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nightspear ([personal profile] nightspear) wrote2009-05-19 10:47 pm
Entry tags:

Archaeology (8/30)

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
Chapter6 Chapter7

XXXXX

Chapter 8: The Enkarans

XXXXX

11 October 2000; Commissary, SGC; 0800 hrs

"We got a message from the Tok'ra," Sam said, taking a seat next to them at breakfast. "Apparently, they've been trying to contact us for almost four months. Some of them were starting to worry that we'd kidnapped Martouf and weren't giving him back."

"So you lived the same...ten hours over and over again for four months?" Daniel said to Jack and Teal'c.

"Indeed," Teal'c said as Jack took a gigantic bite from his bowl of oatmeal.

"That's..." Sam said, then tilted her head, thinking. "That's about three-hundred loops."

"That must have been frustrating," Daniel said.

Jack looked like he was having trouble swallowing his enormous mouthful. "Yep," he finally managed to say.

"And you learned Ancient in that time," he said with a pang of jealousy.

"As much as we had to," Jack said.

Daniel thought about all the opportunities he'd missed recently to read lots of books and learn lots of languages within a short period of time. There had been the Atanik armbands, and then this time device... "You know," he said aloud, "since you were repeating the same day over and over, you could try out things--you know, do whatever you wanted--and we'd never know now that you'd done them. Right?" he said to Sam.

She shrugged. "I guess that's true. That only extends as far as our bubble, of course."

"So," Daniel said, watching Jack attempt an even bigger spoonful. "Did you ever do anything...crazy?"

Jack managed to fit the spoon into his mouth and chewed slowly, looking at him and Sam. Sam raised her eyebrows in question, looking interested. Daniel waited for Jack to finish swallowing and say, "You know, you asked me that before in one of the loops."

He supposed it wasn't surprising; his brain was his brain, after all. "And?" he prompted.

In answer, Jack only dug in again and smiled. Teal'c bent over his plate and ate his waffles.

Daniel exchanged a glance with Sam. "What?"

"Nothing," Jack said.

"Sir?" Sam said, looking skeptical as the smile aimed itself at her.

Jack jammed his spoon into his mouth again. "Mm-hm," he said, then focused on his breakfast.

...x...

11 October 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 1600 hrs

Jack stepped into the office, knocking loudly on the doorframe. "Where's Rothman?" he asked.

"Uh," Daniel said, peeling his eyes away from his book. "Why, what do you need?"

Jack shrugged, prodding at the open door until the doorstop came out and it swung closed. "Whoops. Nothing, I was just wondering why he's not here."

"He went on a mission this morning," Daniel told him.

"What's this?" Jack said, pulling Daniel's book partially closed so he could see the cover. "Classical Cryptanalysis and...geez. That looks...interesting."

"It is," Daniel said. He had done a lot of his work by instinct as much as anything else; eventually, he needed to learn some theory. "It's not completely unrelated to language decipherment and other linguistic...matters, which, obviously, is an important part of my job." Jack set the book back down. "It's for a class," Daniel added. "Which I'm not...taking, exactly, but I'm reading the material that--"

"Ah," Jack said. "So this is Air Force related."

"Sort...of," Daniel said, because it sort of was, in that the book was used in a course that was administered by an institution that had something to do with the Air Force. "Not military enough for you?"

Jack shrugged. "Never said you had to be military."

'Just a little more military than I am now,' Daniel thought resignedly, but he was used to that. "So--what's up?"

"Now, why would you think something's up?"

"I didn't--" Daniel started, then stopped. All of a sudden, he realized that he hadn't asked what he really should have much earlier. "Are you okay?"

Jack rolled his eyes. "Didn't I just say that?"

"No," Daniel said. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Jack said, but he was in the archaeology office for no apparent reason. "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. "Next Tuesday. General Hammond mentioned it during the debriefing."

"Ah," Jack said, then dragged one end of the blackboard around to face Daniel. It was still covered with Ancient writing with translations under it. "You wrote this," Jack said, pointing to one phrase that was most definitely in Nyan's handwriting.

"Nyan wrote that," Daniel said.

"But the first time, you wrote it."

"Okay," Daniel said, standing up. "Jack, um. Do you think you should go home?"

"I'm not losing it, Daniel."

"No, we're technically off for the day. Why do you think I'm reading this book?"

"I'm fine," Jack said.

"Okay," Daniel said, then pointed at the blackboard. "Who wrote that?"

"For cryin' out loud," Jack said. "I know you didn't write it this time. But you wrote it the first time. That's all I'm saying."

"I don't think you're losing it," Daniel said. "Just...what's this about?"

Jack looked at Daniel. "What is this, Dr. Phil?"

Daniel ignored the unfamiliar reference with the ease of long practice and said, "I've been wondering something. The person who wrote that"--he pointed--"the first time...was he real?"

"Makes you wonder, doesn't it?" Jack said, sounding relieved that he understood, even though Daniel didn't understand quite yet. "How many yous are out there?"

"Just one, presumably, at least right now," Daniel said. "Actually, you, Sam, and Teal'c have androids somewhere, too, so there are more of you three than there are of me. If we start counting alternate realities, though--"

"That's not what I'm talking about," Jack said.

"Yeah, it's not really the same," Daniel acknowledged, still grasping at straws.

"Sometimes, I got you to believe me," Jack said. Daniel frowned, not liking the fact that he only sometimes believed Jack. It was the kind of story that should leave any reasonable person skeptical, but he'd seen enough at the SGC that he should have given the benefit of the doubt, especially when it was Jack and Teal'c.

"Sorry I didn't believe you more than sometimes," Daniel said.

Jack waved a hand. "You were better than Hammond and Carter. Her, I had to recite astrophysics to convince. You were usually sold at that Cassandra stuff."

"Why was Cassandra here?"

"Not Cassie; some fortune-teller," Jack said.

"The Trojan Cassandra?" Daniel said. "Well, yes, actually, I see why that might have come up. She was a prophetess who--"

"Ah!" Jack said, raising both of his hands and squeezing his eyes shut. "I know. No one believes her and everyone dies."

"Close enough," Daniel said, thinking curiously that there had been a Daniel who'd told this to Jack already, probably several times, and that there had been a Daniel who had figured out a few Ancient words that he himself didn't know, and that he himself knew a few Ancient words that other Daniels hadn't known. "You know," he said, "every one of us who's been around you and Teal'c for the last...several...day, uh...well, there are multiple different versions of us that existed. And each of us was different, just a little bit."

"Makes you wonder," Jack repeated. "Sometimes, when you got convinced you were just going to loop away, you acted totally different."

Daniel raised his eyebrows. "Really? Me?"

"Yeah."

"Different how?"

Jack shrugged. "Just...like you weren’t real. Sort of...distant. Worked fast as hell, though."

"Well, he wasn't real, in a way--or at least, he's not now," Daniel said, and then he wondered whether the other Daniels had acted detached or if Jack had simply seen them that way, because what must it be like to live something over and over while no one else remembered? "I'm real now," he offered.

"Yeah, I figured," Jack said, pulling down the top of the blackboard and spinning it on its rack until Daniel winced to see it narrowly miss hitting an artifact. "Anyway, we can get rid of this now." He picked up an eraser.

"No, no, wait, wait, wait!" Daniel said, standing quickly and catching Jack's arm before he could erase more than a few letters. "Wait! I haven't finished copying that down yet. I don't actually know it all, and there's vocabulary there to learn, and...and..."

Jack was staring at him. "I could just recite it back for you," he said.

"Do you want to?"

"No. But I don’t really want to look at it, either."

Daniel bit his lip, then found a tin of magnets in Robert's drawer and started covering the blackboard carefully with sheets of paper. "Now you don't have to look at it," he said as he fastened paper over the writing, "and I can copy it down later so you don't have to recite it."

Jack didn't answer, so he continued papering the board until only a bit was left sticking out at the corner. As Daniel contemplated the advantages of using an entire sheet of paper or ripping one to fit the area, Jack said dryly, "I think I can deal with seeing a half-inch line of chalk at the corner of Rothman's blackboard."

"Well, partly, this is to make sure no one erases it, too," Daniel admitted. "Right now, this symbol is an affricate, but if someone happened to wipe off that top portion, then I wouldn't be able to tell whether it was originally that or a vowel, and obviously, that would be a big difference."

"You think I'd come and erase part of this just to throw you off whenever you translate Ancient from now on?" Jack said. Daniel shrugged. "I might," Jack conceded thoughtfully. Daniel pulled the blackboard farther away from him, then slapped a final piece of paper onto the board and stuck it there with a magnet. "You know what pisses me off?"

"Me?" Daniel said.

As if to prove his point, Jack looked annoyed at that answer. "Out of I-don't-know-how-many time loops, I only managed to drag you out of this office once. Once. And you know where you went?"

Daniel imagined where he'd go if Jack and Teal'c were stuck in a time loop and possibly insane and Jack had done something drastic enough to make him leave the office. "Sam's lab?"

Jack glared at him.

"Why'd I leave?"

"I got Nyan to put a stink bomb in your desk."

"You--Jack!"

"Me Jack," Jack said. "You Daniel."

Daniel checked his desk drawers, just in case.

When he looked up, Jack was glancing back at the closed door. He pulled the door open, then pushed it deliberately shut this time, closed the other door, too, and turned around. Jack made a face, and then said abruptly, too quietly for the security cameras to pick up, "I kissed Sam in the time loop."

"I kissed her once, too," Daniel whispered back.

Jack's eyebrows shot up. "You what? When? Where? Daniel!"

"What?" Daniel said defensively. "It was in a VIP room. She was upset."

"So you kissed her in a VIP room?"

"Well, where did you kiss her?"

"In the control room, because I was going nuts, and it was fun to see everyone's expressions!"

"You kissed Sam in front of other people?" Daniel hissed, a little horrified, because he didn't need years of experience around Tau'ri military to know that wasn't acceptable behavior between Sam and Jack, especially around other people.

"Well, at least it wasn't in private!" Jack said. "What the hell?"

And then Daniel thought about why people's expressions would be fun to watch. "Wait, when you say you kissed her, you mean you kissed her, like...like you're not supposed to?" Not that Jack was really supposed to kiss Sam in any way, but...

Jack was frowning deeply now. "Well...yeah. What did you think I meant?"

"I kissed her hair," Daniel said.

"Ah," Jack said. "I didn't."

"Yeah." Daniel scratched his head and looked at the floor, then looked back up. "You can't treat Sam like that."

"Excuse me? I didn't do any--"

"You kissed her! And you knew she wouldn't remember it, so you were just using her...her body for..." He stopped upon seeing Jack's face and felt himself starting to blush just at the topic.

"You're the one who said it didn't matter," Jack pointed out.

"But...okay," Daniel said, "but you shouldn't have done that." Jack knew that already, though, on some level, or he wouldn't be in here saying it like he was confessing a crime.

"Nuts," Jack repeated. "And we were just gonna loop, anyway."

"That's not an excuse."

"Nuts," Jack stressed.

Daniel sighed, making sure both doors were firmly shut. It was probably a good thing that whoever reviewed the security tapes was probably very used to seeing Daniel and Jack snap at each other in this room; no one would pay special attention to something like this and start a rumor. "Don't do it again," he warned.

"What if I want to?"

"Then ask her first, obviously!" Daniel said, and then, "Do you? Want to?"

"No," Jack said sullenly, sticking his hands into his pockets and looking a little bit like a boy called before Kasuf for doing something stupid.

"Good."

"Don't tell her," Jack warned.

"No, yeah, I won't," Daniel said, not eager to talk about that with Sam in any way. Remembering, though, that Jack wasn't the only one who'd lived through the same day over and over and over, he suggested, "Want to go pick on Teal'c?"

"He's in the gym," Jack said.

Daniel amended, "Want to go let Teal'c pick on us?"

Jack snorted. "Fine."

XXXXX

17 October 2000; P4B-380; 1800 hrs

Jack glanced at Teal'c as he examined some symbol carved into a stone. "Does that tell you anything?" he asked.

"I do not recognize this symbol," Teal'c said. "However, it may be the sign of a System Lord."

"Still here?"

"If a Goa'uld or his forces were still present, we would know it already."

Jack looked out into the distance again, where Daniel had struck up what had seemed like a friendly conversation with the locals in their village--the Enkarans--and found that their linguist had disappeared. Worried, Jack reached up to his radio. "Daniel, where are you?"

Immediately, the crackle of radio returned. "I'm fine, Jack--inside one of the houses. There's... A lot of these people are sick. They want to know if we can help them, but I don't recognize what this is."

Exchanging a glance with Teal'c, Jack said, "Sick how?"

There was a pause as they started toward the village. "Some people are going blind," Daniel finally answered, sounding bewildered. "A lot of them just feel...generally sick or weak. I have no idea what's going on, Jack--there are so many of them."

"Level A," Jack snapped, reaching back to his pack. "Now. Don't touch anything or anyone without gloves at the very least, understood?"

"I'm already exposed, and I don't want to alarm them. In fact, we're probably all exposed already if there's something to be exposed to."

"I don't care! Now, Daniel! That's an order." In the silence that followed, Jack tugged his biohazard mask on and hoped Daniel was choosing to follow orders today. "You hear that, Carter?" he added in between pulling on his gloves.

"Yes, sir," she answered. "I'll meet you in the village--I have a theory."

Teal'c's masked head turned toward Jack, who imagined there was an eyebrow rising in there. Who but Carter would have a theory already?

A dark-haired man stepped out just as Jack and Teal'c arrived inside the walls that surrounded the small town. "Jasha," the man said, pointing. When they shook their heads, he added, "Dan-i-yel. Bevakhashia, jasha."

Jack followed the man's finger and ducked into the largest building in the area, dimly lit with candles. It didn't take long to find out that this was a sort of infirmary, with occasional coughs sounding from people lying on pallets. A masked figure was crouched next to one woman lying in a corner when Jack and Teal'c walked in. "Daniel, report," Jack said.

The masked head turned, and Daniel stood, pulling the two of them aside. "They've been here several generations, as far as I can tell--some Goa'uld brought them here in ships, because their homeworld doesn't have a chaapa'ai, but the Goa'uld left about four generations ago."

"And this...sickness thing is new?" Jack asked, aware of murmuring as people stared at the three of them whispering together in the corner.

Daniel made a movement as if to push up his glasses and poked himself in the mask instead. "Not exactly. They've always had a...surprising number of people who go blind. The other stuff seems to be the same sicknesses we see everywhere, and without knowing about their medicine, I don't know if there's a higher incidence here than elsewhere or just inferior medical practices, but they say it's gotten worse over the last year, along with the blindness. I don't know what causes that."

Another person pushed into the house. "Sir?" Carter's voice said from behind her mask. "I'd like to take a look at the patients--I have an idea."

"Okay. We'll wait outside," Jack told her, not wanting to disturb the sick people any more than they already had.

"I'll stay with Sam," Daniel said, then turned to talk to the dark-haired man who'd shown them in, presumably to explain why there were masked people poking around.

Jack stepped outside the hospital and asked Teal'c, "What do you think? Did a Goa'uld do this?"

Teal'c tilted his head, then said, "I am not certain. The Goa'uld are not without patience, but neither do they act without cause. I cannot see the sense in destroying a world so slowly and so many years after departing. This tactic is too inefficient."

"So, what, a regular old plague?"

"I do not know of the plague that would cause the sickness we observed within," Teal'c said. "But it is possible."

Carter and Daniel came out as they were running out of plausible explanations. "I don't think it's an infectious disease per se, sir," Carter said. "Did you happen to notice their eyes?"

"That they're yellow?" Jack said. "Yeah, it was kinda creepy at first. Hard not to notice."

"It might be more than just normal pigmentation. If you look closely, you'll see a lot of them have ocular damage--I know that too much UV exposure from welding can cause damage like that, and I'd guess excessive UV exposure from other sources could do the same--like the sun. We'd need a doctor's opinion, but it could explain a lot of what we're seeing here."

"Okay," Jack said, holding up a hand and wondering how they'd gotten from 'sick' to 'sun,' "but apparently, it's been getting worse all of a sudden. Why now and do we need to get out of here? We're standing under the sun, too."

"And there could be other reasons than the sun, right?" Daniel pointed out.

"There could," she said. "But I've been comparing the data we received from the MALP when it was first sent and data I collected a few hours ago. Now, the MALP was first sent eight days ago on Earth, and then this planet got put onto our schedule. But..."

"But since we have been trapped in the time loop," Teal'c said, "many months may have passed here during that time."

"Exactly. If we estimate about four months, maybe more, then the UV radiation has increased almost twenty-five percent in the last few months."

Jack glanced up at the sun, as if it would tell him something. "And that's bad," he clarified.

But, of course, there could be no simple, straight-forward answers. "To us, it wouldn't be, sir," Carter said. "It's only a fraction of what we experience on Earth. But proportionally, it's a huge increase, and for all we know, the Enkarans are genetically biased so as to be much more sensitive to UV radiation than the average human from Earth."

"Not dangerous to us," Jack repeated.

"No, sir, I don't think so."

"And their planet is making them blind and sick."

"Well, their sun, sir," she corrected. As Daniel started to take off his mask, she added quickly, "But it could be something else. I have a very limited set of data, and I'm not a medical doctor."

Daniel sighed and left the mask on. "But the point is that they can't stay here, right?" he said. "Is there a way to stop the radiation from getting stronger?"

"I doubt it. The simplest explanation would be that their ozone layer is being depleted for some reason--maybe that's why the Goa'uld left, knowing this wasn't a stable environment, or maybe it's some...some other phenomenon. And we don't have a way to slow the accelerating decrease of UV protection, much less replenish it."

"Then relocation is the only possibility," Teal'c summarized.

"Even then, it'll be hard," she said. "The UV exposure here is already pretty low compared to what we usually see on sustainable planets."

"So you really think it's some genetic weakness?" Jack asked. "We meet humans all the time, apparently on worlds with more UV, and we've never seen this."

"They came from another planet relatively recently," Daniel said. "Populations in isolation have been known to exhibit all sorts of genetic biases. And especially since there's no Stargate there according to their oral history, Enkarans have probably been on some...low ultraviolet radiation place...for a long, long time. A few generations isn't long enough to see significant evolution to adapt to something like this, not if they're dying too fast."

"Then we'd better start looking," Jack said.

"Sir, I'd like to ask them if I can bring a few afflicted Enkarans back to Earth for a doctor to examine," Carter said. "Then we'd be better able to judge whether I'm completely off base."

"Didn't you say Earth's ozone's not good enough?"

"I wouldn't take them outside, definitely," she said, "and without knowing their threshold for UV exposure, we'd need to be careful even with artificial sources and diagnostic equipment, but I think it would be worth it for a short time. Less than a day, probably."

Jack glanced over Daniel's shoulder at the Enkarans watching them discuss, then said, "All right. Carter, go back to 'gate, tell General Hammond what's going on, and see what we can do about getting them diagnosed by a doctor--safely. Set up a quarantine, too, for us and the Enkarans, until we have a doctor's note to say no one's contagious."

"Yes, sir," she said, then turned and jogged toward the Stargate.

"Daniel, see if they'll agree to that," Jack said. "And in the meantime, see what they think about relocation."

"Okay," Daniel said, "but I think they'll agree. They don't think of this planet as their real home, anyway, and did you notice how friendly they were when we arrived, with the food and everything? That's why--they know they're dying, and they're desperate for help."

Jack grimaced behind his mask. "I noticed," he said, annoyed with himself for not having realized why at the time. "Tell them they don't need to ply us with gifts. We'll do what we can to help, no bribes necessary."

Daniel nodded and started away, then stopped. "Why don't you two come with me? They're very friendly; we should get to know them, anyway, if we're helping them move to a new world."

Jack looked back to see Carter reach the DHD. "Yeah, all right," he said, and followed Daniel to talk to the Enkarans.

XXXXX

18 October 2000; Briefing Room, SGC; 1700 hrs

"Judging from the three patients I saw," Dr. Fraiser said, "UV radiation is a probable cause, especially since the samples you brought back haven't shown signs of any known contagions. Aside from the vision defects, they're significantly immunodepressed, which could also explain the increase in other illnesses that you've observed. I've found some genetic damage, too, which can be caused by UV cleavage of various biomolecules into reactive species, and it could indicate a propensity toward cancer and other diseases."

"In other words," Jack said grimly, "the Enkarans are dying."

She hesitated, then nodded. "Not yet, Colonel, but they will be. From Major Carter's observations, the radiation is only going to increase, and according to Daniel, the Enkarans say it was almost too much for them even when they were first taken to the planet."

General Hammond had folded his hands on the table. "How is the relocation effort looking?"

"The Enkarans are willing to move as soon as they can," Daniel said. "They would have gone sooner if they'd known how to use the Stargate and where to go. Teal'c's helping them pack what they can and gather their families together as we speak."

"But on our end..." Jack said. "Not so much."

"I've been sending probes to several planets, sir," Carter said. "So far, there are two possible hits, judging by the MALP sensors, but I can't say for sure that those are safe planets until we check them out."

"And Daniel and I have been pulling known abandoned or friendly planets from previous missions," Jack said, pushing three folders to the end of the table. "These are the only ones with MALP UV readings below what Major Carter says they need."

But Carter was already shaking her head as she began to look through them. "These two aren't viable for other reasons. This one...might work," she said. "But we can't be sure whether it's sustainable in terms of agriculture and other needs, not to mention safe."

"So we've got three possibilities so far," Jack said. "I think we need to do some exploring, General."

"Then that's where we'll start," Hammond said. "You'll follow an abbreviated recon schedule for each planet, and if you don't report back by then, we'll assume you found trouble. I suggest you collect Teal'c and take him with you, too."

"Yes, sir," Jack agreed, because they knew oh-so-well that assumptions of 'safe' and 'abandoned' were worth squat.

"I'd like to have someone continue searching potential planets by MALP in the meantime, sir," Carter said.

Hammond nodded. "We'll keep doing that. I'll assign SG-2 and -4, as well."

"Um, wait," Daniel said as they all stood. "What about the Enkarans who are already sick? Isn't there anything we can do to help them?"

Oy. "Sunscreen?" Jack suggested, only partly joking.

Their eyes shifted to Fraiser, who said, "For now, tell them to stay inside as much as possible--cover the windows and make sure as little sunlight as possible can enter. I can give you some supplies that might provide some protection for when people have to go outside, and some basic medicines. Beyond that...I'll start thinking about what other treatment we can provide, given their unique vulnerabilities."

Wanting to start the planet search as soon as possible, Jack said, "Carter and I'll meet Teal'c back on the Enkarans' planet and go to the first potential relocation site. Daniel, stay here for now, get what you can from Dr. Fraiser, and then go to the Enkarans and stick around to help them."

...x...

The first planet turned out to be so cold that, even with the heavy coats they'd brought with them, they turned around and left after less than half an hour when it became clear that they'd find nothing here but frostbite.

The second planet actually was inhabited, which would have been okay if the inhabitants had been friendly. Instead, they turned out to be some sort of angry animal that looked like a cross between a lion and a cheetah, as well as some even angrier animal that could kill those. Carter thought she saw wings on one of them. Jack decided not to stick around and find out if she was right.

After the third planet, they returned to P4B-380 to find piles of belongings gathered near the Stargate, ready to move as promised, and Daniel looking exhausted from hauling things around with the Enkarans all day. "Please tell me you found something," he panted, dropping a bundle of what looked like farming tools onto the ground by the DHD. "Naturu, they've got...so many people to move and..." He took a breath. "The..."

"Breathe," Jack ordered. For once, Daniel obeyed.

"No luck," Carter said. "But we're still sending MALPs to planets from the Ancient database--"

"Ancient?" Daniel said, pulling the bandana from his head and retying it more tightly. "Why--oh. Because Jack already recalculated those coordinates."

"Yes, I did," Jack said, despite not remembering having done it. "They're working on recalculating Abydos cartouche addresses in the meantime, too. So we're going to spend the night here and see what we can do to help out the Enkarans. We'll return to base in the morning and start searching whatever planets they'll have flagged in the meantime."

"Okay," Daniel said agreeably. "Sam, is it bad if you're pregnant?"

Carter's eyebrows shot up. "Me?"

"No, no. There's a woman here--Eliam's wife--who's worried about her baby," he explained. "The radiation...will it hurt the baby?"

"Uh...I don't really know," she admitted. "But I'm sure it could hurt the mother, and her health will affect the baby, so...I hope she's not doing any heavy outdoor work."

As they made their way toward the village, Daniel said, "No, Eliam's making sure she doesn't....well, move, for the most part. But anyway, they need extra hands for just about everything, so I'm sure they'll be glad for help."

...x...

Night had fallen before there was time to stop and eat. Jack's stomach was growling and the food smelled quite good, considering the rush they were in to pack and get ready to move, so it took a bit of effort to stay still when one woman rose to her feet and everyone else quieted.

"Hedrazar," Daniel whispered to them. "The Enkaran leader."

To Jack's surprise, Hedrazar turned dull, blinded eyes toward them and said haltingly, "The Enkaran people thank you, SG-1."

"You're welcome," Jack answered, then tried one of the words he'd learned over the last few hours. "Be-va-ha-shia."

Someone giggled, maybe at his pronunciation, but a lot of others raised cups and shouted something that sounded happy in answer, then started to eat. Jack decided he liked these people.

"Colonel O'Neill," someone said, making him turn to see the same dark-haired man who'd met them at the village before, the one who seemed to act as Hedrazar's eyes. "You..." he started, then stopped, frowning. "We go," he amended, pointing toward the Stargate. "Toff?"

"Tough?" Jack echoed. Eliam, he remembered--this one was named Eliam.

"Toff," Daniel corrected. "It means 'good.'"

"Uh...yes," Jack said, gesturing vigorously. "Very toff place. If we find one."

"Matai?" Eliam said.

"M--oh, 'when,'" Jack said. Daniel was crazy for liking this whole learning-new-languages-in-a-few-hours gig. "When. Good question. As soon as we can." When Eliam continued to look confused, Jack nudged Daniel. "Tell him we're going back to look as soon as we get more MALP data."

Daniel happily obliged, though he seemed to get momentarily stuck around 'MALP.' And then the two of them had some fun playing charades, complete with robot noises from Daniel as he mimed a MALP driving over the ground. Carter looked on in amusement.

A sudden hand on his shoulder made him turn again, and he'd almost struck out at the invader when he realized it was Hedrazar. "Whoa--hi," Jack said, trying not to squirm under her hand.

"You people good," she said, her eyes aimed eerily at his nose and shining with what looked suspiciously like tears. "Thank you."

Jack carefully removed Hedrazar's hand from his shoulder, holding it an extra second so she'd know there was no offense. "No need for thanks," he said firmly. "The Enkarans seem like good people, too."

"The Enkarans...are good," she said, gripping his fingers tightly in her own. "We will live."

"Ooh, future tense," Daniel piped up, sounding delighted. "You learn fast."

"The Enkarans are indeed very strong," Teal'c said calmly. "We will endeavor to find a home for your people, Hedrazar."

XXXXX

22 October 2000; P5S-381; 1300 hrs

"Is this the new home?" Hedrazar said, holding onto Eliam's arm as she walked through the Stargate. She shivered and pulled her shawl tighter around herself.

"This is it," Jack told her, taking her other arm to help her away so other Enkarans could come through. "So what do you think?"

"Eliam?" she said.

Eliam patted her hand. "We are strong people. We will remake our home here."

"All right," Jack said, smiling even though she couldn't see him. "Carter, show them to the first site we started setting up." Carter took his place at Hedrazar's side and began to lead the Enkaran leader to the site of the first new village to be established here. Jack reached up to his radio and called, "Daniel, Teal'c, you read?"

There was a pause, and then, "We do, O'Neill. Have Hedrazar and Eliam arrived?"

"Yeah, they're going now. Send the FRED through, and the first group of Enkarans. Keep an eye on the time--we've got thirty-six minutes to wormhole shut-down."

"They're on their way, Jack," Daniel said cheerfully. "Do you need help on your side?"

Jack watched the FRED emerge with a load of blankets and material for a few make-shift shelters. "Uh...yeah, we might want someone to help set up, at least the first round. One of you--" Daniel stepped out. "Okay. Send 'em through and stop in thirty-five minutes, Teal'c."

"We should unload this and send it back with the next wormhole," Daniel said, already maneuvering the FRED in the direction of Carter and Hedrazar. "I'll start doing that."

As he walked off, Jack called, "No, no need to ask me!" He received a wave in response. "Someone's cheerful today," he muttered.

He supposed they all were, though--it had taken three teams days on end to find a place that was acceptable. P5S-381 at least came equipped with a nice, thick layer of ozone (or a weak sun--Jack wasn't clear on that point and didn't really care) and fertile soil. The weather was going to be troublesome when winter hit in a few months, but it would be manageable.

The first few Enkarans started to step through the 'gate, looking around themselves with a mixture of awe and fear and hope, and Jack was relegated to traffic control, pointing them in the right direction.

Watching Daniel and Carter unload the FRED, though, it quickly became clear that this wasn't going to be an easy task. It was like the most rushed moving day he'd ever had, spread over what was looking like a couple of weeks with thousands of people, many of them sick or blind, and this home on the other side was the opposite of furnished.

It was a start, though, and Jack kept his smile firmly on as the Enkarans filed through, the first group full of the relatively strong and fit who could get to work immediately before the sick came through in the second group. Each of them was carrying as much as he could handle over his back, some with enough food to last the day's evacuation and others with tools that they'd need to start rebuilding.

Despite the chill, by the time Daniel dragged the FRED back toward Jack, he looked like he'd been working in the Abydos sun at noon. "Why don't we switch off," Jack suggested, reminding himself that Daniel, for all he was young enough to be more energetic than anyone should be allowed to be, was still going to be tired after playing pack mule for the last few days.

"Are you sure?" Daniel said, wiping his forehead.

"Yeah--you, Teal'c, and I can rotate while Carter supervises the construction. I'll go and bring the next FRED-full through," Jack insisted. "Take a load off."

"I'm not carrying any loads."

"Sit," Jack said, rolling his eyes. "Relax."

Daniel gave him that blank, innocent look that made him suspect he was being teased and dropped to the ground, stretching. "How long do we have in this one?" he asked, nodding toward the wormhole.

"Another...four and a half minutes," Jack said, looking at his watch. "Did Caleb's people just start packing today?"

"Yeah, but they're the last group to come through," Daniel said, looking up at him. "We'll need time to set up a few shelters out there for them, anyway, so things should be set by the time they're ready to move." He grimaced and started to stand. "Speaking of which..."

"Stop," Jack ordered, pushing him back down with a hand on the head. "We're gonna need days, maybe weeks, to finish this. Pace yourself or you're gonna be useless at the end when we need everyone ready to work. Got it?"

"Fine," Daniel conceded. Eliam's pregnant wife came out next, though, and Daniel jumped up again when she looked distinctly nauseous from the 'gate trip.

Jack watched them make their way back to the village, and then the wormhole winked out of existence. He moved to the DHD to dial back again and returned to P4B-380, pulling the FRED along with him.

XXXXX

8 November 2000; Briefing Room, SGC; 1300 hrs

"Operation Relocation is complete," Jack announced, just over two weeks later.

"All of the Enkarans have been moved?" Hammond said.

He hesitated, glancing around at the rest of his team. "There are a few who didn't make it," Carter answered. "Whatever's happening to that planet is accelerating, and the UV radiation is approaching half the intensity that we see here on Earth. Within a month, the Enkarans would might have been too sick to make the move, and months after that, P4B-380 will probably be dangerously uninhabitable, even for us."

Hammond nodded. "It's a good thing we were able to act so quickly, then."

Jack thought, all of a sudden, of the days he and Teal'c had wasted in that time loop. No one would notice, Daniel had said once; it wouldn't matter to the people in the loop. The problem was that there were people outside the loop. Another couple of weeks of goofing off, and the Enkarans might not be there at all.

"Yes, sir," he said, fervently glad that that time of sameness and monotony and near-insanity was over now. "Good thing."

"They have only now begun to rebuild their society," Teal'c said. "They may require further aid and medical assistance in the coming days."

"I'm sure they will," the general agreed. "I'd like you to check in on them periodically until it seems like they can sustain themselves." He stood. "Job well done. Take the rest of the day--it's been a long couple of weeks."


From the next chapter ("The Eye of Tiamat"):

"Colonel Harry Maybourne," Daniel said, giving him a look as if to say, 'aren't you glad I woke you up?' "Well, we don't technically know that. It was just signed 'Harry,' but unless there's another Harry who would send us messages from a Nellis base address and offer information in exchange for...uh...what was it..."

"He wants a pardon or a reduced sentence," Rothman said.