Chapter 1: Acquired Artifact

The Gate closed as soon the last team member emerged through the event horizon. Moving past the MALP, O'Neill's team quickly secured the area and proceeded down the path before them. Their target was in sight – a large pyramid-like structure just north of the Stargate, encircled by a field of wild, golden grasses. Even from this distance, the rows of foreign hieroglyphs could be clearly seen, and Daniel's pace picked up a bit to keep up with his eager curiosity.

The team walked up the broad stairway leading to the structure's entrance where Daniel dumped his pack on the marble floor. His hands ran across the rows of symbols on the wall, captivated by the ancient writing.

"Jack, I-I've never seen anything like this. The writing doesn't resemble anything we've discovered in this system."

O'Neill shrugged in reply, wondering how anyone could find a wall of rock so interesting. But they were here on a mission and he knew the information on the wall could prove to be beneficial.

Taking charge, O'Neill ordered: "Teal'c, secure the perimeter. Daniel, work on a translation. Carter, you're with me. Let's see what makes this place so special."

Firmly clasping his P-90, O'Neill followed Carter through the entrance. In military style, they weaved their way through the corridors – a tactical dance rehearsed many times before. Within a few minutes, they entered a brightly lit atrium, where transparent panels above allowed daylight to naturally envelope the room. A lone altar stood at the center of the floor, elegantly supporting a blue, cylinder-shaped object.

"Carter, what do you suppose this is?" O'Neill asked, eyebrows raised as they approached the foreign object.

"I don't know, Sir. Perhaps Daniel's translation could shed some light on it."

O'Neill circled the stone altar and surveyed the empty room. "Why would anyone just leave it here?"

"Good question, Sir. It appears to be made out of crystal."

O'Neill tapped the object with the tip of his P-90. When nothing happened, he proceeded to pick it up.

"Looks harmless, Carter. Do you suppose it's like those crystals the Tok'ra use to power their ships?"

Carter cringed at the sight of him fiddling with it, "I'd be careful with that, Sir."

O'Neill shrugged and handed it to her. But at that moment - when both their hands held the crystal at the same time - a wave of energy discharged from the object and flashed over them.

Momentarily stunned, they both stared blankly at each other.

"Carter… what was that?"

"Uh, don't know Sir."

O'Neill outwardly nodded while his inner thoughts continued to question: Humor me, Carter. What do you THINK just happened?

"Colonel?" she asked in surprise.

"What?"

It wouldn't hurt YOU to think for a change!

"Carter! I DO think. My mind just isn't as sophisticated as yours."

"Huh? I didn't say you didn't think, Sir,"

"Yes you did."

"Uh, sorry, Sir. Didn't realize I said that out loud."

Don't apologize. I love it when you blush like that. You are so way smarter than me… and beautiful… and I just know you're so hot under those BDUs

"Sir!"

"What?"

"Sir, uh, I think I can hear your thoughts."

"Nonsense Carter," If you really could hear my thoughts you'd know that right now, all I want to do is grab you, kiss you, strip your clothes off and shove my -

"SIR!" Carter's cheeks flushed bright red.

You really CAN hear my thoughts? Please say no, please say no!

Yes, Sir. Five-by-five. And I can't believe you were thinking that!

What? His cheeks paled. How could this happen? I can't control my thought life! Carter – get out of my head!

Sir, it must have something to do with the energy discharge from the crystal. If I can take some readings, analyze it for potential wave frequencies emanating from the object, then run a spectrogram of the -

Ack! Carter! Will you knock it off!

What, Sir?

All that technobabble. I can hear you, remember?

Sir, I can't help it. Do you want me to figure this out or not?

Just then, Daniel came running into the atrium. "I think I know what this place is. Make sure you don't touch anything in here." Daniel looked at his two teammates and the blue crystal in Carter's hand. "Oh… too late?"

Ya think? O'Neill internally criticized the younger man.

Carter tried desperately to hold back a giggle.