Title: Archaeology (Table of Contents)
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Chapter 10: The Russians
15 November 2000; Briefing Room, SGC; 1800 hrs
"What are you reading now?"
Daniel looked up to see Jack drumming his fingers impatiently on the table as they waited for General Hammond to come out of his office and say the Russians had arrived. "Have you seen what this says?" he said, holding up a report that Robert had written and suggested that he read.
Jack pulled uneasily at the sleeves of his dress blues and eyed the thick packet of papers. "I'm pretty sure having you on my team means I don't have to read those things."
"SG-11 has found a planet with Goa'uld fossils and remains but nothing to indicate that there was ever a civilization there that would attract Goa'uld attention," Daniel said. "They've examined the fossils and even found a well-preserved dead specimen and brought it back to be studied."
"I thought those things got...absorbed into the host body when they died," Jack said.
Daniel held up a finger. "Well, that's another thing. There's no sign of a host."
"If there are no hosts present," Teal'c said, "then a Goa'uld symbiote cannot survive."
"And that's what's really interesting," he said. "Robert doesn't think they were just symbiotes--that is, they seem to have been predators instead of parasites."
"Then Dr. Rothman believes that Goa'uld are able to survive without a host?"
"Not...exactly," Daniel said. "It's more that he thinks Goa'uld used to be able to survive without a host at some point. They haven't found any living populations of Goa'uld symbiotes like that, but that's what the fossils suggest, or, at the very least, there was something on that planet that killed a lot of Goa'uld symbiotes."
"How are fossils able to suggest such a thing?" Teal'c said.
Daniel shrugged and opened the report again. "I'm just getting to that part now. They've spent a lot of time talking to the biologists about this, but you see what this means, of course."
Jack was frowning at him. "That, besides the slimy snakes that dig into people's heads, there are also slimy snakes that try to take a bite out of you instead?"
"Were, Jack. There were. Which means they evolved to be what they are today."
"Okay," Jack said. "I...don't really care."
Rolling his eyes, Daniel explained, "Evolution doesn't just happen for no reason. Either something changed in their environment, or some of them changed, and then they could survive better than the others until they were all changed."
"And I still don't care," Jack said.
"And...if...if we know what it was that made them survive better, we can start trying to find ways of making them survive worse." Daniel thought about that, then made a face. "Well. Maybe. Either way, the more we know about our enemy, the better, right?"
Jack glanced at Teal'c. "The System Lords would refuse to tell their followers such information," Teal'c said. "If your scholars believe this to be true, then we should learn all that we can about the nature of the Goa'uld."
"All right," Jack said. "That's all very well. But what happened to reading up on Britski?"
"I spent the day reading every abstract of his I could find," Daniel said, "so if discussion of his archaeological exploits inexplicably comes up today, we won't be completely lost. But somehow, I don't think that'll be our biggest issue."
"What about that tablet thing?"
"We're not completely certain, since its existence is classified. But Dr. Britski led an expedition last year to Rafha, near Iraq, and shortly afterward, he left his academic position to start working at Kuybyshev and hasn't published anything in the journals since, aside from a few reviews."
"That's doesn't tell us much," Jack said.
Daniel shrugged. "I don't know very much. It's...classified."
The general's office door opened, and he stepped out. "They've arrived," he said. "Colonel, we'll meet them on the surface and bring them into one of the rooms in NORAD. Teal'c, Mr. Jackson, Colonel Maybourne is being examined right now; it might take some time before they're done searching him, but you can meet him at the isolation cells on level 16."
"Hello, Daniel," Maybourne said, sitting behind a table in his private little room with one wrist cuffed to his chair. "And Teal'c, too--what a pleasant surprise. It's been so long."
"Not long enough," Teal'c said.
"Colonel Maybourne," Daniel answered as the SFs closed the door behind them. "What did you tell them about us?"
Maybourne's eyebrows rose. "That's it? No pleasantries?"
Impatient, Daniel repeated, "What did you tell them?"
"You used to be so talkative. We've got history, the two of us. I bring you to Area 51 to play with a few toys, you come to Area 51 and meet me, I work with Major Carter pretending to look like you to save Earth from an alien invasion..."
"...and then you almost get Earth punished by advanced aliens for stealing their technology," Daniel finished stiffly. "Not to mention that we just spent days stuck in an ancient ziggurat with a flesh-eating monster because we followed your information." Only a slight flicker of worry and surprise told Daniel that Maybourne had had little or no idea what was on P2X-338, either. "So answer the question, please."
"You don't want to hold a grudge, do you?" Maybourne said, his expression clearing again.
Daniel folded his arms. "No, actually, I don't mind."
With a tight smile, Maybourne said, "You were more fun the last time we talked."
Teal'c took two steps closer and placed his hands on the tablet, leaning down very slightly but not saying a word. Maybourne glanced up at him nervously, then away. "You're stalling," Daniel said.
Maybourne looked up at Teal'c again. "I told the Russians about your Stargate," he said. "But you won't be sorry. Because now I'm here...I'm going to tell you about the Russians' DHD."
"The...the Russians'...DHD," Daniel repeated, his mind whirring. "You're joking, right?"
"You think I would I joke about this?"
"I think you would lie," Teal'c growled, so suddenly that Maybourne started in his seat.
But Maybourne turned to look at Daniel. "No, you got it," he said, pointing his one free hand at Daniel. "I can see it in your eyes. You know what I'm talking about."
Teal'c turned around to look at him, too. "I'm...I might have an idea," Daniel said, thinking about everything he knew about the Stargate--the Stargates--on Earth, and the Giza excavations... "But I'd like to hear your version, anyway."
"Giza," Maybourne said, still watching him.
"Yi shay," Daniel sighed. He glanced at his watch--if Maybourne was telling the truth, then Sam and Major Davis were probably standing in front of the Giza DHD right now. Pulling his focus back, he thought harder and said, "No. It doesn't fit. We've examined every expedition to Giza before 1928, and we know that none of those parties has a DHD--"
"Not that you know of. The DHD is--"
"--classified, okay. But there was no Russian expedition to Giza in that timeframe."
"But there was a German one," Maybourne said. "There were a few German ones, in fact. And then came a little conflict on this planet that we like to call World War Two. Have you studied, Daniel, or do you need me to connect the dots for you?"
Daniel looked at Teal'c, who was watching him, as if to gauge his opinion. "The Germans were on the losing side," Daniel said, dredging up the facts that Robert had made him learn while studying Earth's recent history for the GEDs. "At the end, Russia--the Soviet Union...occupied part of Germany."
"Very good," Maybourne said, smirking. "And our country and the Soviet Union...well, let's say we didn't get along very well for a while after that. Just think of all the things they might've done without telling the United States. Confiscating a DHD and trying to understand how it works in secret, for example."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. Daniel nodded once to say that it sounded reasonable to him, though whether or not it was true...
Sam would know right away, though. They'd find out soon enough.
"This is what I've always liked about you, Daniel," Maybourne was saying. "You're quick. Got a good mind. I was thinking of recruiting you, you know, but getting you alone to talk to you might've been a problem."
That only made Daniel remember how furious he'd been when he'd found out what Maybourne had been doing--when he'd wondered if the SGC had suspected him as a member of the rogue operation, and if that was why their team couldn't be told about Jack's infiltration.
"I am not yet convinced that you speak the truth," Teal'c said, blocking Maybourne's view of Daniel and leaning in very close to the man. "But if this is true, then you still have not answered our question. What have you told Colonel Sokolov about Stargate Command?"
Maybourne always seemed to be a little intimidated by having Teal'c in his face. Daniel liked that about him.
"Enough about your operations that they know how much you want to keep this place secret," Maybourne said evenly. "Enough about the Stargate that their chief science officer thought of Major Carter's work even before I mentioned Major Carter's name. Enough about the politics that they know how much you're going to want that DHD. And enough about the personnel to know who Daniel is and that Teal'c's got a Goa'uld in his stomach."
Teal'c didn't move. Daniel, watching from behind, could only imagine the expression Maybourne was seeing right now. He hoped it was a scary one.
"You gave them bargaining chips against us," Daniel said, "and then they sold you out just as you were about to do the same thing to them."
"Is that glee I hear in your voice?" Maybourne said with an air that was probably less relaxed than he actually was. "What can I say? They beat me to the punch. I'll thank you to remember that I was looking the whole time to get something like this to tell you guys at the SGC. Think about what this could do for you."
"Right. You did this for us," Daniel said.
"Think about it," Maybourne said. "Budget issues--get the Senate appropriations committee off the President's back about the money going into this program, and he'll get off your case. Faster exploration schedules. More efficient operations--you can use your computer techs to do something useful instead of constantly running diagnostics on your jury-rigged dialing system. You can stop bypassing all those safety protocols Major Carter skips past because her computer's not as good as a DHD. Come on. You have to admit I did pretty good."
Daniel hoped politics on this planet weren't always like this, or his tenure here was going to be a very strange time. "How did you know about their DHD?" he asked. "Or Britski's research?"
Maybourne raised his eyebrows. "We had someone who picked up a Stargate in Antarctica. You really think Russia was out of our reach?"
"So...NID," Daniel said.
"Who was your agent there?" Teal'c said.
"No clue," Maybourne said. When neither of them answered, he rolled his eyes. "You're not idiots. You know perfectly well none of us knew much about anyone else."
"What does the Russian military want from the SGC?" Teal'c said.
"You'll have to ask them about that," Maybourne said. "But I'm sure you can think of a few things they'd want. Technology, for one."
"Of course, you would think of the technology first," Daniel said.
"And believe me," Maybourne said sharply, "so will they."
A knock sounded, and then the door opened. "Teal'c, Mr. Jackson," the airman said, "General Hammond wants you in the briefing room."
Daniel glanced back once more at where Teal'c was still looming over Maybourne. "We're on our way," he told the airman. Teal'c lingered another second, then walked out the open door. Daniel followed, closing the door behind him.
Daniel supposed he shouldn't have been surprised to look up toward the briefing room and see two unfamiliar faces with General Hammond, looking out the window at the Stargate. Jack met them before they could go up the stairs and said quietly, "Carter called--they've got a DHD, and it's real. It's from--"
"Giza," Daniel filled in.
"Colonel Maybourne told us that as well," Teal'c explained.
"Jack," Daniel whispered, "why are the Russians here, looking at the Stargate?"
"Yeah, that," Jack said, scowling. "The President wants the DHD. He also doesn't want the Russians to get pissed off and start spreading rumors about the Stargate."
"Would people even believe rumors like that?"
Jack shrugged. "I met a reporter once who believed some rumors. All we need is for enough people to get curious and hear about things like--like the foothold incident. Or Apophis's attack, or the Replicators. Apparently, that's not what the President considers 'low-tension.'"
"So, what do we do now?" Daniel said.
"We start bargaining," Jack said. "Get the DHD and get them to keep their mouths shut."
"What do they ask in return?" Teal'c said.
"They want in," Jack said, gesturing for them to go in. Daniel's eyebrows shot up. "That's what they said. They want to be involved in the Stargate program. What that means...I don't know. General," he said as they entered.
"These are Teal'c and Daniel Jackson, two of the members of Colonel O'Neill's team," the general said, gesturing to each of them in turn, "and these are Colonel Sokolov and Dr. Britski."
Sokolov's gaze was lingering a little too long on Teal'c's tattoo, so Daniel cleared his throat and said, "Welcome to the SGC, sir."
"Nevozmozhny," Dr. Britski breathed, not looking away from the 'gate.
"It is amazing," Colonel Sokolov agreed. "That is the Stargate?"
"That's right," Jack said, looking annoyed the way he always did when forced to be polite to people he didn't like. He tapped a finger on the window. "That's the old orifice." Daniel frowned at him but didn't comment. Jack raised his eyebrows as if to say, 'what?' Knowing Jack, he'd meant just what he'd said.
"It is...difficult to believe something like that can truly do what you claim," Britski said. "Perhaps a demonstration could be possible? Something to help us understand that this device truly does what we believe."
"As the general already said," Jack said testily, "we're not sending you through the Stargate just like that. If you want to be skeptical about it, frankly, that's your business."
"Colonel O'Neill," Sokolov said, "we are proposing a trade that would give you possession of a device that could be of great importance to your operations. Surely you do not expect that we will do this without some idea of what we are helping you to do. I do not believe that is too much to ask."
"I do," Jack said.
"Maybe," Daniel said, "sir, we could just establish a wormhole and prove that it works."
General Hammond looked like he wished he could avoid that, too, but they'd agreed beforehand on the limits to what they could and couldn't show. Daniel wasn't sure anymore whether they just really wanted the DHD or really wanted the Russians to stay quiet. He supposed there was an element of both, but with the prospect of blackmail hanging constantly over them...
Actually...if Russia knew about and started to benefit from the SGC, as they seemed to want, then the prospects of blackmail became much less threatening. Pointing fingers at the SGC would be pointing fingers at themselves, then, too.
"All right," the general finally agreed. "We'll send a MALP to a friendly planet and let you see what you're agreeing to. How about..." His gaze drifted toward Daniel.
Abydos was always one of the first to spring to mind when thinking of friendly planets; they had a long history with the SGC. Daniel said quickly, "Perhaps somewhere abandoned. What about P2X-338, sir?"
"We could then avoid disturbing any inhabitants," Teal'c agreed. Taking in the dress uniform that Jack wore, he added, "Daniel Jackson and I can accompany the MALP to return it afterward."
"Fine," the general said, nodding. "Get ready--I'll inform the technicians."
General Hammond's voice ordered from the control room as the Stargate began to dial, "Teal'c, once we receive clear MALP telemetry, you two will follow to the other side. Once we have visual confirmation that you've arrived, we'll allow the wormhole to close. Redial from your end, and upon receiving the order, return with the MALP."
"I can't believe we're doing this," Daniel said quietly to Teal'c as they stood in the embarkation room. "I thought it would be fun to meet the Russians. I barely even got to talk to them."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow and answered, just as softly, "Following this exercise, they can have no other reason to disbelieve our word, and we can return to our normal duties. Access to a dialing device would give us a great advantage over the less-advanced system we currently use."
"I'll bet someone could find a reason," Daniel muttered under his breath.
Sure enough, just then, a Russian voice said, "It occurs now to me that a transmission is easily created. How can we be sure that what we are seeing is not previously created footage?"
"For cryin' out loud," Jack's voice said. "Well, for one, Teal'c and Daniel will have disappeared."
"And we'll talk to you from the other side," Daniel called loudly, turning around in time to see the two Russians flinch at the sight of the unstable vortex. He and Teal'c pushed the MALP through the event horizon together.
"That would be appreciated," General Hammond said, his voice clipped and sounding nearly as annoyed as Jack's. A moment later, he said, "MALP telemetry is clear. You have a go."
Eager to get this over with, Daniel followed Teal'c through--
--and landed on the rocky soil of P2X-338. "Ay," Daniel said, shaking off the brief shock of the sudden temperature change.
"Indeed," Teal'c said, then bent down toward the MALP camera. "General Hammond, we have arrived."
The MALP's camera panned slowly around. Daniel moved out of the way to allow it a view of the ziggurat in the distance and the two moons just barely visible against the dusk sky. "We read you, Teal'c," the general's tinny voice answered through the MALP. "We're disengaging in three...two...one..."
The event horizon disappeared.
Daniel quickly dialed Earth again while Teal'c readied his GDO. It didn't take long for the wormhole to be established, and this time, he bent down to say into the MALP, "Dr. Britski, if you still think this is impossible--well, eto vozmozhny. Or, uh...eto ne nevozmozhny."
"Okay, kids, the shortest mission in SGC history has been accomplished. Playtime's over," Jack's voice came through. "Pack it up and come home."
"So now," General Hammond was saying as Daniel and Teal'c hurried back up the stairs to the briefing room, "I trust there's no more doubt on either end about what's being offered. Obviously, we can't authorize something as significant as Russian involvement in this project without further discussion."
"That is understandable, sir," Colonel Sokolov said. "Perhaps we can arrange for a more formal meeting to negotiate this between our governments."
"That sounds fine, Colonel," General Hammond said. "For now, do you have a specific plan we can present to the President?"
Sokolov exchanged a glance with Britski, then said, "We are willing to give the SGC the dialing device in our possession, and, of course, we have already given you Colonel Maybourne. In exchange, an SG team of Russian personnel will operate alongside American units at the SGC, and our scientists will participate in research conducted here."
"Oh, I don't think so," Jack scoffed. Daniel really hoped that was supposed to be an price that could be bargained down.
"Neither do I," General Hammond said, "but in any case, this isn't an arrangement we can agree to without consultation with the President."
"And that is true of us as well," Britski acknowledged.
"We'll present your offer to the President," the general said, "and I'm sure we can come to some sort of agreement."
"I certainly hope so," Colonel Sokolov said. "We look forward to working with you."
Which sounded a little too optimistic on the Russians' part for Daniel's liking, but he kept his mouth shut. "Mr. Jackson," the general said, standing, "please escort Colonel Sokolov and Dr. Britski back to the surface and to their transportation. Colonel, Doctor--we'll be in touch."
"Thank you, General," Sokolov said.
"Sirs?" Daniel said, gesturing down the stairs. "This way, please."
Just before he walked out behind the two Russians, Daniel looked back to see Jack make a zipping motion across his lips.
As he stepped into the elevator with them, Dr. Britski said, "Colonel Maybourne told us many things about Stargate Command. I admit that I believed few of them."
Daniel wasn't sure if he was supposed to answer there, but, to fill the silence, he pushed the button to level 11 and said, "It's hard to believe, I know, but you've seen with your own eyes that it's true."
"What about the tablet?"
Surprised, Daniel said, "The...the one about the eye of Tiamat?" Dr. Britski nodded. "Uh..."
"If you are wondering what you are allowed to say," Sokolov said dryly, "remember that tablet was our classified information, not yours."
That was fair. "Well, actually, that's the planet where Teal'c and I just went," Daniel said.
"And?" Britski said eagerly.
"And...we got trapped in a crumbling ziggurat for two days with a flesh-eating monster," Daniel said, because no one had mentioned the Eye of Tiamat yet and he wasn't sure if he was supposed to. "Sir. It was nice to see a ziggurat, though."
There was a brief pause. "Then," Sokolov said as they stepped out and moved to the next elevator to take them to the surface, "I trust that you see how useful Russian involvement in your program could be."
Warier now, Daniel said, "I really--it's not my place to say that, sir."
"I'm sure your Major Carter would agree with me," Sokolov pressed. "She is even now speaking with a world-renowned expert in theoretical physics, just as you have been just now speaking to a world-renowned expert in archaeology."
"Then I'll be sure to ask Major Carter when she returns, Colonel," Daniel said. "I can't make any promises on behalf of the SGC."
The doors opened. Daniel led the way out to where a car was waiting for them.
"Doctor," he said, taking the hand the Britski offered. "It was nice to meet you."
Britski snorted, looking amused. "I am certain that is not true."
A little embarrassed, Daniel admitted, "I...would have preferred that this hadn't been forced on us, but it is an honor to meet someone whose work I've referenced."
That seemed to appease the archaeologist. Colonel Sokolov offered his hand to be shaken, too. "I hope our organizations will work closely in the future," he said.
"Uh...I'm sure we'll...find out about that soon," Daniel said awkwardly. "I wish you a safe trip."
"You may be glad to know," the general told them when Daniel returned to the briefing room, "that most of the details of this will be settled by myself, Major Davis, and others who have the authority to speak for the President."
"Yes! Sir," Jack said, clearly relieved.
"We are going to have to compromise," the general warned them. "Whether it's Russian participation in our projects or partial disclosure of our activities, the President wants to do what's necessary to keep a lid on this and make sure the Russians don't stay in possession of technology related to the Stargate."
"But a Russian team, sir?" Jack said skeptically.
"It's not as if they're asking to put one of their men on your team, Colonel," the general said. "It may not be as bad as it sounds. We'll deal with whatever the consequences may be, and I doubt it'll be anything we can't handle easily enough. It's a matter of keeping things as calm as possible, for the program and for our relations with Russia."
"What will happen to Colonel Maybourne?" Teal'c said.
"He'll be moved to a prison with the necessary security until his execution date," the general said. "He's asked for reconsideration of his sentence, but that's out of our hands. Major Carter should be back tomorrow, and I'll be speaking with the President over the next several days. We'll know more within the week."
20 November 2000; Archaeology Office, SGC; 1200 hrs
"Hi!" Robert said, practically running into the office nearly a week later.
Daniel looked up, eyeing Robert's uncharacteristically ecstatic expression and wondering whether it would be best to ignore him and wait until he went back to normal.
Robert continued all the way in and looked down at what Daniel was doing. "Hi," he repeated.
"Hi," Daniel said cautiously. "Uh...welcome back. Good trip?"
"I found it," Robert said.
Daniel wondered if this was what people felt like when he said things without explaining them fully. "Found what?" he prompted.
"Did you read my report?"
"The one on your theory of Goa'uld evolution?"
"Yeah. Is that it?" Robert bent to look at what Daniel was reading and frowned. "You're reading about the Cold War when you could be reading about Goa'uld evolution? Oh, wait, that's right--the Russians. How'd that go?"
"Um," Daniel said, leaning back and pulling off his glasses. "You know how we've been assuming the Giza DHD was just...lost or destroyed somehow?"
"Right...hey," Robert said, straightening and opening his eyes wide. "No-o. Are you saying...?" Daniel nodded. "But we looked...and excavations at Giza--but--"
"The Germans found it at Giza, the Russians took it from them, and now we're going to get it."
"Huh," Robert said. "What?"
"No, I heard you," Robert said, sitting down at his desk. "I just...really? How come we're going to get it?"
"That's still being worked out. And speaking of working things out..." Daniel tapped the textbook. "You know, according to this book, the Cold War is over."
"It is," Robert said.
"Well, judging by our meeting with them and the way people talk around here, I'd never know the Cold War was over if I hadn't read about it first."
"It's going that well, huh."
"It's not bad," Daniel conceded. "Just...I don't know. Apparently, it would be a big deal to let them participate even a little with us, but wouldn't it make sense to expand the pool of people from which we can choose for SG personnel? I mean, just two of the people they sent to meet us are top scientists in the world."
"Well..." Robert said. "It's...it's complicated. There's politics and stuff."
"Yeah," Daniel said. "I just didn't realize there was so much distrust between these two countries. All countries here like that?"
Robert shrugged. "It's a matter of degree, sort of. These are big secrets we're dealing with, but it's not like we're at war with them or anything," he said. "So what's the deal going to be?"
"Four Russians will be assigned to SG-4 as a combat and support unit--"
"What, what?" Robert said.
Daniel raised his eyebrows.
"I mean, go on," Robert said, but when Daniel opened his mouth, he said, "Wait, wait--we're really getting a Russian SG team?"
"Yes, really. Can I go on now?"
"Well, not if you're going to be snippy about it," Robert said snippily.
Daniel quashed the temptation to stick out his tongue at his boss. "The good part is that that's the biggest concession we have to make. Dr. Svetlana Markova--she's a physicist--will be here to observe when we connect the DHD to the Stargate, and then we're supposed to share with Russia all pertinent technology gained through the Stargate program."
"Whoa," Robert said. "That's, uh...see...in the complicated world of Tau'ri politics, that's what we call a concession."
"You're not in politics," Daniel said.
"And yet I still recognize that as a concession," Robert said.
"At least it shouldn't disrupt our normal activities much--the general will just send technical reports to them like we do to the NID--and we get the DHD and a guarantee that Russia will help us keep the SGC out of the public eye. We're still in charge of what stays classified and what doesn't." He hesitated, looking around, then lowered his voice. "To be honest, I'm not sure we're going to be actively sharing so much as...well, like what we do with the Tok'ra."
"Selective sharing," Robert said in understanding. "Despite the treaty that says 'open sharing.'"
"That's not good, is it?" Daniel said uncertainly. "I mean, that's...weird."
"Our lives are weird," Robert said dismissively. "Whatever the general says to do--he's got a better head for this stuff than we do, because, like you said, we're not politicians. As long as they don't keep bothering us and we get to keep that DHD, I'm fine. God--a DHD. That'll be...wow."
"Yeah. For cataloguing purposes, and in case anything does happen to it, we're still going to keep the dialing computers up to date and have to run regular test dials..."
"Still. Our very own DHD. That's pretty cool." Daniel grinned as Robert turned on his computer. "Oh, yeah--what about here? Anything interesting happen?"
"Besides the Russians?" Daniel said.
"I mean in here--in the department," Robert clarified, gesturing around their office. He picked up a small pile of folders on his desk. "Are these the completed assignments?"
"Yes--you just need to sign off on them and send them to records," Daniel said. He stood and picked up another two piles on his own desk. "And these are outgoing. Lab and desk assignment here"--he handed Robert the first pile--"and I have the field assignments to be distributed. I'll take care of those."
"Did you..." Robert started, opening the first folder in his pile. "Oh, Daniel. I hate your Post-It notes."
"What's wrong with my Post-It notes?" Daniel said indignantly.
In answer, Robert peeled off the one in the first file and held it up. "Can you even read this?" Daniel squinted. "Without squinting."
"I had a lot of notes about that one," he defended. "It looks like Phoenician but it's deceptive; I think it's a Canaanite language that never underwent that vowel shift you see on Earth--or, rather, it did, in a way, but it was conditioned differently, so it's applied differently, and you can get stuck quickly and start translating it wrong if you don't realize it's not stress-conditioned--"
"You could've used two Post-Its," Robert said, sticking the note back on. "Or a sheet of paper."
Daniel wrinkled his nose. "I'll do that next time."
"And you noted that...you want to give it to someone? If it's that complicated, you might want to take it yourself. Are you busy with anything else?"
"Uh...actually, no," Daniel said, turning to his computer to open the chart that showed who was busy with what assignments. "We're just winding down the Russian stuff."
"Here, you do it," Robert said, tossing the folder onto Daniel's desk. "Do I need to look the rest of these over, or should I just hand them out?"
"I sorted them all; you just need to sign off on them," Daniel said. He waited semi-patiently for Robert to finish signing them all, then asked, "Are you done?"
"Yeah, I'm done."
"So? What were you excited about when you came in?"
Robert sat back, looking excited again. "Oh, nothing much..." he said, unconvincingly. "Except that I think we may have found the Goa'uld homeworld." He looked expectantly at Daniel.
"Homeworld," Daniel repeated. "You mean where a Goa'uld lives, or...?"
"No, no, the first Goa'uld world! Like, ever, in history! No signs of hosts or any sort of human civilization. Now, we've only spent about a week there so far, but we've already found several fossilized remains of Goa'uld, and absolutely no signs of bones or...or anything that could be from a human or other host. This is more than the random pieces we've found on other planets--there are remains everywhere, and they're older than the Antarctica Stargate."
"And since the scientists in Antarctica said that Stargate is the oldest we've found so far..." Daniel said.
"Well," Robert said, holding up a hand, "I still have doubts about the dating methods they're using, and whether that's comparable with methods used on off-world 'gates. But it's a ballpark, yes, and this is...this is... I'm talking orders of magnitude. We found half a Goa'uld fossil buried in a rock on P3X-888, and the rock is older than the Stargates."
Daniel flipped his book shut and put it aside, his interest peaked. "Really."
"Really," Robert said, nodding vigorously, "and you know how we said at first it was essentially impossible for humans to have evolved the same on all planets unless they evolved together and were then transplanted from one planet to another? Well, it's the same with the Goa'uld. The similarity between the prehistoric specimens and the...the... Daniel, it means the Goa'uld were there on '888 before there were Stargates and hosts."
"Then the Goa'uld...must have evolved on '888," Daniel said slowly, "before they were able to use the Stargates to find human hosts--"
"Unas hosts," Robert corrected.
"Right, the Unas were the first hosts. But you said in your report that the Goa'uld used to be predators instead of parasites, which means they wouldn't have needed hosts at first..."
"And if they were there before Stargates, then the only other way to get between planets is by ship," Robert said, "which they wouldn't have been able to build because, A, there's not enough naquadah in their environment, and B, Goa'ulds without hosts lack opposable thumbs."
"So they must have been on the planet before the Stargates were built, and then they went from there to other planets."
Robert leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "I found the Goa'uld homeworld, Daniel. I found it."
"Nataru," Daniel said, pushing himself away from his desk. "Robert...this...is...do you know what this..."
"You have to go back."
"Oh, I'm going back on Wednesday."
"Can I come?"
Daniel blinked. "Really?"
Robert leaned forward. "Daniel, this could be the greatest historical discovery we've made since the start of the Stargate program. The general agrees, and he's given SG-11 four weeks for a detailed study of the area. That's partly what this second trip was for--we had to make sure there really were no signs of intelligent life that could be a threat."
"So you're going back for four weeks for a detailed study of P3X-888," Daniel repeated, pointing to himself, "and I can come?"
Robert raised his eyebrows. "Four weeks isn't as much as it sounds like. I don't mind extra help, and I did promise to bring you next time we did a long study. Hawkins doesn't mind. Actually, I was just about to ask if you--"
"Yes, I want to come!"
"--have any other duties with SG-1," Robert finished. "What about this Russian business?"
"It's practically settled," Daniel said. "Okay, not yet, but it's not really something I can help with right now, because General Hammond's not sending me to liaise with a country I know nothing about when they'd be less likely to take my age in stride anyway, and... Robert, you have to let me go with you!"
"Ask your team," Robert ordered, and then, "Well, what are you waiting for? Go--ask your team."
20 November 2000; Commissary, SGC; 1245 hrs
"...and he said I can go with him," Daniel said, watching Jack eat without looking up. "If you say I can, anyway. All of you, obviously," he added, looking at Sam and Teal'c, "but...so, can I? Please?"
"And this is the Goa'uld...what?" Jack said, peeling the top layer off his sandwich to examine the contents within before dropping the bread back on top.
"Homeworld," Daniel said impatiently. "The...the...the spawning place."
"Of the Goa'uld," Jack repeated.
"Do you believe this mission to be of importance?" Teal'c asked.
"Yes," Daniel said emphatically. "This is where the Goa'uld evolved. We could learn...how they became what they are today, maybe find out the basic, basic things that can tell us why some are Goa'uld and some Tok'ra, how and why they left that world, possibly even find clues about why we haven't found signs of living Goa'uld or hosts there now, and if we knew that, we might know something about the environments most conducive to Goa'uld life, which could lead us to understanding more about what's not conducive to Goa'uld life, which could lead us to a way to kill the Goa'uld."
Sam had stopped eating. "You think so?" she said, frowning, when he stopped to take a breath.
"Well. There is...potential for discoveries of that nature," he hedged. "But we don't know what we'll find until we find it, and for something that Robert thinks could be the most important historical discovery of the SGC to date, it would really be a good idea to learn as much and as fast as possible, so...I'm volunteering as an extra pair of hands and legs and brain."
"A pair of brains?" Jack said.
"Just one of those," Daniel amended.
"So Dr. Rothman's invited you to help him dig in the ground for Goa'uld bones," Jack said.
"Jack," Daniel said.
"Just to be clear," Jack said. "This isn't gonna be like a Jurassic Park thing, right?"
"A...what? No," Daniel said. "The Jurassic Period on Earth definitely predates even the--"
"I am certain that SG-11 will not engage in genetic experiments on the Goa'uld fossils, O'Neill," Teal'c interrupted him.
"Why would they?" Daniel asked blankly.
"To make a theme park," Jack said, in a tone of voice that said that should be obvious.
"Don't worry about it," Sam advised him. "There's no way that would work, anyway. Our science is ridiculously incomplete for that."
Completely lost now, Daniel said, "For a theme park?"
"No, for a dinosaur theme park," she explained.
"Okay," Daniel said, deciding to ignore what he was pretty sure was a missed Earth reference, "the point is, in the next couple of weeks, four Russian soldiers will be arriving to form SG-4, and a DHD will be hooked up, right? And Sam's probably going to be busy dealing with the switchover to DHD, and I know SG-1 is supposed to take part in SG-4's orientation and training, but I'm not going to be very useful in either of those."
Jack glanced at Sam, who said, "I think we'll be hearing from Colonel Sokolov and his men by the end of this week, sir, but it probably will be at least another couple of weeks before SG-1 can get back to our normal mission routines, especially with periodic checks on the Enkarans."
"Teal'c, you and Jack don't need me to take elite Russian military personnel on training missions, do you?" Daniel wheedled. "You're not going to go somewhere totally unknown where you might need to speak some obscure language on the first couple of trips through the 'gate."
"Daniel Jackson is correct, O'Neill," Teal'c said. Daniel made sure he didn't let his expression show triumph, because it'd just make Jack stubborn. "His presence may not be necessary in this case."
"Robert and I really think P3X-888 is important for study," Daniel said. "Really, really important."
"That important, huh," Jack said. "Is it cleared?"
"SG-11 spent a week checking the area where they're planning to stay," Daniel said.
"When do they start?"
"In two days. Uh...Wednesday."
"For four weeks?"
"That's the current estimate, yes."
Jack considered for a moment, then took an enormous bite of his sandwich. "Okay," he said once he'd swallowed.
Daniel's eyes widened. "Okay?"
"You know the rules for joining other teams," Jack added. "Before Wednesday, I need your check-in schedule, the supplies you're bringing, the written statement of why you just have to go...all of that. Got it?"
"I'll talk to Hawkins and have everything ready for you by tomorrow morning," Daniel promised, relieved. "Thank you. I'll bring my books and study and everything while I'm there."
Jack played with his napkin for a moment, then shrugged. "Digging in the dirt. What could go wrong?"
21 November 2000; Embarkation Room, SGC; 1600 hrs
As it turned out, the Russian DHD arrived on base along with Dr. Svetlana Markova the day before Daniel was to leave with SG-11 for P3X-888. "Huh," Jack said, tapping a finger against the rim as they all stood around it. "So this is the real deal."
"You still had doubts, Colonel O'Neill?" Markova said, still seeming fascinated by the sight of the Stargate alone.
"Little bit," Jack said bluntly. "Thought you might be lying through your teeth." He flicked a nail at the covering over the central crystals, as if to test whether it was plastic.
Markova tore her gaze away from the Stargate to ask Sam, "Is he always like this?"
Sam glanced at Jack and answered, "Actually, for him, this is quite charming."
Jack preened a little bit.
"It's pretty incredible," Sam said, extracting her hand and her voltmeter from within, where she had been testing the circuits, "but it looks like it's in working order--no damage at all from the number of times it's been transported and whatever else has happened to it in between. I'll need to get some supplies, and then we can do a test dial."
"Go ahead," Jack told her.
As she left, Markova said, "We found very early on that it was able to do this." She pressed a hand to one of the glyphs, making it light. "And you say these mark coordinates."
"Indeed," Teal'c said.
"Major Carter explained to me that they mark a point to which all the stars in the constellation are equidistant. But I wonder--why do six points mark the destination, and not four?"
"You'll probably have to ask Major Carter about the science behind that," Jack said.
But Markova shook her head. "There is no question about the science. Six points form three intersecting lines--but two intersecting lines from four points would serve the same purpose of defining a single point at the destination."
"We have a few theories about that," Daniel said.
"We do?" Jack said.
"We think it could be a way to increase the number of permutations, either to allow for more destinations or to prevent people from easily finding those destinations just by guessing," Daniel explained. "It seems the most likely option."
"Ah," she said, watching as the light from the two activated glyphs faded again. "Interesting theory. It does increase the number of permutations..." She paused, thinking. "Then the sequence matters, as well as the grouping."
"Indeed it does, Dr. Markova," Teal'c said. "An incorrect sequence will often result in an inability to reach the destination."
"It is not so simple, then," she said. "I assume the sequence determines which points are connected by lines--ah. Only a certain sequence, with the correct points connected, would be able to form intersecting lines. And so each address must differ by at least two coordinates."
"Uh..." Daniel said, holding up a finger.
"Pretty much," Jack said.
"We've found one exception," Daniel insisted. "But, uh...we can't go there."
"Daniel, what are you talking about?"
"The Ernest Littlefield planet. It's the same address as Abydos, except with one glyph substituted, but we can't lock onto their 'gate."
"Perhaps," Markova pointed out, "that is because the coordinates were not be correct. That destination cannot possibly be distinct when five of the six coordinates are the same."
"No, we know for sure it was reached at least once," Daniel said, "and we've found written--uh, well, downloaded--record of it. But we think it's been buried or destroyed."
"Hm," she said. "Well. In any case, surely the ones who built the Stargates could have accounted for that. Perhaps the coordinates were encoded that way in order to prevent others from reaching it, believing, as I did, that it was not a possible address."
Daniel hadn't thought of that--and he wished anew that they knew what was on that planet, because it sounded important--but before he could answer, Sam walked back in with Martouf and a cartful of electrical equipment in tow.
"All right," she said. "I brought someone who understands DHDs better than I do to help. Let's get this rigged up."
Jack tapped Daniel on the shoulder as he was watching them place the DHD next to the ramp, out of the line of possible fire, and hook wires to it--"Don't you have work to do?" Jack said.
"Jack," Daniel complained. "We're getting a DHD."
"And you can push the buttons tomorrow when you're about to go away and not do your normal work for four weeks," Jack said pointedly. "We'll call you if it blows up."
"Right," he sighed. He left reluctantly to finish a last bit of work and contented himself with the idea that he was, in fact, going to be leaving tomorrow for four weeks of intense field work that, for once, didn't involve guns or sneaking around.
He did return to the control room for the test dial, though, and he wasn't the only one who cheered when their DHD established a successful wormhole to the Alpha Site.
When it was mostly exposed, Daniel yelled, "Robert! Come here!"
"What!" Robert's voice said from the other side of a small hill.
Cupping his hands around his mouth, Daniel called, "I found Brutus!"