AUTHOR'S NOTES: This was written as the second episode of one of two Virtual Seasons for Stargate SG-1 Season Six. The premise was that Daniel didn't 'die' in 'Meridian' and things continued on from there. However, after eight episodes, we were unable to get anything more from our writers, and the Virtual Season ceased. The other VS6 episode I wrote was entitled 'Symbiosis'.

Forged Steel

Part One

"The MALP reports significant flora and fauna on P9U-772." Sam indicated the screen in the briefing room with the hand that held the remote control. She regarded the deep greens and browns of the rainforest-like terrain for a moment before turning back to the General and the rest of SG-1. "The area around the Stargate appears to sustain a broad variety of life forms – most of them curious, but not apparently intelligent." Behind her, she heard the squeak of a small furry creature who had chosen that moment in the recording to inspect the MALP camera. She smiled at the astonishment on the faces of the General, the Colonel and Daniel. It had surprised her, too, when she first viewed the recording. Teal'c's eyebrow had merely arched at the sight of the animal pressing its nose against the camera lens and chattering happily away to itself.

Knowing the little creature would shortly find something else to capture its interest, Sam continued her summary. "Initial MALP telemetry indicated this planet as a possible site for the proposed off-world training facility. The heavy tree cover among the hills would provide such a facility with a measure of camouflage and protection, as well as a training area. However, due to the nature of the terrain, we haven't been able to send a UAV survey through."

Daniel leaned forward in his chair, "Any natives, Sam?"

"We sent the MALP in the most easily navigated direction from the Stargate...the images we got back from it..." She pressed a button to flip to the next segment of video and a smile tugged one corner of her mouth in enjoyment of Daniel's interest at the sight of huge moss-covered pyramids amidst crumbling stone dwellings. "This site was located several hundred metres from the gate."

"So..." Colonel O'Neill lifted his hands from the table, tilting his head a little in comedic ingenuity, "Any natives, Carter?"

General Hammond took that moment to tell his 2IC, "Your mission is to find out, Colonel."

"Ah, so there was a point to this briefing." Evidently the Colonel was in one of his less serious moods. It was amusing now – it could get trying later. He swivelled his chair around to regard General Hammond. "To P9U-772 we go?"

If the General was amused, he didn't show it. "SG-1 will be doing a four-day recon of the area, assessing the suitability of the terrain for personnel training; determining the possibility of a Goa'uld threat to such a facility. Dr. Jackson, you will be looking for anything that can tell us about the people who used to live on this planet – and what happened to them. You ship out at 0800 hours tomorrow."

----

Daniel stared at the lighting chevrons and frowned in thought.

His team was arrayed beside him – Sam checking her straps to his right, Teal'c standing ramrod-straight to his left and Jack shifting restlessly next to Teal'c.

"Daniel Jackson, you seem preoccupied." Teal'c's deep quiet voice broke through his reverie.

"Oh...er..." Dragging his thoughts away from the mental comparison of the stone temples on P9U-772 with those found in northern Laos seven years ago, Daniel took a moment to focus his scattered thoughts.

"Daniel?" Jack peered around their team-mate, eyebrows raised. "Wanna get back to Earth for this mission?"

"Uh... I was just wondering if I should have packed Dr. Nova Vijaya's diary from the expedition to northern Burma. They discovered a temple of the same style design – it also had carvings in pillared bases. The most interesting thing about Dr. Vijaya's discovery was the chamber with Goa'uld writings they found beneath the temple. Of course, the results of the expedition were never published and all data pertaining to the dig was confiscated. I really should dig it out. It's entirely possible that the people who constructed the Vijayan temple in Burma were the same ones who constructed these..."

He saw Jack's grimace and stopped his 'lecture', grinning, but the older man's words were nonchalant. "You can always send back for it later, Daniel."

"Chevron six encoded!" The voice of the Stargate operator emitted from the gateroom speakers, letting the waiting team know how close they were to starting off on their mission.

"Once the wormhole establishes, they'll be linking up with the MALP on -772 to check things out. It'll be another minute before we go through," Sam said, shifting her pack on her shoulders to get it more comfortably settled.

As Daniel watched her adjust her pack, Sergeant Davis's voice over the speakers declared, "Chevron seven, locked!" And the wave of energy particles billowed out in magnificent visual display. "Receiving MALP telemetry..." There was a moment of silence, then, "Oh my..."

The unexpected exclamation caused them and the SFs in the room to turn and look up at the control room window. "Sergeant?"

Sergeant Davis glanced up at General Hammond, standing just behind him. "Sir?"

"SG-1, you'd better come and take a look at this."

With astonished and apprehensive glances, they went.

'This' was an old man inspecting the MALP.

He looked at least seventy and was in need of a good shave. His clothing was simple and shabby, but it looked sturdy enough as the man fingered the radio transmitter and craned his head to peer behind the camera – giving SG-1 and the General an unpleasant view down a grubby vest.

"Peep show, anyone?" Jack got four reproachful looks for that comment. Glaring at Jack was certainly preferable to looking at the screen. "Are we gonna try communication, sir?"

The General reached for the microphone as Sergeant Davis switched the output to the MALP speaker. "This is Major General George Hammond of the United States Air Force. Please identify yourself."

The old man leapt back, tripping over something and falling back heels-over-head. He stared at the MALP and began gabbling away in a long string of syllables that made Daniel start in astonishment. He knew that language as well as he knew English.

"Daniel?"

"It's Abydonian," he breathed in disbelief. The liquid sounds of the language of Sha'ure's people flowed into him like water into a dry stream. "He's speaking in Abydonian."

End of Part One