Author's Notes: Based on a plot bunny spawned while reading iamdragonrider's 'Growing Pains' and explored with her gracious permission. All thanks to my extremely patient betas, Cleo the Muse and iamdragonrider, who have held the hand of this first-time author through countless revisions while struggling to keep me from making a fool of myself. If they haven't succeeded, it's my own fault!
Standard Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Stargate characters mentioned herein, they belong to... actually I'm not sure who holds the intellectual property rights at this point. I just know it's not me. sigh
WARNINGS: Contains mention of past tense rape of a minor, not explicitly described. Please don't read if it will harm you in any way. There will be another warning on the specific chapter involved, though brief references may occur after that. Spoilers from the movie up to the end of Season 5. Note: By nature of it being a kidfic it is also an AU and begins to diverge from canon immediately. Also by the nature of it being a kidfic there are no slash or ship relationships possible, either now or in the future.
"You know, this looks a lot like the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina," commented Major Samantha Carter, looking around at the sloping, rolling terrain as SG1 stepped away from the Stargate. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, with fluffy white clouds against a cerulean sky. Birdsong started up again soon after the wormhole disengaged. Wildflowers of many colors grew in the apparently-natural bald around the Stargate.
"Hey, you're right, it does." agreed Dr. Daniel Jackson surveying the mixed pine and deciduous woodland around the bald. In the distance they could see multiple mountain ridges that became progressively bluer further out. Some of the trees were still in flower, which seemed to indicate that it was late spring or early summer in this section of the planet. A light, pleasant breeze stirred the leaves and smaller branches of the trees, and kept the summery warmth from being oppressive.
Colonel Jack O'Neill raised both eyebrows as he looked over at his 2IC (second-in-command in civilian terms), then his civilian consultant (annoyingly independent in military terms). He had gone to General Hammond begging for a nice, easy, fun mission for his team, something to help them get their groove back after a year that included kidnaping by self-centered billionaires, false Jaffa prophets, and psychopathic robots that looked and acted like young girls.
Hammond, excellent and sympathetic leader that he was, had come through for him. A Stargate address that Jack had entered into the computer under the influence of the Ancient's Headsucker Thing was assigned to SG1's mission schedule. It wasn't on the Abydos cartouche, and it was located far away from the System Lords' usual stomping grounds, so there was reason to hope the Goa'uld didn't know about it. UAV surveys showed signs of advanced technology and an unrecognized language in an abandoned structure a reasonable distance from the Stargate.
Teal'c was calmly dignified as usual, but O'Neill managed to get the vibe from him that he was relieved not to have to think about the problems of the Jaffa Rebellion for a while. The Kitano thing had hit him hard. Then there was his earlier brainwashing by Apophis, followed by the Marshmallow-an (or whatever it was called) where Junior was removed by Bra'tac until the brainwashing was broken. Getting caught in the Stargate's "buffer" due to the whole Jaffa revenge thing had to have been disconcerting also.
Daniel also seemed delighted to have a purely academic mission to focus on; he appeared as tired of and frustrated with the constant conflict over military versus civilian priorities as Jack was. Unfortunately, the archeologist had no more idea than the colonel what to do to resolve the situation. The Reese incident had put a heavy strain on a friendship that emotionally sustained both men. A mission without any Unas slaves, religious fanatics, or undercover assassin missions complicated by ex-girlfriends was very welcome.
Carter had been having a rough spell, too. In addition to the aforementioned abduction, she'd taken blows to both her personal and professional self image. First there was the appearing and disappearing boyfriend, then the poisoning of the K'Tau sun. Hey, now that he thought of it, THREE men that she'd had personal feelings for had died in a 12 month period. No, wait; there was Lantash, did a Tok'Ra snake count? Yeah, it would to Carter, so that made it four. Damn, no wonder she seemed stressed and subdued lately!
It really said something for how bad the year had been for the team that the high point was an asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth! But on that mission they had all been focused on a single goal, without any messy moral conundrums to contend with. They'd solved the problems that came up as a team, relying on each other's abilities and courage, joking constantly but without any bitterness, and wound up saving the world.
Jack wanted to recapture that sense of camaraderie and teamwork with his kids, to revitalize their sagging morale and restore their battered self-esteem. If the sacrifice required to do so was his being bored silly for a while, he'd pay it gladly.
Which wasn't to say he couldn't give them something of a hard time, though! They expected it of him, after all; it was his shtick. There was nothing saying he couldn't wring a little enjoyment while he was being so all-fired self-sacrificing, was there?
With that in mind, he stated, "Well, since we seem to be in the mountains of North Carolina... let's head to Oz, shall we?" And he stepped out toward the abandoned building, as if he didn't see his teammates' looks of confusion and bafflement. Yep, acting nobly was going to be fun!
Of course, his fun didn't last very long. Teal'c, with his apparently endless memory for trivia, remembered there had once been a Land of Oz theme park in North Carolina, and regaled them for a while with amusing tidbits of some of the strangest tourist attractions in the United States. The bed-and-breakfast-in-a-giant-beagle won SG1's unanimous endorsement as the weirdest.
Conversation for the rest of the trip in consisted of reminisces of hiking on the Appalachian Trail, something that three out of four members had done at least in part, though O'Neill's part had been a lot further north than Daniel and Carter's. Still, it was fun to hear his younger teammates wax enthusiastic about something that wasn't work-related. While the scenery on this part of the planet may or may not have been like the Blue Ridge mountains; Jack couldn't say of his own knowledge--it was undeniably beautiful.
All too soon from Jack's perspective they arrived at the circular alien structure, and the Science Twins began chomping at the bit to get into it and start discovering all the cool goodies they were certain were in there. Colonel O'Neill had to take charge and insist on a full threat assessment before playtime could start.
Carter at least had her military officer's training to distract her from her own impatience. She got out her gadgetry, and after having circled the entire structure with its rather cool wind-around porch and nifty conversation nooks with built-in benches, was able to report no radiation or dangerous energy fields, though it did seem to contain a strong power supply.
As a reward, she and Teal'c got to go inside and make sure that the same held true inside. Poor Daniel had to stay outside, but he managed to occupy himself by videotaping every square foot of the structure, especially any promising squiggles, all the while speculating constantly about why the aliens did this or that. Jack, because he'd promised himself that he wouldn't unless absolutely necessary, resisted the urge to cut him off. Whether it was because these were unknown aliens who Daniel couldn't refer back to any known Earth culture or that O'Neill wasn't constantly cutting in with sarcastic comments, Jack didn't find Daniel's excited monologue as boring as usual.
At any rate, by the time that Carter and Teal'c returned with the all-clear, Daniel's enthusiasm had even a world-weary colonel feeling interest. He had no intention of letting on, however; there was his reputation to consider.
Jack insisted his kids eat lunch before starting to explore the inside of the building, knowing once they got started they'd lose all interest in anything as mundane as food. He was swiftly proven right in this. Carter and Daniel went into full Wonder Twin mode as soon as both got inside, pointing things out to each other and trading speculations and finishing each other's sentences in that partially-telepathic way they had.
And that was before they reached the highlight of the tour: A large circular room that seemed to take up about half the area of the whole building. It looked to Jack a little like a cross between a planetarium and college lecture hall, with decor by Star Trek. There was some sort of hexagonal structure at the zenith of the dome that ruined it as a planetarium though; so maybe it was more of a amphitheater or auditorium? Hey, "planetorium": That would work.
Jack clapped his hands briskly, interrupting Sam and Daniel's excited dialogue. "Okay, kids, so how long do you think this is going to take? There's a Simpsons Marathon on tonight, and I don't want to miss it."
"Jack!" exclaimed Daniel in exasperation, "Weren't you listening? This is a culture unrelated to ANY earth culture, or any alien culture that we've encountered before!"
"And it has advanced technology, sir. There's no telling what scientific information we could acquire." Carter's meticulously professional voice was full of enthusiasm.
Jack sighed. He hated it when the Science Twins tag-teamed him, but it was good to see them show some of their old enthusiasm again. Still, he couldn't resist teasing them a little. "Are we gonna get any big, honkin' space guns out of this? Because if I'm gonna miss a Simpsons Marathon, we should at least get some big, honkin' guns out of it."
Before Carter could answer Teal'c inquired, "Do you not already possess a full inventory of this serially broadcast entity?"
Jack stared at Teal'c in disbelief, tempted to ask him how long he'd spent paging through a thesaurus to come up with that one. "T, that's not the point. The point is..." He turned back to Daniel and Carter. "How long do you guys think this is going to take?"
"We'll work as quickly as possible, sir." said Carter with an understanding smile. Daniel opened his mouth to say something, but Carter caught his elbow and turned him away, muttering something sotto voce that he nodded agreement to after a quick glance back at Jack. Jack pretended not to notice; half the art of command was knowing what to overlook.
The afternoon passed peacefully and productively. Carter was able to somehow hook a laptop up to the alien system, a weird console that managed to look blocky and sinuous at the same time. Searching through the system, Daniel found that it held a database of languages, including an obscure dialect of Goa'uld. The two scientists working together were soon able to get the text to display in the somewhat familiar Goa'uld, rather than the completely unknown alien language.
As a result, they were able to decide that this facility was called The Place of Renewal, and that it was an advanced hospital. Rejuvenation... babble, babble, babble... Restoration... chatter, chatter, chatter... Return to Wholeness... jabber, jabber, jabber. To O'Neill the technobabble was the peaceful backdrop to a successfully proceeding mission, soothing to listen to as long as it wasn't directed to him. He simply patrolled the perimeter while tuning out all but the tone of voice, keeping a weather ear out for changes indicating excitement or fear. He and Teal'c did exchange occasional indulgently amused glances, though.
For a while, Teal'c patrolled the perimeter with him... okay, walked through the spiral hallways that circled inward to what he'd dubbed the "planetorium" while periodically looking out the windows in the outermost circle to make sure no threat to his kids emerged from the treeline. But then Carter did something to the computer interface that caused Goa'uld symbols to display luminescently on the overhead hexagon of the planetorium when Daniel keyed on glyphs on the console. So Teal'c was detailed to stand in the center of the domed room, and call out the symbols to Daniel in order to facilitate the process of changing this Goa'uld variant from partially understood to completely understood. Well, completely understood to Daniel, at any rate.
While his team demonstrated their skills at working and playing well with others, Jack began tracking an ominous buildup of dark clouds to the planetary south. It looked to him just like a summer thunderstorm in the making, and the freshening breeze supported that. When he heard a low, sullen rumble of thunder on his next circuit, he was sure of it.
He immediately double-timed it back to the planetorium. He interrupted the conversation without any qualms to say, "Hey, campers, we got an electrical storm headed our way. Maybe you'd better put away your playthings until it passes."
The Science Twins looked at each other, then back to him. Carter said, "Well sir, my laptop has autosave and a top-of-the-line surge protector."
Daniel stated, "Jack, based on what I've been able to translate so far, this building has been standing for millennia. I think it's safe to say it's weathered thunderstorms before. The value of the information we could get in here is..." Daniel waved his arms trying to find the right word in any of his twenty-plus languages, "...well, literally incalculable. If I'm understanding this correctly, this could give us the ability to cure injuries and heal diseases that are considered hopeless by our current medical science."
"Yeah, but for all we know they powered it down every time a thunder boomer came through," said Jack wryly. "Do we know for certain yet that your top-of-the-line surge protector can protect against this kind of surge?" he asked Carter as he nodded in the direction of the strange console. "Besides, if what you're getting is all that important, isn't it a good idea to avoid putting it at unnecessary risk?"
Ah, that argument worked on them. Much better than pointing out that their getting fried would really ruin their, and everybody else's day. He made a mental note to try this again in the future with Daniel. Carter he could always give an order to.
Daniel was staring at his alien console uncertainly, his hand hovering indecisively in mid-air. "Uh, Sam, would you mind giving me some technical assistance with this?"
"Me?" she asked in amazement, having unhooked her powered-down laptop before slipping it into its insulated case for extra protection. "Daniel, I wasn't really paying that much attention to what you and Teal'c were translating. Languages really aren't my ... thing." she finished sheepishly, as if she had been remiss in her duty by NOT having been memorizing everything Daniel and Teal'c had discovered while doing her own work.
"Oh, no, that's not it, Sam!" said Daniel. "I just have learned that what computer people think of as a straightforward, logical use of language is very different that what other people think of as... clear. I just want you to listen to my translation as I work and tell me if I seem to be making an... English major's error," he finished with an all-too-rare warm smile of real amusement.
Carter laughed. Another all-too-rare phenomenon, now that Jack thought of it. He had to start doing Team Nights again. And Team Days as well. Hadn't Daniel said just recently that he didn't have as much fun as he'd like?
Carter joined Daniel at the console. Daniel told her, "Now, this is the glyph for 'preserve', and that seems to be working as 'save', so I've selected that. And I also want to power it down, so 'restore to the previous minimum state' should do it, shouldn't it?"
Carter shrugged. "Well, your guesses have been good so far. Let's try it. This system seems to have pretty good fail-safes. Their computer techs must have had English majors to deal with, too." she finished with a mischievous grin.
Daniel made a good-natured face at her, then pressed various places on the console. He called to Teal'c, "Is anything displaying now, Teal'c?"
Teal'c said, "Indeed, DanielJackson. The symbol for 'Understand and will obey' has appeared. Now it has been joined by the symbol for 'Preparing to enact your command'. I am not familiar with the following symbol, but it appears to resemble the symbol for..."
Since his team seemed to have things well in hand, Jack stepped back out to check on the storm. To his dismay, he could hear the wind screaming even before he reached the outer hallway. Apparently, the storm had picked up far more rapidly than he'd expected.
Jack started running toward the southern window. The branches of the trees were being whipped around in gusty winds, and leaves were flying around like confetti. Green, early summer leaves were being ripped off the trees, which implied these were far heavier winds than usual for this area. The clouds were a dark slate-gray behind them, and as Jack watched, a blue-white bolt of lightning stabbed out of them, with a loud crack of thunder following immediately afterward.
"Crap!" said Jack softly but with intense feeling. The damn storm was right on top of them! Why hadn't he ordered his team to power off everything as soon as he'd noticed the building storm?
He ran back to the planetorium, intending to order that Carter and Daniel turn off everything now, and then get as far away as possible from anything that might carry an electrical current now.
He never got the chance. He was still several feet away from the entrance when there was a CRACK like the planet splitting and a blinding white light. His ears... Hell, his head was ringing and he ran right into the wall and slid down into a dazed heap on the floor.
After a minute or two, he realized that the hallway lights were blazing several times more brightly than originally, and as he continued trying to blink his dazzled eyes into functioning again, that there was a pinkish glow coming from behind his right shoulder.
He turned and saw to his horror that it was coming from the planetorium. The doorway was filled with a glowing energy field in which white and pink streaks writhed around each other, through which he could only faintly make out the console and Daniel's backpack, carelessly abandoned near the doorway earlier. God! Was it just contained in the doorway or did some weird freaking alien energy field fill the entire room his team was in?
Only years of strict military discipline kept him from rushing toward the doorway. He fumbled in his tac vest for something to toss at the door to test it– an energy bar should do– when the weird optical effect blinked off, and the hallway lighting subsided back to its original pre- lightning strike level. Well, he was assuming it was a lightning strike until he got different intel.
"Kids? You all right in there? Daniel? Carter? Teal'c? Anyone?" No answer.
Again, military discipline (plus experience) kept him from rushing into the room. The ominously silent room. That was the first rule of first aid: Don't create new victims. He pulled out a power bar, and unwrapped it in case the wrapper concealed subtle effects on the organic material, or provided some protection human flesh wouldn't have. A last minute thought resulted in him breaking off a piece first and just tossing that in.
It sailed through without any pause, and also without causing any sparks, ripples, or other suspicious optical reactions, then hit the floor uneventfully and skidded a few inches without any damage other than a few crumbs breaking off. An agonized sixty seconds of observation revealed no further deterioration, strange effects, or surprised questions about why he was tossing food around.
And that was all the military discipline he had left, because short of waiting for a full hazmat team he wouldn't get any better assurance of safety. He ran through the doorway, calling out again for his teammates.
For a second, he only saw a set of empty BDUs lying on the floor, underneath the zenith of the dome. Then he saw something black at one end. Oh my GOD! Is he that badly burned!?
He ran over, calling Teal'c's name. But he found... an unconscious young boy, no older than twelve at the most, with a full head of tightly curled jet-black hair and a skin tone somewhere between milk chocolate and mocha brown. A boy who looked a lot like Rya'c, but with a broader, square jawed face...