Title: Looking for the Aliens Author: Ted Sadler Email: ted.sadler@ntlworld.com Rating: PG Archive: SJD yes Summary: Where are all the aliens?

Disclaimer: All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. Copyright (c) 2002 Ted Sadler

Spoilers: None Status: complete Warnings: none Season: 6

Looking for the Aliens

Major Samantha Carter was used to the Colonel's visits to her laboratory, although they had been less frequent of late, and his boyish humour of their first years on SG-1 had all but disappeared. 'Leaving it in the room' was now a way of life for them, with only occasional flashes of warmth and deep feelings on public display - or so they thought. But they both knew that nothing less was needed if they wanted to keep working together.

"Hey, Carter, building anything useful?" enquired O'Neill. "Naquadah fuel injection for the bike, for instance?" He picked up a complex piece of glass-like material from her workbench, turning it over in his hand. She smiled and gently removed it from his grasp, her fingers lingering just long enough on his to let him know that the hidden side of their relationship was still well alive.

"It's a CO disintegrator, Sir." she replied. "You'll be gone in 30 seconds."

He smiled as he caught the spark in her eyes. "Actually, Sam, I'd like to ask a favour - quite a big one, really." What he said next was totally not what she was expecting.

"Do you think you could make me a small spectrometer to attach to the eyepiece of a sniperscope? A detachable one that's tough but small enough to take on our galactic camping trips?" She sat back on her stool in surprise. "Just big enough to analyse starlight and download the data into a laptop." he continued.

"Why, yes, I think I could!" she replied after a few seconds. "Are you going to take your hobby off-world?" He nodded, and she quickly realised why. "You're going to make a 3D star map of the Galaxy! Wow, that's beautiful!" She realised as she said it that his influence on her was growing deeper as time passed. A year or two ago she would only have thought of the scientific and engineering sides of the challenge. "It'll take a few weeks, though. But why not use the data we acquired on the captured ships? No, don't say, if you did that, it would be impersonal, not *your* map, would it?"

Jack smiled. She so often expressed his thoughts these days, before he had even opened his mouth. God, it was a good feeling. "Yeah, making my own map will be fun, but that's not the main reason. I'm looking for the aliens." Anticipating a reaction from her, he carried on "Anyway, that data from the Goa'uld ships was like the old-time seafarers' navigation charts - just the destination suns with planets having Stargates on them, and major hazards like black holes. Not much detail of what I'm looking for."

Sam was staring at him, not knowing whether her mouth was open or closed. Just when she thought she was beginning to know the real Jack O'Neill, another layer of the onion started peeling back. As he got up to leave, she said "Now just hang on a minute, Sir. You're not walking away without telling. Not if you want my help, that is.."

"My place tonight at 20:00?" asked Jack. "And wear something to keep yourself warm." He turned on his heel and left, leaving her gazing at the empty doorway.

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And that was how it started, six months ago. To say that Sam was captivated by his idea was understating the case, and she had willingly spent her spare time building the instrument and helping him to test and calibrate it on his own telescope. On "away days", as they started calling their off- world trips, whenever conditions allowed they got into a routine of spending one or two hours each night alone together, huddled by their makeshift observatory under clear skies, actually engrossed in taking measurements.

She loved the way he could identify stars and nebulae by their names, rather than reference numbers, and began to see the elegance and overwhelming beauty of the night skies from his point of view. Ophiuchus, Aldebaran, Betelgeuse, Barnard's Star, Lalande: the words rolled from his mouth with such ease. She had always wanted to understand the universe, but saw the skies as a canvas depicting the battleground of gravitational and temporal forces, to be analysed and classified. Now it was so much more.

Jack felt good that his knowledge of astronomy was in some small way providing her with starting points for new theories and future projects. He still cut her off as soon as her explanations started to go above his head, but he noticed how she did that less often these days.

And if being in close proximity to each other in the dark led to their hands touching occasionally, or if they found themselves shoulder to shoulder over the 'scope on its tripod, well, that was just another element in making them realise that their mutual feelings were much more than just physical attraction. On really cold nights there was no alternative but to sit together wrapped in a thermal blanket. On one such occasion, Sam laid her head on his shoulder, and wrapped herself around his right arm. "You know what we've done, don't you?" she said. "We've created another room for ourselves, but in this one we can keep visiting what we're leaving here."

Jack smiled and squeezed her hand. He pressed his cheek to the wool cap on her head. "More of an annexe to the other room, really."

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General Hammond stared for quite a few seconds at the two people standing to attention in front of his desk before speaking. "At ease, Colonel, Major. Take a seat."

"This is an off-the-record conversation." he continued. "But I warn you, if I don't get satisfactory and complete answers, the consequences for both of you and the SGC will be very serious indeed. Do I make myself clear?"

Jack and Sam nodded in reply. "Yes, Sir." they said together.

"Jack, you know as Commanding Officer that I am not privy to the everyday detail of what personnel at all levels get up to. The rumour mill here is no better or worse than anywhere else, and I have learned to ignore 99% of what it produces. But please explain to me how the phrase 'Looking for the Aliens' has come to mean a couple going off into the woods together to indulge in mutual physical exercise sometimes also known as 'horizontal jogging'!"

"Oh, for crying out loud!" exclaimed Sam, as a broad smile spread across Jack's face. "Sir, the Colonel and I have been making nightly astronomical observations in pursuit of a theory that *he* developed. Whenever anyone asked where we were going, we just said that we were 'Looking for the Aliens'! That's all."

"And I can give you a cast-iron assurance that no jogging, horizontal or otherwise, has taken place during any of these expeditions, Sir." said Jack. "We both want to stay in the Air Force and the SGC."

"Absolutely, Sir!" added Sam.

"Then how do you explain this?" asked Hammond, reaching into the desk drawer and placing a small video camera on the glass top. He opened the view screen and pressed 'Play'. Jack and Sam leaned forward to peer at the tiny screen. It was mostly black, but they could just make out two silhouettes close together against a brilliant night sky. Over the breathing sounds of the camera operator, Jack heard himself saying "Wow, oh be a fine girl, kiss me right now, Sweetie." followed by Sam giggling.

To Hammond's surprise, they both burst out laughing. "Who does the camera belong to, Sir?" said Sam.

"That idiot Jonas Quinn." replied the General. "He left it in the commissary and, as you'd expect, this clip has now found its way onto just about everyone's computer in the base. But you'd better explain damned quick what's going on here!"

Jack saw that the time for jokes had passed, and started, "Sir, do you ever wonder how come we don't meet many non-humanoid aliens on our travels through the Stargates? I mean, you can stretch a point to regard the Asgard and the Unas as still being basically bipedal humanoids - in fact they could be men in rubber suits, if you think of it like that. We've only encountered a few really non-human things, like those 'electric bees' on that moon where we took Cadet Hayley for her first trip, and in that orb that speared me to the wall. And of course, the symbiotes that drive the Goa'uld."

"Or that Entity that possessed me for a while. But just look at the diversity of life on Earth." Sam chimed in. "If you multiply all the possibilities up, taking into account how many different planets we now know have suitable living conditions, then it's almost a certainty that non- human life forms that can communicate with each other and with us should have been encountered by now."

"So I got to figuring that either The Ancients wiped out other intelligent species in the biggest act of genocide ever, or relocated them to other planets with similar living conditions." said Jack. "And kept us and them apart until we could develop tolerance towards other species. I don't think we're that mature yet."

"The Colonel also told me how he'd noticed that all the planets that have Stargates we know about are orbiting M Class stars." said Sam. "That's a particularly stable type of star, so The Ancients were making long-term plans."

"So I thought that if I could make observations of stars that we can see from Earth from other viewpoints, we could triangulate their positions in the Galaxy and draw up a list of likely candidates for Stargates that were not on our current maps." Jack continued. "But I couldn't tell by visual sightings alone if I was looking at the right star, so I asked Carter to make a small instrument to check the spectroscopic 'fingerprints'. Then if I could match them to sightings made with my own telescope at home, we'd be in business. She's developed a computer program to log the data, look for matches in the spectra and make corrections for the differences in red shift between the two observation points as a result of gate travel time dilation."

Sam positively beamed at him, while the General sat in open-mouthed amazement. He recovered after a few moments. "But what about this video clip?"

Sam was in her element. "A hundred years ago astronomers classified stars as A, B, C and so on, depending on their spectra. But as time went by, they realised that distance, mass, intrinsic brightness and surface temperature all played a part, so the order of classification was changed. It became W O B A F G K M R N S. 'Wow, oh be a fine girl kiss me right now sweetie' is the mnemonic for remembering the order. Every astronomer knows that!"

The General smiled, in spite of himself. "Well, I think that Jonas is going to be communicating that message to a lot of people round here quite soon."

"May I return his camera to him?" asked Jack. "I think he'll also be communicating what it's like to be a human lens cap."

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As they sat together again under the stars, Jack and Sam held hands and revelled in every moment of what they were doing. Jack laughed, and said softly, "You know what I'm thinking?"

"What?"

"That we can't be tried for the same offence twice, especially since the evidence was so thoroughly discredited last time."

She laughed too. "You are awful, but I like you."

"W O B A F G K M R N S?" asked Jack.

Sam complied.

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