200 hrs

"How many times have you looped?" Daniel asked Teal'c as they waited in the office for Jack to join them and translate.

"Forty-one times," Teal'c said.

Daniel grimaced. "Wow. Feels like just yesterday that..." he started, then decided to stop upon seeing Teal'c's face.

They waited for five minutes before Teal'c decided he should go to find Jack. Then Daniel waited with Nyan for five more minutes before Daniel decided he should go to find both of them.

He'd just opened the door to the commissary when he heard someone yell, "WACKO!"

Jack was holding a plate with a twisted, angry face drawn on it in what looked like ketchup and mustard. Daniel thought it was probably a bad thing that Jack's face looked a little like that, too. Teal'c stared at the plate, then took it away and placed it facedown on Jack's head. Daniel blinked a few times to make sure he wasn't seeing things, then carefully backed away.

10 October 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 1200 hrs

"How many times have you looped?" Daniel asked as Teal'c wrote in a translation that must have taken Daniel and Nyan together...well, a long, long time to hammer out.

"Mrngh," Jack said, sounding like he was facedown on the table.

"I have lost count," Teal'c said, putting down the chalk and taking his seat

Daniel turned around to see them both slumped in their chairs. He didn't think he'd ever seen Teal'c slumped anywhere before, except when injured, and Jack seemed to be trying to suffocate himself in his BDU jacket sleeve, so he scrambled for something to say. "Um. Well, it's like I was saying this morning. The rest of us wouldn't know the difference if you did something else. Right? I mean, I'd be mad at you for a few hours, and then I'd forget it ever happened--"

The door swung violently behind Jack as he ran out of the room. Teal'c stood, looking like he was about to bow at them, then turned and followed Jack.

"Oops," Daniel said.

Nyan sighed. "I will never finish analyzing my artifacts," he said sadly.

10 October 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 1200 hrs

"How many times have you looped?" Daniel asked as Jack wrote in a translation.

"An even number," Jack said. He stepped back, looked over the translation, and filled in something else. "Since we started counting again, anyway. I don't know the exact number."

Daniel exchanged a glance with Nyan. "Then how do you know it's an even number?"

"Because if it were an odd number," Jack said, "Teal'c would be here and I wouldn't."

"That's not very efficient," Daniel pointed out.

Jack turned and gave him a look. "It was your idea."

"Was it? Well, uh...please don't tell the general that," Daniel said. "Hey, wait, where are you going?" Jack raised his eyebrows and continued out the door. Daniel sighed.

10 October 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 1200 hrs

"Where's Jack?" Daniel asked as Teal'c filled in a blank.

"He is preparing to resign his commission," Teal'c said calmly.

Alarmed, Daniel said, "What? Why?"

"I believe he wishes to pursue the skill of clay-working."

"He has to resign to do that?" Daniel said, puzzled.

"He has done so in the past," Teal'c said. "It is preferable to allowing him to become wacko."

"Oh," Daniel said. He glanced at Nyan. Nyan didn't seem to get it, either. This was comforting. "How many times have you looped?"

Teal'c didn't even pause before going on. "I am uncertain."

10 October 2000; Briefing Room, SGC; 1730 hrs

"We've finished the translation," Daniel announced.

"Yep," Jack said when he'd finally stopped spinning his chair around in circles. "Which says..."

"...that Ancients used to live on the planet," Daniel went on. "Which we knew. But now, we also know that the Ancients living there suffered some...some kind of disaster, which was going to destroy them all. So they built a time machine."

"They wanted to go back in time and change their history," Jack said. "Change their fate."

Daniel nodded. "Domavetus vestul motabilum."

Sam and the general stared at him. Teal'c supplied, "Master of the uncertain past. It is a reference to the fact that, using this device, the past could be considered ever-changing." The stares transferred to Teal'c.

"Right," Daniel said. "That was what they'd thought, anyway, but they never made it work. Instead of going back to the specific time they chose, they got stuck in a continuous loop of...well, I don't know how long, but probably--"

"Let's say it was about ten hours," Jack said impatiently. "The point is, we can shut down this loop by"--he waved a hand vaguely in the air--"pushing the right buttons. Sir, we have to go, and go now, before it's too late. Please."

Daniel glanced sideways at him to see Jack's former restlessness had become something almost like desperation. He wasn't sure he wanted to ask just how many times they'd looped.

"Colonel," General Hammond said, standing up, "have your team geared up and ready to embark immediately."


10 October 2000; P4X-639; 1800 hrs

No one was there when they arrived. Daniel frowned--SG-15 had said there was an archaeologist here. In fact, Jack and Teal'c both insisted that there had been an archaeologist here, too. "Oh, look, there it is," Daniel said, pointing at the altar.

"Yes, Daniel," Jack said, in a tone that said he was rolling his eyes behind his sunglasses, "we've seen it before. Malikai! Get the hell out here!"


"Yes, I'm sure he's here, and yes," he went on when Daniel opened his mouth again, "I'm sure I wasn't imagining it!"

Wow. Okay.

"Fan out," Jack said, a little more calmly. Sam ducked behind one of the pillar-like rocks scattered around the place while Jack took the other side. Daniel started to find his place, too, before seeing that Teal'c was walking boldly toward the altar, which meant that SG-1's tactics didn't seem to be the same as the small unit tactics he'd been drilled in at the Alpha Site. Well, it was either that, or Teal'c was just as desperate as Jack. Feeling useless, Daniel hung back, turning around to make sure no one was behind them, and followed Jack and Sam--

Teal'c crashed into thin air and flew backward to land on the ground. Immediately, Daniel felt his heart begin to pump faster as adrenaline spiked into his veins.

"Teal'c!" Jack said. Sam broke cover to crouch by Teal'c, and as she did so, movement by the altar caught Daniel's eye.

A man had walked out and stood behind the device. "Malikai?" Daniel asked, guessing this couldn't be anyone but the alien archaeologist.

Jack stopped just short of where Teal'c seemed to have been struck. He bent down, picked up a small stone, and threw it toward Malikai.

Daniel barely had time to move to one side as the stone bounced back and whizzed past him. "It's no use," Sam said, helping Teal'c sit up and find his feet again. "It looks like a variation of a Goa'uld force shield."

"You are correct, Major," Malikai said. "You have come to stop my work--I cannot allow that to happen." So the man did know who they were.

"Why not?" Jack said angrily. "Because you want to be king of Groundhog Day?"

"Do you think I would do this for personal power?" Malikai snapped back. "She--" He stopped.

Jack's gaze flickered to something by Malikai's hand, as if he knew what it was. "What happened?" he asked, a little less angrily.

"She died," he said, looking down at the whatever-it-was on the altar. "Twelve years ago. I cannot save her, but I have almost finished my work--then I can go back and see her one more..." He choked off, and Daniel didn't know who she was, but it was clearly someone important. If not for the fact that he thought Jack was going to go insane if someone didn't fix the time loop very soon, Daniel might have sympathized more.

"The device doesn't work," Daniel said. "It says that the Ancients tried to make it work and were only able to make it...loop, the way it is now. You're an archaeologist, right? How long do you think this place has been abandoned? Their civilization was dying, and if they could have changed things, they would have."

"If you continue, you will be trapped," Teal'c said, "along with billions of innocent others."

Not that the innocent others would notice, Daniel reflected. Did it matter what they did one day if they didn't remember it the next? "The device activates fourteen Stargates simultaneously," Sam explained. "That's fourteen worlds reliving the same day over and over."

"I...I didn't realize," Malikai said. He looked back down at the altar, as if considering that, then shook his head. "You're wrong--I can make it work. I just--"

"The people who made the Stargates couldn't make the damn thing work!" Jack yelled, looking like he wanted to take a step forward, if the barrier hadn't been there. "And even if you could do it--you can't change what happened to your wife!"

Oh. So that was who she was.

"And when she dies again?" Jack went on furiously. "Then what? You'll start over?"

The altar began to move. "Uh-oh," Daniel said, staring at the buttons were pushing themselves.

"I know what it's like!" Jack shouted, more desperate now. "I lost my son!" Daniel looked back at Jack in surprise, then away again, suddenly even more uncomfortable than he'd been before. "And I know...and as much as..." Jack faltered. Daniel looked away from the expression on his face. "I could never live through that again. Could you?"

Finally, Malikai looked up at all of them and said, in almost a sob, "No."

Jack took an audible breath. From his peripheral vision, Daniel saw fists clench and unclench slowly. "Let her go," Jack said steadily.

There was silence for a long time. When the sound of grinding stone grew louder, Daniel looked up just in time to miss how Malikai pushed the buttons to make it work. He decided it would be a bad time to ask the man to do it again so he could watch.

The force shield dropped. Jack walked forward and placed something in Malikai's hand. Daniel, knowing he was missing most of what was happening, glanced at Teal'c, but the Jaffa was watching Jack and didn't seem to notice the others.

Finally, Jack turned around and rejoined the group. Daniel opened his mouth to point out that they were supposed to have completed a mission here, and that Sam hadn't even had any time to set up her equipment and Malikai was walking away from them in the other direction when Daniel hadn't even had the chance to talk to him--

Teal'c swung his staff weapon down and fired at the time device, blasting a corner off. "Teal'c!" Daniel said, horrified, but his voice was drowned out in the sound of Jack's gun, and he ducked his head to protect it from the flying shards of rock.

When silence fell again, Daniel raised his head and met Sam's wide-eyed stare. He turned back around to see the Ancient device crumbled, with one entire section broken off from the rest. Malikai's back was to them, but he didn't stop or turn around.

"Let's go," Jack said.

Daniel was still frozen as Jack and Teal'c brushed past. It took Jack's call of "Carter! Daniel! Let's go," to make them both move.

As Daniel dialed the DHD, he said tentatively, "I don't understand."

"Doesn't matter," Jack said. "It's over."

From the next chapter ("The Enkarans"):

"I'm fine," Jack said. "D'you know when our next mission is?"

Daniel slowly closed his book and pushed away from the desk. "Yeah," he said, watching Jack stare at the blackboard that was still covered in Ancient writing. "Next Tuesday. General Hammond mentioned it during the debriefing."

lavenderlocks: (Default)

[personal profile] lavenderlocks 2009-05-24 02:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I loved the way you built up to the infamous question from Window of Opportunity! :D