AN: I'm baaaaaack! Anyhow, in celebration of completing a paper that was 6 weeks late (let's not discuss the presentation I haven't done yet), I thought I would reward you all for your patience while I stressed over the paper for all this time. And someone please tell me what possessed me to think school would be better when 10+ years have only made me less able to slop together a paper at 3 in the morning?

Carbon
Jezyk
Spoilers: Anything prior to Heroes
Disclaimer: I don't own them; I'm just taking them out for some fun. Promise.
Jack/Sam as always

Chapter One

It wasn't often that Samantha Carter begged for anything. It was, in fact, the first time in all the years he'd known her that she'd begged period. It was odd because not only did begging convey a desperation that was not in keeping with the calm, collected persona of Samantha Carter, but also because begging was altogether unnecessary for her. Carter had a reserved, unassuming way about her that caused her to rarely ask for anything unless she absolutely needed it, which had the pleasant result of her getting nearly everything she ever bothered to request.

But whether or not she actually needed the object was up for debate at that particular moment. And that caused the Colonel's hesitation.

Actually, it really had nothing to do with Carter. It had to do with a very simple concept. It seemed very simple to him at least, but it was obviously well beyond the grasp of both Carter and Daniel, which was kind of frightening in and of itself because Jack was a big enough man to admit that things usually made sense to him after Carter or Daniel had simplified them considerably for him.

There they were, a bazillion light years away from home on a planet which had, according to Daniel, not quite measured up to prehistoric Earth in its heyday. Most of the pathetic excuse for a village had not weathered time well and what had was pretty well unrecognizable. Jack had proclaimed that he was going to side with Mother Nature in all her ascended glory and declare there was nothing of value remaining. He had also told them that since the extinct people were not very evolved and there was nothing intact left, they were immediately going home.

Daniel started whining about looking around, which made no sense to Jack because there was nothing worth looking at as far as the eye could see, and in that barren landscape, the eye could indeed see very far. But Carter pointed out that there wasn't really anything more pressing to do on the base besides paperwork, so they might as well poke around. The colonel decided to be nice and throw them a bone, leading them on a search for something worth saving.

The unrelenting sun had done nothing to lighten his mood. The next settlement they encountered, every bit as wasted and empty as the first, did nothing to help either. It was the third village, a several hour hike away from the gate through the unrelenting sun, that shoved his mood quite firmly into bad.

Because there was something there. Worth all the trouble remained in dispute, but something, nonetheless, which even Jack couldn't deny.

They became aware of the humming before the village came into view. Jack heard it first, but he blamed it on the sun and the squinting and the being hungry and the incessant chatter of Daniel and Carter. He groaned quietly, knowing no one would pay any attention to him since he'd been muttering under his breath all day. But after a moment, he noticed Carter and Teal'c looking around. Daniel was still talking, so he didn't notice it. Carter shushed him, bringing a huge smile to Jack's face. Daniel would have ignored him if he said to shut up, but he listened to Carter because everyone listened to Carter.

"Do you guys hear that?" Her inquiry was directed at anyone who would answer. Daniel looked at her like she was crazy, but Teal'c nodded.

Jack grimaced. "Look sharp." In his experience, there was nothing good about to come from an indeterminate, barely detectable humming that seemed to be subtly growing louder. He firmly expected, at the very least, the entire army of a system lord as they slowly crept over the hill in front of them.

The fact that the humming was coming from another dilapidated village did not soothe his nerves either, although he would have expected some relief from the fact that no one on his team was about to be shot at. The humming still didn't sit well with him.

Unfortunately, Carter was instantly enthralled. Something was humming, she said. Humming meant power, she said. Power on a long-abandoned planet meant something, but that was about when Jack adjusted his sunglasses, sat down on the closest rock, and completely tuned out the babble. He wasn't in the mood for babble, not even from Carter since she was as filthy and rank as the rest of them from marching in the heat all day. He waited for a pause in her speech which was carefully crafted to get him to give in, but it was unnecessary. He trusted her instincts. He waved his hand dismissively. "Go play, kids. You've got an hour." He pointed at Daniel before the younger man could interrupt. "Not a minute more."

Daniel and Carter scrambled off to figure out what was humming and how it was humming and why it was humming and just what the humming meant in the grander scheme of things. Jack and Teal'c remained at the edge of the town where they could observe.

Teal'c broke the silence after a few minutes. "Do you believe there is something of value here, O'Neill?"

Jack shrugged, checking over his shoulder and along the horizon in his typically paranoid fashion. "Carter said something has power."

Teal'c nodded. "Perhaps it is a weapon."

"Perhaps." He shrugged again. "Perhaps not. How could these people build a weapon and still not get past mud houses?"

Teal'c nodded thoughtfully. "The former inhabitants of this planet may have been aided by ascended beings in a time of crisis."

Jack glared at his friend, displeased that Teal'c had reached the same conclusion about the planet despite the complete lack of any similarity. Jack didn't like any planet that reminded him of 636 or of Orlin. He didn't like any people who reminded him of 636 or Orlin. But he couldn't hold Teal'c accountable for voicing the same thought he'd been having.

And he was really particularly annoyed that Daniel had become every bit as fascinated as Carter by the same thing that was fascinating Carter which meant that one hour was going to end with whining.

"I'm going to take a walk." He stood up, thoroughly irritated, and stomped off in a huff. He tried to rationalize his anger, but he couldn't. He wasn't mad at Carter or Daniel. They were just being Carter and Daniel and, in all honesty, he wouldn't change a thing about either of them even if he could. He wasn't mad at Teal'c either. He was just annoyed that there might be another Orlin and that this one might decide to stay, and really, that was the fear that plagued him relentlessly.