RATING: not exactly sure yet, PG-13

CATEGORY: Angst, hurt comfort, drama, action,

SUMMARY: What makes us who we are? Is it our outward appearance, what we present to the world? After an encounter with an alien laboratory, Sam and Daniel find out for themselves.

SPOILERS: Holiday, Legacy

DISCLAIMER: They don't belong to me, but that's okay as long as I can take them out and play with them whenever I want. I'll put them back… eventually. The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.

Colonel Jack O'Neill sat at the conference table fidgeting in his seat. He was dealing with a case of serious boredom and wondered just how much longer the briefing could go on.

He looked up speculatively at Major Samantha Carter, his 2nd in command. Standing at the head of the table, there was a read-out on the screen behind her that he could make neither heads nor tails of. Currently she was waxing eloquent about a new planet that her cold dialing program had found to be a viable alternative for the team to investigate. He shifted uncomfortably hoping not to draw her attention.

Glancing sideways at their resident civilian and archeologist seated beside him, the Colonel was privately relieved to see that Daniel looked slightly glazed, too. Sam had been going on for way too long and if she didn't wind it up soon, her teammates were in danger of dying of old age or boredom, take your pick.

What was she going on about again? Oh, yeah...he leafed through the pictures they had received from the MALP. Shuffling through them he tried to pretend to an interest that didn't exist - it had left about an hour before - two minutes after she had begun. He wished he could have gone with it.

The pictures from the Malp revealed a laboratory on the other side of the Stargate. Dark, dusty and long since abandoned; but what they could see was enough to excite the scientist in Samantha Carter.

She could barely contain her enthusiasm, "Sir, who knows what we'll find?" She enthused as she clicked through the pictures on the screen. "This could be another lab like Machello's."

Jack remembered the alien lab she was referring to all too well. All of the machinary they had discovered there now resided at Area 51.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, here, Carter, but we don't actually know how to use any of the equipment we carted out of that lab, do we?" The Colonel looked at her expectantly, they both knew that government 'experts' had been trying for years now to discover just exactly what those machines did.

"We know how to use that person switching machine and the Goa'uld killing device in the PTD's," Daniel supplied helpfully.

Unfortunately Daniel himself had found out how those particular weapons worked in an all too-personal way. Jack knew his friend still had nightmares from his time spent in a little white room when everyone at the SCG had thought him insane. In actuality he had been infected with a Goa'uld-killing device hidden inside a page-turning device. They had barely figured that one out before he was driven truly insane and Teal'c had died.

Sam shot him her best 'don't help me' look and continued, "Sir, isn't our number one priority to find new weapons and technology to use against the Goa'uld? How are we going to do that if we don't investigate new planets just because we're afraid of breaking a nail?" She blushed when the Colonel didn't answer, merely raised an eyebrow at her. "Sorry, sir, but you know what I mean."

"I do, Carter, and yes, we're going to check out your lab," he raised his hand to forestall the tide of enthusiasm he knew was going to rush forth to drown them all. She could be as bad as Daniel if you let her, with all of her scientific jargon. At least she usually got the implied request to not bore them all with it, sometimes though she just didn't read the signals...,

"Sir, this could be the breakthrough we've been waiting for. There are things in that lab that are hundreds of years ahead of our science."

"I got that, Carter. But before we charge off, let's ask ourselves, why did whoever owns this lab just up and leave? Why leave all that good stuff just lying around for someone else to find?" He held up a hand to stop her next comment, "I know, I'm just saying we should be careful, that's all. We should wait for Teal'c." Ever since the big man had joined them on Chulak, Jack just felt safer with the Jaffa at his back.

Daniel chose that moment to again take part in the debate, "Come on, Jack, Teal'c's gone out with SG7 for recon. They could be gone for days. There's nobody there," he pointed out, "the MALP hasn't found any signs of life. We'll be all right with just the three of us."

"Teal'c can join us when he gets back," Carter said in her oh-so-reasonable voice.

Jack hated it when Carter used that particular wheedling tone, and when the two of them double-teamed him he knew he was doomed.

Damn. Jack sighed silently. They looked like two kids begging for some special treat.

"Okay, kids," he said when he couldn't stand their imploring looks any longer, "you've convinced me. We leave in one hour. And be sure to go to the bathroom before you leave. We won't be stopping for any potty breaks." He watched with a smile as his teammates scramble to prep for the mission.

An alien lab, what fun. He'd better take a deck of cards, or he was going to be bored silly.

Geez, following the two scientists around in a laboratory, he had a sudden longing to join Teal'c and the marines of SG7 on recon on whatever Goa'uld infested world they were currently on. In exactly one hour and three minutes he was going to be in danger of being bored to death. Death by staff weapon was fast becoming an attractive option.

The system awakened with the first rumblings of the gate. It had been many years since the gate had been dialed to the facility, and now it had been accessed twice within a handful of days. The last time only a machine had come through, a machine much inferior to the system itself.

It judged the machine to be no threat to the facility, but neither did the computer communicate with it. It spared minimum resources to maintain a vigil on the strange machinery, but did not break it's long slumber.

But this time there were life-forms stepping through the event horizon of the Stargate. The computer instantly powered up the facility and brought itself online. It began analyzing and processing information about the new arrivals. It regretted the delay but it had been so long since the masters had visited the facility, it would be several hours before the equipment would be ready.

The master computer set to work checking its programs, soon it would be ready to serve its Goa'uld masters again. Hopefully they would be patient with the delay.

The second the three members of SG-1 stepped through the gate, lights in the laboratory sprang on around them.

"Wow, some sort of automated system maybe?" Carter mused out loud.

"This didn't happen when the MALP came through," Daniel pointed out, waving a hand at the bright lights.

Jack could just see Carter's mind working at light speed, "The MALP is mechanical. Maybe they're set to come back on when 'someone' comes through the gate?"

"Is that a good thing?" Daniel eyed the room with suspicion. Machines that could distinguish between biological and mechanical couldn't be good.

The colonel agreed with him. He didn't like automated systems. Unexpected things happened with automated systems. His spidey sense began to tingle, "Maybe we should go home and come back when Teal'c can play, too."

"Come on, guys, it's just the lights." Carter chided. "Surely if there was some sort of automated defenses, we'd be dead already?" Carter gave Jack 'that' look – her double-dog dare you look.

He was almost ready to order them home when Daniel called out, "Hey, guys, look at this."

Bent over a panel, he pulled a soft brush from his pack and was cleaning the surface of what appeared to be years of accumulated dust. "There's writing here. I think it's Goa'uld."

"Oh, great, this is just getting better and better." That bad feeling in Jack's gut kicked up a notch. "What does it say?"

"Just a sec." Daniel continued to brush away the dust, blowing at it softly from time to time. "It's seems to be some sort of welcome."

"That's a good sign." Carter supplied hopefully.

"You think? Why am I not so sure about that? What does it say exactly, Daniel?"

'I'm working on it."

His teammates waited impatiently, as he carefully studied the panel. The major bounced on the balls of her feet, her gaze taking in the laboratory eagerly, her hands flexing in excitement. Jack could see that she was just itching to get her hands on the equipment around her. She had the glazed look of a kid in a candy store who didn't know which treat to start with.

The colonel on the other hand held his gun at the ready. He didn't really think it was a good thing to be welcomed by the Goa'uld. Welcomed for what, for instance? Maybe they were being welcomed as hosts or welcomed as guinea pigs in some sort of twisted Goa'uld test. They had seen far too many of those in their years of exploring the Stargate, and he for one had no desire to be a lab rat.

Daniel finally finished his study, "Okay, I think I have it. It says something like, 'Welcome to this place of change.' Um... and then it goes on 'We hope that your visit does end in finding that which you desire… or maybe… lost.' Well, either way, it's somewhat cryptic, but not really threatening."

"A place of change?" Carter asked. "What kind of change, does it say?"

"You can be sure it's not oil they're talking about," the colonel said tightly. Carter just rolled her eyes at him.

Daniel shook his head, "That's all it says. Maybe we should have waited for Teal'c after all. He might know something about this place."

"You think?" The bad feeling was still there in the pit of his stomach, but Jack had to admit that, so far, they had met nothing threatening.

Making a decision he told them, "Okay, let's take a couple of hours. Daniel take some video of this place. Carter, look around, just don't touch anything, okay? We don't want to set anything off accidentally. Let's see what we can see before we go home and wait for Teal'c to come back here with us."

To be continued....