Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 is the property of Gekko and MGM Studios, as are all related characters, concepts, and events. They are the property of their respective creators and producers, and do not belong to me. No money is made off of this, and they are used only for entertainment purposes. They will be returned intact, when I am done with them. The same goes for the characters and concepts of Highlander: the Series. They belong to Rysher Television, Gauamont, Panzer/Davis Productions.

Note: takes place shortly after where "The Lost Ones" left off, again with a good interval taken into account, featuring Methos and Thoth. Written in response to a story challenge found on the SG-1 Heliopolis fanfiction Archive, # 129 by Kristine.

"Old Dogs, New Tricks" by Karen


Methos resented the scratchy feel of the blindfold that covered his eyes.
The fact that his hands were securely tied did not do much for his confidence or comfort in the already cramped passenger compartment. While he appreciated the need for security measures as much as the next person, this was going a bit far.

The uncomfortable seat in the standard issue military helicopter was not designed for comfort but for function. Methos recalled riding in many different types of conveyances, but someone had obviously cut a few corners before letting this particular 'whirly-bird out of research and development. Every time the pilot hit a thermal of air currents the thing rattled around like peas in a rain barrel. Methos gritted his teeth and tried to ignore his fellow Immortal, Thoth, who sat beside him, although he couldn't see him, he could still smell that the rough trip did not agree with Thoth. Methos could smell the other's sweat, and his lips formed into a small feral smile, and settled back to enjoy the rest of the trip.

They left the Pacific Northwest for some undisclosed destination in Colorado Rockie, giving just enough time to pack a few personal belongings. 'Not much' Methos thought. He had wrapped the carrying straps of his duffel bag around his right leg. Through the cloth he felt slightly more reassured by the feel of his sword wrapped in clothing and packing material.

Methos' bound hands twitched, and he felt an overwhelming urge to rip off the blindfold and get a good look around at where they were taking him. Then he would demand an explanation.

Just then the pilot took a steep dive, turned the nose of the helicopter to a sharp westerly turn and descended a hundred feet straight down. He sucked in a deep lungful of cold air and braced himself against the hard leather back of his seat. Methos cursed in several different languages, some of them as dead to modern usage, promising that he would have some choice words for the Colonel and his buddies when they got back on the ground. ** Later

Colonel O'Neil watched his passengers and wondered if not for the first time what he was getting himself into. It had all sounded pretty good when they were going into the deal. Although he did not want to admit to anyone else, he was still have a difficult time wrapping his mind around the fact that Immortals existed, let alone that his long time team member, Teal'C was one of the them.

O'Neil unobtrusively tried to gauge the reactions of the two Immortals, Thoth and Methos. If someone had asked him who was the senior of the pair, just by appearance he would have said Thoth, hands down. The man's dark brown hair was thinning on top thick around the ears and narrowing to a widow's peak at the dome of his thin-lipped narrow face. Methos, or Adam Pierson as he said he preferred to be called; as cool and collected as a cucumber; blindfolded, hands tied. He wore his dark hair combed and swept back behind his ears. His clothes were pressed to within an inch of their wearability; and he swore under his breath like a sailor forced to prowl the docks for months while their ship was repaired. O'Neil, no stranger to colorful language could only understand above five words in ten, and he had been listening very carefully to both the spoken and unspoken verbal cues throughout the entire trip.

Just by looking at Adam/Methos he appeared to be between the ages of early twenties or late thirties and about as harmless and bookish as Doctor Daniel Jackson had been when he had initially been invited to participate in the SG Command Project.

In the back of his mind he realized just how far Daniel had come from the starry-eyed idealistic youthful Egyptian anthropologist to the man he was now. As he did so he glanced over at other passengers and came to the realization that everyone involved in the project from its initial discovery back in the 40's to its present day incarnation, that it had made a personal discovery of sorts for all of them. 'Just look at Teal'c at one time he had even been on the side of the enemy, one of the elite soldier guards of the Goua'ld. They all had personal and professional reasons for wanting not just the planet earth but all other subjugated and conquered worlds free of the guls control. When the project began I was a washed-up has-been, on a self-imposed retirement and trying to drown my sorrows in a bottle of beer because I'd lost my son and I felt like my life was going nowhere, now I've got a new lease on life. God, Jack, just listen to yourself, you're beginning to sound like the facilitators at a new age self help group. But it's true, isn't it? Note to self Now what do I tell Hammond about these two, scratch that, make it three, Teal'c is free of the parasite gul and he's Immortal like Methos and Thoth. Great, just great',. O'Neil mused as the helicopter took a steep dive and he caught a breathtaking but rather alarming view of the brick red and brown sides of the Colorado Rockies; the farthest peaks lightly dusted with a coating of snow.

"We're here," Carter announced as she unbuckled her seatbelt and stood up to untie Methos' bound hands and removed the blindfold, thankfully not ripping it away in one swift motion because that cause the fabric to rub across the skin. "Sorry about the rough treatment," she added. "You do understand it's only to make sure all security measures are observed."

"Sure, I understand," Methos replied once he could see again, resisting the urge to rub his face where he hadn't bothered to shave a five o'clock shadow of facial hair.

In the meantime, Thoth squirmed in his seat and wondered what he would do if Methos decided at some later date to take his frustration out on him.

*** Later

"Welcome back," Hammond greeted, standing up from the chair in front of his desk and walking towards the small group standing in his office. "I see everyone made it back in one piece."

"Yeah, all the kids are back from the field trip, safe and sound," Jack quipped.

"Is he always like this?" Thoth asked, puzzled at the mocking, but friendly interchange between subordinates and their commanding officer.

"Pretty much," Jackson replied. "It's a given by now, if he didn't do it, we'd start to wonder if there was something wrong with him. Besides, it helps to know that one's superiors have a sense of humor."

Thoth blinked a few times in succession, unaware of the exchange of amused glances. And finally he decided that he wasn't meant to understand banter between military officers.

"I'll expect your report on my desk by tomorrow morning," Hammond added, ignoring the exchange of glances and raised eyebrows, his attention focused on the man they'd brought back with them, Adam Pierson. 'Interesting fellow, rather harmless looking if one went by surface impressions, but according to Thoth this man was not only an expert in translating Egyptian hieroglyphics, but also had expertise in other fields as well. The only difference that separated him from any other scientist was the look in the dark eyes, cold and calculating. Hammond realized that Thoth had not been yanking their chain when he told them at Adam Pierson was also the 5,000 year old Immortal known as Methos. In the back of his mind Hammond felt a shiver run up and down his spine trying to imagine all the history and events that this man had seen pass by in that span of centuries. "I couldn't stand it,' he thought to himself, giving his head a small shake. Aloud, he announced. "All right, that should do it for now, go get cleaned up and meet back in the conference room at 01100 hours." **** Later

The conference room turned out to be a long narrow room its walls covered with charts and graph, a metal rectangular table positioned squarely in the center. In addition to General Hammond seated at the head of the table, other military officers had preceded their arrival and had taken seats along the sides.

"If you'll take your seats, we will get started," Hammond said as members of the SG-1 team entered the room, Methos and Thoth in their wake.

"Nice of you to wait for us. I suppose you left the light on too?" O'Neil quipped, ignoring the narrowing of General Hammond's eyes, while both men knew and respected the other's penchant for indulging into an occasional verbal exchange of banter, there were situations and times when O'Neil went too far, and it tended to get on each other's nerves.

"I'm sure the rest of you are familiar with Major Rathbone, but for our two newest arrivals, I'll open with a round of introductions, " Hammond began, indicating with a quick nod that he wanted the man to distribute around the table a sheaf of documents and charts to those seated around the table.

"He's joined us from the team placed in charge of collating reports from the probe recently through the gate."

"That reminds me," Colonel O'Neil added, shuffling through his pockets to come up with the pottery shard with the symbol of the trefoil etched onto its surface,

"We brought this to the man Daniel said was an expert in translating obscure Egyptian hieroglyphics, and we brought this guy back with us, using the fragment to wave it Methos's general direction. "His name is Adam Pierson, and with your approval we've brought him aboard. He knows enough to be able to decipher it; there's more to him than meets the eye, but I'll go into more detail in my report, Sir."

"I get the feeling that it will make for some very interesting reading," Hammond replied, recalling the not so subtle hints that Thoth had dropped prior to the team's departure for the Pacific Northwest. "Has been cleared by Doctor Fraiser?"

"Not yet," Jackson replied.

"Don't I get a say in this?" Methos griped, feeling a rather peevish urge to sweep his hand across the table and bring the charts to the floor in an untidy mess.

"You never were very good at playing by anyone else's rules, except your own," Thoth remarked," cocking his head to one side, thinking something through," Honestly, that was something I always admired about you. You'd think someone that's been around as long as you have would have learned more patience."

Methos felt at shouting at the holier-than-thou fool; promising himself that he'd find a time to kill him just for that, if not just to take his fellow Immortal's head for his Quickening, but wondering if it'd be worth the effort.

"All right, people," Hammond began, trying to smooth things over," Settle down, w still have a lot of ground to cover before we get into the details of the new mission and not a lot of time to do it."

Methos nodded and slouched back in his seat.

"Then let's get started," Hammond said, turning to Major Rathbone who stood up, and then went over to where a screen had been set up next to an overhead projector.

"Thank you," Rathbone began, his Adam's apple quavering when he spoke, "If you'll refer to the charts in front of you the probe we sent through the gate three weeks ago just relayed some rather unusual and conflicting data on the environment of the planet PCX 1183."

Major Carter glanced at the color-coded graphics on her chart and then matched it up with the lit display screen chart. "If I'm reading this correctly, it appears that probe says the planet is composed of at least four distinct biomes all within a days' hike of each other. I'm no expert on topology or climate, but even our own planet, that doesn't add up."

"You would be correct, Major," Rathbone said, as he scanned the mission notes that the member of the SG-3 team had complied and downloaded from the probes' initial findings. "They think the planet was used as a research and development facility for the Gou'ald. It's within the realm of possibility that the Guls attempted to terraform the planet and use it as a harvest or relocation facility for civilizations they conquered."

"So what happened?" Methos interrupted, his interest in the mission and its purpose rising.

"We already know that they set up a global weather grid in the planet's atmosphere, using satellites" Carter replied.

"It broke down," Teal'C added.

Carter nodded. "That's a pretty good guess, but the grid is working only in certain areas so each time it the system encounters a glitch it tells the mainframe computer to create a variety of environments: tundra, rainforest, desert.." You get the idea."

"If the system did break down," O'Neil asked, "Let's say for the sake of argument that it did, if we can find it and get it running again, should we?"

"It might be a technology that can't be used given our current level of technological sophistication, but by all means, if you run across a global climate control system, bring it back," Hammond replied.

"We're assuming that the conclusions gathered by the probe and by the SG-3 team are the correct ones," Teal'C said.

"Well, 'it's not like the guls to leave technology lying around after they've been to a place, run roughshod over it and leave," Jackson added.

"That's what you're being sent to find out," Hammond replied.

** "Have Dr. Fraiser give Mr. Pierson a physical, then we can be sure he's cleared to go on the mission. One thing I want to make very clear, Mr. Pierson, Mr. Thoth is that you're going along as civilian advisors. Leave the decisions up to the officers. Am I understood?" Hammond said.

"Understood," Thoth replied.

Methos shrugged, "Whatever you say."

"Crystal," O'Neil replied, saluting.

"Dismissed," Hammond said. "Major, once you're done, meet us in the Gate Room."

"Yes, Sir," Carter replied, saluting as well. ***** Later

Major Samantha Carter led the way down the featureless but spacious metal hallways of the military base with Methos trailing along in her wake.

He could not recall the last time he had set foot in such a facility, and admittedly he powers of recall were blurred by both time and a good quantity of alcohol, but it looked clean, efficient and solid. He had been through the mandatory Q & A session with the brass, and he had to admit he was beginning to like both General Hammond and Colonel O'Neil, after he had engaged in a shouting match at the treatment he had received so far. Methos wondered what he would be forced to undergo now, when they came to a door marked Medical Bay. Methos immediately back-pedaled and had just completed a 180 degree turn when he realized that he hadn't felt the "Buzz' that signaled the presence of another Immortal, cursing himself and wondering at the same time why he didn't feel it. By the time he collected himself, he had already bumped into the other man, and looked up into the intent dark eyes. Methos was not a small man, but the other stood at eye level with him and outweighed him by at least twenty pounds and it appeared to be all muscle. "Teal'c, isn't it? Damn it to all hells, man," Methos shouted, " Don't sneak up on me like that."

The other man nodded and in deep bass rumble said: "I will try and remember. The doctor is waiting for you. Do not worry. This is a routine medical examination. You have nothing to worry about."

Methos tore his gaze away and glared at the both of his escorts, "Speak for yourself. How come Thoth isn't down here going through the same thing?"

"He already has," a woman's voice answered, from the vicinity of a bank of computer monitors, clipboard in hand. "Come in, I'll be with you in a moment. I just have to finish inputing the data gathered from SG-3's mission, so if you'll have a seat."

Methos ambled in, figuring if he was going to be here for the duration, he might as well make the most of it. Maybe he could find some way to get out of this. He wasn't worried so much about them finding something wrong, as he was about them finding something to right, if that didn't sound completely insane. Thoth had already opened his big yap and told the folks in charge about the existence of Immortals, so that was blown to all hells, what more could they do to him? He agreed to join this crazy out fit of his own free will, so maybe this really was a routine exam, SOP and all that jazz. Shaking his head to clear it of the inevitable cobwebs, 'Stop it, Old Man, you're getting nowhere fast." He thought, giving himself a mental kick.

"Now what?" Methos asked the doctor aloud, grabbing a nearby metal folding chair and straddling it like he would a horse.

"You must be Adam Pierson," the female doctor greeted, moving forward with a clipboard in hand and a ballpoint pen in the breast pocket of her starched white lab coat. "Allow me to introduce myself, I'm Doctor Janet Fraiser; welcome the SG Command Facility. If you'd fill out these forms and hand them back to the nurse at the desk, I'll be right with you to complete the required medical examination."

"Yeah," Methos muttered, his voice dripping sarcasm, but palming the forms anyway. He glanced down at the entry blanks and twirled the attached pen in between his fingers. "Damn, I hate these things, and began with drawing big circles on the sheet and just signed 'Pierson, Adam ' age 28, Seacouver, Washington, along with a bogus address and no telephone number. With that done, he got up from the metal chair and slapped the clipboard down on the nurse's desk.

The nurse, an attractive redhead, glared at him, but did not comment. She merely filed the forms in a nearby drawer and handed over a packet of standard issue gowns, with instructions to go over and change in the bathroom, leaving his own clothes hanging from the hook bolted to the inside of the door.

** Methos changed into the gown and jumped up on the exam table his long legs dangling over the edge and the soles of his stocking feet thumping a tuneless rhythm on the floor while he waited for the doctor. In the back of his mind he figured this seemed just a routine medical checkup, and it was far less effort on his part to play along rather than cause a stir and protest it, if he did, it would give to rise to suspicion and besides Thoth had already given more details on Immortals than the would strictly healthy for everyone involved.

Dr. Fraiser came back, a stethoscope dangling from one hand, "Please stop fidgeting, I swear you're worse than Cassandra when she first arrived here. Not please, sit still."

"Who's Cassandra?"

"Don't worry. You'll get a chance to meet everyone. It's a big base, but once you get used to it, everyone pretty much knows everyone else."

"I feel so much better," he muttered under his breath.

"Aren't you a little young to be so cynical?" Janet asked, checking his pulse, hearing, and heartbeat, all steady and within normal for healthy adult male of his age and weight. With a small signal she indicated that she wanted the nurse to bring over the black fabric cuff and wrapped it around his left forearm to check his blood pressure.

"Tell me if it's too tight," she added. When he didn't respond she wound it tighter and squeezed the far end and read the read out. 120 over 80. Very good, but from his non-verbal and nonverbal responses and the things he left unsaid, the small hairs at the back of her scalp were rising in response. For one thing, he was too damn healthy, much like Teal'C. Thoth on the other hand, that man was anxiety on two legs. Something about this situation did not add up. She was a doctor and a logical person; when things did not add up, Janet Fraiser got to the bottom of it or else.

"You have no idea, do you?" he replied, shaking his head. "What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, in the same mild tone. "Nothing," he muttered.

Irritated, Janet twisted a little harder than she normally would on the blood pressure cuff and handed the device back to the waiting nurse. She turned and went over to the desk where she brought up the medical chart for Thoth, giving her current patient a questioning look, something was going on here, because the charts were very similar. She went back and said, "I can't find anything wrong with you, other than the fact that you're about 90% of the way through a massive hangover. So you're free to go."

"Thanks," Methos replied, hopping down from the exam table and landing on the metal floor, not even feeling the cold through his socks.

"Go change, and leave the gown with the nurse. If I have any further questions for you, I'll be sure to let you or General Hammond know right away."

***** The Gate Room

Much later, the SG-1 team with the addition of Methos and Thoth assembled in the Gate Room, waiting at the threshold of the ramp leading up to the gate. In the background the buzz of static and conversation as the technicians ran through preliminary status reports to make sure they had the green light to open the iris. Methos watched in fascination as the giant circle cycled through its motions, the chevrons flashing by each etched with its unique Egyptian hieroglyphic. He made a mental note to investigate in more detail just what was going on here and where they had discovered this remarkable device. He jumped and lost his train of thought when Major Carter nudged him with an elbow and walked up the ramp and through the gate. The iris opened and they went through a semi-liquid wall and were pulled through the vortex.

****** Elsewhere

"Nice," Jackson said, taking in the breathtaking view of the planet PCX 1183. The team emerged on the other side of the gate, where they were met with a sprawling vista of a green meadow in mid spring. The meadow, a carpet of green grass, to either side stood a good-sized forest of oak, maple, and others less easily identified e at a distance, marching along on either side like sentinels.

"It has a distinct atmosphere," Thoth added, trying to scan to make sure that the planet would support humanoid life.

"Just because we haven't seen any inhabitants that doesn't mean that they're not out there," Jackson waved his hand in a random direction. "Do you think we should split into teams and search?"

"I don't know," O'Neil wavered.

"At the risk of sounding cliched," Thoth began, "Curiousity has done in more than its share of felines in its time; in the interests of safety it might be better to explore in groups."

"That would be cool," Jack mused, "You think we could find someone to fix the system and bring the technology back to base with us. We could use for field training simulations."

"Is he serious?" Thoth whispered in an undertone to Major Carter.

Sam shrugged her shoulders and grimaced, the lines of her face deepening. "With him. I can honestly say, your guess is as good as mine."

"Okay, everyone get their laughs in while they can," O'Neil replied. "Assuming we do split up, and I'm not saying we should, that's a lot of territory to cover. No one should go alone."

"Agreed," Carter replied, adjusting the straps of her backpack, settling her weapons in their holster, and that done, she grabbed Doctor Jackson's forearm and marched off in to the south, leaving the other men gaping in astonishment. "Well, I guess that decides at least one of the pairings; so, Thoth you're with me, Teal'C, stay with Pierson, make sure he stays out of trouble."

"Understood," Teal'C replied.

"I do not need a babysitter, I can take care of myself," Methos insisted."

Colonel O'Neil whirled around and leveled a withering glare at Methos; "Maybe you weren't paying attention during the briefing. On this mission and, god forbid, any future ones you may have the misfortune of being assigned to my team, I'm in charge and the decisions are up to me, got that?"

"Got it," Methos replied.

"Good, let's go," O'Neil replied, marching off to the north with Thoth walking at twice his normal speed to keep up with the furious stride of the Colonel. ***


"Is something wrong?" Teal'C inquired, noting the preoccupied look on his companion's face. He waited a few minutes to give the other a chance to form a response and after ten minutes of nothing, he sidled crab-wise a few inches closer wondering whether or not Methos heard the question. His brow furrowed making the gold sigil's lines deepen even more.

Methos ignored him and kept walking, ignoring the sand and grit that got into his eyes, coated his face and covered every inch of his body.

Knowing himself and his friends as he did, Teal'C could safely say he was not a curious man or even an imaginative one; he did have a sense of humor. He was still trying to understand when Colonel O'Neil was being serious and when he was been sarcastic, but that wasn't the point. Methos was an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Because of the other Immortal, Thoth; the SG Command had now learned of the existence of Immortals. Teal'C, in the midst of coming to grips with the fact that he was what they called a 'newbie', missed the sand dune's edge and went sliding down to the bottom. .

Dr. Fraiser had removed his Gul symbiont, and he had survived. That, in itself, was a miracle. Teal'c badly needed Methos to explain what he was supposed to do now as an Immortal. Thoth had mentioned something about the elders teaching the younger the rules, of fighting in some cosmic 'Game, how to survive; and he was intensely eager to learn.

"I hate deserts." He slipped suddenly in a loose patch and went down on one knee, coughing and spluttering as it got into his mouth.

Teal'C nodded, and trudged alongside, not knowing what if any to reply to that comment so he felt it wiser not to say anything. He felt inclined to help his companion up, but also felt instinctively that Methos was not the type to ask for help or appreciate it when it was given. ***** Flashback Sudan circa 1941

A roaring filled the soldier's ears, mingled in with the shouts of the commanding officers shouting conflicting orders at the scattered semicircle of troops scattered over the compound. A wind kicked up that seemingly came from every direction imaginable making the sand-colored tarps secured with ropes over the tanks, flap like caged birds. Methos would have been secretly amused at the sight if he had not been so concerned with preserving his own skin. He could feel the grit of sand, dirt and small stones even through the tough gray green uniform he wore. If there was one thing about having to be stationed in the desert, he'd learned to be conserving of everything, including water, and to keep his face covered whenever the harsh climate decided to reassert it presence over the puny humans who had dared to venture into its domain. Methos wondered, not for the first time what had induced him to enlist in the United States army, this conflict between the Allied troops and the German Axis and their allies was an exercise in insanity. Here they were, hunkered down by their tents and tanks with the wind at any given second threatening to overturn the tanks. Once they were down, they would resemble giant tortoises like those he'd seen once on another island with climate just as warm but far more inviting, cursing his commanding officer, who had earned the nickname "Desert Fox. Rommell had earned that nickname after winning several consecutive victories over the Al-Lamein. Methos, if he'd been in a better mood would have had several choice words over the decision to set up camp in this god-forsaken place, but he just was not in the mood, when he heard some of his fellow soldiers yelling at each other.

"I think it's letting up," an enlisted man shouted to be heard over the din.

"You gotta be kidding me!" someone else shouted back.

"Men! You were told sandstorms were part of the deal when he volunteered for this detail, so quit yer bellyachin!" a drill sergeant yelled.

Methos curled into a tight ball underneath the tarp he'd ripped off a nearby tank and wrapped around his lanky frame several times not only for protection against the stinging sand and wind, but also for warmth, wished he were somewhere, anywhere else in the world right at this instant.

end flashback

*** Present day, somewhere on planet PCX 1183

"Do you know where you're going?" Thoth asked, more out of a need to break the cloying silence than out of a desire to know their whereabouts.

"No, and for the last time stop asking!" O'Neil snapped. "Do you know what I want?" he added, the leaves and undergrowth of the forest crunching underneath his boot soles. Jack had lost track of the sun's position because the surrounding trees topmost branches blocked the sunlight and they had passed into a glade of black oaks and beeches.

"No," Thoth replied. He let out a groan; "I have more blisters on one foot than I can ever remember."

"Was that before or after your people put you on ice for 5,000 years?"

"Before," Thoth replied.

"Did anyone ever tell you that you take things very literal?"

"No," Thoth replied, "But I haven't really been in social situations of late."

"Who made the decision to put you into cryogenic sleep?"

"The Council of Elders."


"Yes," Thoth nodded.

"I hate politicians," O'Neill muttered under his breath. "Other than finding a way out of this damn forest, I want grilled cheese and a dill pickle on the side. I want to find the other members of my team and go home. That is what I want, but we can't always everything we want, so just shut up."

"Shutting up, Sir," Thoth couldn't resist adding, and then subside into silent marching.

*** Elsewhere

"Sam," Daniel whispered, huddled in a corner of the cave, his knees drawn up in front of him. "Would you think any less of me, if I told you being in a tight places wigs me out.

"Daniel, relax. It's claustrophobia; we've all had it from time to time. Just breathe, concentrate on that and it will get better," Sam advised, squirming around on the hard dirt floor of the cave, her backpack and gear strewn around her.

"Easy for you to say," Daniel muttered under his breath, his breaths coming in big gulps every ten seconds, and panic setting in. "This isn't a very big cave, what if we use all the air before the others find us? What if we can't get back to the Star Gate? What if..."

"Daniel, snap out of it!" she finally snapped, "There's no use in playing what if games with yourself, it's counterproductive and it only exhausts more quickly than you would otherwise. Don't make come over there an slap some sense into you, alright?"

Daniel blinked and began laughing, a hysterical edge to it.

Sam watched him rock back and forth for a few heart-stopping minute, with his knees drawn up to his chest, giving out low moaning sounds much like a wounded animal. She felt for him, but wondered if it would do more harm than good to go and slap him across the face. She wrestled with the decision and made a move to get up and go over to him her teammate. Cursing herself and the situation, Sam got up in one swift motion and made her way over to where he sat, his back up against the opposite wall of the cave. He looked up at her, his blue eyes glazed and slightly dilated. She stood over him; her right hand raised with the palm open, and gave a light smack on the cheeks. He gave her a puzzled, hurt look and finally raised his hand to wipe away the tears and sweat that coated his face. "I guess you really had to slap some sense into me after all," he whispered, uncurling from his prone position and standing up to grasp his water bottle, offering her the first sip, which she took, and than gulping down some as well. "You're absolutely certain that they will find us and we'll get outta here?"

"Look on the bright side," Sam replied, relieved that he'd recovered so quickly. "We've been in worst situations than this, and we've always made it home."

"All right," Daniel replied, a little stronger this time, "Point taken. So we will just sit tight and wait for the others to find us?"

"Actually," Sam replied, "We could try and backtrack our route and wait for everyone to meet up at the gate location's. They might try and make it back there."

"We could do that," Daniel whispered and then he fell asleep.

"Or not," Sam muttered, figuring she best stay awake and on watch in case of danger, but her eyes closed and she fell asleep.


O'Neil and Thoth were slogging through a forest pool, backpacks carried above their heads in order to prevent their gear and sensitive equipment from getting drenched. Thoth regretted ever volunteering to come on the mission and just for a second he wished that Methos would try and make for his head,' flashed through his mind, "That way, I'll be dead and out of this misery,' he thought. Just then, he realized that the sky was getting lighter in the east. They burst through the final barricade of trees to emerge into bright sunlight, blinking to adjust their eyes. That was when they realized they were back where they had started and had found the location of the Star gate.

"Damn, Damn, Damn, "O'Neil muttered, pounding on the inert and unresponsive surface of the rock inscribed with silver and gold sigils that was the stargate on this side. "We've lost our way out of this godforsaken planet. "We can't find Daniel, and he's the one who knows all the codes and dial up locations for the planets we're able to reach using the system. And we can't even find the other teams."

"Have we gone past our contact time, if we have they might realize that something's gone wrong and try and get another probe through or a message." Thoth said, trying to be helpful.

"Grab that radio terminal and see if you can raise them, use code Charlie, gate 2x, try Major Carter first. She has the communications equipment and she's with Doctor Jackson."

"Yes, Sir," Thoth replied, taking the terminal and punching in the requested code, tapping it on the surface with a fingernail a few seconds later when all he received was white noise and radio static. "I can not be certain, but whatever the damage to weather technology it's affecting communications as well."

"Try it again," Jack insisted, his teeth grinding together.

"Yes, sir," Thoth snapped, squatting down on the opposite side, as far as he could get without lose his direct line of sight with the angry military officer, punching in random numbers into the communication device.

"Here, give me that,' O'Neil snapped, snatching the device and punching in the code for the others, " This is O'Neil. Echo Charlie X-1, do you copy?" speaking into the receiver, "Report status." Seconds passed while he waited for a response. Nothing. "Great, just great," he sighed and absently stuffed the device into his pocket, taking a seat on the grass. "Hurry up and wait, time is all we've got. Thoth, old boy, might as well get whatever rest we can, It's going to be a long day."


Hammond, hovering at the periphery of the action in the Gate Room, tried to maintain his outward composure amid the flurry of activity and tension. The other teams that had been dispatched through the gate on other missions had all returned on schedule, some intact, some less so. The SG-1 team was now three hours late and with no word on their status. Communication and distance made it impossible to judge if the failure to reach they was due to a time lapse between Earth time and that of the planet PCX 1183. The climate there was less than stable given what they had learned so far. Hammond felt the sweat drip down his back and make his uniform cling to his skin.

Uncomfortable or not; worried or not he knew Colonel O'Neil and his people as more than just colleagues and officers, but as fine people and friends. It wasn't like them to not send word unless something was wrong or they were prevented somehow from doing so. It wasn't like this was a first, but it was a concern. He was on the verge of ordering another search and retrieve mission, moving forward to stand behind Lance Corporal Merrimack, seated at the controls for the Gate's chevrons, when Dr. Janet Frasier ran into the room.

"General," she gasped, trying to speak and get her breath back at the same time. "I've been monitoring the transmissions, and I think we should send a team after SG-1, immediately!"

"Calm down, Doctor," Hammond said. "I was just about to do that when you came in." "In fact, I think you should accompany the team, I've got a gut feeling that whatever predicament that they're in, they will need medical treatment."

"Yes, Sir," she replied.

"Which team are you sending, Sir?" Merrimack asked.


"I've cleared Major Rathbone and his team," Dr. Fraiser added. "There's nothing wrong with them that a good night's sleep won't fix."

"Agreed," Hammond replied, "Doctor, how long will it take you to gather the emergency medical supplies?"

"Give me ten, twenty minutes at the outside," Janet replied, brushing her auburn hair out of her eyes and settling her shoulders to relieve a kink in the muscles. "I'll go get the supplies right now, that will give Major Rathbone and his team time to suit up and go through the Gate."

"Let's do it," Hammond said, walking over and clapping her lightly on the back. "Relax. We're probably just blowing things out of proportion, knowing the Colonel O'Neil and Major Carter as well we do; once we get there. It's likely we'll find them sitting comfortably somewhere waiting for us to find them."

"And Jack will say something along the lines of 'what took you guys so long,'" Janet muttered under her breath.

"I'm not a betting man, but if I were, that would be a sure thing," Hammond replied.

** Conclusion Elsewhere

Rathbone and the SG-3 with the addition of Dr. Fraiser arrived on the surface of the planet, harried and gasping for breath but focused on finding the members of SG-1. Rathbone immediately ordered a systems check. He then divided his team into groups of two, ordering them to split up, with one taking point and the others rear guard, with the doctor in the middle. He also left the technician at the gate entry to try and diagnose why they had lost two way communications with the others on this side of the Gate.

While he was doing that, Janet took the opportunity to make a 360 degree inspection of the surroundings, noting how much atmospheric disturbance was in the air, how the planet's surface kept shifting underneath her feet and the fine red hairs at the back of her neck stand on end. Although she knew, the planet's biomes were unstable she was unprepared for how constant the shifts were. One moment they were in the middle of mild forest, the next it was freezing cold tundra. She felt the first tiny drops of rain come down and splatter on the too of her head, shivering, but glad for the thermal insulated parka they all wore. Just then, she heard a soft coughing sound come from behind her.

"Weather on this planet is dicey, Doctor, but I think you've discovered that already."

"It's starting to rain," Rathbone muttered. "I hate rain."

"Colonel O'Neil?" Janet asked, a bit startled and surprised that they had located their people so quickly.

"Yeah," O'Neil replied, emerging from the makeshift weather shelter he had built for both himself and Thoth. "Glad you could make it. It's been deadly dull here, and I for one could use a change of scenery, no pun intended."

"Colonel," Rathbone said, stepping forward to shake hands with the other officer, "I must say, I am relieved not only to find you in one piece, but well. Any ideas on which direction to look for Major Carter and Dr. Jackson?"

"Carter and Jackson marched went south. Teal' C and that Pierson fellow went east," O'Neil replied, waving his hand in either direction.

"What are the chances we'll find them before this light drizzle turns into a full-fledged storm," Thoth asked.

"I don't want to speculate," Fraiser said," I want to know."

The technician looked up from the gate controls and with a small salute he said, " Sir, I think I've almost got this figured out, just give me a sec here. I figure, whatever device is causing the planet to constantly shift biomes must run on the same power source as the gate. If it's malfunctioning, it needs to have its batteries recharged."

"So, what you're saying," Rathbone muttered, "Is the storm will actually do us favor, by directing another bolt of lightning, that will reactivate the gate?"

"If that's the case, why could we come through and they couldn't come back?" Janet asked.

"I don't know, and right now I don't care," O'Neil muttered. "I just want to find them. Daniel's the expert on how these blasted things work and all the fancy squiggles you need to enter in order to get a dial-up location, so let's go."

**** Once on the move, they were treated to the full effects on a downpour complete with sporadic thunderclaps in a dark pewter sky. Backpacks filled with gear began getting heavier by the minute, they were grateful for the thermal insulated parkas and gloves.

After hours of into the march, the storm stopped as suddenly as it had begun and they were enveloped in a heat wave accompanied by warm desert winds. Fraiser removed her parka hood and let her face be heated by the wind, even though it was too hot than she would have preferred, at least it was a welcome change. Just then she realized they were on the edge of a desert, dunes reaching as far as the distant horizon. "I hate this planet already," she muttered under her breath, stomping her booted feet on the hard-packed ground, trying to get feeling back in her legs. When she looked up again at the horizon and the endless sand dunes she thought, at first, that fatigue and the weather were playing tricks on her eyes. She saw two; still distant, black moving specks come in their direction, both cloaked and on foot.

Moving towards Major Rathbone, she tapped him on the shoulder. "Sir, look over there. Do you see what I see?" Major Rathbone looked in the direction she pointed and confirmed with a nod that he did. "Maybe our luck is about to change, Doctor. We're sure that this planet is inhabitable, so it must just be our people. He turned on his heel and marched towards the nearest and most accessible sand dune, to stand on top of it and wave his arms in the manner of a farmwife summoning in the barn hens, all the while shouting at the top of his lungs, 'Hallo! Hallo! Over here! Head this way!"

*** Teal'C and Methos struggled up the side of the most recent sand dune, refusing to give up and lie down and die. Teal'c considered himself a practical, someone not, not given to emotive displays or complaints, but this was more than any sane being had to endure. Almost three days now in the company of the 5,000 year old Immortal and he still hadn't learned much more than that they really did exist, they couldn't be killed by any known means, except by removing their head, and that the elders taught the new ones. ('As Colonel O'Neil would no doubt say at this juncture, 'fat lot of good that does me. It has been more than a week and counting since Doctor Fraiser removed the symbiont and I feel no ill effects. Does this mean I am no longer a Jaffa? I ceased to be one in truth the day I realized that Apophsis and the rest of the Gou'ald were not gods and I was no longer obligated to serve them' but now who am I?'), he thought

Aloud he said, "Pierson, do you believe we have seen the last of this desert?"

"How should I know?" the other yelled to be heard over the blowing wind. "I don't even know if we've wandered around in circles. We could be hopelessly lost. I don't know about you, but I don't want to perish on an alien planet in the middle of a bloody desert!"

"I would concur," Teal'C replied with a very straight face.

Methos stared at him and then trudged up the sand dune, to emerge on the top, his duffel bag slipping to the ground unheeded. "I hate this."

"Yes, you mentioned that earlier while we conducted reconnaissance."

"Does nothing ever bother you?" Methos asked.

"It does, "Teal'C replied, but I do not allow it to interfere with my duties."

"Bloody hell," Methos whispered, falling down rather than sitting on the ground. **** "If it would help," Teal'C said, sliding into place and almost losing his balance in the process, a few seconds of arm waving and he completed the slide to the opposite side of the sand dune. From his prone position, he twisted his hand and shouted up at his companion. "As I was saying, we could have waited out the storm, and then tried raising the rest of SG-1."

"Well, why didn't you mention that two days ago?" Methos muttered. He went back to turning himself into a tight ball of misery at the top of the dune. In the back of his mind, he wondered if it were possible to discover who had coined the phrase that 'misery loved company. Once he did, he would track them down and get pleasure of telling them they were dead wrong.' Methos was fatigued and thirsty, but he refused to surrender to the heat and the climate. He promised that he was only resting, that he would get up in a few minutes and keep walking. However, his eyes closed and he fell asleep, forgetting that his companion might have been injured in his fall. Methos tried to stir, but the sun's rays hit right at eye- level and the next he knew he was out cold. Later

That was how they found them, two silent, miserable lumps in the middle of the desert.

"Well, well, look what we found," Rathbone laughed. "Two lost lambs in need of the return to the flock. What do you say, we bring these dregs back with us, hmm?"

"It seems a shame to wake them up," O'Neil replied, arching an eyebrow.

"Oh, for the love of a name," Jackson snapped, "Wake them up and let's get outta here."

Thoth shuffled his feet at the back of the circle of people and felt rather naked and exposed out in the desert, with no idea of how to protect himself and feeling utterly useless on the mission. In the back of his mind, he thought, "Maybe it would be a favor to let Methos kill me." He was jolted out of his morbid thoughts by O'Neil's good-natured if sarcastic laughter.

"Whatever you say, Daniel," Jack laughed.

It was a good thing that Teal'C had suffered no broken bones in his wild descent because he had to endure being poked and prodded by Dr. Fraiser, in order to make certain they had sustained no injuries, and then when she was done, Teal'C got thumped on the back by Colonel O'Neil, and a hug by Major Carter, who only stepped aside to allow Doctor Jackson to gingerly exchanged a forearm clasp with him.

"Are you all right?" Carter asked.

"I am fine, Major," Teal'C replied.

"You'll forgive me for saying this, but you do not look 'fine, in fact you look terrible," Jackson added.

"I assure you, that is not case, despite my recent ordeals and my current appearance. I feel remarkably well."

While this was going on, Methos slid down the dune and landed in the sand, muttering in a language that much like Sumerian to Daniel, but he decided not to comment on it and concentrate on making sure everyone was all right and get back to Earth.

*** "Once we get back to the base, I want all of you, yes all of you," she insisted, "to report to Medical Lab as soon as you've reported to General Hammond. I want to run full medical scans and blood work on all of you. I'll make it an order if I have to."

Methos looked at the doctor and found himself with a steady bright blue stare that left no room for argument. "Okay, okay, I'll do it. Gee, I feel sorry for the rest of your patients."

"For as long as you've been around, Methos," Thoth chuckled, "I think you've still got a lot to learn about doctors in the military."

"Shut up," Methos snapped, unable to come up with anything else that sounded more witty or stinging at the moment.

*** Later

"But we still haven't discovered where the guls kept the technology to make the biomes change at an accelerated rate. We still haven't accomplished our mission," Carter said.

"Sam," Jackson interrupted, "I really do not care about the technology, I want away from here, the sooner the better."

"I understand, Daniel," Sam began, but stopped when she felt Jack's hand cover her mouth. "Major, you've been through a lot, so let's say we did and forget about it."

"Yes, Sir," she replied.

"You know I've got to say it," O'Neil said, a grin widening his mouth. "'There's no place like home, and I was fed up with this blasted planet forty eight hours ago."

"Home is sounding better and better to me too," Daniel added.

"Is it working now," Rathbone asked the technician.

"As well as it ever did," he replied.

"That's good enough for me," Rathbone said, "I find it highly unlikely that we'll ever need to come back here again."

"You'll get no arguments from me," Jackson seconded.