Author's Note: You ever have an idea take over your mind and slowly seep its way in so that it eventually takes over almost every waking thought? Yeah. This is one of those. The plot rabbit gods have it in for me.
"Okay, according to what came over the MALP, this place is unlike anything we've ever seen, so keep your eyes open," Jack cautioned his team as the Gate shut down behind them.
"Indeed," Teal'c said, looking around the room and staring at the alien architecture. "It is completely unlike any place I have seen before, O'Niell."
"Given the number of places you've been, Teal'c, and the places we've been, that's pretty amazing," Sam said, agreeing with him. "I wonder what kind of beings made this place."
"That's Daniel's job to figure out," Jack said, looking over to where Daniel was already craning his neck to get a look at something above his head. "Any thoughts, Danny-boy?"
Daniel turned around. "About what? The style of the building we're in, how advanced it is, the little script I've been able to find, or the fact that we've seen no signs that this place is still inhabited aside from a lack of dust?"
"Um, all of the above?"
That actually won a smile from Daniel. "Okay. I've found only this script here, and I'm guessing that it's their equivalent of, oh, a sign."
Jack raised an eyebrow. "A sign?"
"Well, it's the only writing there is in this room and it's placed pretty prominently so people will see it when they come in. There's no other script It could say something like, oh, 'Please do not stand in the path of the energy stream,' or 'Welcome to this planet'."
Sam nodded. "Any guesses on what it does say?"
Daniel looked back up at the sign and shook his head. "I have no idea," he admitted. "I don't have a clue, really. It resembles nothing I'm familiar with and I can't even begin to guess at the script's usage. There's no way for me to tell if it's pictographic, hieroglyphic, an alphabet, a syllabary, ceremonial, religious, or otherwise. It's really, really…out there, I guess."
Jack chuckled. "Well, we are light-years from home."
"All right, Teal'c and I are gonna look around a bit. Carter, you keep Daniel company since there're no funky gadgets you can play with. Daniel, you stay out of trouble."
"Mm-hmm," Daniel said distractedly, taking photos of the sign.
Jack and Teal'c left the room, staring all around them. The room itself had been gorgeous, all curving walls and light colors, but the hallway beyond looked like a gracious and large public space, complete with columns and an atrium that allowed people on the level above to see down.
Jack whistled. "Wow. This place looks like some offworld resort."
Teal'c was looking closely at a platform that came to about his ribs. "What is the purpose of these platforms between the columns?"
Jack looked. "Huh. Dunno. Maybe they were displays for something? Art? Conversation pieces? Coffee table books? We'll have to find out later. Do you see any more script anywhere? Anything for Carter to play with? Any people?"
Teal'c looked about. "No."
"Well, darn," Jack said, pivoting on one foot to get a three-sixty view. "You'd think they'd get curious about why their Gate activated. The place is in good repair, there's no dirt or debris lying about, the air is fresh, so it makes sense that there should still be people, right?"
"It does," Teal'c said, looking at the base of a nearby column. There was a decorative motif around the base of each and he was wondering if it were a form of script when the floor shifted a bit under his feet.
"What was that?" Jack asked, surprised. "Earth tremor?"
"It was not," Teal'c said, feeling a cold ball of dread form in his stomach. "I suspect that it was…" He hesitated, uncertain.
"Did you guys feel that?" Sam asked, coming out of the Gate room.
"Yeah," Jack answered. "Guesses?"
"O'Neill, I fear it was the structure itself moving," Teal'c said. "It felt like the structure was being moved by a hyperdrive."
Jack stared at him. "No. Oh, no. Are you sure?"
"Quite sure," Teal'c said as the air moving around them grew warmer. "There is an easy way to find out."
"Right," Jack said, heading back towards the Gate room at a run. "Daniel, dial it up!"
A few minutes later it became apparent that their location had changed and they were unable to dial Earth.
"So we're now on a ship," Daniel said, feeling a headache forming.
"Yep," Jack said, pacing. "And this time there are no obliging Goa'ulds to get us back home."
"We can't dial Earth, we can't dial an ally, we can't dial the Alpha site, we can't dial out period," Sam sighed. "I guess the only thing we can do is look around this ship and try to see if it can get us home."
"The address was in the computer; it should have led us to a planet," Jack said furiously. "Instead we get an abandoned, offworld cruise ship." He pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. "All right. Carter, Daniel, you head right, Teal'c and I'll take the left. Meet back here in one hour and keep in contact through your radios. Notify the other party immediately if there's a problem."
"Yes, sir," Sam said as she and Daniel prepared to go exploring. She was hoping that other parts of this ship would prove more interesting than the little they'd seen so far.
They headed off to the left while the colonel and Teal'c went right, but fifteen minutes later the ship was still boring. For her, at least. Daniel was in linguist's heaven as he studied the script-covered walls they'd found. "Any ideas on what it says?"
"No clue," Daniel admitted as he took photographs. "Still, it's fascinating."
Sam gave him another minute to finish taking pictures before insisting that they press on, reminding him that they were supposed to be looking for a way back to Earth. Another five minutes or so of wandering the hallways and she stopped, thinking hard. "Daniel, do you think that we could be missing doors? I mean, do you think we're just not seeing them? We haven't gone through any doors or doorways and we're just wandering the halls."
Daniel thought about it. "That's a possibility, I think. The thing is, how are we going to be able to tell if a door is there?"
Sam sighed and leaned against the wall behind her, uttering a little yelp as the wall suddenly opened and she fell to the floor inside a room they hadn't even realized was there.
Daniel stared after her and smiled. "Well, I guess that's one way to find out," he said. "And...convenient."
"Ha, ha, ha," Sam said, picking herself up while Daniel joined her inside the room. "Where are we?" she asked, peering into the dark.
Daniel looked around, and as he passed the wall immediately inside the door lights came up, revealing a room done in colors of blue and gray. "Um…call me crazy, but it looks like living quarters," he said.
Sam looked around. "If these are living quarters, then they're living quarters for a flippin' giant," she said, impressed with the size of the bed. It was the size of…well, it was big. All four of them could fit inside it and have enough wiggle room besides! "I can't believe how high this is. How would anyone get into bed, a stepladder?"
"I can't think of another way, unless whoever sleeps here is a lot bigger," Daniel suggested. "Do you see anything that might tell us about who might live here? Anything that looks like personal belongings?"
"Do you see any?" Sam wanted to know.
"Um, no," Daniel admitted after looking.
Sam's radio squawked. "Carter, Daniel, report."
Sam pushed the talk button. "Yes, sir," she said. "Daniel and I have found what looks like living quarters, sir, but very little else. Some more writing out in the hall. That's about it."
"Well, you guys have found more than we have. We haven't been able to find any doors whatsoever. Stay put. We're coming to join you. O'Neill out."
"Roger that," Sam said before putting her radio away.
It didn't take long for Jack and Teal'c to find them since each hallway seemed to have a color scheme and the color schemes made it easy to learn and find your way around. After radioing Sam twice for verification on their direction, the colonel and Teal'c arrived, more than a little eager to see something that was not a hallway or the Gate room.
"Cool," Jack said as soon as he stepped inside with Teal'c right behind him. "Carter, do you think--"
Whatever he'd been about to say was abruptly cut off by the sound of the door behind him closing. All of them ran for the rapidly-shrinking opening, but it closed far too quickly for them to get out.
"Dammit!" Jack shouted, pounding his fist against the door. "Open up!"
"I can't even find where the wall ends and the door begins," Sam said, sounding incredibly frustrated. "I mean, I can't tell what's door and what's wall."
Daniel leaned against the spot where the door had been, hoping it would open the way it had before, but nothing happened. All of his teammates were looking at him as if confused. "Sam leaned against the wall and the door opened, which is how we got here. I figured it was worth a try."
"Ah," Jack said. "I'm starting to think that you guys finding this place wasn't an accident. I mean, it's just a little too neat, you know?"
"You feel we are being watched," Teal'c surmised.
"Oh, yeah," Jack drawled. "I'm starting to think this place isn't abandoned. Whoever's here, they want us all in a nice, contained area and we walked right into it. They knew that by giving Daniel and Carter something to report that report would draw us here." He stopped and looked around the room. "And here we are, nice and stuck until they decide to let us out."
Carter grinned. "Aren't you forgetting something, sir?"
Jack looked at her and raised an eyebrow. "Carter?"
"We could probably just zat our way out," she told him, holding up a zat. "Three shots."
"Go for it," Jack ordered.
Sam fired three times, but nothing happened.
"Uh...any guesses on why it didn't work?" Daniel asked.
Sam fired three more times. "Not really."
"Right," Jack said, sounding worried. "Teal'c, try your staff weapon." All of them stepped behind the Jaffa as the weapon primed and pressed their hands over their ears before he fired. Two blasts went off and all of them peered at the door as the smoke cleared.
"Ventilation's working," Daniel remarked.
"Good to know," Jack said, looking at the door. "Shouldn't there be at least a little scorch mark or something?"
"I don't believe it!" Sam said, shaking her head. "This thing doesn't look as if we've been firing at it all!"
"All right, all of you get down," Jack told them. "I'm going to use my P-90. See if that works."
Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c dropped down and covered their heads while Jack opened fire. Once the gunshots died away they looked at the door, only to find that all of their trying had not made the slightest bit of difference. Instead, they found all the bullets that Jack had fired laying on the floor inches from the door masquerading as a wall.
"Okay, so we are stuck," Sam muttered. "Perfect."
"Yep," Jack said, sounding just as mad as Sam was. "Anyone think to bring any magazines?"
Daniel prowled the room while everyone else began searching for a different way out. He was certain that if they kept looking around they would find something that would tell them more about the people who were holding them and in this type of situation, knowledge was power. He ran his hands over the walls, hoping he would trigger--
"How'd you do that?" Jack demanded, noticing that a smaller opening had appeared under Daniel's fingertips.
"I just touched it," he admitted. "I was hoping something like that would happen."
"Is it a way out?" Sam asked as the entire team joined Daniel.
"Well, it leads to another room. Think we should take a look?"
Five minutes showed it to be nothing more exciting than a highly-sophisticated bathroom. Most of the functions ran automatically when you touched them, as Daniel found out when he entered what he'd thought was a doorway.
Jack whipped around. "Daniel?"
Daniel came out of the smaller space he'd entered. "Found the shower."
Jack surveyed his dripping-wet friend. "That's from a few seconds in the shower?"
Daniel looked at himself. "Yeah, well. The water kind of came at me from all sides. I'm...gonna go back to the other room to dry off and change."
"Um, why don't all the rest of us go out?" Sam suggested. "That way you won't have to drip water everywhere."
"That's a better idea," Daniel said, toeing off his boots and removing his jacket. "My pack's just outside the doorway there."
Five minutes later Daniel was in his spare change of clothes and had rejoined them in his sock feet to discuss what to do next. All three of his friends were settled on large cushions on the floor, which had been the only seats available.
Jack looked at his feet. "Boots are soaked?"
"I hope they dry out," Daniel muttered. "I hate wet shoes."
"Right," Jack said. "Anyone have any thoughts?"
"This ship is not abandoned," Teal'c said quietly. "It is possible that we are being watched. It is also possible that they are a careful and thoughtful species."
Jack blinked and shifted on his cushion. "Come again?"
"My conclusions are mainly composed of conjecture," Teal'c said. "However, I feel that this race has put a lot of thought into how they want our first encounter with them to go. It is likely that there are areas of the ship that could be dangerous, so the doors were hidden in an effort to guide us here. They have not approached us yet. That may mean that they are quite different from us and so have kept away in order to study us and to determine what way it will be easiest for us to meet them. That argues for their being both thoughtful and careful."
"I think I agree with Teal'c," Daniel confessed. "It seems like they don't want us to be hurt or more worried than we have to be, given the circumstances, so that's why we've been led to their version of guest quarters. They don't want us to be stressed or hurt by wandering around the ship."
"I'd call being confined stressful," Sam said.
"Yeah, and if they're trying to keep us from hurting ourselves they're not doing too good a job," Jack added. "I mean, we've got projectile and energy weapons. We could go stir-crazy from being cooped up and shoot ourselves."
Daniel fought down an amused smile. Trust Jack to come up with that! "Maybe they're hoping that we're not suicidal."
"Yet," Jack said, fighting down a grin. "Once the walls start closing in these beings will have something to worry about."
According to Jack's watch, it was twenty-three hundred. He and Carter were going to take first watch while Daniel and Teal'c got some rest on the huge bed. None of them thought that anything would happen during the night, but it was better to be safe than sorry, as the saying went. After marking the doors' locations with black tape they'd spent the entire day talking and guessing about their hosts, and more than once they distracted themselves from the problem at hand by playing games and talking about things the way they usually did when they just wanted to talk and enjoy one another's company. Supper had been dry rations and bottled water since they'd had no way to heat water for MREs, and now they were settling in for the night.
"How are we going to get up into that?" Daniel wondered, regarding the giant bed. He would have preferred to sleep on a cushion, but they were a bit too small and thin for him to get comfortable. Aside from that, the bed would be safer if anyone came in during the night.
Without a word Teal'c came up behind his friend and catapulted him into the air so that he landed in the middle of the massive piece of furniture. He disappeared temproarily from view as the comforter on the bed fluffed up around him.
"Oh. Thanks, Teal'c."
"You are welcome."
Jack and Sam both had to hide their smiles as Daniel sat up and looked around. "How's it feel up there, Danny-boy?"
Daniel shifted over to get out of Teal'c's way as the Jaffa hoisted himself up. "Um, it's pretty comfortable. It'll be easy to fall asleep."
"Good," Jack said, waving his hand. "Get to sleeping. We'll wake you guys in a few hours."
Daniel flopped into the pillow behind his head and stretched out while Teal'c made himself comfortable but a second later both of them sat upright as the lights dimmed. The lights came back up.
"The lights must go down when somebody lays down on the bed," Carter guessed. "Lay back down, guys. Go to sleep."
It didn't take them long. Ten minutes more and Daniel was asleep, and another five minutes was all it took for Teal'c. Since he'd begun taking tretonin it was easier for him to actually sleep, but he still had to kel'no'reem daily in order to be at his best.
For an hour, nothing happened other than Daniel rolling over once or twice. Another hour and Jack was starting to hope that he'd be able to last until it was his turn to get some rest. He was getting tired.
Carter yawned. "Man, this watch is taking forever!"
Alarm bells rang in Jack's head. "Carter, are you tired? I mean, really, really tired all of a sudden?"
Sam thought about it, comprehension dawning on her face as she took Jack's question in. "Yeah, actually. Do you think whoever's keeping us in here might...?"
A sudden wave of dizziness hit Jack like a sledgehammer-wielding truck. "Oh, I think that's a distinct possibility."
If Carter made a reply he didn't hear it.