Ban Azka: I referred to Azkaban as Ban Azka because the Ancients (in my story lore), called it that originally. It was only later that the name was changed.
Duplicators: They will have an impact on the future of Earth. All I'm saying.
- - - Part 27: A Matter of Time
Jack thought about Sabin as he poured his milk into his Fruit Loops. With a content smile, he suddenly realized how long Sabin had been with them. It had been over a year, as they had just recently celebrated Sabin's sixth birthday, as well as Carter's promotion from Captain to Major.
Not long after they had returned from saving Thor and bringing about the creation of an entirely different 'nation', the Duplicators, much had changed. And yet, a great deal had remained the same.
The Tau'ri had become close to the Duplicators, understandably, since Sabin was adored by them. The Duplicators even occasionally accompanied the SG teams on off-world missions, especially when it was believed they may encounter malicious machines. The protective mantises had a remarkable ability to sense the intent of such beings and had become a mighty assistance in such things. But things with them had not stopped there.
They had colonized a planet, specifically chosen by the Asgard for them to inhabit. The Duplicators had multiplied quite quickly as they completely removed the danger to the Asgard.
It had taken some time, of course, but before Sabin's sixth birthday, the threat the Replicators had once posed was whipped away by the metallic mantises. And so, with the Replicators completely eradicated, a new, quite remarkable civilization surfaced. Because of this, and the fact they felt indebted to the Duplicators, the Asgard decided it best to provide them with a proper planet to call their own.
The Asgard had been a bit leery at first, since the Duplicators were very similar to the Replicators, but they couldn't deny the vast differences between the intelligent machines and their tie to Sabin. Their consciousnesses were, in the simplest terms, made of his essence. Their sense of right and wrong were also the same. They would never become what they had helped defeat. It wasn't in their nature and never would be.
The Duplicators settled on 'the Colony' as their world's name. It was primarily covered in lush green forests with occasional patches of fields and plains. It also had a gate, which they had quickly learned how to operate. The planet was fairly close to Earth, gate-network wise, and was enriched with plenty of raw materials for the Duplicators to use and manipulate. They were already in the process of making verbal communicators for themselves, allowing them to actually speak. It was a work in progress though.
With Ameno, the first of her kind and leader of the Duplicators, they were a force to be reckoned with on nearly every level, and the only thing clearer than their abilities was their loyalty to Sabin and his allies.
Jack shook his head, recalling when Sabin had played with over twenty of the little guys by climbing on them as they made a jungle gym for him.
That hadn't been long before SG-1 paid a quick visit to the Wizarding World. The Longbottoms had invited them to a house warming party, as they had just settled back into life.
Neville had been a little nervous around his parents when he had first learned of their symbiotes, but he soon accepted Loflin (in Frank) and Jean (in Alice) as extra parents.
Augusta had been the one most hesitant, for the first time not really knowing how to respond.
What do you say to beings inhabiting your son and daughter in-law?
But, as Neville had, she too adjusted and welcomed them as family.
They, of course, did not let it be known to a lot of people that Alice and Frank were sharing their bodies with two Tok'ra, but those who did know, such as Dumbledore, were thankful this arrangement had been made (after getting over the near heart attack of first meeting them –glowing eyes and altered voice–).
For those who did not know, the miracle of the Longbottoms was simply explained by the Guardian having a hand in it. That was more than enough to quench anyone's curiosity about it.
The past year had also been filled with other things, particularly learning.
Jack now had a good handle on apparition, having been taught by Sirius and licensed by the Legion of American Wizards. Sam had also learned more about potions, occasionally even receiving some literature from Severus Snape about some advanced mixtures.
It seemed to a great many people Severus appreciated Sam's unique outlook and insight on brewing, and no one could deny how Sam lit up when she received the sometimes smelly packages of potion ingredients from the famed Potions Master.
Daniel had taken up teaching Sabin the recent history of Earth, primarily the past five hundred years. Sabin enjoyed it, although Jack would never be able to understand Daniel's enthusiasm in it all as he taught his son.
He couldn't even really include the word 'adopted' anymore. Sabin was his son now, plain and simple. Which, at times, was difficult. He couldn't help but find himself thinking about Charlie.
He would be a teenager now.
Jack shook himself, not allowing himself to continue down the same thought path he had stumbled down several times before. To do so again wasn't healthy, and it wouldn't help him be a good father to Sabin.
That was another thing that had happened within the past year. He didn't know how, exactly, and at this point didn't care, but he had told Sabin. Everything.
That in itself had been extremely difficult, and it hadn't helped that everything was brought back when he looked at Sabin during the discussion. Reminding him how Charlie had been at that age, and how his future had been cut short.
But it hadn't stopped there. Sabin, as any child can sometimes be, was a little curious, though Jack could see there was more behind it than just curiosity. He had asked if it would be possible for him to meet Sara, Charlie's mom and Jack's ex-wife.
Sabin's innocent question of, 'Don't you think she'd want to know?' also got him thinking over it more, especially with how she took their last conversation.
Would it be so bad for her, who may know him better than anyone else, to be brought into the loop?
And that, probably above everything else, had brought about the biggest change for Jack that passed year.
He had kept very limited contact with Sara during the past few years, due to the incident involving an alien entity impersonating him and seeking her out in attempt to find Charlie—the source of Jack's apparent deep internal wound.
That whole mess had resulted in him having to tell Sara a brief outline of the Stargate Program, because having her believe their government was running a cloning program was just too wrong. But after that, that had pretty much been it, though she had made him promise her to not do anything too dangerous and to have them let her know if anything . . . happened to him. Good or ill.
And so, after briefly thinking over Sabin's question of going to meet Sara, he agreed doing so wasn't a bad idea. Now that he thought about it, Sara would probably want to know he had adopted a boy, and the thought of her finding out about it through means other than himself . . . well, it was better not to think about it.
Besides, this probably counted as good news Sara had asked to keep her in the loop about.
And so, Jack called her, and, through a very short, albeit odd, conversation, they arranged to meet.
Sabin got out of the car and hurried to Jack as they made their way up the driveway.
Sara had suggested simply meeting at her father's house. She was living with him now, because of convenience and the fact he needed a little bit of help to keep up with the house now.
Jack's ex-father-in-law had graciously taken his leave earlier that day to give them some alone time. It was clear to pretty much everyone who met the stern but kind man that he felt it would have been better if Jack and Sara hadn't separated, but had endured the horrible experience of losing a child together.
Unfortunately, it would never be known if such an action would have been better or not.
"Like I said earlier, I sort of hinted you're a bit more than a simple child, but nothing more than that. Don't do or say anything that will reveal exactly how big my hint was. Let me break it to her, 'kay? I practiced with what I'm going to say," Jack whispered, looking up to the porch with a partly open window.
He was certain he had seen her standing by the curtain of the window but had moved soon after.
Hammond had given the okay for Jack and Sabin to share whatever they wished with Sara. Having the President as a friend no doubt helped.
"Okay, I will," Sabin promised.
Jack gave a brief nod. "Alright, you ready?" he asked, both of them coming up to the door.
"Yeah," Sabin answered, though he was now standing behind Jack.
Shaking his head, Jack took a breath and knocked.
The door opened a moment later, Sara standing beyond it. She looked at Jack, taking in his appearance and mentally comparing what she saw to the last time she had seen him.
"Hello, Sara," he said softly.
She opened the door a bit wider. "Hello, Jack."
Jack smiled and stepped forward, Sabin careful to remain in his shadow, though he took a peek from behind Jack.
"Oh, hello there," Sara said, looking down at him and giving him a sincere, albeit slightly confused smile.
"Hi," Sabin said. He didn't shy away, but remained where he was, positioned just behind Jack's legs.
"Well, come on in. My porch is nice, but you both probably would like to sit," she said, welcoming them in.
The inside of the house was just as simple and common as the exterior, though it was clear it had just been tidied (the lines in the carpet from the vacuum cleaner and very shiny counter tops revealed this).
"So, how have you been?" Jack asked.
He had asked something similar over the phone a few days ago, but such a question was a good thing to ask first when one didn't know what to say, right?
"Good," she said as they entered the living room and sat down.
Sabin sat beside Jack on the sofa while Sara sat in the rocking chair. Sara looked at Sabin.
"Oh, sorry. Let me introduce you, though it's not really necessary. Sara, this is Sabin; Sabin, this is Sara."
Sara smiled and gave Sabin a nod. "So you live with Jack now?" she asked, or, rather, prompted.
"Uh huh, though we're usually at the base instead of at the cabin," he answered.
That caused Sara to look to Jack in question.
Jack cleared his throat. "You remember, uh . . . the stargate?"
"And your obscure explanation of it, yes," she said. She almost looked as if she was entertained by Jack's apparent nervousness.
"Well, obscure or not, you know more about it than over 99.9% of the population of earth."
"And your point, Jack?"
Jack glanced at Sabin.
"You understand the whole going to other worlds through the stargate and all of that, right?"
"You told me about your work a few years ago, Jack, after that entity impersonated you and—" She took a breath here and looked away slightly, understandably a little uncomfortable about bringing up anything related to Charlie at all.
Jack fought back a sigh.
"I'm sorry that happened. I wish I could go back and prevent that from happening."
Sara looked up at that. "Why? I don't. It gave us the chance to do what we should have done long before that point."
She didn't need to say what they had done. It was understood between them.
They had let Charlie go, together. Made their peace with what had happened. Or at least as much peace anyone could make after losing a child.
Jack gave a little nod, before refocusing.
"Well, like I said over the phone, I wanted you to meet Sabin and for him to meet you. You had asked to be kept informed about big things," he said.
Sara smiled. "Yes, though, how long did it take you to realize an adoption counted as something big?" she asked, obviously amused.
Dodging the question with a cough, he shrugged. Sara shook her head.
"So this concerns the stargate, I take it?" she asked.
Jack nodded and seemed to prepare himself, though for what Sara didn't know.
"I'm about to tell you things very few people know, and the reason I'm going to tell you these things is because Sabin said you should know."
Sara glanced at Sabin, privately wondering why Jack would carry out the suggestion made by such a young child if it was so serious.
"I have a way to make sure no one can force you to repeat what I'm about to tell you, but I need you to make a promise, of sorts, out loud right now before I go on."
Sara raised an eyebrow. "Jack, what is this about?"
"Please, Sara, will you make the promise or not?"
"I don't understand what this is about or what this has to do with you adopting Sabin, but sure, I promise to keep what I hear tonight to myself," she said as Jack raised his right scarred hand and whispered something.
"Jack, what was that?" she asked. She could have sworn his hand had glistened for a second. "And what on earth happened to your hand?! When did that happen and why didn't I hear about it?"
"I simply sealed your oath, and I'll get to my hand later," he stated before leaning forward and reciting what he had practiced the night before in front of the mirror.
It took two hours for him to describe what he and his team did exactly, but it took even longer when he got to Sabin and the Wizarding World. However, before dinner, he had shared it all with her, or at least as much as he believed she could handle at one time, which was quite a lot.
"So, why are you telling me this now?"
Jack clasped his hands together, clearly trying to decide how best to answer.
There were many reasons, though why he had waited so long . . . well, there were many reasons for that as well, but as for why he was finally telling her. . . .
Jack hadn't even been able to voice exactly why to himself yet.
He missed her, but felt even thinking about asking for a second chance was too much to request. He couldn't ask that of her, not after everything he had, or rather hadn't, done.
"Jack?" she asked.
"I couldn't not tell you," he finally answered before going still again.
"Don't start doing it again," she stated after a moment, frowning slightly.
Jack blinked. "Sorry?"
"You are shutting me out, like you did before."
Before Jack could respond, they all heard the front door open. Sara's father was home.
"I'm home, Sara! Is Jack and the little ki—" He entered the living room. "Oh, I guess so. Hello," he greeted, his eyes coming to rest on Sabin.
Sara's father was a stout but strong looking man. His hair was gray and his face was littered with wrinkles.
"Sorry if I interrupted anything, but it's nearly time for dinner and it's Tuesday."
Jack and Sabin looked at him questioningly.
"I make dinner on Tuesdays," he clarified.
Sabin perked up at that, before glancing at Sara and Jack, looking thoughtful. He looked back to Sara's dad. "Can I help?" he chirped.
"Ah, but of course," he said, laying on a French accent. "I, the master chef, could always use an assistant."
He went forward and kneeled down, Sabin already off and around the couch to get in front of him.
"I am Mr. Johanus Marksman," he said, holding out his hand and swallowing up Sabin's to shake it.
"I'm Sabin O'Neill," Sabin answered. He figured stating his full name would be a bit much at the moment.
Johanus looked up at Jack and Sara before appearing to make a decision.
"Well, come along, Sabin. How do you like homemade pizza?"
"Pizza?" Sabin couldn't help but ask excitedly. "I like ones with black olives, but any pizza is yummy."
"Black olives, ay? We'll see what we can do," he said, leading him out of the room and strategically leaving Jack and Sarah alone. . . .
Sabin and Johanus returned roughly twenty minutes later to find Sara and Jack both sitting on the couch, obviously just having finished a very deep conversation.
Within those twenty minutes, the smell of cooking pizza coming from the kitchen, Jack and Sara had come to an understanding, as well as something more. Jack didn't know if he and Sara would be able to get back together after everything that had happened and with what had changed, but at least there was a chance now.
"—About it. What do you think?" Daniel asked loudly, nearly causing Jack to drop his spoon as he was rattled out of his thoughts.
"Oh, I don't know, Daniel. That's a tough question," Sirius said, seeing that Jack was distracted and probably didn't want to answer.
Sirius and Daniel went back and forth, Jack not really paying attention as Sabin and Sam entered the commissary to join them for breakfast. Sabin was a little hyper, looking forward to the day. Not long after finishing his colorful and sugary cereal, Teal'c came in to get him.
"So we're going now?" Sabin asked, having to do double time to keep up with Teal'c's strides.
"Yes, Guardian Sabin. I had promised you yesterday we would do so."
Sabin was clearly excited and Jack couldn't blame him. Teal'c was going to begin teaching him physical self defense.
Jack had taught him a few moves, but hadn't really gone that far into serious martial arts. They were usually doing things with magic together more than anything else. Often times Sirius joined them in whatever they were doing, and, very rarely, Remus did too. However, due to Tok'ra business, Remus spent very little time on Earth.
Jack got up, wondering when they would have another mock duel as he followed Teal'c and Sabin out. It had been a pretty close wizard's duel the last time he had challenged Remus.
O o O o O
-Nine hours later-
Sabin wiped the sweat from his forehead, actually out of breath, which was rare for him.
"Good, Guardian Sabin. You are improving," Teal'c said. "You are better than you were before lunch."
"I am? But you took me down just as fast as before," Sabin said.
"I had to use a bit more force. You are quite agile, young Guardian," he said, bowing his head slightly.
Sabin couldn't help but blush a bit from the praise, not that anyone could really tell. He was already flushed from his recent exertion.
They had been practicing on and off during the whole day, only having been interrupted once when SG-12 had arrived early after one of their team members broke their ankle.
'Unscheduled off world activation,' the intercom suddenly blared for the second time that day.
Sabin paused, straightening up as he frowned. Something wasn't quite right.
Appearing in the center of the gate room, the sight that greeted him was not a common one.
The gate was completely wrapped in electricity, like a web, even though the iris was sealed shut.
Sabin could feel the intense gathering of power just beyond the covered event horizon, and it was going to burst out at any moment.
Quickly gathering his power, his time warp bubble subconsciously forming around him, he thrust his hands at the gate. Who knew what would happen if this foreign power was not contained? Thrusting his power forward, he strained under the sudden thickness in the air.
It almost felt like . . . but no, that was impossible, wasn't it?
But then Sabin was certain, and he knew, no matter how strong or powerful he was, he wasn't going to be able to stop what was coming. There was no way a single individual of his ability could stop or turn it away.
And then it came.
A huge flash of white light was the last thing he saw, before he felt his frame slammed back with an unmatchable force. He twisted about, hoping to roll out of whatever impact he was about to endure as his shoulder struck the unforgiving concrete wall behind him, soon followed by his head.
O o O o O
"I'm sorry, but that's just how I feel about it. What do you think?" Daniel asked Jack.
"Oh, I don't know, Daniel. That's a tough question," Sirius said after a moment, seeing how Jack probably hadn't been paying any attention whatsoever.
Daniel was about to respond, but was cut short when Sam ran in, frantic.
"Sabin! He vanished!" she shouted. "He gasped and then just disappeared!"
"He does that Sam. You know, 'poof', gone, appears somewhere else?" Sirius said as Jack rose from his seat, not liking the part of Sabin gasping before he left.
"No, it wasn't like that! There was no poof, pop, flash of light or smoke! Just gone!" she said as she ran over to the nearest alarm and pushed it, placing the base in high alert.
O o O o O
"What the--!" a soldier gasped as a little body they immediately recognized as Sabin appeared out of nowhere against the back wall several yards above them before giving in to gravity and plummeting to the floor.
"Catch him!" another shouted.
Dashing forward, a sergeant barely managed to break Sabin's fall with his arms.
"Help! He needs a doctor!" the sergeant exclaimed, instantly spotting blood already seeping from Sabin's ear.
Soon after, he also caught sight of blood running down the back side of Sabin's neck.
"Alert Doctor Fraiser!" Sergeant Siler ordered, coming to the man who had caught the Guardian.
"What happened?" General Hammond asked, looking down from the control room.
"He just appeared, and by the looks of him, it looks like he hit the wall very hard, but I know he didn't hit it. I saw him appear right against it and then just fall," the first soldier said.
"Get him to the infirmary, now," Hammond said.
The sergeant ran out as fast as he could.
O o O o O
The SGC was practically up in arms, trying to figure out what had happened to Sabin. At first, they thought there had been an intruder and that, somehow, they had done this to Sabin, despite the Zone placed on the SGC by Sabin himself. But after a full sweep of the base, and with nothing even remotely suspicious, they could only sit and wait for Sabin to regain consciousness and hopefully tell them what had happened.
"He's not going to wake up anytime soon, I'm afraid," Fraiser told them. "He sustained a nasty concussion, and only thanks to Major Carter's potions was I able to prevent him from needing emergency surgery. As it is, I don't know if he's going to be able to even remember how this happened to him. His shoulder had also taken quite a hit as you can see. His collarbone managed to break in three places, if you can believe that." She paused and sighed. "I'd allow Sirius to fix his shoulder, but some odd things have been happening as I've been treating him, and I don't know if it would be safe."
"What's been happening, Doctor?" Hammond asked.
"Well, a few times, it's as if his time warp flickered or something. At first I thought it was just me imagining it, but you can't really imagine gravity being slower than it should be, or your own hand slowing down without your consent."
"What does that mean?" Daniel asked.
"It could be tied to his head injury, or maybe he wasn't able to turn it off completely before he blacked out. But that doesn't make much sense either. We know from past experience that when he goes unconscious, everything he was doing with his abilities shuts off. They don't sporadically turn on and off."
"Maybe I could Mind Brush him," Jack suggested. "I'll be as careful as I can. Maybe we can learn what's happened. Besides, if he is aware at all, he'll want to know we're here and helping him."
"Hmm, I don't know. With his head injury, I don't know if doing that would do more harm than good," she said.
"I'll wait a little bit then, but if he doesn't wake in a few hours, I'll try," he said.
"I suppose that will have to do," she said, Hammond giving a nod of consent.
"Until Sabin wakes and tells us what has happened, I want this base to remain on high alert," Hammond said. "We are also expecting the return of SG teams 6 and 11 within the next few hours."
"Yes, sir," they agreed, before looking back down at Sabin, who was still sleeping.
O o O o O
The next hour passed without much incident, save for the early return of SG-12 due to a minor injury. However, when the time came for SG-6 to return, they did not.
"Dial out and attempt to make contact through the MALP," Hammond said, standing behind the technician.
He began dialing, but when the last chevron went to engage, it jammed, failing to complete the address.
"What?" the technician said, looking at the computer read outs. "I don't know what the problem is sir, it should have worked."
"Get Major Carter down here," Hammond said.
O o O o O
"How is he?" Sirius asked, walking up from behind Jack.
"The same. And I know what Fraiser meant by his time warp fluctuating. A few times, I could see a ripple in the air, and the dust in the air near it slowed considerably before going back to normal. I just wish I knew what it meant and how to help him." He sighed, before moving on. "Has Carter figured out what's up with the gate?"
"Not yet, but the other team has come in just fine. For some reason we can't dial out to the planet SG-6 is on, and they haven't dialed in. Sam's running her diagnostics right now, though."
Jack nodded, looking back at Sabin whose shoulder was now wrapped with his arm secured against his chest in a tight sling.
"Well, I've waited like I said I would," Jack said, shifted his chair forward. "Go ahead and get the doc in here now."
Sirius nodded and got Fraiser. Once she was there, he went in.
It was odd, not what he was used to whenever he mind brushed Sabin.
Everything was muffled for some reason, and there seemed to be some sort of echo, though of what he didn't know.
"Dad?" Sabin asked, his form appearing before him in an empty, though hazy, mindscape.
"I'm here, Sabin. Do you know what happened? How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Something with the gate. I'm having trouble remembering what exactly. There was a whole lot of power behind it, about to come out from behind the iris, so I tried to force it back I think, but . . . I don't know. The last thing I really remember is this white flash and this force hitting me," Sabin said, shaking his head, trying to remember more.
"Hmm, okay. That's a little odd, well, obviously, but we've recently been having some trouble with the gate. It won't let us gate to certain places, while other worlds are perfectly fine. It's as if there's an address lock or something."
"That's weird. Any power fluctuations?"
"No, but Sam is working on the problem. She'll be briefing us on what she's found soon."
"How long have I been out? Well, I suppose I'm technically still out, but, you know," he said with a shrug.
"Roughly four hours. So, how are you feeling?"
"I think my shoulder might have hit the wall, it feels weird. As for my head, it's sort of fuzzy."
"You broke your collarbone in three places, and Fraiser said your head was in pretty bad shape before she gave you some potions."
"Oh. I suppose that explains it then."
"Okay, well, they're probably wondering what is taking me so long. So just focus on resting and getting better now. We'll figure out what's going on," he said.
With that, Sabin faded away and Jack pulled back, opening his eyes to find Hammond, Sirius, Fraiser, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c waiting anxiously for him to tell them what Sabin may have said.
"He said there was something with the gate. A power that had been beyond the iris that he was trying to stop. His memory is a little fuzzy, and that's all he remembers, except for a flash of white light and being forced back into the wall," Jack said.
"The iris wasn't closed when he appeared in the gate room," Hammond said. "You're sure he said the iris was closed?"
"Yeah, he said the power was about to come out from behind the iris, so I would assume that means, from what he remembers, the iris was closed," Jack said.
"That doesn't make any sense," Sirius said.
"Well, have you figured anything out, Major?" Hammond asked, turning to Sam.
"Very good. Briefing Room?" he said, motioning them to the door.
"I'll stay here with Sabin," Sirius said.
With that, the rest of them headed out.
O o O o O
"We ran a sequence of random dialings and this is what we found," Sam said, going right into it as she turned on the screen display, showing a number of gate locations with bright dots with lines connecting to a common center gate dot.
"These were the worlds we were able to contact, including Alaris, the planet where SG-12 was doing its survey. At the center of this group is P4X-639," Sam said, pushing a button and going to the next image.
"Two weeks ago, SG-15 took these images of solar activity on P4X-639 during their survey there. Now, if I had to guess, I would say the problem must stem from this solar activity.
"I believe the gate there is somehow establishing a simultaneous connection with all of these gates, creating a kind of subspace bubble, and that everything within the bubble is getting cut off from the rest of the gate network."
"What are the implications of this?" Hammond asked.
"Well, sir, if we don't figure out what is potentially wrong with the gate on P4X-639, who knows when we will be able to establish wormholes with worlds outside the bubble. Not only that, SG-6 will not be able to gate home," Sam said.
"Permission to lead SG-1 to P4X-639, sir," Jack said. "The sooner we figure out this problem, the sooner we get SG-6 home and figure out what had happened to Sabin, because I wouldn't be surprised if this bubble thing was related to it."
Hammond thought for a moment, looking at the options before him. Seeing nothing else he or anyone else could do, he nodded. "Permission granted, Colonel. You all may leave when you are ready."
They left in record time.
O o O o O
"So this Malakai person, how was he with SG-15?" Jack asked, going up the ramp.
"He was friendly. He was translating the ruins that are not far from the gate," Daniel said, having read the report.
"Alright, that's one less thing to worry about," he said.
Sirius was staying behind with Sabin, who had yet to physically wake up.
"Let's go check this gate out," Jack said, stepping through.
Coming out on the other side, they found that the sun above them was releasing sizable solar flares, or as Sam would have said, 'corona mass emissions'. In front of them was a very long path with tall rock columns on either side with holes aligned in their direction. At the end of this path were the ruins, with a large stone table at its center. The table had large square stones on the surface at various heights. They were like buttons.
Just beyond the table was a man diligently working.
"Alright, let's go say hi." Jack led the way.
Stopping at the edge of the ruins, Daniel cleared his throat.
"Uh, hi. We're peaceful explorers from the planet Earth. I'm Daniel Jackson. This is Major Carter, Colonel O'Neill, and Teal'c. We're SG-1. You may remember SG-15. They came and took a survey here a few weeks ago," Daniel said. "Are you Malakai?"
The thin, rather nerdy and meek looking man turned his eyes up, very surprised.
"Oh! Yeah. I remember. I'm surprised your people sent another team here, especially with the geomagnetic storm and all," he said nervously.
"We won't be here that long for it to be dangerous to us. We just came to check a few things," Sam said, already moving toward the DHD.
"While Sam is working, could I join you? I know these ruins were made by the Ancients. I read SG-15's report. You see, I've been learning from someone who knows this as their first language. I could assist you if you like," Daniel prattled on.
Jack shook his head and let Daniel be Daniel as he walked around the edge of the ruins, looking at the very old language carved into the stones.
He could read it of course, thanks to the archive he had accidently looked into roughly a year before. The carved text was still confusing though, filled with obscure statements. Perhaps a different dialect? He found these two written several times:
'He who starts must end.'
'The end is held by the one who begins.'
He quietly noticed Teal'c was behind him, probably not wanting to be around two archaeologists ogling old rocks.
Coming around the ruins, he decided to check on Sam, who was kneeling behind the DHD now, taking a look at the inside with her gizmos.
"Find anything out?" he asked.
"Not really sir, but it seems like there has been a diversion of power. I don't know where it's been sent, but if I had to guess sir, it's as if it's waiting for something."
"Is it on a timer? How much power has been diverted?" Jack asked.
"It could be any number of things, sir. A timer, a set condition, a button. As for how much power . . . I don't know. A lot."
"Have you got anything we can work with at the SGC to find some of the answers we need? Fraiser threatened us with making us bedridden if we didn't return in the specified time."
"I believe so. I can at least determine how much power has been moved and maybe where it's coming from with what I've scanned. The crystals might actually be reacting to the sun's radiations, now that I think about it."
"Alright," he said, picking up his radio. "Daniel, let's go home."
Receiving no response, he clicked his radio again, however, before he could even speak, they all heard a large build up of energy all around them.
"O'Neill," Teal'c said, the three of them slowly moving away from the gate, slightly confused.
"Yeah, I hear it."
Suddenly, huge streams of electric arcs branched between the pillars along either side of the path as the chevrons on the stargate flickered on and off.
The gate activated as the energy wrapped around it.
O o O o O
"Incoming Wormhole," the technician said as Hammond came up beside him.
"What is that?!" he asked as the gate, iris closed, was completely encased in thick fingers of blue lightning.
"I have no idea, sir."
O o O o O
"Are you doing this?" Jack shouted, quickly making his way to Malakai, who was pressing the large stones down on the table as quickly as he could with his back to them.
"Stay away!" he screamed.
Making it just shy of the table, they all spotted Daniel unconscious on the ground.
"Daniel!" Sam shouted, quickly going to him.
"What the hell are you doing?!" Jack yelled, grabbing Malakai by the back of his collar. Teal'c soon joined him.
"Stay back! I must see to this!" Malakai shouted again, franticly pressing down a stone square.
The three of them were engulfed in a blinding white light.
"Colonel!" Sam shouted beside Daniel, all the while the light extended even further. . . .
O o O o O
"Anyway, I'm sorry but that just happens to be how I feel about it. What do you think?" Daniel asked as Jack jumped, suddenly looking around.
"Colonel, something wrong?" Sirius asked.
"Weren't we just somewhere else?" Jack asked.
"Whe--?" Daniel began to ask, but was cut short by Sam's frantic entrance.
"Sabin! He vanished!" she shouted. "He gasped and then just disappeared!"
"He does that Sam. You know, 'poof' gone, appears somewhere else?" Sirius said as Jack quickly rose from his seat.
"No, it wasn't like that! There was no poof, pop, fl—"
O o O o O
"What on earth?!" Fraiser nearly shrieked as Sabin just appeared on a thankfully empty bed not a few yards from her.
She quickly took in his condition.
His arm and shoulder were secured in a very tight sling and his skin seemed a little pale. She quickly went to him and took his pulse as she startlingly recognized her own handiwork in the way the sling had been secured.
"Ah!" she jumped, placing a hand on her chest. "Must you do that, Colonel?!"
"How is he?" Jack asked, having just come from the gate room after realizing Sabin was not there.
"I don't know; he just appeared. What happened?" she asked as the base's alarms sounded.
"Doctor, I have no idea what's going on! We were on this planet, trying to figure out the gate problem, when the gate went berserk from something I'm sure this guy, Malakai, did, and then there was this flash of light and I was back in the commissary eating my fruit loops!" Jack said, just laying it all out.
"What happened to Sabin?" she asked, deciding it best to focus on one thing at a time, the priority being her patient.
"He doesn't really remember, except something being wrong with the gate and trying to stop it before being slammed back by a force," he said.
Just then, Hammond and the others entered the infirmary, being led by Teal'c.
"O'Neill, is he still asleep?" Teal'c asked.
Jack nodded sagely before turning his attention to Sabin. He leaned down.
"Oh, no! No Mind Brushing! I'm certain he's had some head trauma recently, and there's no way he's ready for anyone but himself to be in his head," Fraiser stated, somehow getting between Jack and Sabin. "So let's just be still for a moment and figure out what on earth is going on."
"I need to talk to him. You've already taken care of his concussion and stuff with Sam's potions and let me mind brush him before," Jack said, moving to go around her.
"Colonel," Hammond stated. His tone could not be denied.
Jack slowly turned to him.
"What is going on?" he asked.
"I don't know sir. It's almost as if we went back in time," he said, his eyes passing over them all.
Everyone but Teal'c looked completely confused, and, if Jack was correct, worried about his sanity.
"Jack, you were just in the commissary with me and Sirius," Daniel stated hesitantly. "We were there most of the morning."
Jack was getting more than a little frustrated and lifted up a finger to argue, only to have Teal'c intervene, preventing Jack from doing something he may or may not regret.
"I am in agreement with O'Neill. I am experiencing a great deal of familiarity with certain events," he said.
"Colonel, I'm not sure what to make of all this," Hammond said, though his attention soon shifted to someone behind Jack.
Sabin was rubbing his eyes with his free hand.
"Dad, what's going on?" Sabin asked, all but Sabin quickly noticing how different his voice sounded.
It had a fine echo quality to it, coupled with the smallest touch of baritone.
"Sabin, does your throat feel okay?" Daniel asked.
"Yeah, it feels fine, why?"
Jack moved forward, placing his face mere inches away from Sabin's own.
"Say something. Any long sentence," he stated.
"Like what?" Sabin was a little confused. He had just woken up and everyone was, for whatever reason, flipping out over whether or not his throat was okay?
"Repeat what I told you the last time we spoke," Jack said, his eyes now obviously focused on Sabin's mouth.
"Well, you told me to focus on getting better while you and the others worked on figuring out what's wrong with the gate."
"Whoa, why are his lips out of sync with his voice?" Sirius blurted. "It's like a badly dubbed Japanese movie!"
Sabin looked confused. "I don't think I sound any different. You guys sound like you're in a tunnel though."
"Hmm, do you think it has something to do with his time warp fluctuating?" Sam asked aloud.
"It could be," Fraiser said, approaching the bed and taking his pulse. "Are you in any pain?" she asked, motioning to his wrapped shoulder.
"Not much. I'm just sore."
"Okay, that's going to take some time to get used to," Sirius said.
"Hopefully we'll figure out what's going on and fix it before then," Daniel said.
"I already told you what's going on. We somehow went back in time. That Malakai creep did something with those ruins and messed with the gate system with the help of the sun corona whatchama call it!" Jack explained.
"Okay. Why? And why don't the rest of us, besides you, Teal'c, and Sabin, remember?" Daniel asked.
"How should I know?"
"Jack, Teal'c, sit. I need to examine you two. Maybe I'll find something that'll tell us why," Fraiser said.
"Aw, for cryin' out loud," Jack said, before obediently going to one of the beds after seeing Hammond's face.
Teal'c said nothing as he sat on the adjacent bed.
Sabin looked apologetically at them, before bringing up his hand to toy with one of the straps of his sling.
"Sabin, no touching," Fraiser stated. "And don't heal yourself until we know it won't be affected by your time warp."
O o O o O
"Well, I can't find anything wrong with them," she said three hours later.
"See? Like I said earlier, we're fine. We should be going back to the planet and stopping Malakai before he starts this all over again!" Jack stated.
"Colonel," Hammond said sternly.
"General, respectfully, I have to agree with Jack here," Daniel said. "I mean, if he's right, which I think he is, we've been 'reset' once before this, since Sabin had tried to stop it, but had gotten hurt before being treated by Fraiser. If we might have a way of stopping it, we should try it."
The others nodded in agreement, even Fraiser (grudgingly so).
"Very well," Hammond said.
O o O o O
Jack, Daniel, Teal'c, and Sam stepped from the gate. It was just as last time, not that Sam or Daniel knew.
"The geomagnetic storm is building up, we shouldn't stay long," Sam said, before focusing her eyes to the front.
"There it is. Malakai should be here somewhere," Jack said.
Sam looked at the table and the ruins. "I wonder how it works."
"Subspace fields and time inversions," Jack answered as Sam rose her eyebrows. "It's what you said."
Sam nodded slightly, but immediately changed her focus when Jack lifted his P-90, Malakai coming out from behind one of the large stones near the table.
Malakai raised his hands up in surrender, Sam also aiming her weapon at him.
"Whoa, easy guys!" Daniel said.
"That's Malakai, the one who started all this," Jack said.
"I don't understand," Malakai said, his eyes wide.
"Whatever you did I want you to undo it!"
"I did nothing!"
"Like hell!" Jack retorted.
"Colonel, I don't think he knows what you're talking about," Sam said.
"Perhaps he has no memory, O'Neill," Teal'c suggested.
"Oh he remembers. He's the one who was pushing all of those buttons," Jack said, stepping closer.
"Please, I'm an archaeologist. I've been trying to translate these alien symbols. I-I told the others that came before you. I can show you my notes," he said, moving to his bag. "Ah!" Jack shouted, snatching the bag away. Malakai went back to his previous 'I surrender' position.
Jack began rummaging through the bag, finding a small thing he concluded to be a gun and put it aside.
"For self defense, I'll assume," Jack grudgingly said, continuing his search. "What's this?" he asked suddenly, finding a little device that slid open to reveal a woman.
"If you must know," he said, his voice cracking, "it's my wife."
Jack moved to set it back down, but the ruins suddenly lit up, just as before.
"What'd you do?!" Jack shouted.
"I didn't do anything! It engaged on its own!" Sam said.
"Turn it off," Jack said.
"It's drawing energy from the ionization in the atmosphere. There's nothing Major Carter can do," Malakai stated frankly. "Excuse me? How'd you know her name?" Jack asked, Sam and Daniel's eyes widening in surprised realization. Malakai paused. "You told me." "No, I didn't. Not this time around!" "It doesn't matter, you're too late. The ruins are working properly now." "How do you shut this thing off?" "Even if I knew I wouldn't tell you." "Sir, it's building up some sort of charge," Sam said. Frustrated, Jack stepped closer to the table and began reading the tablets to himself. Daniel joined him, getting up close to the table as well. The tablets didn't make sense at all. Some were a collection of numbers, others were short little phrases, and others simply looked like they were merely there for decoration. Jack was unable to read much else when they were consumed by the white light. ...
O o O o O
"Anyway, I'm sorry but that just happens to be how I feel about it. What do you think?" Daniel asked.
"Oi!" Jack exclaimed, before rising up from the table and apparating away.
"Was it something I said?" Daniel asked, utterly confused.
Sam ran in a moment later, stating that Sabin had disappeared from the hall.
O o O o O
"So let me get this straight. A man named Malakai on P4X-639 made the ancient device there take us back in time?" Sirius asked.
They were in the infirmary, and Fraiser was once again examining Teal'c and Jack.
"Yes," Jack said for what seemed the hundredth time as Fraiser shined the penlight in his eye before turning it off. Jack looked her in the eyes. "I ask you, what could possibly be in my eye that could explain this?"
"How does Sabin remember if he didn't go to the planet?" Sam asked, ignoring Jack's question to Fraiser.
"That's a good question," Hammond said as they looked to Sabin who was sitting on the adjacent bed, thinking.
"I think I had touched the initial wave of it when I was trying to figure out what it was and stop it," Sabin said.
"Hmm, that might explain how the Colonel and Teal'c still remember, since they were at the table with Malakai and came in contact with it as well," Sam reasoned.
"Does that mean we could go to the planet and touch this wave thing too and remember the loops from now on ourselves?" Sirius asked. He didn't like knowing he would forget all of this if/when another loop started.
Jack frowned. "No, I don't think so. Last loop, Daniel was right up against the table in the same spot Teal'c and I had been when the light came. He doesn't remember."
"Then that would mean one has to 'enter' the loop when it initializes," Sam said. "But Sabin entered before either of you did in the loop before."
"Malakai said, 'The ruins are working properly now' when O'Neill was attempting to stop it. Malakai must have discovered something wrong after the first loop began and had to reinitialize the technology when we were there," Teal'c said.
"It must have been because of Sabin," Daniel suggested. "Since he was trying to stop the wave from going through the gate, maybe he affected it."
"I could have. I don't really remember much, just that I was trying to stop it and that it somehow felt familiar," Sabin said, frowning.
"Your time warp!" Sirius said, jumping up. "It would also explain why your time warp is jumbled up, wouldn't it? If that's why it feels familiar, this loop wave is like a huge version of your time warp."
"That actually makes a lot of sense," Sam said, looking to Sabin. "It would explain how you do not go back where you would have been ten hours before when the loop begins again, but end up at the last place you were before the loop restarted. And it would explain why you still have your injuries and the sling. Your time warp must be forming a mini subspace bubble around you, damping out the effects of the loop just enough for you to not be entirely confined within it like we are. A similar bubble must be around Jack and Teal'c, only it is limited to allowing them to retain their memories every loop."
"Okay, so what do we do now?" Sirius asked, not even bothering to attempt to follow Sam's explanation.
"We figure out the symbols on the table and figure out how to stop this," Jack said.
"Just because someone can recognize symbols on a keyboard doesn't mean they can run a computer. If we can translate the rest of the text I can put the device in a proper context and figure out what it's supposed to do," Daniel said.
"We know what it does! It's a time loop machine!" Jack said loudly.
"Um. Think about it. Who would build a device that loops time every ten hours?" Daniel questioned.
"Who knows?! But that's what it does."
"Yes, but maybe that's not what it's supposed to do. I mean for all we know that's just an accidental by-product of its true function."
"Then we read all of it. It shouldn't take too long since we have practically three people who know the language," Sirius said.
"'Practically three?'" Daniel asked.
"Well, Jack and Sabin know it, and you're still learning," Sirius stated with a shrug.
"Very well, the three of you will translate it and we will go from there. Meanwhile, Major—" Hammond began.
"I'll try to come up with other ways to maybe break the loop connection from here," Sam interrupted/filled in.
Hammond gave a nod.
O o O o O
-Several hours later-
Translating and reading all of the text was a lot more work than they had initially believed. With all of the images SG-15 had brought back with them from their mission to P4X-639, Jack, Daniel, and Sabin had barely made a dent in it. Granted, Sabin had taken a nap that was long overdue.
It wasn't that the pictures were out of order or incomplete, it was just that there was a lot there and almost everything seemed to be written in some sort of code or as an obscure metaphor.
Sam was currently running simulations, already knowing it was impossible to dial out in order to give a busy signal to P4X-639. As Jack had explained, they were in a sort of subspace bubble, and were locked within that until the bubble was more or less popped. They were hopeful Sabin, Jack, and Daniel would come up with the solution, as there were currently no other options.
'Unscheduled off world activation.'
"Great," Jack groaned, putting down the page he was reading.
They were all consumed in white light.
O o O o O
"Colonel, I'm not sure what to make of this," Hammond said after Jack began explaining their situation.
"I'm sure there is something going on here, sir, especially with Sabin, but if we've had this meeting before…" Sam began.
"Why are Teal'c, Sabin, and I the only ones who remember? Well, it's because of this subspace aura bubble thing we got from coming in contact with the initial wave of the device on P4X-639," Jack stated, but to no avail.
Sam and the others were looking just as confused and unconvinced.
"And you'll all believe me when SG-12 comes through that Gate—" He glanced at his watch. "—in four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . ." Jack said, raising a finger expectantly only for nothing to happen.
"SG-12 isn't due back for three days," Hammond said.
"You're seven seconds off, Dad," Sabin said, glancing at his own little watch.
'Unscheduled off world activation.'
"So close," Jack stated.
O o O o O
"Colonel, I must examine the three of you, especially Sabin," Fraiser said.
"You're not going to find anything," Jack said.
"Why don't we wait for the lab results before we jump to any conclusions?"
"The results will be negative," Teal'c stated.
"Yeah, and you already bandaged me up, see?" Sabin said, pointing to his wrapped shoulder and secured arm.
Sabin sighed and actually pouted.
O o O o O
"Argh! We've been over this!" Jack exclaimed.
"If we really have had this conversation before then I probably pointed out to you that there's no way this entire text can be translated in less than a day," Daniel said.
Jack grumbled something under his breath.
"Look, if you guys are the only ones with memories of previous loops, then you're going to have to help by remembering."
Jack sighed and nodded, knowing Daniel wasn't trying to be annoying on purpose.
They got to work again, going through the next fifty pages or so before…
'Unscheduled off world activation.'
"You know the worst part about this?" Jack asked. "Every time we loop Daniel asks me a question and…I wasn't listening the first time."
"You are not the only one who must endure some discomfort, O'Neill," Teal'c confided as the loop restarted…
O o O o O
Teal'c was in the gym, placing a few more mats on the floor in preparation for the sparing session with Sabin.
"Sorry sir, I didn't realize you were there!" a man said, who was sprawled out on the floor with a number of dumbbells and a now crushed box.
"You have said that on many occasions," Teal'c stated, getting to his feet.
The airman had tripped over him with a heavy box of weights.
"I…" the airman began, gazing up at him from the floor.
"Perhaps next time I will not be so forgiving."
O o O
"O'Neill, should we not be assisting Daniel Jackson with the translation?" Teal'c asked, coming to the table Jack and Sabin were sitting at.
O'Neill was armed with a ketchup and mustard bottle, quietly attacking his empty plate.
"Sabin and I are taking this loop off," he stated.
Teal'c glanced at Sabin and saw he looked a little tired. Considering that and acknowledging his own mental fatigue, he sat down.
"I'm telling you, Teal'c, if we don't find a way out of this soon I'm going to lose it," Jack said. "Lose it…it means go crazy, nuts, insane, bonzo, no longer in possession of one's faculties—" He squirts the ketchup even harder. "—Three fries short of a happy meal…WACKO!"
He thrust his plate up beside his head, revealing his work of art.
A red and yellow smilie face.
The loop restarted.
O o O o O
"I'm sure Teal'c is looking forward to the defense lesson just as much as you are, Sabin," Sam said, both of them walking to the commissary.
"You sure?" Sabin asked uncertainly.
"Of course, Sabin. He wouldn't have offered to teach you if he didn't want to."
"But I'm so much smaller than he is," Sabin said.
"Since when has size mattered? You have certainly proven size doesn't matter."
"I suppose, but that's with magic abilities, not with physical combat. I don't really have big muscles like Teal'c does," Sabin said, flexing his right arm and pulling up his sleeve to reveal a thin childish arm.
Sam cracked a smile. "You'll do just fine," Sam said, about to further reassure him, but then Sabin suddenly stopped and gasped, as if surprised, just as he vanished.
Disappeared without any warning and without any trace.
"Sabin!" Sam shouted, about to bolt down the hall to sound the alarm when a voice behind her stopped her.
"I'm okay," Sabin said, stepping out from a room directly off the hall behind her.
She whipped around, surprised.
"Wha—" she began, stopping when she saw the sling. "What happened to your arm?!"
"We're in a time loop. Teal'c, me, and dad are the only ones who remember previous loops. My time warp has distorted a little bit because of it, which is why I sound like this. I also don't return to how or where I was when all of this started like dad, Teal'c, and the rest of you for the same reason."
Sam blinked. "So your arm . . . ?"
"Sustained damage when the loop process initiated a several loops back. I had tried to stop the distortion from coming through the gate before I realized what it was and that I couldn't stop it." Sabin paused and looked beyond Sam.
"Sabin," Jack said, coming down the hall with the others trailing behind him. "You've just told her about the looping I take it?"
". . . Holy Hannah."
O o O o O
"I don't understand why we don't just go to the planet and imperio the guy," Sirius said darkly.
Jack, Sabin, and Teal'c had told them all about the loop, survived yet another exam from Fraiser, and were now sitting around trying to make sense of the writings on the ruins.
"We are not sure that would be possible," Teal'c said, Sabin looking disapprovingly at Sirius.
"From what Teal'c and the Colonel have said, it doesn't seem like Malakai would know how to turn it off even if we attempted to force him," Sam said.
"I agree with Sam," Daniel said, before turning to yet another page. "We are just going to have to learn how to turn it off ourselves."
They continued working for a little bit longer, Jack heaving a big sigh as he flipped to the next page.
"There's too many pages," Jack mumbled.
"Exactly how many of these loops have you…have we been through?" Daniel asked.
"Oh . . . lost track after ten," Jack answered.
"I believe the number is eleven, O'Neill," Teal'c provided.
"That must be frustrating," Daniel said.
"Err . . . yeah," Jack stated.
"On the other hand, it's kind of an opportunity," Daniel continued.
"How's that?" Jack asked, bored.
"Well, think about it. I mean if you know in advance that everything is always going to go back to the way it was then…you could do anything for as long as you want without having to worry about the consequences. . . ." Daniel shrugged a little and looked back to his page.
Sabin, Jack, and Teal'c looked at each other before straightening a little as . . .
'Unscheduled off world activation.'
The light came again.
O o O o O
"Dad, does the general know about this?" Sabin asked, handing Jack the gulf club.
They were standing in front of the gate, the event horizon clear as day. Teal'c had just hit a ball in, and it was now Jack's turn.
"Not yet," Jack answered simply. "Hmm, I wonder how far Alaris is."
"Several billion miles, O'Neill," Teal'c answered.
"That's got to be a record!"
He got ready to swing.
"Colonel O'Neill what the hell are you doing?!" Hammond shouted.
"Oooo," Sabin managed as Jack turned around suddenly.
"In the middle of my back swing?!"
O o O o O
"Are you ready, Guardian Sabin?" Teal'c asked.
Sabin nodded, his arm and shoulder no longer needing the sling. If Teal'c was correct in his count, his shoulder had healed after twenty-nine loops (which had mostly been filled with them helping Daniel before taking a few 'breaks').
"Alright, right when they're under us," Jack said, holding his water balloon.
Daniel and Sirius came under them, oblivious to what was about to transpire.
"AW! What is this?!" Sirius shouted, suddenly dripping wet.
Sabin giggled, a simple sticking charm suspending Jack, Teal'c, and himself on the high ceiling of the practice room.
"Jack!" Daniel shouted, soaked as he looked up.
O o O o O
An unsuspecting Sergeant walked down the hall, only to nearly trip over Sabin who was running, armed with a . . . water gun?
"No mercy!" a voice shouted.
Colonel O'Neill charged around the corner to release a huge wave of water from his super-soaker.
"Ahhh!" Sabin shouted, squirting him back.
"How's the wife?" Jack asked the sergeant while moving past.
"Fine . . . sir."
O o O o O
"This is so odd," Daniel said, referring to the page in front of him. "I almost get the feeling that whoever wrote this wanted to get across one single important piece of information, but had the inability to actually say it outright or something. Or maybe it was so obvious to them that they felt they only needed to imply?"
"I don't know. It is a little like that, but it is more of a warning and a history. A sad history. I don't think they ever believed their technology would be used again," Sabin said.
Jack, Sabin, and Teal'c were back to work, their previous loops off having given them a break and a brief boost of sanity. The fact that they had made great progress and were very close to finding a solution also helped.
"Hmm," Jack hummed, staring at a page. "I think I might have found something."
They hurried over and looked.
"I think you're right, Jack. If you put that into the context of the text written above it on the ruins. . . ."
"We can't turn it off," Jack said.
"Then who can, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.
"Malakai. 'He who starts must end.' 'The end is held by the one who begins,'" O'Neill quoted.
"That was written directly on the opposite side of the temple," Daniel said in realization.
"So O'Neill is correct," Teal'c stated.
"Then let's go to Malakai," Sabin said.
"Once we brief the General," Jack agreed.
O o O o O
In the briefing room, Daniel was up front by the screen, everyone else sitting down.
"What have you got, Dr Jackson?" Hammond asked.
"With the help of Teal'c, Jack and Sabin, the translation has been completed.
"As I originally suspected, P4X 639 was once a colony of the Ancients. They thrived there for thousands of years until they were struck by some sort of unspecified cataclysm, perhaps a disease, but we'll never really know for sure. In any case, facing certain destruction they built a time machine."
"They were going to go back and change their history, to avoid their fate," Jack added.
"Right, but it didn't work. Instead of sending a team of scientists back to the key moment in their history the device caused a short term continuous loop. Just like the one we've been experiencing. They experienced the same day dozens perhaps hundreds of times trying to get the machine to work but in the end they gave up, they shut it down and . . . let the end come."
"So the loop can be broken?" Hammond asked.
"Yes, but only by the one who started it. Evidently, the machine locks onto the one who initiated it to act as an anchor. Perhaps it is how the loop knows where to begin eve—"
"Yes sir! The loop can be broken," Jack said, interrupting Daniel. "We just need to convince Malakai to do it."
"That can be arranged," Sirius said, patting his inner forearm where his wand resided.
Ignoring that statement, the General nodded. "Colonel, have your team geared up and ready to embark in thirty minutes."
O o O o O
"The geomagnetic storms are building up. Hopefully this'll be quick," Jack said, leading the way to the altar. "Malakai!"
"I don't see anyone sir," Sam said.
"He's around here somewhere and he knows we're on to him."
"He's hiding," Sabin stated as Jack gave some silent instructions with his hands.
They spread out, Teal'c now up front.
"Stop, Teal'c. Goa'uld Force Field."
"Thank you, Guardian Sabin."
"In fact it is. I had to trade several rare artifacts for the field generator but it was well worth it," Malakai said, stepping out from behind a pillar.
Daniel stepped up, conscious of the fact Sirius was just waiting for the chance to cast something on the guy, force field or no force field. Sabin was looking at Malakai with a sad frown.
"Malaki, please stop the loop before it restarts again," Daniel said.
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't do that."
"Why not? So you can be the king of Groundhog Day?"
"You think I would do this for personal power? She ... You wouldn't understand."
Jack paused, changing his approach. "What happened?"
"She died. 12 years ago. When I found this place and discovered its true purpose, I dedicated myself to unlocking its mysteries."
"So you can go back and save her?" Sam asked.
"No, that would be quite impossible. She died from a congenital heart weakness. Not even the ability to travel time could change that."
"Then why are you doing this?" Jack asked.
"To be with her once more."
"Malakai, the device doesn't work. It never did," Daniel said gently.
"It never did? You're living proof."
"We finished translating the text on the ruins. The ancients who built this place never got it to work. They tried over and over again, just like you, but in the end, they gave up. Why do you think this place has been deserted for so long? They couldn't save themselves."
"You're wrong! There must be some other explanation. I know I can make this work."
"You can't. They proved it can't be done. You're just gonna go on like this forever, you'll be trapped."
"Along with billions of innocent others," Teal'c inserted.
"This device activated fourteen stargates simultaneously. That's fourteen worlds reliving the same day over and over," Sam said.
"Not to mention what you starting all of this did to my godson," Sirius practically snarled. "You could have killed him."
"I uh . . . I didn't realize. But, it doesn't matter." To Sabin, it didn't seem like he had heard Sirius. "Once I'm able to input the correct time coordinates, the cycle will be broken."
"The people who made this are the same people who made the stargates, and they couldn't get the damn thing to work! And even if you could, just for the sake of arguing, you can't change what happened," Jack said.
"I can . . . touch her face again. Talk with her. Hear her laugh. . . ."
"Like you remember?"
"And then what'll happen?"
"She'll die." His voice nearly cracked.
"And then what? You'll start over?" The energy was beginning to gather. They were running out of time. "Listen to me; I know what it's like," Jack said as the storm overhead became louder.
"How could you possibly know?!" Malakai shouted, his voice ringing even louder than the thunder, but it would soon be outmatched by Jack's anger.
"I LOST MY SON!!!!!! I KNOW!!!" The air around them stilled, the lightning now seemingly a distant thing. "And as much as I—" Jack took a breath and forced himself to calm. "I could never live that over again. Could you?"
Malakai's eyes, now filled with unshed tears, glided over them all, before returning to Jack. "No."
"Let her go."
Malakai stretched out his arm and deactivated the altar, causing the energy build up to stop. He sighed and lowered the force field as well.
Sabin stepped around Jack and went before the altar.
"Malakai, have you read all of what is written here?" Sabin asked, his voice thankfully completely back to normal.
"Yes." Malakai watched Sabin walk around the altar to stop at a corner pillar.
"Then I tell you, as an Ancient, an heir to those who built this place . . . live," Sabin said, glancing at the device that held images of Malakai's wife. "She would want you to."
O o O o O
"Well, we're still here, Colonel. I assume you were successful?" Hammond asked as they made their way down the ramp.
"Well, General, you know what they say. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try . . . try again," Jack said.
"And we are glad the three of you did."
Jack hummed a tired 'you're welcome' fashion.
O o O o O
"I don't think I've ever seen anyone enjoy oatmeal so much," Daniel said.
They were in the commissary, eating breakfast. Daniel and Sam were watching Jack, while Sirius, Sabin, and Teal'c were having an early morning sparing session.
"When you've been eating fruit loops for who know how long, a little variety helps."
"We got a message from the Tok'ra. Apparently they've been trying to contact us for over a month," Sam said after a moment.
"Really?" Jack asked, bored.
"And as for SG-6, the past two months must have been interesting for them."
"It all certainly makes you think, though," Daniel said. "I mean, with Malakai. We've all lost people before, but unlike us, Malakai didn't seem to have anyone to help him or something to anchor him."
"Okay . . . and?" Jack asked.
"I don't know, I'm just saying that it makes you realize what we have, despite of what we've lost. We still have lives to live with people worth living for, and none of it should ever be taken for granted. There are no real loops to take us back."
"Yes," Jack slowly agreed, thinking. "You're right. . . ."
O o O o O
Jack flattened his shirt for what seemed to be the tenth time as he slowly made his way up the driveway.
He had left Sabin with Sirius, who was eager to show Sabin things he had gotten out of storage. Something about old things from Zonko's Joke Shop.
Coming to the porch, he gathered up his courage to knock. The sound of someone coming to the door reached his ears and he knew there was no going back now, not that he really wanted to.
"Jack?" Sara asked. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, I wasn't sure if I should call or not, but I was wondering, if you're free tonight . . . how does dinner at Homey Diner sound?"
Sara tilted her head, taking in Jack's slightly more formal dress, before giving him a soft smile.
"It sounds great. Let me get my coat."
A/N: Most of you have probably noticed that this story is now labeled 'complete'. It is that way because this section of it is. I don't know if I will make a 'Guardian 2' or an epilogue, but I decided this was a good closing spot. It doesn't leave anything huge left undecided (Voldemort is an ant), but is open enough for me to continue if time and life allows. For those who have waited for this part, 8 months is a long time and I don't really want to do that to you all again. At least this way there is an 'ending' you can all hopefully live with if that becomes the case.
Thank you all for reading and reviewing, as well as forgiving me for torturing you with long waits between posts. This has been really fun to write, and I'm saddened that life has gotten so busy I have to prioritize my writing time. Hopefully that will change, but it probably won't any time soon.
If I do write another part for Guardian, I will post an alert on here directing you to the new part.
Thanks again ^^