Sirens went off, startling the personnel in the SGC compound. Everyone froze, wondering what was going on. In seconds, a recorded voice stated that there was an unauthorized traveler about to come through the gate. Guards rushed to the room, weapons drawn, and watched as the iris of the Stargate opened somehow opened itself, revealing the shimmering surface of the portal. As the light coming from the portal flickered, Colonel O'Neill, General Hammond, and the rest of SG-1 stared at the portal from the control room, wondering just what was going to come through.
"What happened the last time something unauthorized came through that thing?" Carter wondered out loud.
"Wasn't it a box of tissues?"
"That was from your side, Daniel," she reminded him.
"Last thing to come through was that message from Samarra. Wonder what it is this time," O'Neill muttered.
The general remained quiet, deciding not to remind them what had happened after that.
"Whatever it is, it is about to come through," Teal'c observed. "We will know soon enough."
With a final flicker, whatever was traveling through the Stargate arrived on the platform, and the shimmering portal closed. All weapons were pointed at it: a small, brown envelope.
"What is this, a post office?" O'Neill wanted to know, staring as a guard approached it and picked it up. "D'you think it's a letter bomb?"
"Too small," Carter told him.
"What is it, lieutenant?" the general asked over the intercom.
"It's for Dr. Jackson, sir," the lieutenant said, staring at the envelope he held.
Everyone in the booth turned to stare at Daniel.
The team went to the debriefing room and the lieutenant handed the letter over to Daniel after it was checked for anything lurking in the envelope.
"What could be on it?" he asked the general, a little surprised at all of the caution.
"Microbes, poison, anything," the general reminded him. "You've made lots of enemies, Daniel."
"Well, so have I, but I don't get letters," Jack complained. "How come Daniel gets the letters?"
Daniel wanted to say, "Because I can read," just to irk Jack, but he didn't quite dare. After all, he knew that Jack was only teasing him. Daniel sat down and looked the envelope over. On closer inspection, the envelope was clearly made out of some kind of handmade paper, not papyrus or vellum as he'd half expected from the color. On the back of it was his name, Daniel Jackson, written in black ink. On the front was a blob of red wax which had been meant to hold it closed, but the seal had been broken while the letter had been checked over by the lab. Holding the edges together, Daniel saw the device was nothing more than a circle.
"A Stargate?" Carter wondered, pointing at the circle.
"Don't know, but I have a feeling we'll find out."
Daniel pulled the letter out of the envelope, unfolded it, and stared at it. "This is weird. My name is in English, but this is in…I don't know what."
Everyone turned to look at him. Daniel was conversant in twenty-three languages, and it was rare that he couldn't read something.
"Is it similar to anything you know?" the general suggested hopefully.
Daniel shook his head. "Nothing. Not runes, or Russian, or hieroglyphics, cuneiform, or anything else. It's like someone gave a pen to a very smart two-year-old and let him go to town. There's reasoning behind all of this, but I can't make it out." He held up the paper so everyone could see the myriad dashes, angles, small circles, and zigzags that made up the pattern.
"Well, looks like you finally met your match," Jack joked, grinning. "A very smart two-year-old, Danny-boy."
Daniel glared at him.
"You will figure it out," Teal'c said. "I have yet to see a puzzle you could not unravel, let alone resist."
"Thanks, Teal'c," Daniel said, studying the letter. "I'm going to take this to my office, look it over. I'll see you guys later."
The rest of SG-1 exchanged glances. They knew that Daniel would allow very little else to infiltrate his life while he had that puzzle to work on. They remembered the last time something had been unsolvable: he'd worked for three days without sleep, passed out at his desk, and while he'd been asleep the rest of the team stole his notes and hid them from him so he would rest for a bit. Jack found himself grinning, remembering the part he'd played.
"All right, this is how it's gonna be, Danny boy," Jack had said, thoroughly enjoying himself. Daniel had woken up, discovered the missing notes, and then went to find the rest of the team. He'd found them in the lounge, clearly enjoying the furious look on his face when he stalked in. "You go get cleaned up, pull on a fresh set of clothes, and we'll all go with you to the mess hall where you'll have a nice, big meal. Then, if you're a good boy and have another nap, then maybe we'll give you back your notes."
"What is this, 'Pick on Daniel Day'?" Daniel had growled, thoroughly put out. "You guys are definitely into inflicting cruel and unusual punishment!"
"Well, if you don't do that, Teal'c can help you," Carter suggested. "You know, with the washing and the dressing and all the rest of it."
Swearing revenge (and staying out of Teal'c's reach), Daniel had complied.
"Anyone want to take bets on what we'll have to do to him to get him to take a break?" Jack asked gleefully, getting himself a cup of coffee.
"I thought we settled the most effective choice last time," Teal'c said. "Offer him my aid in doing so."
The general chuckled. "Maybe we'd better make sure to do that later tonight, just to make sure he sleeps."
The general had been joking, but everyone had a good laugh later that evening when around eleven Teal'c decided to do just what the general suggested. Sudden shouting from Daniel's quarters brought the rest of SG-1 and the general running from the lounge, and when they got to the door, they saw Daniel in bed with Teal'c standing by his bed, determined to keep him there.
"Teal'c, I know someone put you up to this, so I don't blame you," Daniel said from where he lay. "I have a pretty good idea who it was, too!" He paused to glare at his teammates, one of whom snickered. "But I am not tired, I want to finish deciphering that message, and I can't do that in bed!"
"Well, as long as you're in bed, you might as well sleep," Carter told him, trying very hard not to laugh.
"Yeah, Teal'c's got you all nice and tucked in," Jack said, smiling. "Nice and cozy and comfy, isn't it? Got your teddy bear?"
If looks were capable of killing someone, then Jack O'Neill would have been a smoking spot on the floor. Daniel went to get out of bed, but Teal'c's hand on his shoulder restrained him and made sure he stayed just where he was.
"I am going to get you guys back for this," Daniel promised.
"Teal'c did it all on his own," the general said, exonerating SG-1 from Daniel's wrath. "They had nothing to do with it, and we didn't even know Teal'c was coming here. Really, Daniel."
Daniel looked at Teal'c, who nodded. Daniel sank back into his pillows, looking shocked.
"I don't know whether to feel touched or worried," Daniel said after a moment of reflection. "Thank you, Teal'c, for your concern, but I hope you won't be making a habit out of this."
Teal'c assured him that it would only happen when he, Daniel, overworked. Daniel did not find that reassuring considering how often he worked late or even to the next day.
Four days later, Daniel rushed into the general's office where the rest of SG-1 were having a meeting.
"Let me guess," the general said, holding up a hand to forestall him. "You've figured out that message you got."
"How did you know that?" Daniel asked, surprised.
"Because only solving a puzzle gives you that kind of manic glint in your eye," Jack opined, leaning back in his chair. "What's it say?"
Daniel took a spare chair and unfolded the letter. "Well, it was really simple once I cracked the code."
"Isn't it always?" Jack joked.
Daniel ignored him. "You see, it was a letter-number code based on the Fibonacci sequence. Each little grouping of symbols represented a number, and once the numbers were understood, I thought that we'd been sent a bunch of coordinates. Well, each number is set off by a space to make it clear that each group of digits was meant to be read together, and some of those coordinates were six digits long. That didn't make sense. Whoever sent this meant us to figure it out, and it didn't make sense as coordinates. Then, I noticed that the digit for eight was repeated a lot, and I wondered if it represented a letter of some kind. It didn't make sense in any of the extraterrestrial languages, but it did make sense in English! E is the most commonly used letter in the English language, and I tried putting E in every time I saw an eight, and after that it was a matter of filling in letters.
"Like a crossword puzzle," Jack said, sipping his coffee.
"What does it say?" Teal'c asked.
" 'The learned ones would be greatly honored if you were to come to our great institution for a meeting of learning. At your convenience, learned one," Daniel read off of a piece of paper he held in his hand.
"And?" the general said.
"Well, it's signed 'The Learned Ones,' and it gives a Stargate address, which is one we haven't seen before," Daniel told him, folding the paper up and placing it on the desk. "That's all."
"And it was addressed to you," General Hammond said, taking it and reading the message for himself. "What do you think it means?"
"Obviously it is an invitation," Teal'c said calmly. "And it was addressed to Daniel Jackson. So, someone must be awaiting his arrival."
"Yes, but do we go?" Carter asked.
"We?" O'Neill echoed, putting down his coffee. "We? Last I knew, that invitation was only open to Daniel since it was his name on the envelope, and a 'meeting of learning' doesn't sound very inviting to me."
"I wouldn't want to go by myself," Daniel protested. "I have no idea if this is just a friendly invitation or a trap, and besides, if it's a new world, Colonel, wouldn't you want to explore it?"
"I'm getting a vision of dusty libraries and laboratories," Jack muttered. "What's to explore?"
"The choice of whether SG-1 goes or not depends on Dr. Jackson's choice of accepting or refusing the invitation," the general said, earning a startled glance from the colonel. "What do you say, Daniel?"
Daniel grinned and Jack groaned. In seconds, the bespectacled professor flew out the door, calling to the rest of the team, "Just let me get packed!"
SG-1 was waiting patiently for Daniel by the Stargate an hour later, and he still had not showed up.
"If he's not here in the next five minutes, I'm calling the mission off," Colonel O'Neill growled.
"He is packing," Teal'c reminded him.
"Packing what?" Jack wanted to know. "That miniature Library of Congress he keeps in his room? If he thinks we're going to help him lug all those books, he's got another think coming. I've seen how many he has, and I'm not going to be a pack mule on this mission. We're gonna go, he'll talk to these people, and then we're coming back, period. Remember when he got a gift from that one king we helped out? Whatever he wished? What did he choose? A mammoth book that contained an entire history of that planet! I had to help him carry it, and my back was killing me for weeks afterward."
Teal'c smiled warmly. "Yet you helped him carry it," he pointed out. "It gives him great joy, and he is still reading it."
"A book that Daniel Jackson isn't able to read in one sitting," Jack muttered, pacing. "I was beginning to think that was an impossibility."
Daniel arrived then, carrying his pack. Everyone was staring at him.
"What, no dolly to help you carry your books? No truck?" Jack wanted to know.
"I only needed ten, but I was having a hard time choosing," Daniel answered, pulling on his jacket. "Sorry about that."
"What ten did you choose?" Carter asked, interested.
"Well, I wanted ones that would represent all that humankind has accomplished over the years, so I chose a book on mathematics, another on the sciences and one on technology, an anthropology and global issues book, one on ancient myths, one on religion, one on literature, one on arts, one on music, and the write-ups I've been doing of our journeys."
All of them were still staring.
"Well, I wanted to be thorough in giving them the complete spectrum of human accomplishments," Daniel told them, looking eager.
"How about you let them ask the questions instead of volunteering information?" Jack suggested dryly. "After all, you said yourself that you weren't sure if this were a genuine invitation or a trap of some kind. What if they're a possible enemy? Do you think it would be wise to tell them all about us?"
"Well, just in case," Daniel said. "I thought it would be better if I were prepared."
"Sure," Jack said, pulling on his pack. "Well, let's get this show going."
He gave a signal to the control booth, the general waved and gave them a thumbs-up for good luck, and the Stargate was started. Once it was open, the team headed through, hoping that whatever would happen next would be good.