Title: Stargazers/Stargaters Parts 1-5
Author: jane
E-mail: illta1985@aol.com
Category: AU, Futurefic, Crossover(Roswell/Stargate SG1)
Rating: PG13 (A few swearwords)
Disclaimer: The characters of Roswell belong to Melinda Metz, UPN, Jason Katims and all the wonderful people who we all love for starting this fabulous series (but who we are frustrated with, for messing up the beautiful, 1st season story line!). Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement or disrespect is intended. Not to be archived without permission of the authors.
Summary: After college, Alex and Liz (from Roswell) join the SGC. As the Stargate gives up its secrets, will their new colleagues in SG1 learn about the secrets the two friends still carry? Will they ever "dial up" one planet's address in particular? Read and find out!

Stargazers/Stargaters Part 1

June, 1998

Liz Parker made her way through the crowds of her fellow students and their families as she tried to find her own parents and friends. They had all traveled from Roswell, New Mexico to Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts to see her receive her Ph.D. in microbiology. Being short, hardly five feet one though, Liz worried that she would never find them before the reception for the graduates ended. Just then she saw a familiar tall, dark head sticking out above the sea of faces and called out.

"Alex!"

"Liz!" Alex Whitman, one of her best and oldest friends called back, grinning.

"Lizzy!" Maria DeLuca her other best and life-long friend cried out at the same time.

A path opened up in the crowd and Liz ran to them to be hugged and kissed on the cheek. Alex was tall and thin, with short black hair, an outgoing personality and a quick mind. Maria was of medium height and slim, with shoulder-length blond hair (this month), more curiosity than a cat and a motor-mouth to match. Both were the same age as Liz, twenty-eight, had known each other since they were in grade-school and were so close that they had been dubbed the Three Musketeers, by their parents, years ago.

"Lizzy!" Jeff Parker; Liz's father called out too, as he and his wife, Nancy waited to hug their only child as well.

"We are so proud of you, Liz!" Nancy Parker told her daughter. "You've wanted this degree almost your whole life...and now you have it." Nancy squeezed her dark haired, petite daughter again.

"Congratulations, Liz." Charles Whitman, Alex's father said as he reached out to shake her hand.

Alex had just received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from MIT the day before and so all of their friends and families had come out to attend both ceremonies.

"Thanks, Mr. Whitman." Liz craned her head up to meet the gentle, bespectacled eyes of Alex's father, who towered over her at six feet six or more.

"Congratulations, Liz!"

"Kyle!" Liz grinned as she hugged her third best friend, Kyle Valenti.

Although Liz had not known Kyle as long as she had known Maria and Alex, the two of them had casually dated for several months during high school and Liz was grateful for the strong friendship which had grown between herself and the dark haired, star quarterback and high school wrestling champ, over the years since then.

"Wow, it's so great that all of you could attend Alex and my graduations. Thank you!" Liz told everyone.

"Mom is sorry that she couldn't come, Liz, but she didn't think that both of us should be absent from the shop." Maria explained.

Since graduating from high school, Maria had taken some business courses at the community college and now helped run her mother's alien-themed gift shop in the alien-capital-of-the-world, Roswell, New Mexico.

"Yeah, we took a chance that Janet would be able to handle everything at the Crashdown, especially since Maria wouldn't be there as an emergency back-up manager but we weren't going to miss your big day." Jeff said.

Both of Liz's parents owned and ran an alien-themed café in town, in which Liz and Maria had worked as waitresses during their high school years and which Maria still occasionally helped to manage.

"Yeah, and you know Dad; he doesn't trust his deputies to take proper care of 'his' town." Kyle spoke for his father, the Sheriff of Roswell, Jim Valenti.

"I understand." Liz said.

"I just wish you would change your mind about coming home for the summer." Jeff said.

"I will be coming home, Dad." Liz said.

"Just to pack up the rest of your things." Jeff replied and Liz sighed.

"Dad, Cambridge is my home now; it has been for the last ten years, while I worked towards my degrees and now that I've been offered the professorship here at Harvard...I will spend some time with the two of you this summer, but between finding an apartment here and moving into it and helping Alex move so that he can start his new professorship at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, I'm going to be pretty busy..." Liz explained again.

"I know honey, it's just so hard to see my little girl all grown up and living on her own and a professor at Harvard University. I...we will miss you, but we are so proud of you too." Jeff said, hugging his daughter one more time, releasing the tension and allowing them all to enjoy the rest of the reception.

A few days later, everyone had returned to Roswell and Liz was over at Alex's graduate dorm, helping him pack. The U of C @ CS was helping him to find an apartment and he would be flying out there that weekend to look things over.

"Have you had any luck finding an apartment, Liz?" Alex asked.

"Kind of...the University Housing Office has a list of apartments for me to check out in the next day or two." Liz answered in a soft, sad voice.

"Are you okay, Liz? You've been really quiet lately." Alex asked.

"It's just that so much is changing. This'll be the first time I've ever really lived on my own and you won't even be nearby, ready to lift my spirits and make me smile." Liz said.

"I'm sorry that I have to move away from you, Liz." Alex said. "This is going to be hard for me too...but I keep telling myself that I'll be doing fascinating work, plus the teaching will be fun. I couldn't pass up this opportunity; no more than you could pass up the offer that Harvard made you"

"I know you're right, Alex. I'm just going to miss you. You're the only one here, who I can talk to when things get...bad for me." Liz said and Alex nodded in understanding.

"It's hard to believe that it's been ten years since...since Max, Isabel, Tess and Michael left and it's difficult to talk about them over the phone, even to Maria or Kyle. Boy, how the years have flown by." Alex replied.

"It seems like only yesterday that they received the call from Antar, begging them to return." Liz said, tears starting to pool in her large, chocolate-brown eyes as she thought about her other four friends; Max and Isabel Evans, Michael Guerin and Tess Harding.

Friends who had turned out to be aliens...as in not-of-this-earth-aliens...whose ship had crashed out in the Roswell desert back in 1947. The four of them had been placed in incubation pods and their protectors had hidden them within a cave to grow and mature over the next thirty years until they had emerged from the pods as six year olds, in 1977. Max, Isabel and Michael had emerged at the same time and wandered away from the pod-chamber, but when they saw a car's headlights coming towards them, Michael had run away from his two friends. Philip and Diane Evans had been in that car and took the two little children home with them and eventually adopted them. Michael had been found soon afterwards but he was placed in a foster home. Tess had not emerged with the three of them, but their one remaining protector was there when she did come out and had raised her while searching for the other three.

The three young aliens had grown up into teenagers, keeping to themselves and keeping the secret of whom and what they were...until that fateful day when two men had come into the Crashdown Café, in which Liz and Maria were working. One of the men had been carrying a gun and when they started arguing, it had gone off and Liz had been shot. Max, who had had a secret crush on Liz all his life and who had the power to heal, had rushed to where Liz lay on the floor, pressed is hand over the bullet wound in her abdomen...and had healed her. After that day it was only a short time until Liz, Maria and Alex were let in on the young alien's secret. But the aliens did not know where they came from or why they were on Earth and together with their three human friends; they searched for answers to their questions...and fell in love. Max and Liz; sweet, romantic and intense...soul-mates. Maria and Michael; fiery and passionate. Isabel and Alex; slow and hesitant but deeply committed.

During the spring of their sophomore year in high school, the FBI came to town and so did Tess Harding; bringing with them danger, intrigue and a few answers...and a lot of heartache. Tess had been taught by their protector, Nascedo, that she and Max were destined to be together...as mates. But Max was in love with Liz. In the middle of that struggle, Max was captured and tortured by the FBI, until all of the friends, Sheriff Valenti and Nascedo, working together, rescued him. But while the group was trying to interrogate rogue-agent Pierce, Kyle was fatally shot and Max ended up healing him as well...and another member would join their group.

But while the Sheriff took his son home to recuperate, Max, Isabel, Michael, Tess and Liz received a prerecorded holographic message from Max and Isabel's alien mother. She explained who they were; Max had been the king of their world, Antar, Isabel his sister, Michael his second-in-command and Isabel's fiancé and Tess was Max's young bride. Liz heard the message and was thrown into a tailspin, which she did not recover from for several months. Liz spent that summer with her aunt in Florida and when she returned, Liz was determined to stay away from Max...but Max was equally determined to get her back...and he had almost succeeded when Liz received a visit...from Max...from fourteen years in the future.

Future Max told Liz that unless Tess and his younger self were together, all life on Earth would be wiped out by Antar's enemies, fourteen years later. Liz did her very best to make Max fall out of love with her and to push him towards Tess...Liz even made him think that she had slept with Kyle...and for a while it worked, but eventually the truth came out and by that time, Max and Tess had admitted to each other that they could only be good, close friends to each other, because Max loved Liz and Tess was falling in love with Kyle. The group came to understand that the four aliens need only live close by each other, so that if their enemies attacked they could form the Four-Square, a fighting stance through which they could link psychically and multiply their powers...and defeat their enemies, the Skins and their leader, Khivar. After Tess and Max came to their understanding, Liz allowed herself to be pulled back into Max's strong, loving arms and adoring heart; returning his emotions and commitment fully...until just after their high school graduation, when the call came.

The civil war which had been raging over their entire planet for forty years was at a critical stage; it could be stopped now or it could explode into all-out anarchy and lead to the total destruction of their world. With much anguish and heartache, the eight young people had decided together that the four aliens must return to Antar...and that it was too dangerous for the four humans to accompany them. Max had promised Liz that he would return to her if he could, but it had now been ten years and the four left behind had mostly given up on ever seeing their loves again...and yet they had not really moved on emotionally. Liz and Alex had thrown themselves into their studies and graduated with bachelor's, masters and doctoral degrees in record time. Maria and Kyle had taken some college courses and found professions for themselves and all four of them had dated...a little...in Liz's case, only when her college roommates harassed her into doing it...but none of them had formed any long-term relationships with members of the opposite sex. And now Alex was moving away from Liz.

"Liz let's make a promise to each other, okay?" Alex suggested, seeing the tears gathering in his friend's lovely brown eyes and fearing that they would start to do the same thing in his own eyes. "Let's promise each other that we will try, try to treat this move and these new jobs as new beginnings for ourselves. We're going to meet new people and experience new and wonderful things, right?" Liz looked down and bit her full lower lip; her silky, long brown hair falling forward over her shoulders to partially hide her face. "Liz, promise me you'll try." Alex said, placing his index finger underneath her chin to raise her head and make her look up at him. Liz gazed deeply into his eyes and took a deep breath.

"Okay, Alex...I'll try. Ouch!" Liz made the promise and then let out an exclamation.

"Liz...what? Oh no not again!" Alex said as he saw the lightning which was flickering between her fingers and up and down her arm.

"It's okay, Alex...it's going away." Liz reassured her friend.

"That only happens when you're really upset Liz. You have to calm down so you don't hurt yourself." Alex told her, drawing her into a brotherly hug and rubbing her slim back.

"I'm trying, Alex...and it's going away. Phew!" Liz breathed out a gust of air and moved back from Alex. "I'm okay now."

During their emotionally charged junior and senior years, Liz had started to develop "alien powers" such as astral projection and the ability to throw things away from her. These powers grew in intensity when she became upset, confused or angry. Liz and Max figured out that she had developed them because Liz had almost died before Max was able to heal her of her gunshot wound. The same case applied to Kyle who developed powers shortly after the four aliens had returned to Antar. Plus, Max had healed others with less critical injuries and they had never developed powers. Liz's powers developed before she and Max ever made love together; ruling out sex as a way of transmitting alien powers. Neither Alex nor Maria ever developed powers even though they had made love with Isabel and Michael, respectively. Max and Liz had worked together to gain some control over her powers and now she rarely ever experienced an unwanted surge.

A few weeks later, Liz was in Colorado Springs helping Alex move into his new apartment. It was not large, but it was in a nice clean building and so far the other tenants he had met were all very friendly. The apartment had two nice sized bedrooms, one bath, a modest galley kitchen, a livingroom/diningroom, with a wood burning fireplace and a great view of Cheyenne National Park.

Liz was at the door to the apartment with a clipboard, directing the movers where to place Alex's furniture and boxes when four people came out of the apartment next door. Three of them walked by, on the way to the elevator; a tall, handsome, older man with short, salt and pepper hair and an air of authority, a pretty blond woman, perhaps in her late-twenties, early-thirties and a large black man wearing a black ski-cap pulled low over his forehead. The fourth person; a very handsome man, also in his early-thirties, with longish chestnut-brown hair, gorgeous blue eyes, a great body, as far as Liz could tell...and wearing round, wire-frame glasses stopped by her and smiled sweetly.

"Um uh hi...are you um just moving in? I...live right next door."

"Hi, no, it's my friend, Alex who's moving in. I'm just helping him. My name's Liz." Liz answered, sticking out her hand to shake his.

"Oh uh yes, um...I'm Daniel, Daniel Jackson. Nice to meet you...Liz."

"Liz Parker and this..." She motioned to her friend, who had just come to his front door..."is Alex Whitman. Alex, this is Daniel Jackson, your neighbor." Liz introduced the two men who shook each other's hands as well.

"Hi, nice to meet you." They were saying to each other when someone impatiently bellowed back down the hall.

"Daniel, let's GO!"

"Coming Jack." Daniel called back to his friend. "Um...I've gotta go...I look forward to..."

"DANIEL."

"...getting to know you, um...later." Daniel finished saying before he took off jogging down the hallway.

"For Pete's sake, Jack." Liz and Alex heard him exclaim, before he rounded a corner and disappeared from view and from hearing.

"Well, well, well; you can count on me coming to visit if you promise that I'll be able to see Daniel each time I do!" Liz chuckled before going back to work.

"Great, I'll make sure I get to know my new neighbor, then." Alex quipped before he went back inside.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A week before Christmas, Liz flew from Cambridge to Colorado Springs to spend a few days with Alex, before they drove down to Roswell together. She could have flown into New Mexico directly, but that would not have given her the chance to see Alex's handsome neighbor, Daniel again. Alex picked her up at the airport and drove her to his apartment. After she settled into his guestroom and freshened up a little, Liz walked out to the livingroom where Alex was just setting down a tray with a coffee carafe and two mugs on it.

"All settled, Liz? I thought you might like some coffee."

"I'd love some, thanks, Alex." Liz smiled at her friend as they both sat down on the sofa. "Hmmm...this is good coffee. Is it a special blend?"

"Yeah, actually Daniel got me onto it. That seems to be all he lives on." Alex grinned.

"What do you mean?" Liz asked.

"I've seen him at the bulk-health-food store several times and all he's ever buying are his coffee beans that he then grinds himself...and if I ever see him in the elevator with grocery bags, they're from that store and they're filled with..."

"Coffee beans!" Liz giggled. "And now he has you hooked too?" Liz asked.

"Yup!" Alex grinned, sipping from his steaming cup.

"I want to hear all about what you've been up to of course, Alex, but first, what else have you been able to find out about your new neighbor? You haven't really told me much during our e-mail conversations, since you moved." Liz reproved. "I can't help think I've heard about him somewhere else."

"Well...I haven't been able to find out all that much about him really. He's a nice guy, but he's not home a lot. He did tell me once that he's an Egyptologist and linguist; a Ph.D....and I'm wondering if he's with the military somehow. I've seen him wearing those green fatigues they wear and several of his friends do too.

"What would the military want with an Egyptologist, Alex?" Liz asked frowning...a memory was trying to surface in her mind.

"I don't know, since he also seems to be sort of a klutz!"

"What?" Liz giggled.

"Yeah, just about every time I see him, he has some cut or bruise...or a cast somewhere on his body...he has a broken leg in a cast as we speak." Alex said.

"Oh no; the poor guy!" Liz said, sincerely.

"Yeah, I thought that would be your response so I thought you might be nice and go get his mail for him; I've been picking it up for him each day so he doesn't have to hobble downstairs on his crutches." Alex suggested.

"What a good neighbor you are, Alex and a good friend for thinking of me...but tell me first, doesn't he have a girlfriend?" Liz asked.

"I'm not sure." Alex said thoughtfully. "There is this one lady...military-type who comes over a lot and I think she's spent the night a few times...but I'm not really sure. I mean, maybe she's his sister or something; we've never been introduced."

"Does this lady have short, blond hair, rather pretty?" Liz asked.

"Um, yeah she does; how'd you know?" Alex asked.

"I saw her with two others that day you moved in. The three of them seemed to have come to pick Daniel up. Remember, one of the guys yelling down the hall for Daniel to hurry up?"

"Oh yeah...pity I missed seeing her." Alex said.

"Well, let me run downstairs and get his mail and then when I get back you can tell me all about what you've been up to." Liz said, getting up off of the sofa.

"And vice-versa." Alex said, getting up as well to give Liz the small key to Daniel's mail-slot.

"Be right back." Liz said as she left the apartment.

Liz took the stairs down, got Daniel's mail; the usual junk-mail and a few bills, Liz saw and then she ran back up the stairs, a chance for some exercise after her long flight. When she came out of the stairwell, Liz saw a small woman and a young girl knocking at Daniel's door; they must have come up in the elevator Liz reasoned. When Daniel opened the door, his face broke into a grin when he saw the petite brunette and the girl. The young girl launched herself into his arms for a hug and then they moved to go inside the apartment.

'Better go now and give him his mail so he doesn't have to get up later.' Liz thought to herself. Daniel and the girl were obviously close, were hey his ex-wife and daughter? She hurried forward before his apartment door closed.

"Knock, knock." Liz called out as she rapped her knuckles on the door.

The door was opened by the little girl.

"Um hi, I'm Liz; I've brought up Daniel's mail for him." Liz explained.

"Hi, I'm Cassie...Cassandra. Do you want to come in and give it to him? His leg is broken and he just sat down."

"Sure, thanks...Cassie." Liz smiled at the girl and walked into the apartment.

'Wow!' Liz thought to herself as she walked in. 'This is definitely the home of an archeologist.'

The apartment was set up much like Alex's, but it was totally filled with things. The bookshelves were stuffed to overflowing with books and small artifacts. The walls were hung with ancient objects as well; and larger pieces of antiquity were scattered around the room, on the floor...but in an orderly way, which allowed her to see each piece clearly.

"Uh high...Daniel...I don't know if you'll remember me but I'm..."

"Alex's friend, Liz." Daniel said with his sweet smile as he looked up at her from his seat on the couch.

"Yes." Liz grinned. "Um Alex told me that you'd broken your leg and asked if I'd go get your mail for you...while he finished working on something...on his um computer." Liz made up the story as she placed his mail on the side table near him. "How's it feeling...your leg, I mean?"

"Oh it's getting better; right Doc?" Daniel asked the woman who was standing nearby. "Oh I'm sorry; let me introduce you to my friends...Dr. Janet Fraser and her foster-daughter, Cassandra, who I guess you met at the door. Janet, Cassie, this is Liz Parker, a friend of my neighbor, Alex Whitman."

Nice to meet you Liz...As Daniel knows very well, Cassie is more my daughter than a fosterling; I'm working on adopting her...right Cassie?'

"Right, Mom!" Cassie hugged the lady and Liz smiled, but her eyes were sad as she remembered three other fostered/adopted children.

"You okay, Liz?" Daniel asked seeing the sadness in this young woman's lovely face.

"Yeah, yes, Daniel, I'm fine, thanks." Liz plastered an almost believable smile on her face and turned to the two females.

"So Cassie, are you from around here?" Liz asked, casually. Cassie however tensed and looked from Janice to Daniel before she answered.

"No, I'm originally from...Toronto, that's in Canada." Cassie said and then she pointed her index finger ceiling ward.

"Oh? I've heard that Toronto is a very nice city." Liz managed to get out through clenched teeth.

It had always been a joke between her and her alien friends that when they pointed skyward to indicate that they were "not-of-this-world" everyone thought they were saying that they were from Canada...and Cassie being a foster-child, like they had been...?

'Get a grip, Liz!' She ordered herself as her hand started to hurt from the electrical charge which was starting to build up in her system and she quickly stuck it behind her back.

"Well actually...it wasn't that nice." Cassie started to say.

"What's wrong with your hand, Liz?" Janet asked, concerned but also cutting off what Cassie had been about to say.

"Hmmm? Oh nothing really." Liz brought her hand out from behind her back and flexed it. "I just had a cramp in it. I think from the carpal-tunnel syndrome I'm developing from all the computer and lab work I do." Liz managed to smile.

"Lab work? What do you do for a living, Liz?" Daniel asked.

"I'm a microbiologist and a professor at Harvard." Liz told them.

"Wow, that's impressive, Liz." Janet said. "Hey are you the E. Parker who wrote the article on..." Janet went on to mention an article she had recently read in one of her medical journals.

'Why yes I am." Liz said and the two women launched into a discussion about Liz's findings.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Over an hour later, Liz returned to Alex's apartment.

"Wow, you and Daniel must have really hit it off!" Alex teased her.

"Well yeah, I guess we did, he's very nice...but mostly I was discussing microbiology with his friend, Janet Fraser, M.D. and..." Liz paused.

"What, Liz?" Alex asked.

"A couple of things...Janet has an almost adopted daughter named Cassie. When I asked her if she was from around here she answered Very hesitantly that she was from Toronto, Canada and then she pointed her index finger towards the ceiling..."

"And that reminded you of Max...right?" Alex asked.

"Yeah." Liz said sadly.

"Well at least Cassie didn't say she was from Czechoslovakia!" Alex grinned and Liz tried to join him in the joke.

Back in their teens, Maria had come up with the code-word 'Czechoslovakian' to use instead of saying 'alien' when they were talking about Max, Isabel, Michael or Tess.

"But Alex there's something else. Remember I told you that I thought I had heard of Daniel Jackson somewhere? Well, I just remembered where I've heard of him. Three years ago, he presented a paper at an archeologist's conference. His theory stated that the Egyptian pyramids were much older than anyone thinks they are and that there was a cross-pollination of ancient cultures...made possible because he believes that...aliens built the pyramids of the Egyptians, Aztec and Mayans!"

"Liz!" Alex exclaimed with a grin.

"I know; it's ludicrous!" Then she sobered. "Daniel was laughed out of academia after that." She said sadly.

"So maybe he got desperate enough to take a job with the military." Alex suggested. "They probably need linguists rather than Egyptologists and Daniel is reported to be very gifted...they say he can read at least twenty-four...oops...ancient languages. What would the military want with someone whose specialty is ancient languages?"

"I don't know..." Liz replied thoughtfully.

After that, by silent, mutual consent the friends changed the subject and caught up on each other's lives for the rest of their holiday together.



Part 2

Three months later, at the end of March, 1999, Daniel Jackson was sitting in on a briefing with his superior and some of his co-workers. At the head of the large table sat Major General George Hammond; at fifty years of age, the almost bald man was a formidable presence in their midst; the strong yet compassionate and honorable commanding officer of their top-secret base.

To the right of the General sat Daniel and on his right sat Captain Samantha "Sam" Carter, Ph.D. An Air Force officer who had flown during the Gulf War and a theoretical astrophysicist, all neatly packed into a tall, slim, well-disciplined body, crowned with a cap of short blond hair, above her lovely face.

Across from Daniel and on the General's left sat his second-in-command, Colonel Jack O'Neill. He was all military with little patience for the scientists working on the base...except for the two who worked with him on his team, Daniel and Sam, both of whom he secretly respected very much. Tall with short salt and pepper hair, penetrating dark brown eyes in a still handsome, rough-hewn face and a trim but well-muscled body, the Colonel was considered by the base female population to be one of the most eligible and sexiest men they knew...if you could get past his sharp, sarcastic wit...Daniel had to be discounted from (the top of) their list, even though he had charm, brains, courage, the most gorgeous blue eyes and of course sex-a-peal, since he was married.

The fourth member of their team, Teal'c was on leave visiting his family.

"...Well, unless any of you have something to add to this briefing, you're all dismissed." General Hammond said and everyone stood as their CO rose from his chair. Colonel O'Neill walked towards the door but Captain Carter and Daniel Jackson stayed where they were.

"Sir, do you have a moment? I need to discuss something with you." Sam Carter requested.

"Yes, Captain, I have thirty minutes until my next meeting, what do you need to discuss with me? Dr. Jackson, are you a part of this as well?"

"Yes, General...Well, I may have a suggestion to make once Sam has finished giving you her request." Daniel explained.

"Very well; go ahead, Captain." The General said, taking his seat again as did they.

"Thank you, sir. Sir, Dr. Thompson has informed me that he is going to have to resign because of his health; we will need to find someone to replace him as soon as possible." Sam said.

"Yes, Dr. Thompson has informed me of his decision as well, Captain...He's been one of our most valuable electronic/computer engineers. I agree we will need to have him replaced ASAP." General Hammond replied.

"Thank you, sir." Sam said.

"Do I take it that you know someone who might replace Dr. Thompson, Dr. Jackson?" The General asked.

"Uhm yes sir, I do, or I think I do; we'd need to speak to him of course, but Dr. Koonz remembers having him in several of his classes at MIT and thinks he'd do a great job replacing Dr. Thompson." Daniel replied.

"What's his name, Dr. Jackson?" Hammond asked.

"Uhm well it's Whitman, Dr. Alex Whitman." Daniel said finally handing the General the file in his hand. "In the top of his class at MIT and he just accepted a professorship at U of C @ CS, in their electrical engineering department, six months ago."

"So he's right here under our very noses?" General Hammond asked.

"Right under my nose especially, General. He's my neighbor." Daniel clarified.

"Oh?" Hammond replied.

"We could bring him on board on a part-time basis; I image he would have to at least finish out the spring semester at the University and then be released from any contract he has with them." Daniel suggested.

"His record does look very impressive." Hammond said as he glanced through it. "Very well Captain. I take it that you and Dr. Jackson would like to approach Dr. Whitman about his joining us?"

"Yes sir." Sam answered. "We might also take Dr. Koonz with us or ask him to call Dr. Whitman."

"Sounds good." The General smiled. "If he's interested you will bring him here for Colonel O'Neill and I to interview before we have him sign an oath of secrecy and show him our little secret."

"Thank you, sir." Sam said, before they both left. On the way out they passed Dr. Fraser on her way in.

"Hi Janet." Daniel greeted her.

"Hi guys...Excuse me General, do you have a minute?" The base Chief Medical Officer asked.

"A few minutes, Doctor; what can I do for you?" General Hammond answered, indicating that she should come in and take a chair at the table.

"Thank you, sir." Janet said, doing just that. "We're running into a problem in Medical, General. The more missions our teams go on, the more samples they bring back and the more medical tests needed to be performed on them, to make sure that they aren't bringing back any harmful microbes, bacteria or viruses with them, the more we need another microbiologist on our staff, sir."

"Ah, I see Doctor. Did you have anyone specifically in mind for this new position?" He asked.

"Yes Sir." Janet handed the General the file she was holding. "Parker, Dr. Elizabeth Parker, sir."

"M.D.?" Hammond asked.

"Ph.D. sir; from Harvard. Top of her class, she is now holding a professorship there." Janet explained.

"Well I'll be frank with you Doctor." The General warned. "Adding a new position to the staff may be tricky right now, especially since we will need to replace Dr. Thompson in the near future. Why don't we get his position filled first and then we should have better luck adding a new position in Medical."

"Thank you, sir." Janet said, getting up from her seat. She knew that the General would do his best for her department and for the base.

~*~*~*~*~*~

One week later, Alex found himself being interviewed by an Air Force general and a colonel, while Captain Sam Carter and Daniel Jackson sat in on the meeting as well. He could not believe that he was actually considering accepting a job with the government; the military. If it weren't for Dr. Koonz, his old professor from MIT and Daniel Jackson, his neighbor telling him about how important and interesting their work was and throwing in phrases like "the most important work you will ever do" and "the most fascinating scientific discoveries..." he would not have even thought twice about the offer...but they had and he had and here he was, on the Air Force base situated only minutes away from the famous Cheyenne Mountain Military Complex.

"Well, Dr. Whitman, between your academic qualifications, publications, the recommendations from Drs. Koonz, Carter and Jackson and what I have seen and heard here this morning, I would like to formally offer you this job with the SGC." General Hammond said, smiling and sticking out his hand to shake Alex's. If we can get you to sign these pages...they contain your oath of secrecy. Dr. Whitman let me remind you that the work we do at the SGC is a matter of national security and is top secret. If you tell anyone about your work or allow any information regarding our work or the SGC to fall into any unauthorized hands, you will be subject to prosecution and jail...do I make myself clear?"

"Yes sir, General." Alex said nervously, before signing the forms and passing them back to the General. He reached for his glass of water and was taking a sip when Colonel O'Neill spoke up.

"I'm just curious Dr. Whitman. I see that you grew up in Roswell, New Mexico; do you believe in...aliens?"

The question came out so quickly and so unexpectedly that Alex swallowed his water wrong and started to choke. Sam came and slapped him on his back a couple of times and then he got his breath back.

"Excuse me?" Alex croaked out.

"Do you believe in aliens, Dr. Whitman?" Jack O'Neill repeated his question and Alex hesitated for a moment before replying.

"I...guess I'm like Fox Mulder on "The X-files"...I want to believe, but I'd be skeptical of anyone who said they'd seen one...probably ask them where they were getting their massive amounts of hallucinogens! But I'll always remember that line from the movie "Contact", it goes something like...the universe is so huge...if we are the only living beings out there, wouldn't that be a great waste of space?" Alex chuckled, congratulating himself on handling that unexpected question pretty well...considering that he'd almost choked to death.

"Well then Dr. Whitman, welcome aboard the SGC." Jack O'Neill said, sticking out his hand to shake Alex's. "Why don't we take you on a tour of the base and show you what you'll be doing?"

"That sounds great." Alex replied.

All of them walked outside, got into a van and drove to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. During the short drive, everyone was quiet, deep in their own thoughts. Alex was reviewing his interview. He guessed that the only reason Colonel O'Neill had been included in on the meeting had been that he was the General's second-in-command. He certainly was not the administrator that his CO was; Jack O'Neill was all military and he had made it clear that he did not like scientists...if the sarcastic comments he had made meant anything. Alex wondered what O'Neill thought of him and the way he had tried to defuse the sarcasm with humor.

Jack O'Neill's thoughts were much the same as Alex's; reviewing the interview. Maybe Dr. Whitman would not be so irritating and stuffy as most of the other geeks who worked at the SGC. He was young, looked fit, didn't wear glasses and he liked Whitman's sense of humor; it rebounded well off of his own sarcasm.

'I wish Jack wouldn't bait the interviewees like he does.' The General was thinking. 'But it does serve a purpose, which is the only reason I allow it. People who can't hold their own against Jack rarely ever stick it out here at the SGC.'

Alex had some trouble swallowing when he was told that the SGC was located two miles underneath Cheyenne Mountain. Indeed, they had to take two separate elevators to make the trip.

"You know, I probably should have asked this before, but what do the initials SGC actually stand for?" Alex asked, cracking his jaw trying to unplug his ears as they descended in the elevator.

"Let's leave that bit of information for the end of our tour, shall we?" Jack O'Neill said, being inscrutable.

"Uhm, okay..." Alex agreed wondering what was going on.

When they finally arrived down at sub-level 26 they exited the elevator.

"Everything's pretty utilitarian down here." Sam warned. "Nothing fancy."

"Yeah...but interesting, very interesting!" Alex responded with a grin as they walked down the dimly lit tunnels, complete with water pipes and electrical conduit running along the rounded walls and ceilings. It was what he saw through the doorways they passed; the labs, equipment and computers looked top rate even in their no-frills environment, which excited him.

"This is our main lab, where Captain Carter does a lot of her work." General Hammond said, pausing at a doorway long enough for Alex to look inside.

"Very impressive, Sam!" Alex said grinning still, as his eyes tried to see everything at once.

"Down this way is the lab you'll be working in." Jack tried to move things along. Dr. Whitman could drool on his own time.

"Wow...oh wow! Is that a...?" Alex pointed to a piece of equipment.

"Yep! We've had it about a month." Sam stepped up next to him and was about to start showing Alex how it worked when Jack broke in again.

"Uh, uh, uh...playtime isn't until after the tour. It's time for you to see why we're all really here."

"Oh sure...uh, okay." Alex tore himself away from his lab and followed the Colonel down another long hall and down some stairs.

"This is the control room and down that staircase is what we call the embarkation room." Jack said cryptically.

All Alex could see was a long narrow room with gray, cement walls on three sides and computers under a range of windows on the fourth wall. Another even larger gray wall was just beyond those windows and he could not see anything else.

"Embarkation room? Embarking to where?" Alex asked.

"Let's give our new member a peek; Sergeant, raise the blast door." Colonel O'Neill ordered and a man at one of the computers, with short graying hair and glasses, keyed the command into his keyboard.

"Opening blast door, sir." He replied.

"Blast...door...? Why do you need a blast door?" Alex asked.

"This is an old missile silo, Alex." Sam explained. "In there is where the missile would have been housed and from where it would have taken off. The blast door protected observes up here from the...blast."

"And it comes in handy once in a while now, too." Jack replied.

All this explanation only took a moment and Alex's jaw dropped when he saw what was set up in the large room below.

"What the...hell...is that?..." He exclaimed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Two months later in May, Alex answered his phone one night.

"Hello?" Alex asked.

"Hi Alex, it's me." Liz answered. "I thought I'd call this time instead of just e-mailing you. I need to hear a friendly voice."

"Oh? Well it's great to hear your voice too, Liz. What's going on is anything wrong?" Alex asked.

"Nothing in particular, Alex." Liz said. "Maybe it's just the hectic rush of finals coming up or something. Plus the fact that I'm having trouble getting grant money for the study I want to work on with my grad-students this summer..."

"Oh yeah...grants...aren't they the bane of academia?" Alex responded sympathetically.

"Yeah." Liz said sounding better now that she was speaking to someone who really understood what she was talking about. "Oh well, I'm sure everything will work out. What are you up to, Alex? How's your job going?"

'Which one? I have two jobs now, Liz.' Alex thought to himself. 'My professorship and my part-time work with the SGC.' But he said instead. "It's great Liz! I'm doing some fascinating work!" '...at night and on the weekends with the SGC...' He thought silently. '...my professorship is pretty boring in comparison, but soon that will be over.'

"Tell me all about it, Alex!" Liz encouraged.

"Well I'll tell you what I can, Liz, but...I actually have a security clearance for some for the stuff I'm doing now...and I can't talk about it, not even to you; I'm sorry, Liz." Alex sounded miserable. 'I hate keeping secrets from her.' Alex thought. 'We never used to keep secrets and always trusted each other with our lives. When is General Hammond going to get the go-ahead to approach Liz about joining the SGC?' Alex was so caught up in his own thoughts that he almost missed what Liz said next.

"That's okay, Alex, I understand."

"Thanks Liz." Alex said and then proceeded to tell her everything he could, before they both hung up over an hour later.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Two weeks later, Alex was called into General Hammond's office.

"Uh hi, General; did you want to see me?" Alex asked.

"Yes, have a seat, Dr. Whitman." The General said before continuing. "We have finally received the go-ahead on your plan to approach Dr. Parker about joining us here at the SGC."

"Great and none too soon!" Alex exclaimed. "She's busy trying to set up grants for her summer work and I'd like to speak with her before all of her plans are finalized."

"Very well. Dr. Fraser would like to accompany you to Cambridge. She's very impressed with Dr. Parker's work and would like to help you convince her to come aboard if that's alright with you."

"That'd be great, General. Especially since I'm fairly new here..." Alex responded.

"Yes, that was Dr. Fraser's thought as well. And when you get back I understand you're scheduled to accompany SG-10 on their next mission; your first one too!"

"Yes!" Alex replied excitedly. "I don't know if I'm more excited or terrified though!" He grinned and the General smiled back.

"I think an even mixture of both emotions is the usual reaction to one's first mission with an SG team, Dr. Whitman." The General said.

"I'm just glad that my first mission isn't with SG-1; they are rather...intimidating, even though Daniel, Sam and I are friends...as a unit they are so formidable. Nothing ever seems to shake them; no job is too tough!"

"They are very good at their jobs, Doctor." The General said proudly. "But then so is SG-10; you'll be in good hands with them."

"Thank you, sir." Alex replied.

"Now if you don't have any more questions, I believe Dr. Fraser has your plane tickets and all the information you'll need, in her office, in the Infirmary."

"Thanks again, General." Alex said, getting up from his chair.

"Good luck, Dr. Whitman." General Hammond called out as the young scientist left his office.

~*~

"Hi Janet; General Hammond said you have our plane tickets and stuff?" Alex asked a few minutes later, when he walked into the quiet infirmary and found the base's Chief Medical Officer at her desk.

"Hi Alex; yes, I have them right here." Janet opened a drawer and pulled out a large manila envelope. "Besides your ticket is a list of questions to ask Dr. Parker and a list of answers we can give to her questions about the SGC...before she meets with General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill."

Alex nodded, pulling out the list and glancing over the material.

"I hope you don't mind my coming along with you to speak to Dr. Parker. It's just that she would be the perfect person to fill this new position and I want to do everything I can to help her decide to accept it." Janet said.

"Hey, no problem, Janet." Alex assured her. "Yeah, I know that Liz would love working here...once we get her here. The work she's been doing is right up our alley."

"Yes it is." Janet said.

"So, would you like me to pick you up on my way to the airport, or do you want to meet me there, tomorrow morning?" Alex asked.

"Hmmm, I'd better just meet you there..." Janet decided.

"Okay, see you bright and early tomorrow morning, Doc." Alex said, before he left to go back to work for a few more hours.

'Man, what is Liz going to say when I tell her that I'm working for the military...And want her to join me here?' Alex asked himself. 'She's never liked the government; ever since the FBI abducted Max and took him to the White Room and tortured him. How could anyone think that someone as gentle as Max Evans, a healer could be a threat to national security...Arrgh! It still makes me so mad when I think about what Special Agent Pierce did to him. Pierce was the one who was inhuman, not Max!'

Alex sighed and realized that he was not going to get any more work done that night; with his thoughts so filled with old memories and new apprehensions, so he closed up and left the base.



Part 3

The next morning, Alex and Janice met at the airport and boarded a pleasant flight out to Boston, Massachusetts. As it happened, Liz was scheduled to give a lecture on a topic which Dr. Frasier wanted to hear, on Monday, so Alex was able to tell Liz that it was his turn to come and visit her and that Janet was coming along with him to attend the seminar. No mention of the position or the SGC was made over the phone. When they arrived, Liz was there to meet them. The two friends hugged and then Alex reintroduced Liz to Janet. They both had only carry-on luggage, so they followed Liz out to where she had parked her car. Janet had booked a room in a hotel near Liz's apartment and Alex was staying in Liz's guestroom, so they just stopped by the hotel long enough for Janet to drop off her luggage and then all three of them drove to Liz's apartment for lunch.

"Well, here we are; my home sweet home." Liz said as she let them in through her apartment door. "Welcome, Janet, make yourself at home. Alex, you know where the guestroom is, why don't you put your luggage in there? How hungry are you guys? Do you want to eat now or wait for a bit?" Liz asked.

"Let's see..." Alex said as he came back out of the guestroom. "It's 3:30 here, but to us it's just 1:30. I ate the meal on the plane, but that was three hours ago...and you know me..."

"You're starved!" Liz finished for him, chuckling. "How about you Janet?"

"I only ate the apple that came with my meal, so I'm starved too!" Janet chuckled.

"Great! I skipped lunch so that makes three of us." Liz grinned. "I've kept lunch pretty simple and then I've made chicken curry for dinner, so what would you like now? I have tuna salad or the makings for submarine sandwiches."

"Galaxy subs?" Alex asked hopefully. "...with Saturn rings?"

"Yes, Alex; Galaxy subs, but the rings are only the microwave variety. If you wanted Jose's Saturn rings you should have landed the plane in Roswell and ordered some there." Liz told him.

"Excuse me...Galaxy subs...and...Saturn rings?" Janet asked. "Am I in a rerun of the Jetsons?"

"Oh no, Janet!" Liz giggled. "I'm just offering Alex his usual lunch, from when he used to come into the CrashDown." Seeing Janet's confusion, Liz continued. "Alex and I grew up together in Roswell, New Mexico. My parents owned...own a cheesy alien-themed café called the CrashDown...you know...after the infamous UFO crash back in 1947. Anyway, all the food items have alien-themed names like men-in-blackberry pie, Martian meatball subs and..."

"...Saturn rings!" Janet finished for her, laughing. "And Jose is the café's cook?"

"Yeah and he makes the best rings!" Alex answered with a nostalgic tone in his voice.

"Well...what is tuna salad next to such exotic offerings? I'll have the sub and rings as well, if I may, Liz." Janet put in her order.

"Okay, I'll have everything ready in just a few minutes, would you like something to drink?" Liz asked.

"Man, Liz, I can see the antennae bobbing now! You sound just like you did when you were waitressing there, back in high school!" Alex grinned.

"Yeah, I guess I do." Liz giggled again. "So what will you have to drink, sir?"

"I'll have a cherry coke if you have any." Alex asked.

"Of course...and for you Janet?"

"Ooh, I haven't had a cherry coke in years; make that two." Janet grinned.

"Okay be right back..." Liz said.

"What was that reference to antennae, Alex?" Janet asked.

"Oh, it was part of their uniform. They had to wear a headband with two antennae sticking up out of it. You know, two long springs with silver balls at the tips. Wait; let me see if Liz still has our picture here somewhere." Alex said as he got up and walked over to some book shelves. "Here it is...man that seems so long ago..." Alex said, as he brought the picture over for Janet to see.

"Oh my goodness! They had to wear those things?" She chuckled.

Liz and a blond girl were in those waitress uniforms; your basic, short, button-down waitress dress, but theirs were turquoise with a silver collar and cuffs. Their aprons were shaped like silver alien heads with the large green eyes where the pockets were and then there were the headbands, with the silver balls at the ends of each antenna.

"Yeah, but in a tourist-trap like Roswell I guess the patrons expected such stuff." Alex said, shrugging his shoulders.

"So, who are these other people in the picture?" Janet asked.

"Maria DeLuca is the other waitress. She, Liz and I have known each other since we were in diapers!" Alex chuckled before his expression became suddenly sad as he continued. "That's Kyle Valenti, his girlfriend; Tess Harding is the short blond with the curls. Maria's boyfriend is Michael Guerin, the tall guy with the long light brown hair and there's me and my Isabel...Isabel Evans, the tall girl with the long straight blond hair, next to Liz and her boyfriend, Isabel's brother, Max Evans."

Janet looked closely at Liz's boyfriend, Max Evans. Wow handsome young man, with his sweet half smile and adoring eyes looking down at Liz. Dark brown hair; falling in bangs over his forehead and a great-looking body in a gray t-shirt and jeans. Janet noticed that Liz was returning Max's loving gaze with one of her own.

"Nice looking bunch of kids." Janet said. "This may be none of my business, Alex, but...by your expression, I guess that you guys aren't all friends anymore. Did...something...happen to your Isabel, Alex?" Janet asked in a soft, gentle voice.

"Isabel, Max, Michael and Tess all disappeared just after we graduated from high school." Liz said from the kitchen door. "We haven't seen or heard from them since." Liz came forward with a tray and placed their plates and drinks on the table.

"Oh Liz, I'm so sorry." Janet said, glancing to Alex as well. "Did they run away or...something?" Liz looked away from Janet.

"We don't know what happened to them." Liz said shortly before she took the picture away and placed it back on the shelf. Janet saw her run her index finger over the face of Max Evans, before she turned back to the table and joined them.

Lunch was pretty quiet after that. Janet did not think she should intrude into the younger people's thoughts by trying to make small-talk, so she remained silent and ate her delicious sub. After lunch, she said that maybe she would take a walk and left the two friends to talk.

"Oh man, Alex, it's been almost eleven years and I still can't look at their pictures and not start to cry. I don't know why I even keep them out on display. I should just put them away." Liz said.

"Hey, Maria and Kyle and I are still here and that picture reminds you of the fun times we had together." Alex said. "Yes...things have changed and that might make you sad but Liz, if you put that picture away you won't remember the good times. Bad stuff you can remember without any help...keep the pictures out to help you remember the good times; the joy that came along with the sorrow..."

Liz was silent for a moment before she looked up at Alex.

"You're right, Alex...I'll keep the pictures up to remember the good times. Thanks for reminding me about that." Liz said, reaching over to hug her friend.

Twenty minutes later, Janet returned from her walk.

"Are you okay Liz? I'm sorry if my curiosity set off unhappy memories." Janet said.

"No, it's okay Janet. You didn't do anything wrong. The memories are always with me, I just have to deal with them better, right my friend?" Liz asked, looking over to Alex.

"Hey...we both do." Alex replied to Liz with a sad smile.

"Well..." Liz said trying to sound more cheerful for her guest. "Would either of you like some coffee, or something else to drink?"

"Yeah Liz, I'd love some coffee." Alex said with a relieved grin.

"Coffee sounds good." Janet added her vote.

"Okay, I'll be back in a minute." Liz said, getting up from the sofa.

As soon as Liz disappeared into the kitchen, Janet turned to Alex.

"When do you think we can tell her about the open position at the SGC?" She whispered. "Would now be a good time; help distract her from bad memories?"

"Actually Janet, I'm afraid that after what happened at lunch, no time in the next month is going to be a good time to talk to Liz about working for the military; especially if I can't tell her the truth about our work. I know that..."

"I know that's our biggest recruiting snag; not being able to really tell people what the SGC is, before they sign on the dotted line." Janet nodded.

"So I guess my asking what you're talking about won't gain me any answers." Liz asked from the kitchen doorway with a tray in her hand.

"Well...uh..." Alex hesitated.

"We can tell you some things, Liz; just not everything." Janet tried to soothe the ruffled feathers of the younger woman.

"You're not here to attend the seminar, are you Dr. Fraser?" Liz asked.

"You called me Janet a moment ago, Liz." Janet reminded her. "Yes, I am here to attend the seminar on Monday, but that is not the main reason I...we are here; your lecture was just icing on the cake." Janet smiled.

"Okay..." Liz said, setting her tray down on the coffee table and taking a seat. "Please tell me all you can." Alex stalled for a moment as he poured coffee into mugs and passed them around.

"Liz...we want to offer you a job..."

"A job at your university? Alex, why would I leave Harvard?" Liz asked.

"Not at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Liz...I've had two jobs these past two months and now...I'll be resigning from my professorship at the end of this term so I can start to work full-time at the SGC; that's where we want you to come and work, Liz." Alex said.

"What's the SGC?" Liz asked and frowned as she saw Alex looking nervously over to Janet Fraser.

"We can't tell you what SGC stands for, Liz." Dr. Fraser said. "But we can tell you that the work we do there is very important and very rewarding."

"How'd you get hired, Alex? How could you have joined an organization you knew nothing about?" Liz asked.

"Dr. Koonz, one of my professors from MIT and Daniel Jackson approached me." Alex answered.

"Daniel's in on this?" Liz asked in surprise, but continued. "I remember your mentioning Dr. Koonz when we were in college; you respected him a great deal."

"I still do, especially now." Alex said.

"But, Daniel...he's a linguist, you and Dr. Koonz are Ph.D.s in electrical engineering...working together with a medical doctor and now you want me, a microbiologist to join you. With so many disciplines involved, what sort of organization are you all a part of; some sort of weird think-tank?" Then Liz's face grew pale. "Alex you told me that Daniel and his friends often wore military fatigues...is this some sort of military operation?" Liz's voice had grown louder until the last words were shouted.

"Calm down Liz." Alex said, glancing over to Janet for help.

"I can tell you that yes, part of our...organization in almost like a think-tank. We have dozens of scientists from astrophysicists to microbiologists and everything in between, working at the SGC...but okay yes, we are also partially military; a combined service from the Air Force and Marines and Special Forces."

"What?" Liz cried out. "Alex how could you...sell out like that? After everything...and you wanted me to join you?" Liz was very upset and Alex stood up.

"Excuse me Janet, Liz and I need to speak privately." Alex said as he took one of Liz's hands and pulled her to her feet. "Come Liz; let's talk in your bedroom." Liz followed Alex into her bedroom, closed and locked the door before turning to face her friend.

"What's going on here, Alex? Wait a minute-oh-my-God...you are not Alex!"

"Liz, Liz yes I am Alex! Liz, ask me anything you want to. Ask me what only I would know." Liz stared at him for a moment, her eyes huge and then spoke.

"What happened after the party at the soap-factory, during our sophomore year in high school?" She asked, never taking her eyes off of the man in front of her.

"Sheriff Valenti arrested the two of us and threw us into two of his holding cells, back at the Sheriff's station. You and I weren't getting along right then because you wouldn't tell me the truth about what was really going on between you and Max Evans. I was ticked off because Max's sister, Isabel, who I'd had a huge crush on...had come onto me, but only for the chance to test me; to determine whether I was trustworthy enough to know their deep dark secret. And there you were, sitting in the cell next to mine. You had finally decided to tell me the truth and I didn't want to listen." Alex stepped closer to Liz, so he could whisper the next part; making sure that Janet could not hear him from the next room. "But you kept on hammering at me until I listened. You told me that Max was special, that he wasn't from around there and when I asked you where he was from, you pointed your index finger at the ceiling." Alex chuckled. "I thought you were saying that Max was from Canada!" He laughed again, his voice getting louder. "Do you remember meeting Janet's daughter, Cassie? When she told you she was from Toronto and pointed her finger up to the ceiling; you thought she was really a Czech!" Both Liz and Alex laughed at that and Liz then launched herself into Alex's arms.

"I'm so sorry, Alex for doubting you. Oh man, it's been eleven years since we last saw them, but I guess I haven't moved beyond the need to be cautious and suspicious..."

"That's okay, Liz, really...but let's go back to that night for a minute. Do you remember how urgently you wanted me to trust you? How we trusted each other with our lives, especially while all of us were fighting the Skins, Nicholas and the Dupes? We were victorious over their greater numbers because we worked together and..."

"Trusted each other." Liz nodded.

"Yeah and I need you to trust me that much again. The work we're doing at the SGC is as important as what we achieved all those years ago and...it's fascinating, Liz! You'll love it, I promise."

"O-kay Alex...I trust you, but before I agree to join you, can Dr. Fraser tell me more about what I'll be doing?"

"Yeah she can...some anyway." Alex said, putting his hand out to her. "Ready to go back out there?"

"Sure..." Liz said as she placed her hand in his and they walked back out to the livingroom.

While Alex and Liz were talking in the bedroom, Janet sat in deep thought on the sofa.

'Oh man, that was quite a reaction from Liz about working for the government. What could have happened to that brilliant young woman to make her hate the military so much?' Janet tried to remember what she had read in Liz's file. 'None of her parents were ever in the military. She, her parents, grandparents and known associates had all been checked out with the FBI, CIA, NIA and the Police for good measure...they were all clean. Could she be afraid that Alex might be hurt working for the military; that he might be sent into a combat zone? Well, that was a valid concern. The SGC had on many occasions become a combat zone and Alex had signed up to accompany some of the SGC teams, but still...'

Just then, Liz and Alex's voices grew loud enough that Janet could hear what they were saying.

Alex chuckled. "...I thought you were saying that Max was from Canada!" He laughed again, his voice getting louder. "Do you remember meeting Janet's daughter, Cassie? When she told you she was from Toronto and pointed her finger up to the ceiling; you thought she was really a Czech!" Both Liz and Alex laughed at that.

'Liz thought Cassie was a Czech? What does that mean?' Janet wondered. 'Why would she think that Cassandra's from the Czech Republic? I must have heard that wrong...but what are they saying now? Alex and Liz were fighting skins and dopes? Were they in some sort of neighborhood watch/vigilantly group that helped the Police fight Skinheads and dope-pushers? There was nothing in either of their records about that but maybe it was all part of an unofficial Cambridge citizen's group, while they were in college...hmmm.' Janet thought and a few moments later, Alex and Liz came out of the bedroom. 'Well, that was a private conversation and I shouldn't have been listening, so I won't say anything...for now.' Janet thought as she smiled at the other too.

"Were you able to iron some things out?" Was all she asked.

"Yes...I think we did." Liz smiled at Alex and decided that it would be best if neither of them even started to try and explain what just happened.

"Uhm...good." Janet said. "What questions do you still have, Liz? I'll answer what I can."

"Alright, Janet...um...is this job clinical or research-oriented? Will I just be running tests on your...personnel after they come back from wherever they...um...go, or will I be conducting research, furthering the field of microbiology?" Liz asked and Janet nodded.

"We have medical technologists to run the routine tests, but if something unusual shows up, you'll be studying the samples and they're not just blood and tissue. You'll be studying soil, water, foliage and other materials that our teams bring back from...wherever they go." Janet grinned at Liz. "But you will also be doing research. Much of the samples brought back to you will be a mystery; never seen before. You'll have plenty to keep you busy, your skills challenged and your curiosity peaked."

"Boy are you ever right on that one, Doc!" Alex added, grinning. "Liz, I've only been with the SGC for two months, part time and the things I've seen...wow...they'll blow your mind!"

"Okay you two, you definitely have me interested!" Liz chuckled. "Can we talk about more mundane things; salary, insurance, vacation?"

Doctor Fraser gave Liz a file with all that sort of information in it and they went over it together. At the end, Liz sat quietly for a few moments.

"Liz?" Alex asked and his friend looked up.

"I can't believe I'm saying this but...okay, I'm in! What next?" She asked.

"Next we schedule an interview for you with our base commander, General Hammond. Would you be able to fly out next weekend?" Janet asked.

"Uh yeah, sure." Liz answered and shortly after that, Janet left to go back to her hotel room and take a nap. She would return later on, to have dinner with Liz and Alex.

Almost as soon as she had closed her door on Janet, Liz turned to Alex.

"Ever since I agreed to take this job, I've been wondering what I'm going to tell Maria and Kyle. Have you said anything to them, Alex?" Liz asked.

"Um, no I haven't, Liz." Alex admitted. "I really haven't needed to, but I suppose now I will. I'll no longer be at the University and once you move, the fact that I'm the one who talked you into taking this new job will come out. But Liz, we can't tell them anything about our work; it's top secret and you'll be required to sign an oath of secrecy." Alex warned.

"I know, Alex and right now I don't even know anything about what I'll really be doing, but once I do...it's going to be really difficult, keeping everything a secret from them, after all the secrets Maria and Kyle have helped us keep." Liz said miserably.

"We'll figure something out, Liz; it'll be okay." Alex hugged his best friend and Liz hugged him back.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The next Friday, Liz flew out to Colorado Springs. Alex picked her up at the airport and drove her first to his apartment, so she could change, freshen up and leave her luggage and then onto the Air Force base close by the Cheyenne Mountain Military Complex, where her interview with General Hammond was to take place.

When the two of them were shown into a conference room, Dr. Fraser and two Air Force officers were already there.

"Major General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill, this is Dr. Elizabeth Parker." Alex made the introductions and Liz greeted both men and Janet.

"Nice to meet you, Dr. Parker; please have a seat." The General said.

After everyone was seated, the interview got started. Liz answered all the questions put to her, as well as responding to Colonel O'Neill's sarcastic comments. She could not respond with humor as Alex had, but she held her own. The Colonel reminded her of Michael Guerin, her friend, Maria's boyfriend and fellow alien along with Max, Isabel and Tess. He had been sarcastic, unsentimental and rather dense sometimes; a man of action, rather than of thinking and planning and the Colonel struck her as much the same personality. Luckily, she had figured out how to handle Michael years ago and Liz used what she had learned with Michael during the interview...and it kept them from lunging across the table to kill each other, at least.

"Well, Doctor, your record is very impressive and I liked what I heard during this interview." General Hammond said at last. "Unless you have any further questions, most of which I will be unable to answer quite yet...I would like to formally offer you this position with the SGC."

"Thank you, General." Liz answered, smiling across at the older, balding man. "I formally accept your offer."

"Great!" Alex and Janet exclaimed.

"Here are some forms you will need to sign, including your oath of secrecy." Liz signed the forms, pushed them back towards the General and then lifted her glass of water to her lips. Colonel O'Neill sprung his little trick on her as he had Alex.

Tell me Doctor; I see that you grew up in Roswell. Do you believe in aliens?"

Liz was able to swallow without chocking but her eyes flew to the Colonel's and narrowed in annoyance. For a second, Liz wished she still carried that old photograph of the supposed alien from the 1947 crash. She wondered if O'Neill would have reacted to it in the same way that the tourists in her parent's café had, when she told them the tale about her grandfather taking the picture before the government had hushed everything up...Liz allowed a tiny smirk to curve her lips and she rolled her eyes.

"Colonel, if I had a dime for every time I've been asked that question, I'd be a rich woman! But to answer your question; sure I believe in life on other planets. With all the billions of other planets out there, life forms of some sort, even like us, must have developed on some of them."

"Very rational, Doctor." Jack O'Neill said. "So you believe that there could be nice, innocent aliens out there, peacefully living on their own little planet. Do you ever think about the nasty kinds of aliens? The ones who fly across space to invade and conquer other worlds? Do you think they exist or are we all a part of some big happy federation?"

"Sure, after I've seen one too many thriller movies with my man Alex over there, I think about BEMs all the time, especially in my nightmares." Liz shot back. "Is this conversation going somewhere, Colonel or is this just your way of welcoming me to the team?"

"BEMS...Doctor?" O'Neill asked with his eyebrows raised.

"Bug-Eyed-Monsters, Colonel. I thought everyone knew what BEMs were. I guess you're not into Sci-fi, huh?" Liz asked.

"No, I guess I'm more of a reality kind of guy, Doctor." Jack answered.

"And I think I'm a kind of commanding-type-guy who says lets take our newest recruit over to see the SGC...before this conversation does go any further, Colonel." General Hammond broke in reprovingly.

"Yes sir, General." Colonel O'Neill replied all military discipline again. "Dr. Parker, if you'll follow me, we'll drive over to the base, get your security badge and give you a tour of where you'll be working."

"You mean you guys don't work here, on this base?" Liz asked.

"No this is just your normal everyday Air Force base, Liz. Where we work is a little more...unique." Janet said, grinning at the other woman and led her out of the room.

They all piled into a van; Colonel O'Neill drove while Liz sat in the front passenger seat. A few minutes later, Liz could see the mouth of a large tunnel up ahead and then Jack was pulling the van over to the curb.

"That's where we work, Doctor." He said and Liz saw the large letters over the tunnel mouth; Cheyenne Mountain Military Complex.

"You work inside the mountain?" Liz asked.

"Actually, Liz, we work under the mountain; two miles down!" Alex piped up from the back seat and Liz looked around a little nervously.

"Don't worry, Liz, it's not that bad." Janet soothed her and Liz nodded.

O'Neill drove forward and soon they were passing through the different security check points and into the underground parking deck. They entered the base itself and Liz was issued her various pieces of I.D., which she would need to proceed any further.

"Here Liz, have some chewing gum. It'll help your ears to deal with the change in air pressure, just like on a plane, only we're going down and not up." Alex said as he handed around sticks of gum and popped a piece into his own mouth.

"Here we go." Alex said as the door closed on them and they descended into the depths of the mountain.

Half way down the elevator stopped and they got out, only to pass through yet another security check-point and then to enter a second elevator. Liz chewed on her gum and kept swallowing to equalize the pressure in her ears. Finally, the elevator stopped and they all stepped out.

"There are sleeping quarters on the level above us and the highest security floors are below us, but this one has many of the labs and offices located on it." Janet told Liz as they started the tour. "High security areas are accessed using special key-cards; you'll be issued the ones you need."

'And I'm to keep my nose out of the other areas I'm not allowed in.' Liz thought to herself.

"Down that way is Medical, including the Infirmary, ICU and many of the labs, but since much of what you'll be doing will be research, your lab and office are this way. Nothing fancy down here I'm afraid; very utilitarian." Janet warned as they walked along.

Liz nodded as she looked around. The hallways were just giant tubes with flat, concrete floors. Pipes and conduit ran along the sides of the walls and the ceilings, but they were high enough, wide enough and brightly lit enough that Liz did not feel claustrophobic at all. Also, there were enough people bustling around industriously that she did not think that she would ever feel isolated or alone down here.

"In here's my lab." Alex said as the group paused at a door and Alex opened it. Inside was a large, well lit room with a high ceiling and equipment everywhere.

"Oh man, Alex, what is all this stuff? I only recognize about a third of it all." Liz asked.

"That's good, Liz, 'cause I only recognize about two-thirds! Much of this material was brought back with one of the SGC teams." Alex explained, looking like a kid on Christmas morning, as he glanced over all his new toys.

"The teams bring this stuff from where?" Liz asked.

"That's the big surprise at the end of the tour, Doctor." Jack said, trying to move things along.

"Your lab is this way." Janet said, taking the Colonel's hint.

They moved out into the hall and almost bumped into Daniel Jackson and a tall, blond woman next to him.

"Liz, you're here; great!" Daniel exclaimed. "Let me introduce you to Captain-Doctor Samantha Carter. Sam's a Ph.D. in astrophysics and probably a couple other things I can never remember."

"Dr. Parker, welcome aboard the SGC." Sam shook her hand, smiling.

"Call me Liz, if you don't mind." Liz said, looking at the small group standing around her.

"Thanks, I'm Sam." The Captain said. "You're just getting your first tour? Daniel and I are going in that same direction, we'll join you." Liz nodded.

"In that case, Doctor, if you'll excuse me I need to get back to my office, but you're in good hands with these four." General Hammond said to Liz and then he turned to O'Neill. "Jack, bring Dr. Parker to the briefing room when you're through."

"Yes sir." O'Neill agreed, before the General moved off.

"Come on; let me show you your lab." Sam said and the little group moved off down the hallway.

"Here you go." Alex said as he opened a door for her.

Liz moved into the lab and looked around in awe at all of the first-rate high-tech equipment which took up space all around the room.

"Your office is through here." Sam opened a door in a side wall and they stepped into it.

There was a military-issue gray metal desk and computer table in the middle, metal bookshelves around three walls and a worn leather couch on the fourth wall. Again, everything was utilitarian, but Liz didn't mind when she thought about the work she could accomplish in her new lab next door.

"May I bring in some personal items of my own?" Liz asked.

"Yeah sure. You'll have to pass everything through Security first though." Alex explained and Liz nodded.

"Why don't we go back to Medical; I can show you around and you can meet some of your colleagues, Liz." Janet suggested and Liz nodded.

Jack trailed along behind the group, wishing he were doing almost anything else, but wanting to keep an eye on this new scientist at least until they finally showed her their secret down on sub-level 28.

As Janet showed her around Medical, Liz was wondering why it was necessary for a military base, two miles underground to have not only an infirmary, but also a large triage area and an intensive care unit supplied with all the latest medical equipment and lots of it. There was only one patient in the ICU, but there had been several in the Infirmary's ward.

'What were these people really doing down here that necessitated all of this room, equipment and staffing? What had she gotten herself into? Well, I'll find out by the end of this tour, I guess.' Liz thought to herself.

As they were leaving Medical, Liz spied a piece of paper which had been taped to the wall, near the exit; on it was printed "Now exiting the Daniel Jackson Medical Facility."

'What on earth?' Liz wondered, when she saw the sign and almost asked Janet about it, but then changed her mind, figuring she'd rather not know...for the time being.

After touring Medical, Janet took Liz on a quick tour of the floor above, which held sleeping quarters, offices and communal bathrooms; no individual, private bathrooms here, Janet reminded her with an apologetic tone of voice. From there they went back down to the lower level and Liz was shown the Commissary, where she could eat and the locker rooms. Finally, they descended to the next level and entered a conference room. This room must be near the General's office, since it was not so Spartan, with a large wooden table in the middle and comfortable leather chairs surrounding it. There was a large, flat-screen monitor hung on the wall at one end of the room, which was broken up into separate panels, running lists of information. A sophisticated, multifunction remote sat on that end of the conference table. Hi-tech briefing room, indeed, Liz thought, as her unspoken questions were answered.

"In here is where we hold mission briefings and conferences." Sam told Liz. "General Hammond's office is right next door; let me just go and see if he's available." She said before leaving the room. A moment later, the General came in, followed by Captain Carter.

"Well Dr. Parker, what do you think of our facility?" He asked.

"Very impressive, General; you seem to have all the bells and whistles down here...wow the equipment I saw in some of the labs!" Liz exclaimed.

"And they all are of vital importance to us; let me assure you, Doctor." The General replied. "Well I guess you're anxious to see the real reason we're all here."

"Yes please." Liz said, now a little apprehensive.

"This way." The General said and they all followed him out, with Liz on his heals.


Part 4

Liz, Alex, Daniel, Sam and Jack followed General Hammond out of the conference room and into a long, slim room with gray walls on three sides and a huge window on the fourth, long wall. One after another, computer screens and keyboards were aligned on desks which fit in, underneath the window. The room they were in overlooked an enormous room below, beyond the large observatory window and it was not until Liz drew closer to the bank of glass that she could see what was in the room below. Her eyes grew large and round at what she saw. An enormous, flat ring was standing up on its edge. Actually, Liz noticed that there was an inner ring and an outer ring. There were seven triangular objects, which she could see, attached to the outer ring and symbols of some sort carved into the inner ring.

"What is that thing and what are those markings on the inner ring?" Liz chuckled. "Some of them remind me of star constellations...see, that one looks like Orion." Liz pointed. "What are all of you doing down here, saving the world by charting everyone's horoscope?" Liz turned back to the group with a smile on her face, but frowned when she saw them all staring at her. "What?" She asked and Colonel O'Neill pantomimed clicking off a stop-watch.

"Twenty seconds, Daniel. It took Dr. Parker twenty seconds to figure out what it took you two weeks to decipher!" Jack smirked at his good friend and teammate. Daniel was looking at Liz with respect on his handsome face.

"What you forgot to mention, Colonel." Sam said quickly. "Was that Daniel found an answer to a question, in two weeks, that several others had spent two years unsuccessfully trying to understand." Liz was looking back and forth between Sam and Daniel.

"What are you talking about?" She asked.

"Let's go back to the briefing room." General Hammond suggested.

"Yes sir, but before we go; this..." O'Neill gestured to the giant ring below. "...is the Stargate and we use it to travel to other planets...and to...save the world!"

"What?" Was all Liz could ask.

"Let's go to the briefing room and we'll start at the beginning." Alex said, linking his arm with hers' and guiding Liz out of the control room.

General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill walked them back to the briefing room but left them there to return to their offices and the piles of work which were waiting for each of them. Sam, Daniel, Janet and occasionally Alex took turns telling Liz the story of the Stargate.

First of all, the Stargate is a device created by aliens known only as the Ancients; one of the first and oldest races out in space. Its purpose is to create an artificial, but stable wormhole which shoots across space from one gate to another. The Ancients first built the great network of Stargates, but the technology was stolen by at least one race and used to place gates on other planets as well, to help build their growing empire. This other species is known as the Goa'uld; a snake-like creature which must inhabit a host in a symbiotic relationship to survive. The relationship is not a sharing between host and symbiote, however. For the unlucky host, the "blending" is usually involuntary and very painful as the Goa'uld forces its way into its next host through the back or the neck. Afterwards, very little of the host's personality survives as the Goa'uld takes over control of all thought and action.

Many millennia ago, the Goa'uld came to Earth and took on the personae of the Egyptian gods in order to make the ancient humans worship them and provide the aliens with a source of slave labor. The Goa'uld even patterned their spaceships, writing and clothing after that of the Egyptian culture which they tried to conquer. One of these aliens named himself Ra and he and the other System Lords took thousands of humans through the Stargate to other planets, where they were made to mine naqueda; a quartz material and the element which the Stargates are made from and much of Goa'uld technology uses. They were also bred to provide host candidates for the alien parasites. And some of the humans were genetically altered to have a pouch, much like that of a marsupial, implanted into their abdomens. In these pouches, immature Goa'uld were nurtured and protected until they were mature enough to take a host. Such people became known as the Jaffa and even though the young symbiotes could not yet take over their protector's minds and bodies, they could heal and give perfect health to the Jaffa who carried them. The Jaffa also became the Goa'uld's worriers as well.

While their human brethren were kept in slavery on other planets, the ancient Egyptians of Earth rose up against Ra and made him leave their planet. They tore down the Stargate and buried it safely under a heavy stone cover-piece to keep anyone from coming through the Stargate ever again. But in 1928, ten year old Catherine Langford was with her archeologist father when he discovered the Stargate, buried on the Gaza plateau, in Egypt. Almost seventy years later, Catherine, a long-time Ph.D. herself was still carrying on her father's work of trying to make the Stargate work, down in the bowels of Cheyenne Mountain.

First, Samantha Carter, Ph.D. and Air Force officer was brought into the project. Within two years, Sam managed to do what Catherine and her team had been trying to do for thirteen years; to power and control the Stargate. But they still could not make the Stargate create the wormhole they theorized it was meant to do.

Then Catherine heard Daniel Jackson give a seminar in Los Angeles about his theories; that the pyramids of the Egyptians, Mayans and Aztec had been built by aliens. Daniel was laughed off of the stage and out of academia. But Catherine was intrigued and she hired the gifted young linguist and Egyptologist to come and translate the markings on the Stargate. Like Sam, Daniel did in two weeks what the current set of experts had been trying to do for two years; he discovered that the markings were not words to be translated, but star constellations and that to make the Stargate work, a seven-constellation "address" had to be locked or entered into its chevrons; the triangular pieces on the outer ring, using Sam Carter's three super-computers to rotate the inner ring and "dial in" the address.

Once the Stargate successfully created its wormhole, the scientists were eager to try out their theory. They had dialed up the address which had been inscribed into the stone cover-piece and they sent a probe through to see what was on the other side. They saw another planet which their sensors indicated as having a breathable atmosphere. A team was formed of Colonel Jack O'Neill as team leader, Daniel Jackson as interpreter and a squad of Marines as back up. The planet was named Abydos and the inhabitants were human; brought there millennia ago by Ra to serve as slaves.

The Abydonians mistook the team with their advanced weapons to be messengers of their god, Ra and Daniel, with his pale skin, blue eyes and Catherine's good-luck charm, a medallion with the eye of Ra on it, as Ra himself. Before they could communicate properly with each other, the Abydonian chief, Kasuf gave Daniel the gift of his lovely daughter, Sha're. Daniel did not want to take advantage of the beautiful young woman and so instead of taking her to his bed, he set out to become her friend and learn her language, which was a dialect of ancient Egyptian.

Meanwhile, Colonel O'Neill and his men made friends with some of the young Abydonian men; one in particular named Ska'ra, Sha're's brother. When the real Ra and his real soldiers came to Abydos in his pyramid-shaped and sized ship, to collect his tribute of naqueda, O'Neill's team, Ska'ra's "militia", Daniel and Sha're fought the aliens to set the Abydonian people free. They finally succeeded in making Ra leave Abydos in his ship and then when it was in orbit, set off a nuclear device they had smuggled on board at the last second, blowing Ra, his ship and his Jaffa warriors into space dust.

Of the seven symbols needed to make the Stargate work, the seventh symbol signifies the point of origin and the team did not know what it was for Abydos, but Daniel saw Skar'ra writing an account of their victory on a wall and figured out what the seventh symbol was, enabling the Earth men to return home. Daniel, however had fallen in love with Sha're and decided to stay behind on Abydos. O'Neill and his team returned to Earth and reported that Ra and his forces were destroyed, Daniel was killed and the Abydonian Stargate was buried. Afterwards, Jack O'Neill retired from the Air Force...

...until a year later when the Stargate was about to be decommissioned and only a handful of Marines were still guarding it. Suddenly the gate was activated and aliens came through to Earth. They killed all of the guards except one, a female, who they took back through the gate with them. At the last moment, General Hammond and reinforcements rushed into the Gate-room to see one of the aliens' eyes' glow, before he retreated back through the gate.

With this new threat, Jack O'Neill was recalled to active duty. When General Hammond was determined to send another, bigger nuclear device through the Stargate to Abydos, Jack had to admit that although Ra and his ship were destroyed, Daniel Jackson and the people of Abydos were still alive and well on that other planet. He convinced General Hammond to send him and his team, made up of two of his former men, Kowalski and Ferretti and a few others, to Abydos instead. At the mission briefing, Colonel O'Neill was introduced to Captain Samantha Carter. Sam told him of her work with the Stargate and the Air Force and insisted on accompanying him on the mission.

When ready, the team went through the Stargate to Abydos. There they were greeted by Daniel, Skar'ra and his militia, who have been guarding the gate. Sha're, Daniels lovely wife was also there. Jack told Daniel about Ra coming through the gate on Earth, but Daniel insisted that Ra was dead and whoever had come through did not go through the Abydonian Stargate. Sam Carter was certain, however, that the Stargate only worked between Earth and Abydos. Daniel disagreed and took Sam and Jack with him to show them something he had found...after receiving one incredibly loving and passionate kiss from Sha're, whom Daniel asked to stay behind.

What Daniel wanted to show them was an immense hall with writing on all of the columns. The chamber was a giant address book for the Stargate. Together Sam and Daniel figured out that those addresses, which Daniel had tried, but could not make work, would need to be recalculated to account for millennia of stellar drift and that in doing so...the Stargate could go anywhere!

Meanwhile, back in the Stargate chamber, the gate was activated from off-world and a Goa'uld and a company of Jaffa came through. They killed many of the Abydonians and soldiers before taking Sha're and Ska'ra with them. Moments later when Daniel, Jack and Sam returned, they found the aftermath of the attack. Ferretti needed immediate medical treatment and Jack had orders to bring Daniel home with him. Daniel, in an emotional good-bye to his friends ordered them to bury the Stargate again, while he would try to find Sha're and Ska'ra. In one year they were to uncover the gate and if he could, on that one day he would bring them home.

The team returned to Earth. Ferretti recovered enough to give them the address which the aliens had used to escape and a rescue mission was planned. The team including Jack, Daniel, Sam, Kowalski and his Marines, used the address and went through the gate again to a planet called Chulak, which turned out to be the home-world of the Jaffa. Dozens of people from other worlds had been brought there as host-candidates for the Goa'uld. This alien was not Ra, but his brother and rival, Apophis. His queen was Amonette; she and her children needed new hosts. The Marine sergeant who had been taken earlier was brought before the Pharaoh and his queen, but was rejected and killed. Sha're was chosen next and accepted. The Goa'uld queen left her old host and entered Sha're's body painfully through her neck and took over her new host.

The team came through the Stargate; called by the Jaffa, the Chapa'ai, but were quickly imprisoned. They arrived only in time to see Sha're already host to the Goa'uld queen. Ska'ra was among the captives the team was imprisoned with. When Apophis, Amonette and their children came to the dungeon to pick out their new hosts, Daniel begged to be taken so he could stay near his beloved Sha're, but Ska'ra was picked instead. After the Goa'uld left the dungeon, the Jaffa were ordered to kill all of the remaining captives. Jack had been watching one Jaffa who seemed to be saddened by the things he was ordered to do. Jack called out for is help in freeing the captives and the Jaffa, named Teal'c agreed; killing his fellow Jaffa and helping the captives to escape.

Teal'c returned with the team and the alien refugees to Earth and the premier team of the Stargate Command, SG-1, was formed. Jack, Sam, Teal'c and Daniel would travel through the Stargate many times over the next two years, trying to find Sha're and Ska'ra, as well as fighting to stop the Goa'uld from taking over the universe and Earth itself. They would travel to dozens of new planets, meet many new people, different species; some good and some evil, up until that day when they sat down at the briefing table and told their story to Dr. Liz Parker.

"Ohhh...man!" Liz exclaimed when the story came to an end. "Those bright lights out in space a few months ago...did you guys...have anything to do with them?"

"Yeah, that was us." Sam answered. "Daniel had learned that Apophis was planning to attack Earth. We were able to gate aboard one of his two mother-ships and to make a very long story short, blew them both up. But Apophis and Klorel, the Goa'uld who inhabits Ska'ra's body, were able to escape. So were we, barely; Daniel was mortally wounded and insisted on staying behind, but was able to drag himself into a healing-sarcophagus and then to gate home, once the alien device had made him whole again. The Colonel, Teal'c, Teal'c's mentor, Bra'tac and I were able to escape in two Goa'uld death-gliders!"

"Oh...man!" Liz and Alex exclaimed in unison.

"Earth could have been destroyed...except for what you did!" Alex said in awe. Daniel and Sam blushed and looked modestly down at the table and Janet smiled proudly at her friends.

"I'm torn between wishing that the entire world could know about all of the brave and fascinating things SG-1 has done...and hoping instead that they never find out how close we came to the end of the world." Janet said thoughtfully. Liz and Alex shared a meaningful glance.

"Amen." They said. The world should not be told about the two times that, if not for Liz, Alex and their friends, the "end of the world" would have come to pass.

"Daniel, have you never seen Sha're since she was taken?" Liz asked gently, changing the subject.

"Just once, a little over a year ago." Daniel said in a sad voice. "I returned to Abydos; a year after I had left, to explain to my father-in-law, Kasuf that I had not yet been able to find his son and daughter, but that I would keep trying. Kasuf had a surprise for me. Sha're was there and she was...very pregnant...with Apophis' child. I guess when a Goa'uld is pregnant, the symbiote goes dormant; otherwise the baby would die. Apophis took Amonette to Abydos, to hide her during her pregnancy, so that his enemies would not find out about his plans for the child; to raise it until it could become his knew host. We had a short time together, while I explained to Sha're what I wanted to do. I was planning to bring her back home with me and she wanted that too, but before we could leave, Sha're went into labor and gave birth to her son. While she was in labor though, Heru'ur, an enemy of Apophis, came through the Stargate looking for Amonette and her child, but Teal'c made sure that he was unable to find either one of them. As soon as the baby was born, the Goa'uld took over Sha're's mind and body again, but we were able to trick her into believing that Heru'ur had come and taken her baby away and that's what she told Apophis when he came to pick up his queen, shortly after that. He brought too many Serpent-Guards with him and we had to let Apophis take Sha're/Amonette with him...oh man...I failed her again..." Daniel cried out and hid his face in his hands

"Daniel don't do this to yourself again, we've been over this before. It wasn't your fault; there wasn't anything you could do." Sam spoke urgently to her friend.

"And if you had tried to fight them, you, Sha're and Teal'c would probably all be dead; along with the baby." Liz assured him.

"Have you been able to find out anything about where Sha're is now? What happened to the baby?" Alex asked curiously.

"Just rumors. She's still alive, but we don't know exactly where she and Apophis are hiding themselves. Kasuf has the baby in hiding, on Abydos." Daniel said, coming out from behind his hands.

"So Daniel, will I be introduced to Teal'c sometime soon?" Liz asked, trying to lighten the mood. Daniel looked at his watch.

"Actually, he's due back anytime now; he's been on his home world, Chulak visiting his wife and son." Daniel said and they all got up and stretched then started walking back to the control room.

"He has a wife and son on another planet?" Liz asked.

"Yes, but when he renounced his lord, Apophis as a false god and came to join our fight; he had to leave his family behind. They thought he was dead or had deserted them...it's a whole long story, but suffice it to say that they've patched things up some and now he goes to visit them when he can." Sam explained and Liz nodded.

Just as they were all entering the control room, the Stargate was activated from off-world. Claxons sounded and lights flashed.

"Off-world activation." The airman on duty called out, as General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill came running into the room.

"Any signal yet?" The General asked.

"No sir." The airman replied.

"Close the iris." The General ordered and a large metal shield, like the shutter on a camera, folded out from behind the ring to cover the opening in the middle of the Stargate.

"Receiving a signal now, sir. It's SG-1." The airman reported.

"Open the iris." General Hammond ordered and the iris retracted back into its hiding place.

The Stargate's inner ring had turned until each chevron on the outer ring had locked itself on one of the symbols on the inner ring. Suddenly what looked like a great horizontal splash of water pouring through a drain came whooshing through the Stargate. It reached several yards straight out from the great ring before retracting back to form what looked like a vertical, backlit rippling pool of water.

"Whoa!" Liz exclaimed as all of them ran down the circular stairway to the gate room. "That is so incredible!"

"It certainly is. I still feel the same way I did the first time I saw the gate activated, no matter how many times I see it or travel through it!" Sam told Liz.

A moment later a man-shaped shadow appeared on the rippling surface of the event horizon and then a large, bald, yet young-looking black man stepped through the Gate as if he were stepping from one room to another.

"Teal'c always makes it look so easy." Daniel commented. "I've lost count of the times I've been spit out of that thing to fall yards away from the Gate!"

Teal'c was walking down the metal ramp towards them. He carried only a long staff of some sort. The butt end had a flattened paddle shape to it and the top end had what looked like an elongated seed-pod attached to it. The pod was even scored into quarters down its length. Teal'c wore green fatigues and boots like the rest of the military personnel did, but as he came closer, Liz saw a raised golden tattoo on his high forehead.

"What's that mark on his forehead?" Liz whispered to Sam, as Jack moved forward to greet his friend.

"All Jaffa are marked with the symbol of the Goa'uld they serve. Teal'c's indicates that he was not only in service to Apophis, but the gold means that he was First Prime; leader of all of the Jaffa who served the false god." Sam explained.

"And the stick he's carrying; is that something...special?" Liz continued to whisper.

"That's his staff weapon. The four pieces of the casing open to shoot an energy bolt." Sam explained. "Come on, I'll introduce you." She said and the two women moved forward.

"Hi Teal'c. How's everyone on Chulak?" Sam asked smiling up at her friend and teammate.

"Very well, CaptainCarter, thank you." Teal'c replied gravely and courteously in a deep voice as he bowed his head to her in greeting.

"Great! Teal'c I'd like you to meet the newest member of the SGC. This is Dr. Elizabeth Parker, she's a microbiologist." Sam said. Teal'c bowed his head towards Liz in greeting.

"It is an honor to meet you DoctorElizabethParker." Teal'c ran her full name together into one word. "I hope that you will find your duties with the SGC most interesting." He said gravely. Liz saw that Teal'c apparently did not shake hands, so she didn't extend hers, but made a little bow instead.

"It's an honor and a pleasure to meet you too, Teal'c and please, just call me Liz." She smiled up at the large man and received a second grave bow of his head before moving on with Jack to greet Daniel and the General with equal formality.

"He seems very reserved?" Liz asked Sam quietly.

"Yeah, I guess so." Sam agreed. "Don't expect him to call you just Liz either. The closest he might come to that will be calling you LizParker, but more likely he will always call you DoctorParker or DoctorLizParker; that's just his way. But you won't find a braver or more loyal friend to guard your back anywhere...except maybe Colonel O'Neill, Daniel...or myself." Sam said with a grin.

"That's...good to know." Liz said smiling too. "Well that was quite an exciting orientation to my knew job; I can hardly wait to move out here and get started!"

Alex, who had watched everything from up in the control room came down just in time to here Liz's comment.

"What'd I tell you, Liz? Aren't you glad I talked you into this?" Alex asked and got a hug from his best friend.

"Yeah, Alex I really am!" Liz said.

"Hey I forgot to tell you the best news...an apartment in my building has opened up; I spoke to the landlord and he agreed to hold it for you if you want." Alex said.

"Hey that's great, Alex, thanks!" Liz exclaimed. "That really eases my mind."

"Why don't we go up to my office and I can give you some info about getting the Air Force base near you to help you move all of your stuff?" Sam said.

"Great!" Liz said again as they walked towards Sam's office.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Two weeks later, Liz was in her old apartment, packing up the last of her possessions. Even though the local Air Force base's office of personnel transfer had offered to help her pack as well as to move, Liz had preferred to perform that chore personally. She was a very private person and she did not want that privacy infringed upon by anyone, even if it was some well-meaning airman helping her pack up her books. Plus, she did not want anyone seeing her tear up whenever she came across a picture or memento that reminded her of Max. Her thoughts were interrupted just then by her phone ringing.

"Hello? Oh, Alex you're back! How was it?" Liz asked, knowing that Alex had left last week on his first trip through the Stargate.

"Ohhh man, Liz! It was In-cred-i-ble!" Alex exclaimed. "To know you're actually on another...you-know-what! And seeing all these knew...uh...things! Plus the trip there...wow! It's like the ultimate rollercoaster! You gotta try it, Liz!" Alex told her.

"Yeah, Alex, I've been thinking about that...and I think I'll do it...eventually...Maybe after you've gone through...it...a couple more times...then I'd like to..." Liz said hesitantly.

"You'll love it Liz!" Alex said again and then managed to calm down a little. "So, when are you actually moving out here? I'm sorry I couldn't help you pack."

"That's okay, Alex; it was better for me to do it myself...you know packing up all those memories as well as my shoes and my books." Liz tried to chuckle.

"Uh huh..." Alex said sympathetically.

"I'm glad you were able to show me my new apartment when I was there last so I could measure everything. I think I'll be able to fit all of my stuff in there." Liz said. "Oh anyway, they're picking everything up tomorrow." Liz said briskly. "I'm just packing up the last couple boxes and the suitcases I'm taking with me, now."

"You're planning on staying with me until you get everything organized right?" Alex double-checked.

"Yeah, thanks again for letting me bunk with you." Liz said.

"Hey, no problem." Alex assured her. "So...how did your parents take your news?" Alex asked.

"Oh, you just had to bring that up didn't you?" Liz chuckled. "Let's just say they're a little worried about my decision-making. They reminded me that last year I was so certain that my professorship at Harvard was my dream job and now less than twelve months later, I'm quitting that to become a civilian scientist with the Air Force. What makes it even worse is that I can't even tell them the truth about the work I'll be doing. They didn't like my explanation that my job and the Air Force base is high security, so that they will never even be allowed to come and see my so-called lab there." Liz drew in a deep, calming breath and ran her hand back through her long hair.

"I'm...sorry...Liz." Alex soothed.

"It'll be okay, Alex. I know my decision is sound. I loved working at Harvard and the teaching was fun, but I think lab work is more my true-love...and to be able to work with such high-caliber scientists like Sam and the others at the SGC will be so...stimulating!"

"I know Liz. That's exactly how I felt when I first joined them and I've never regretted it...so you finish packing, get a good night's sleep and I'll see you tomorrow." Alex told her, big-brother style.

"See ya then, Alex." Liz smiled before they both hung up.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

By the next week, Liz finally had everything unpacked in her new apartment. It had taken far longer to unpack than it had to pack; finding just the right place for everything. As she stood in her living room proudly, looking around at her new space, someone knocked on her front door.

"Who is it?" She called as she looked through her security peep-hole.

"It's me, Alex." Liz heard and saw through the tiny lens.

"Oh hi, Alex; come in and see..." Liz cut off what she was about to say as she opened up the door and saw that it was not just Alex who stood outside her new home. Alex, Daniel, Sam, Janet, Cassie and half-a-dozen other medical and science personnel, whom Liz had already met at the SGC, stood there grinning.

"Surprise!" They all yelled as Liz backed up and let them in. "Alex said you were all moved in so we all wanted to come over and give you a welcome to the neighborhood party." Sam explained.

Liz saw that everyone was carrying something; trays of cheese, fruit, veggies and dip, desserts, drinks, plates, glasses and napkins.

"Please come in. This is great guys!" Liz exclaimed.

"About half of us actually do live here in the building." Daniel grinned as he came in.

"So are you ready to start work on Monday?" Janet asked as she brought Liz a plastic glass filled to the top with white wine.

"Thanks, uh yes I am. I can't wait to get started!" Liz exclaimed.

"Ohhh, I think we have a candidate for the WUYD Club." Daniel warned.

"The WUYD Club, what's that?" Liz asked.

"It's more of a syndrome, wouldn't you say Dr. Fraser?" Sam asked Janet, who nodded thoughtfully.

"Yes, I think you are correct with your diagnosis, Captain Carter." Janet said.

"What?" Liz asked again.

"It's the "Work-Until-You-Drop-Club...or Syndrome, as my learned colleagues call it...although I like club better." Daniel explained. "We're all rather obsessive-compulsive in the Club. The work we do at the SGC is so fascinating that we don't like interrupting it for irrelevant things like sleep or food."

"Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond often have to play mother-hen with us; make sure that we don't work too long or order us to go home or get some sleep on base." Sam continued.

"Ah, thus your fixation with coffee beans, Daniel. Alex has told me that they are the only groceries he's ever seen you bring home!" Liz teased.

"Uh, yes, Daniel is a great connoisseur of coffee." Janet agreed as Daniel just blushed.

"Well...I'll probably only be a junior member; I get kinda grumpy if I don't get four hours of sleep a night!" Liz chuckled and so did everyone else, including Cassie, Janet's adopted thirteen year old daughter, who had just joined the little group. "Hi Cassie, I'm glad that you were able to come with your mother tonight."

"I love parties! We didn't have them in...Toronto." Cassie replied, winking mischievously at Liz, since she knew that Liz had been told about her alien origins.

Cassandra had been the only survivor of a planet, which the Goa'uld had wiped out and even then, they had placed a bomb inside the little girl's chest, which was supposed to explode when Cassie stepped through the Earth Stargate. Luckily, SG-1 and especially Sam had figured out how to save her just in the nick of time.

"Toronto, that's in Canada, right, Cassie?" Liz asked, winking back at the young girl and pointing her index finger to the ceiling. Liz ignored the sound of Alex chocking on his wine.

"Yes, Liz, Toronto is in Canada; that's up north of here." Cassie specified, also pointing her index finger to the ceiling.

"Well it's a shame that they don't have parties in...Toronto. That just means that we'll have to make sure you go to lots of parties here...in Colorado Springs!" Liz assured Cassie, who was grinning along with everyone else. Soon after that the little group broke up to mingle and Liz turned to Alex.

"What's the matter, Alex; did you swallow your drink down the wrong pipe?" Liz asked as she pounded on his back a few times.

"Uh...cough...yeah...cough...I guess I did. Oh man, Liz, when you pointed to the ceiling...and then Cassie pointed to the ceiling...I wanted to laugh out loud, but I knew I couldn't and I ended up choking on my wine instead! So, do you think we'll ever be able to tell Cassie the real significance of saying you're from "up north" when you're an alien?" Alex grinned.

"I don't know, Alex; maybe someday!" Liz grinned back. "Let's mingle..." She said before they parted to do just that. The party really got going and Liz had a lot of fun getting to know everyone.

"Alex." Liz came up to her friend sometime later. "I was just wondering why Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c don't like us science-geeks all that much...well except for Daniel and Sam...but even with those two, he won't let them rattle on about the work they're doing. And Teal'c is a pretty keep-to-himself-unless-he's-watching-hocky-with-O'Neill-kinda-guy."

"I know that the four of them; Daniel, Sam, Teal'c and O'Neill do go out together sometimes, they're very close, but that's about it for Teal'c." Alex explained and Liz nodded.

'Yep, Colonel O'Neill is just like Michael Guerin...especially with the hockey. Well maybe someday I'll gain his trust like I did with Michael.' Liz thought to herself before she rejoined the fun.


Part 5

A couple weeks after her friends had thrown her the party and Liz had started working at the SGC, Daniel was walking down one of the hallways of the base when he saw her slowly coming his way. Liz had her head down and her hands stuffed into the pockets of her white lab coat.

"Hey Liz are you okay? You look kind of down." Daniel asked, concerned. Liz looked up and shrugged, dejectedly.

"I'm okay, Daniel thanks. I guess I'm just tired." Liz said.

"R-i-ght, sure you are." Daniel said, disbelieving. "Liz, I've been told that I'm a good listener and if there's anything I can do to help, I will." Liz tried to smile.

"Thanks Daniel...it's just a problem I'm having with two of my best friends. They know I've moved and changed jobs of course, but they're really hurt that I can't tell them about the work I'm doing here. Plus, Alex hadn't told them about his joining the SGC either, so now they're really mad at both of us. I Know I can't break my oath of secrecy, but I'm really worried about how Maria and Kyle are taking this. I don't want this job to break up our friendships." Liz explained.

"Boy, that's really tough." Daniel said, sincerely. "All I can suggest is that you give them some time to adjust. If they're such good friends, they'll come 'round." Daniel put his hands gently onto Liz's delicate shoulders and looked intently into her eyes. "As to keeping this place secret, Liz, you're doing your friends a favor. The general public is not ready to hear the truth; that aliens exist and that the Earth was almost destroyed; not once but two times and is still in danger of being wiped out by some of those aliens."

But Daniel's words had the opposite effect that he had meant them to have and Liz fought to keep a straight face.

"You're right, Daniel; the general public isn't ready to hear these things. You've put my dilemma in a whole new light. Thanks a lot for your help." Liz said, brightening up a little.

"You're welcome and I hope everything works out okay with your friends." Daniel smiled before they broke up to go their own ways.

Liz walked quickly to Alex's lab. When she got there, she found Alex pulling at his short black hair in frustration.

"Wow, Alex what's the matter?" Liz asked.

"Oh, I've been working on this piece of Goa'uld technology for days and I thought that I'd finally figured it out, but when I tested it just now, the stupid thing didn't work!" Alex exclaimed.

"Sounds like I dropped by just in time. When did you last take a break?" Liz asked.

"I don't know; what time is it?" Alex asked looking at his watch.

"That long ago, huh? Why don't you come with me? We'll go up top and get some fresh air." Liz said casually. Alex's tense shoulders drooped.

"Yeah, that sounds good. I've gotta get away from this thing before I throw it through the wall!" Alex agreed.

The two friends traveled up to the surface and stepped outside onto the side of the mountain.

"Looks like there's a nice sunny spot up there, out of the wind." Liz pointed and they made the easy climb up to the stone outcropping and sat down.

"Thanks for getting me out of my lab for a few minutes, Liz, but I know you, what's really on your mind?" Alex asked. Liz looked casually around to make sure that no one was anywhere near them.

"Maria and Kyle." Liz admitted and Alex grunted. "I think we're going to have to tell them." Liz whispered. "I hate this silent wall they've put up. It's just like when you and I were fighting because I couldn't tell you about Max." And then Liz told Alex about her conversation with Daniel. "Don't you see? Maria and Kyle already know about aliens and how dangerous they are. I have no problem with keeping the SGC secret from my parents or the general public, but they Aren't the general public." Liz reasoned.

"My mind has all sorts of arguments against this, Liz, but my heart knows that you're right." Alex said reluctantly. "But we have to do it in such a way that no one ever finds out. If they did, we'd be in really big trouble. They might even call us traitors." Alex warned.

"I know, Alex, we'll have to be very careful." Liz looked casually around again. "I figured we could take a puddle-jumper down to Roswell on Friday night, visit with our respective parents and then see Maria and Kyle sometime while we're there. We could meet out by what's left of the pod-chamber."

"Yeah, I think that'd work." Alex agreed, still whispering. "Let's do it."

"Okay." Liz said in a more normal tone of voice. "So what do you think that piece of Goa'uld junk you're working on, is anyway?"

"I don't know..." Alex began and then rattled off a couple of theories he had and Liz let him bounce his ideas off of her for a while.

Some twenty minutes later, the friends returned to their work, refreshed and lighter of heart, to work with renewed energy for the rest of the day. That Friday, they boarded an eight passenger plane and flew down to Roswell. Mr. Parker met them at the small airport just outside of town and drove them home to the Parker's apartment, up over the CrashDown Café. Mr. Whitman was there already and they all sat down to a joint dinner, prepared by Nancy Parker. Liz and Alex tried to tell their parents a little bit about their work, the people they worked with and how happy they were with their new jobs, without giving anything away. In the end, the Parkers and Mr. Whitman were resigned that they had been told everything they could be, by their kids.

The next morning, Liz and Alex met Kyle and Maria out at what was left of the pod-chamber, a huge outcropping in the desert, which had once held the incubation pods, which Max, Isabel, Michael and Tess had slept in for thirty years. Maria and Kyle were angrily silent, but they were there, which was the most Alex and Liz could have hoped for at that point in their strained relationships. Liz got right down to the point.

"Maria, do you remember how angry Alex was, back when we wouldn't tell him about Max and the others?" This peaked Maria's interest a little.

"Yeah...Alex wouldn't talk to you and threatened to end your friendship." Maria said.

"And the reason I couldn't tell Alex the truth wasn't because I didn't trust him was it?" Liz prompted.

"No, it was because Michael and the others didn't trust Alex, even though you did...And because it was a very important secret, with a lot of lives at stake." Maria answered, rolling her eyes as she saw where this line of questioning was going.

"But I finally told Alex, even though it wasn't my secret to tell, because I did trust him and I couldn't bear for our friendship to end...And Michael and the others did learn to trust him, eventually." Liz said.

"And all of this ancient history pertains to us how?" Kyle asked sarcastically.

"Because the same thing is happening now, between the four of us. Alex and I are working for a...company..."

"The U.S. Military." Kyle cut in.

"...yeah, right and they don't trust you, but together, we are keeping a very important secret, with a lot of lives at stake. But Alex and I do trust you and we don't want our friendship to end, so...we will tell you what we are up to..."

"But you have to keep it a secret." Alex broke in on Liz this time. "Not only are a lot of lives at risk, but Liz and I could be thrown into jail if anyone finds out that we've told you."

"But since you two already know the core truth of our secret, we figured we'd take the chance that you two could keep a secret." Liz said smiling. "...well can you?"

"Of course, Lizzy; now spill!" Maria cried out and Liz and Alex launched into their tale about the Stargate.

Some time later, Liz and Alex finished their story, but a stunned Maria and Kyle were still not too happy.

"I understand that you think the work is fascinating, but why would you two let yourselves be sucked back into the 'alien-abyss' again? You only just finished dragging yourselves out of the one Max and Isabel sucked you into." Maria asked.

"Just that, Maria; because the work is fascinating and working for the SGC gives us a chance to help make things better...and even to save the world...Again!" Alex answered. "I like being a part of something that's bigger than I am."

"Yeah, as Alex said; I guess I like being a part of something really important and worthwhile, something that will have a real impact on the world, even if the world will never know what we've done, just like it will never know what we did so many years ago, when we fought the Skins...and I want to continue to make a difference with my life." Liz said and she finally saw her friends nod and smile in understanding.

"I'm so proud of you, but so frightened for you too." Maria cried out, hugging Liz. "I just don't want anything to happen to you; either of you." Maria then hugged Alex as well.

"Not to jinx anything, but I think we'll be okay. The people we work with really know what they're doing; I know that they won't let anything bad happen if they can possibly help it." Alex tried to reassure his friends.

"They better or they'll have 'Hurricane-DeLuca' to deal with, not to mention me!" Kyle smiled reaching out to hug Liz and to pat Alex on the back. "So Liz, does this SGC of yours need a mechanic?" Kyle joked a moment later.

"Or the manager of an alien-themed gift shop?" Maria added.

"I...don't think so, Kyle, but you never know!" Liz chuckled.

"But maybe Maria could make a deal with the SGC to sell Goa'uld memorabilia!" Alex joked. "I can just see it now...Goa'uld action figures, with eyes that glow if you squeeze their tummies!" Everyone cracked up.

"So...are we friends again?" Liz asked after they all had calmed down a little.

"YES!" Maria and Kyle exclaimed loudly and the friends hugged one more time before returning to town and spending the rest of the weekend catching up with each other, over videos, ice-cream and popcorn.

~*~*~

Two weeks after "the Talk" with Maria and Kyle, Liz was back in her office typing up a report on some experiments she had just completed. When she finished the report Liz sat back and grinned to herself, in between taking sips of some of Daniel's special blend of coffee. She could not believe her good fortune. She and Alex were back on friendly terms with Maria and Kyle again and she was working at Stargate Command; doing all of this fascinating work. Running tests on a myriad of different alien objects which were brought back from off-world. Discussing with Sam, Daniel or one of her other fellow scientists what an object was used for, what it was made of...

...Okay she knew about the scary side of Gate-travel too; when the SG teams ran into Goa'uld or other hostile species and one or more of them came back injured. One man had also been killed that month and Liz shivered a little to think of the risks those brave people were taking. Especially SG-1; with O'Neill, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c. Their reputation was awe-inspiring; their adventures and risks taken...legion. Everyone at the SGC respected all four of them highly...even the Marines, who usually looked down on the "fly-boys" of the Air Force, were honored to back up SG-1, knowing that the premier SG team would do the same for them in a firefight.

Liz thought once more about the decision she was trying to make; whether or not to request an off-world assignment. Alex had gone on a second mission and come safely back home, raving about it for a week. He, Sam and Daniel had assured Liz that there would be very little risk to her if she went off-world. The scientific and diplomatic SG teams were only authorized to visit worlds classified by the first-contact and military teams as safe for civilians. And of course her team would be carefully watched over by an experienced team of Marines or Special Forces.

Liz finished her coffee and decided to get some fresh air. Maybe doing some stargazing would help her make up her mind. She glanced at her watch; whoa! She had not realized that it was eleven o'clock at night, or 23:00 hours by military time. Good thing she was going up top for a break or Colonel O'Neill might order her to go home.

She traveled up by way of the two elevators, checked in with security and then stepped out the "side-door", one of the few other entrances to the complex besides the great tunnel. Liz moved away from the few lights and out into the darkness before looking up at the clear sky above her with her head tilted back and her airway wide open. Liz closed her eyes for a moment and breathed in great lungs-full of air through her nose and slowly exhaled through her mouth. She felt her thoughts stop racing around in her head as her pulse slowed and her body lost some of its excited tension. She opened her eyes again and studied the heavens. As Liz always did first thing, she turned until she could pick out the faint light of Antar's far away sun. Max had pointed it out to her through a telescope once, long ago and so now Liz gazed up at it and thought about him. Was he even still alive? Was he still fighting the civil war on his planet and which had spilled out to include the other four inhabited planets in their region of space? Did he ever think about her at all? After all, it had been over eleven years since the four of them had left Earth and no word had ever come to her of his fate. A couple tears slid down her upturned face.

"Don't cry, Liz." Alex said from right in front of her. She had been gazing up so intently that she had not noticed him walking up to her and she cried out, startled.

"Oh!...Alex...I didn't see you there." Liz exclaimed, wiping her wet cheeks with her fingertips.

"I'm sorry Liz, I'll promise to shuffle my feet or whistle a happy tune the next time I walk up to you while you're stargazing." Alex promised, grinning.

"Good idea." Liz smiled back, already feeling better as she lifted her gaze back up to the sky. "Too bad we don't have old Bob, Max's jeep to sit on and his windshield to lean against when we stargaze up here. Maybe I can find some folding chairs next time."

"Couldn't we borrow one of those jeeps parked over by the door?" Alex asked, wondering why he had never thought of doing just that.

"Alex, those jeeps belong to the Marines who are guarding that door. If you so much as look at their jeep they'd probably break you into a dozen tiny pieces; those guys are scary." Liz said with a shiver.

"O-kay. Lawn chairs it is..." Alex said slowly, already forgetting that Liz had been upset when he had first walked up to her. "Hey wouldn't it be cool if there was a Gate buried somewhere on Antar? And if Max and Isabel found it and figured out how to use it..." Alex's voice dwindled off as his imagination took flight.

"Alex, that would only mean that Antar would be at risk from the Goa'uld and after sixty years of civil war, I doubt they'd want those snake-heads to invade their planet too." Liz cried out.

"Yeah, well it's just one of my little fantasies...you know...you, me and SG-1 gate in, blow the Goa'uld out of the sky and save the planet!" Alex chuckled and Liz joined him.

"Yeah, Alex, that's some fantasy-life you have there!" Liz said.

"Hey you two; having fun stargazing?" Sam called out as she and Colonel O'Neill came walking up.

"Uh...yeah...Sam...in fact we were discussing borrowing one of those jeeps over there to sit on so we could lean back against the windshield and be real comfy while we stargaze." Alex said a little stiffly. Boy he was out of practice with this keeping a secret stuff.

Both Sam and Jack looked at him a little funny as if they knew that he and Liz had not been discussing borrowing jeeps just then.

"Borrowing jeeps from Marine guards; not very bright, Dr. Whitman. Those jar-heads would tear you up into tiny, little pieces even if you looked at their precious jeeps." O'Neill warned Alex.

"Yeah." Alex grinned back. "That's what Liz said too, Colonel. Well, I'm ready to go home and hit the sack, how about you, Liz?" Alex asked, trying to ease away from the formidable Air Force colonel.

"Yeah, I guess. I only came up here to get some fresh air and clear my head for a bit." Liz agreed. "Goodnight Sam, good night Colonel O'Neill."

"'Night you two, see you tomorrow." Sam said. Jack just gave a silent, negligent wave of his hand as Alex moved off to his car and Liz went back inside.

"What do you make of those two, Carter?" O'Neill asked his 2IC.

"I think they're both great, sir. They're both brilliant in their fields and hard workers. Alex is getting a handle on gate-travel and loving every minute of it...they're both nice people, sir. Why, what do you make of them, Colonel?" Sam asked her CO.

"Yeah, I'll agree that they're hard working, brilliant in their own incomprehensible, geeky, obsessive-compulsive kind of way...but there's just something...odd about those two. A couple times before, I've come up to them when they were whispering to each other with these odd, sad expressions on their faces and then, just like tonight, they lied to me about what they were discussing with each other." Jack said in frustration.

"Well, sir; if they had sad expressions on their faces, they were probably discussing something private and didn't want to share what it was, with a perfect stranger...sir." Sam replied.

"Yeah, well I'm going to keep an eye on them." Jack said.

"Do you think that's wise, sir? I mean it's not as if they've done anything wrong, or gone somewhere they weren't supposed to be..." Sam warned.

"It'll just be me keeping an eye out, Carter. I didn't say I was going to tell anyone else about this, don't get so excited, for crying out loud." Jack shot back.

"Yes sir." Sam said, before they started walking to their cars, parked around the corner of the building.

"Rather than borrow a jeep from the Marines, you'd think that they would have just walked around here and sat on their own cars, wouldn't you, Carter?" O'Neill tried one more time to peak his second-in-command's curiosity.

"It's too brightly lit over here, sir. Alex and Liz had moved away from the lights by the door so that it wouldn't interfere in their viewing of the stars, sir." Sam said logically.

"Oh never mind." Jack mumbled before getting into his own car as Sam unlocked and got into hers.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Besides a well stocked library and a rec-room with ping-pong and pool tables, board games and videos to watch, Cheyenne Mountain also had a swimming pool and a large, well equipped gym, complete with a jogging track. All of the military personnel used it to stay in top physical shape and it was also available to the science/civilian personnel as well.

Liz and Alex liked to use the gym, especially if they needed to clear their minds for a while after working on a project for many long hours. They would go swimming and use the weight machines. No aerobics classes down here, but occasionally they would join the groups doing calisthenics. Neither was in the impressive physical shape of the military personnel, both male and female, but they had received positive remarks on their fitness "for civilians". Alex especially had filled out and muscled up his tall, lean frame since high school.

One day, about a week before Liz was to go on her first off-world mission, She and Alex were in the gym together using two different weight machines which were placed next to each other. As Sam Carter walked up to them they were both laughing at something Alex must have said.

"Hey guys." Sam called out.

"Hey Sam." Liz and Alex both greeted their friend.

"Liz, the Air Force and Marine personnel here have a friendly...and I stress 'friendly', competitive camaraderie. We respect each other and work well together off-world. Even so, we love it when one of the Marines gets his butt kicked, especially by a civilian! I just wanted to come by and congratulate you on behalf of all the Air Force personnel here on the base, for your performance during your pre-off-world weapons and self-defense basic training this morning."

"Why Sam, whatever do you mean?" Liz asked innocently, batting her long eye lashes. Sam chuckled.

"I mean throwing your self-defense drill-instructor, Sergeant Andrews on his butt, not once but three times...in front of the entire gym and calisthenics group! Not to mention the excellent marks you received in weapons training. How'd you do it? I want details, my friend." Sam said and Liz broke into a happy chuckle as she remembered her very satisfactory morning.

"Well, first of all I was lucky; I know in a real competition I'd be no match for any of you guys, you're all too well trained, but Sergeant Andrews started out with a couple dangerous misconceptions for any soldier to have. One; he thought I was a weak, little civilian with no muscle-tone at all. And two; he thought I had no self-defense training. He didn't even ask me if I knew any defensive moves. He wanted to be the "big, strong Marine" who was going to show this "little lady scientist" how to defend herself against the Goa'uld and he wanted to do it in front of an audience. His first words were 'If the Goa'uld attack; run and hide. If you can't run right away, distract them and then run and hide.' I know all of that; I'm not stupid. I'm not going to get any of you hurt or killed by acting rashly." Liz said heatedly before continuing her story. Some other female personnel, both Air Force and Marines had been listening and now they moved closer, grins on their faces.

"After a few more choice bits of advice like that, Sergeant Andrews was ready to start training me...only his method of training is to throw his trainees around a little first; make them believe that he will always be bigger and better than they are. I've seen him train some other people. So, I was lucky, he seriously underestimated me, plus I know some special moves and tricks designed for a small person, such as myself." Liz chuckled and the other women joined her, they had all heard the rumors.

"Sergeant Andrews started off with the classic position of my attacker behind me with his arm around my throat. He was overbalanced already and it was easy to throw him over my shoulder. But he only thought I'd been lucky, so he tried that move again. After I threw him to the mat a second time it became a game of "take Liz down". And he kept on saying 'let's try this situation; what if your attacker came from this direction?' and on and on, like that. But in front of an audience he couldn't really hurt me and he did manage to throw me around enough to soothe his male ego, but I'm pretty good at landing on my feet...and...managed to take him down for a third time before we were through!"

"What belt are you Liz?" Air Force Sergeant Miller asked grinning.

"I'm not any belt. I'm not into martial arts or anything like that." Liz answered.

"Then where did you get your training, Liz?" Sam asked.

"I have a good friend named Kyle. He's the son of Roswell's Sheriff. He and his father trained me and several of my friends in self-defense and the use of guns and rifles while we were in high school. None of us were interested in owning a gun or anything, but the Sheriff thought we should know how to use them, just in case. I've kept up with my self-defense by taking some courses and I go to a target range, rent a gun or a rifle and practice every once in a while." Liz explained, shrugging casually, but the other women were still grinning.

"Well you are still awesome, Dr. Parker!" One of the Marines said and Liz blushed. After the others moved off, Sam stayed for a moment.

"Yeah, you both are. I know that you received top marks, as well, Alex." Sam said before turning back to Liz "Liz, even civilians are issued side-arms when they go on off-world missions, just in case." Liz nodded. "But even with your expertise, make sure you heed Andrew's advice; if there is trouble, get to the Stargate and dial home or if you can't get to the Gate, run and hide first, you got that?" Liz nodded again and Sam smiled. "The SGC doesn't want to lose one of its most valuable scientists, okay?"

"Okay." Liz grinned.

"Good. See ya around. 'Bye Alex." Sam said before she walked off.

"'Bye Sam." Alex called after her and then turned back to Liz. "Good thing she didn't ask why the Sheriff was so adamant that all of us Humans learn to defend ourselves." He whispered.

"I wonder which would be harder to kill, a Skin or a Goa'uld." Liz replied whispering as well.

"It's interesting how both species can't survive on Earth (or anywhere else, in the case of the Goa'uld) without an outer shell of some kind." Alex mused. "The Goa'uld need their host to survive and the Skins need their husk, the artificial, Human-looking shell they had to wear." Liz nodded thoughtfully. "Well, let's go back to work, shall we?" Alex said briskly putting out his hand to pull Liz up from her bench.

"Back to work; I have to take an artifact to Daniel, now that I'm done testing it." Liz agreed happily as they left the gym.

After taking a shower and putting on clean clothes, Liz picked up an artifact from her lab and walked over to Daniel's office. When she arrived at his door, Liz knocked, but no one answered. His office door was slightly ajar though and Liz pushed it open and peeked inside. Daniel was at his desk, with his back towards the door and Liz felt her eyes tear up as she watched him. There was a pen and ink sketch, in a simple wooden frame on Daniel's desk, of his missing wife, Shau're and Daniel was gazing at it while his finger traced her features in the sketch. Liz had been able to see the sketch close-up once before and knew that his beloved wife was a gorgeous woman. She had lots of long, naturally curly, black hair, large brown eyes, framed by long, thick eyelashes and bone structure which would keep her face lovely into her old age.

"I'll find you, Shau're, even if it takes the rest of my life." Daniel murmured to the picture.

But then he sat back in his chair, ran his fingers through his longish brown hair, got up and left his office. He did not see Liz, who had ducked to the left side of his door, when he turned right and walked down the hallway. Liz tiptoed into Daniel's office and left the artifact in the middle of is desk and scribbled a quick note saying that she was sorry to have missed him, before returning to her own lab.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Another month had passed by when the Stargate was activated from off-world. As always, the claxons sounded, the lights flashed and General Hammond walked quickly into the control room.

"It'is time for Sg-7, 8 and 12 to be returning from their mission. Any GDO code yet, airman?" He asked.

"Not yet, sir; closing the iris." The airman said, doing so.

"I'm getting a code, sir." Another airman on duty said. "It's Sg-8's code, sir."

"Open the iris, airman." The General ordered.

"Yes, sir." The airman said as he complied.

The iris retracted out of sight, the Stargate finished dialing, the wormhole was established and a few moments later, a dozen people, loaded down with equipment came through the gate. Most were business-like, but smiling after a successful week's mission. Two of the travelers, however were talking a mile-a-minute as they came through, using their hands to add emphasis to what they were saying, even though they both were carrying metal cases in each one. For a moment, the tall young man was just walking down the ramp, listening and grinning at his companion, but the tiny brunet, her long hair in a braid down her back, was jumping up and down, even though she also had a full pack strapped to her back. The General could hear some of her words through the speakers.

"Alex, that was so incredible! Everything we saw! Wow, we were actually on another planet! That is so cool! I can't wait to start my experiments on the samples we found!"

General Hammond could not hear her companion's reply, but he noticed members of the rest of the three teems turning around and grinning at the young woman's enthusiasm.

"Is that Dr. Parker?" The General asked Sam, who had come to stand beside him.

"Yes, sir." Sam said, smiling as she watched her friend below.

"Is she...high on something, Captain? None of her teammates appear to be so...manic." The General said.

"Liz is...high on life, sir. This was her first off-world mission and she must have had...a great time! Her friend, Alex Whitman has been on two missions before this one and I know he was pretty excited when he came back from those as well, sir." Sam explained and the General allowed himself to smile down at the young scientist in the Gate-room.

"If only our other science-personnel had such a positive attitude about their off-world missions. Usually all I hear are complaints about having to sleep in tents and cook over open fires or eating MREs." General Hammond said.

"Yes, sir." Sam agreed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Yet another month went by; Liz had been with the SGC for three months and she could not believe how much she had learned in that time. About the SGC, some of the other personnel working there and about her field of microbiology. The SGC was more far-reaching than she had ever guessed it could be, with allies and friends on many far off worlds. And it was having quite an impact on some of those alien peoples as well.

One of their allies, who came to visit quite often were the Tok'ra. These people were actually a rogue-group of the Goa'uld; the symbiote and the host lived in harmony together. Their blending was always voluntary and much less traumatic to the host than that of a true Goa'uld/Human blending. Some Tok'ra worked secretly among their hostile brethren, spying and sabotaging, while others openly fought them.

A startling fact, which Liz had learned about Sam soon after she joined the SGC was that her father, a former Air Force general and a good friend of General Hammond's was now a Tok'ra, complete with a symbiote named Selmac. General Jacob Carter now lived off-world with the Tok'ra, but came to visit his daughter or bring intelligence as often as he could.

One group the SGC had had enormous impact on were the Jaffa themselves. There had been a small number of Jaffa who had believed that the Goa'uld were false-gods, who enslaved their people, even before Teal'c denounced Apophis, but ever since he had done so, at Colonel O'Neill's urging and joined the SGC to fight the Goa'uld, the number of Jaffa to join the resistance, secretly or openly, had grown by leaps and bounds.

Liz liked the way the different aliens were treated; with respect and friendship for their allies, kindness and true help for the poor and oppressed refugees, which the SG teams often freed and brought through the Stargate. Linguists would translate for them, so that they would understand what was happening to them, the Infirmary would treat their wounds and the Commissary would feed them and then they were helped to find a new home to go to, on another world, where they could remain safe and free. It did not matter what you looked like or where you came from; if you were a good guy, the SGC would be your friend.

And of course, Liz loved her long, hectic days of studying new life forms; microscopic, alien plants, soil samples, water samples and artifacts. She had already helped to head off a massive infection, which could have wiped out half of the SGC. She was needed, had fascinating work to do and was making new friends and her second off-world mission was coming up in just over a week. Life was good!

TBC