LEAP TO THE STARS
By Lorraine Anderson
Sam Beckett was falling into a puddle.
He was walking into a puddle. A bright white puddle, contained in a large circle with Egyptian glyphs. He stopped and looked around. He had companions, three of them, one female and two males. They were all dressed in military fatigues, and all were armed. He, himself, carried a gun. "What the…" A sudden realization snapped his attention back at the puddle. "A wormhole event horizon."
The female looked at him, crease lines between her eyes. "Sir?"
"Jack? You okay?"
A blonde-haired man came up beside him, looking into his face. He saw the wormhole reflected in his glasses, then he saw the man had no rank. Civilian, he thought. He realized the man was waiting for an answer. "Um, yeah."
"Is there something wrong, people?" A loud voice over an intercom. Sam looked around to spot a bald man… a general, he thought… in a control room behind glass.
"No, sir," Sam said automatically. He faced the water again.
The fourth companion, a large black man, turned slightly toward him, long enough for Sam to see a gold tattoo on his forehead, then entered the event horizon. The blonde woman was right behind him.
"Oh, boy," Sam muttered, as the other man guided him into the event horizon, fully expecting to be torn apart. He disintegrated –
- and ended stepping out the other side, chilled. He shivered, then looked around. They were outdoors. Some sort of coniferous trees lined the clearing around the circle. A round device was in front of them… a control panel? He looked up to see two moons in the sky. Both seemed to be around the same size of Earth's moon. "The tidal forces must be spectacular," he muttered.
"Yes..." Sam caught the name patch on the man's fatigues. "… Jackson?"
Jackson still looked worried. "Are you sure you're all right?"
"Indeed," said the black man. "O'Neill looks pale."
Sam looked at the name patch. Ok, he wasn't going to try to pronounce that one. The event horizon collapsed behind him, and he turned involuntarily. "Um…," he stuttered. "We're not alone." He lowered the gun that he was still carrying to the ground.
Behind the circle was an army of men, most pointing loaded bows, swords, and other unknown weapons on them.
"Jack?" murmured Jackson, as they were being marched down a mossy path
"Looks like early thirteenth century, except for those," Sam pointed.
Jackson looked sideways at him. "Those are zats," he said, "And how did you know it was thirteenth century?"
"Since when do you know anything about history?" Jackson persisted.
"Or event horizons?" Carter looked at him.
"I have never known O'Neill to lower his weapon so fast." The black man said.
"But he was fine in the locker room," Jackson said.
"He stopped at the Stargate as if he had never seen it before, DanielJackson."
"I saw that, too," Carter said. "But… 'event horizon'?"
Sam felt uncharacteristically irritated. "Hey, guys, I'm still over here," Sam said.
"Now that sounds like Jack." Jackson – Daniel said.
"Colonel, what did we just come through and what's the theory behind it?" Carter said.
Sam considered. "The event horizon is technically one side of a wormhole. We came through it and out the other side of the wormhole through that circle, the Stargate."
"What did Teal'C call the Stargate before he met us?"
Sam stayed silent.
The group looked at each other. Carter moved up beside him, and her face was hard. "Who are you, and what have you done with Colonel O'Neill?"
"Oh, boy," was too mild for this situation.
"He just keeps giving his name, rank, and serial number." Dr. Verbena Beeks said. She glanced through the open waiting room door. "At first, he tried to give us Captain Kirk, then Luke Skywalker, then Homer Simpson."
Al peered through the door. The man who looked like Sam glared back. "So – who is he?"
"He's Colonel Jonathan O'Neill, but he calls himself Jack. He hasn't yet told us his current date, but he was promoted to Colonel in the early nineties."
"So," Al looked down at his bright Hawaiian shirt. "I should probably change into my uniform."
"Couldn't hurt, Admiral."
Al glanced in. Suddenly, Jack looked at him, and Al could see the world Calavicci on his lips.
"Or not," Al said, as he walked into the room. "Colonel," Al said crisply.
"Admiral Calavicci?" Jack said, looking him up and down.
"That would be me," Al said, "Although I'm surprised you recognized me, especially in my civvies."
Jack shrugged. "You were an astronaut, sir, and a pilot before that. Although you seem to have dropped out of sight in recent years."
Al glanced at Verbena. She shrugged. "I had a reason," he hedged.
"So, we are still on Earth?" Jack said, then looked appalled at himself.
Where did that come from? "Um… yes…"
Jack closed his eyes. "What's your clearance?"
"Probably higher than yours. What's yours?"
"Pretty high." Jack considered this as Al looked out at Verbena. She nodded her head. "Very high," she mouthed.
"We're not in Cheyenne Mountain?"
"No." Al ignored the vibration of his handlink. Ziggy must be dropping nuts and bolts trying to warn him not to say much. "We're in the middle of the New Mexico desert."
"My turn to ask you something, Colonel, no matter how silly it may sound. What's the date?"
Jack looked at him. "May 3, 2003."
"Ah, shit," Al said. "Yesterday."
Carter's question went unanswered as the group reached a small village. A runner had obviously gone ahead of them, because a man with a crown and a robe met them, surrounded by menacing guards. He looked at them, and Sam was reminded of Richard Harris playing Arthur in "Camelot."
"I am King Arthur," the man said without preamble, his face stern. Sam felt an unnatural desire to snicker. "What Goold do you came from?"
"Huh?" Sam said.
Jackson gave him a sharp look. "I'll handle this." He stepped in front. "We do not come from any Goa'uld. We are the Tau'ri."
Ok, Sam could hear the distinction of the vowels in the names now. Not that it helped him.
"You bring Apophis' Jaffa." He pointed at the black man.
"I have renounced the false god and now fight the Goa'uld with the Tau'ri."
Sam eyebrows went up. "Apophis?" he mouthed. He closed his eyes before he gave any more away. He really wished that Al would show up.
"How can we be assured of that?"
"You can't, Sire. You have to trust us – or let us go back through the gate, then you bury it."
The King shook his head. "We cannot bury the Chappa'ai. We have many trade partners on the other side." The King looked to the left and seemed uncomfortable. He was lying, Sam thought.
"But you can prove your goodwill in other ways. In the meantime, you shall be our guests overnight." He looked up at the sky. "It will be dark soon."
"How shall we show our goodwill, sir?"
"We'll show you. In the meantime, you will be detained in our guest quarters." He looked at the foursome. "I'm sure you understand."
Daniel bent his head. "I do." He stared back at Sam, as if he dared him to say anything. Sam shrugged. What could he do?
"General Hammond," Sergeant Walter Harriman said, "I have an Admiral Calavicci on the line. He insists he needs to talk to you."
"How did he get this number?" Hammond looked out at the Stargate, a worried look on his face, then turned to Walter.
"He claims to have gotten it from Colonel O'Neill. He also asked whether SG-1 was missing off-world." Walter paused. "I didn't confirm or deny anything."
Hammond sighed as he took the phone. He didn't know how the Admiral knew what he knew, but he intended to find out. "What can I do for you, Admiral?"
"Good morning, General," came a gravelly voice on the other end. "This may be a bit difficult to explain and it may be a little harder for you to believe."
"Try me, Admiral."
"I work for a top secret project in the New Mexico desert call 'Project Quantum Leap.' Our lead scientist – and my friend – is Dr. Samuel Beckett."
"Seems like I've heard our scientists mention him a time or two. So what does that…"
"Bear with me. Sam had the idea that a person could travel in time within the limits of his own lifetime." A sigh. "He was right, then things went a little ca-ca…"
"Ca-ca?" Hammond repeated. Walter looked up at him, puzzled.
"He Leaps into people's lives. In the past He looks like them and, um…"
"… solves problems that they can't solve. And he's been stuck doing that for the past few years." Al paused. "Jack is telling me you've seen a few impossible things, including as a lieutenant."
Hammond remembered back when the team had been transported into 1969. He also remembered that Jack had stopped short on the ramp to Stargate. "So you think we sent Dr. Beckett off-world instead of Jack."
"I know so."
"Can I speak to Jack to confirm what you've said?"
"Of course, General. He's been sitting right here. I must warn you…"
"He doesn't sound like himself. I've dealt with that before."
"Oh? Here he is."
Jack didn't really sound too much different. "Jack?"
"Yes, sir. Hell of a situation."
"They treating you all right?"
"Except for the clothing. At least this guy won't cut off my hair." He sounded peeved.
Hammond chuckled, remembering Teal'C's threat. "Bear with me, son. Who was our first enemy?"
"Do you mean Ra or Apophis? Either one are snakeheads… Goa'ulds."
"And the redhead?
"Hathor? Little miss bad breath?"
Hammond sighed. "Thanks, Jack."
"Have they reported in?"
"No. It's been close to a day. We dialed up and the MALP showed natives that hadn't been there before."
"Shit. And two civilians on that group." Hammond heard a voice in the background, apparently protesting. "But he's still a civilian."
"Major Carter and Teal'C are there." Hammond said, but a sudden realization came over him. "But she wouldn't know that she was in charge, at least not right away."
"Right," Jack said. "She'd be talking her cues from – me."
"Put the Admiral back on the phone."
"Yes, sir," Hammond could hear some background noise.
"I'd like to have Colonel O'Neill here at Stargate Command."
"No, I'm sorry, General. The Project needs him to be here in case Sam Leaps. But…"
Hammond started to protest.
"… but," Al said, speaking over the protest. "I'll see about getting a video hookup."
"I'll call the President."
"Gee," Al sighed. "You get the President. We get a committee."
In spite of himself, Hammond smiled. "Believe me, we have our share of those, Admiral."
After a few minutes of details, Hammond turned the phone over to Walter, while the Admiral was calling somebody named Gooshie or Gushie or some-such. He retreated to his office to call the president. He had a feeling there was going to be Hell to pay once Kinsey got wind of this, then wondered if the Admiral had to deal with somebody like Kinsey. Well, not his problem. He got to work.
"Your companions are doing their tasks," King Arthur said, entering his room. "This is yours." He handed Sam a device.
"Can I ask what they're doing?" Sam asked. He had been relieved to find that they were assigned separate quarters. And they were comfortable. He was surprised to find radiant heat and light bulbs in this medieval looking palace, and the bed… well, it was one of the best he had slept in lately.
But he was glad he didn't have to share the room. He wasn't entirely sure it was wise to reveal his identity. He knew they knew he was not Jack, but he hoped to avoid the question of exactly who he was. He wondered when he was. In the future? The fatigues didn't look so, but he wasn't up on army wear. Hopefully not. But a "Stargate" in the United States?
"You may not," the King said, "but we are hoping your tasks will be interrelated."
"Ah." He looked at the device. "What is this?"
The King sat down at the table across from him. Sam, belatedly realizing that he should rise, started to get up, but the King waved him down. "Not even my subjects stand on ceremony. Besides, I'm only King for another week."
"Huh? Abdicating, Sire?"
"Retiring. I'm King by election, scholar by trade. Been King way too long." He looked outside at the guards. "And I thankfully lose my extra 'protection.'" He looked sharply at Sam. "Can you find out what it is and can you fix it?"
"It's broken? I'm not even sure what it is." He looked it over. It was long, copper and black, and knobby. He pushed at the knobs. Nothing gave, except for a panel in the middle. "I take it you've already pressed this?"
"Nothing visual happens."
The King inclined his head.
He noticed a crack on one side. "May I open it?" He looked at the crack again, then at the guards. "Except that I need something sharp and pointy to open it, and I don't think the guards would like me to have sharp and pointy things." He studied it again. "It looks for all the world like a garage door opener."
Sam looked at him sharply. He had seen powered vehicles, but apparently they hadn't invented that word. "A building to keep our vehicles in. An opener is a device that communicates to a machine that opens the door."
Arthur nodded slowly. "Like the control to the Chappa'ai."
He motioned one of the guards forward, who set a tablet down on the table. He took the opener from Sam and handed it to the guard. "Open this." He turned to Sam. "This was found with it."
Sam felt a jolt of excitement. "That's ancient Egyptian!" The King looked blank. "A language from my world, not used anymore." My world. Sam sat back. He was on another planet, wasn't he? Then he looked at the tablet. "I, Apophis, therefore seal this… unknown wordsthere … chamber. Let no mortal man open lest death follow." Sam sat back. "What does that mean? And why do I keep hearing the name of Apophis? He was a myth from my world."
"Apophis was God of this world many generations ago. Our people rebelled against the false god."
"You implied that Teal'C was a… what? A Jaffa of Apophis, whatever that means."
"He bears Apophis' mark on his forehead. Those people are called Jaffa, and are the carriers of the gods."
"But he came from my world – Earth. I followed him into the Stargate."
"Your companion said you were from the Tau'ri."
Sam looked blank, then sighed. "Look, I'm kind of an unwitting traveler on this expedition. You should talk to my companions." The King cocked his head. "I… Leapt in at the last moment, before they came here." He winced. "It's a long story, most of which you may not believe. In fact, they don't even know my name. Can you bring them here?"
The King waved to one of the guards. "See how the other three are doing." He turned to Sam. "Can you explain it to me?" Sam hesitated. The King stared at him. "It could be very important."
"All right. Bear with me. Do you believe in the existence of a soul?"
The King nodded. "Our ancestors brought a Holy Bible into our exile. Our Lord Jesus implied that we have souls."
"My soul has traded places with the man you see before you. His name is Jack O'Neill. My name is Sam Beckett." Not a precise explanation, but one the King and his people might understand.
The King sat back. "That's quite a story. How do I know it's true?"
Sam looked him straight in the eye. "You don't, except by the reactions of the other three. But I want to be completely honest with you. My companions don't know this yet, although they believe I'm not Jack O'Neill."
Arthur smiled. "I heard this story from my guards. Your discussion drops a few things into place for me." He grimaced. "I hope you can help us."
Sam looked at the device, still in the hands of the guards. "Why is this so important? And, for that matter, why was the woods around the Stargate surrounded by guards?"
Carter, Daniel, and Teal'C walked in, followed by wary guards. One man, apparently a leader, walked forward. "The woman has fixed our electrical problem, the man translated a tablet, and Sire…"
"The Jaffa completed his task, but he told us he has no symbiote!"
The King raised his eyebrows and glanced at Teal'C. "Teal'C keeps his health by means of a chemical that we discovered," Carter said.
"Someday, all Jaffa will be free."
Whoah. Somehow, Sam didn't think he was talking about his race. "The… symbiote keeps you alive?" he said involuntarily.
"Indeed." Teal'C raised his eyebrow at Sam.
"Colonel?" she looked wary at him.
Sam looked at the King. "Not exactly," he started.
"Sam!" Al popped in behind the trio, wearing his Admiral's uniform. Some of the guards whirled and pointed their weapons at him. Daniel, Carter, and Teal'C turned to look at him. The others looked confused.
"Guards, lower your weapons," Arthur said.
"I'm convinced of their innocence. They are not spies."
Sam raised his eyes. "Your timing stinks, Al."
"They can see me, Sam."
Carter looked back at him. "He's calling you Sam." She looked back at Al. "You're… Admiral Calavicci."
Daniel raised his eyebrows.
"You were working with Dr…. Samuel Beckett." She looked at Sam. "Dr. Beckett hasn't been seen in years, although his wife… and yours… assures the magazines every once in a while that you're fine, you're just hiding from the world. Or something. Washington wanted him on the…" She shut her mouth.
"The Stargate project." Al finished. "Sam has been sorta working on Project Quantum Leap."
"So to speak." Sam said.
"Which General Hammond will brief you on later." Al turned his head to one side. "Maybe this means something to you? O'Neill's mentioned this a couple of times. Something about at least Sam won't shave his head?"
Teal'C smiled broadly. Al looked up and shuddered.
"Sire, can you hear and see all of this?"
"Your 'Al' looks like a ghost, but I hear everything." He shrugged. "I'm not necessarily understanding it."
"Usually, only Sam can see and hear me. So how…"
Carter looked thoughtful. "Well, Teal'C and I have Naquadah in our blood…"
Daniel raised his hand. "Ascended," he chirped.
"They may also have traces of Naquadah in their blood," Sam said. She waved her arm through Al. "Are you a hologram projected through the Stargate?"
Al shrugged. "I have to stay at Project Quantum Leap. It's the only way we could get it to work."
"Could the image be amplified by the Stargate?" Carter looked thoughtful.
"Sam, have you solved anything yet?" Al said urgently.
Sam shrugged. "I translated this tablet."
Daniel frowned. "Ancient Egyptian?"
Sam recited his translation.
Daniel looked sharply at him. "Sorry. I'm looking at that face and thinking of the child's Egyptian book I bought Jack last year for his birthday." He looked at the tablet. "You missed a couple of words."
"I hadn't encountered them before."
"It translates as 'chamber of the Ancients.'" Daniel said. He did a double-take.
Sam pointed at the device, now in two pieces Carter took it gently from the guard, after a nod from the King. She picked out a cracked crystal. "The power source is broken."
Al blinked. "That's a battery?"
"If this gets changed…"
"We'll open a chamber of the Ancients," Daniel finished. He looked at the King. "With your permission."
Arthur smiled. "Granted."
Teal'C looked grave. "Apophis did not give warnings lightly. If he was wary of this chamber, we should be very cautious."
Sam looked him. "You sound as if you know him."
"I was his first Prime."
"He knew him," Carter said. Then, seeing the question on Sam's face. "I'll explain later. By the way, I'm Major Samantha Carter. And you already know Dr. Daniel Jackson and Teal'C."
"Pleasure to meet you. I wish I could say I've heard of all of you, but I've been out of commission for a while." He looked embarrassed. "Can we keep calling you Carter?"
"Fine, Sam. I'm used to it."
"Used to what?" came a suave voice. A man walked into the room. He was handsome, in an impish sort of way, dark hair and beard. His eyes glowed as he saw Al. "Interesting. You're enlisting outside sources now, O'Neill?"
The guards reacted instantly, only to be gunned down by some sort of electrical charge. "Ba'al," Arthur spat. Carter glared at the man, and Daniel dropped his head.
"Did you really think those pitiful guards could keep me away?"
"I can only try." Arthur glared. "We're working on getting our families back."
Ba'al ignored him. "I see you found a new toy since I was here last. My little hint bore fruit?"
"We discovered this independently, false god."
"Continue to think that, Arthur." He looked at Sam. "No smart remarks?"
Sam spread his hands. "I seem to have run out today."
He picked up the tablet. "Interesting. My late great brother has been holding out on us."
"And like Teal'C said, the chamber may be dangerous," Carter said.
"I can be dangerous." Ba'al shrugged. "As O'Neill can testify."
Sam shrugged back.
"You're calm today."
"It's the Prozac," Sam returned. He was surreptitiously looking Ba'al up and down. So, this was a God… or, perhaps, more accurately, a Goa'uld. Despite the penchant for leather, the man reminded him of his lawyer.
"I'm surprised you would risk your men," Daniel said.
"Who said I was going to risk myself or my men?" Ba'al said.
"You said," Arthur said, "that if we found these items for you, you would release your hostages."
Daniel glared at Ba'al. "The difference between you and Ba'al is that you are an honorable man and Ba'al is a snakehead."
Ba'al stared at him. "You're learning, Dr. Jackson. O'Neill is teaching you well." He turned his attention back at Sam. "No comment?"
"I'll let my apprentice speak for me," Sam shrugged. "Hostages?"
"Some of our women and children. Including mine."
"We can't let them keep hostages." Sam looked at Al, then at Carter.
"Damn straight," Al spouted.
"Says the hologram," Ba'al said. "What are you risking?"
"More than you know," Al said. He started to fade out, and he glared over to one side. "Gooshie! What in the…" He faded out entirely.
"Surely he wouldn't be stupid enough to send in reinforcements."
"I'm sure he'll know that you have the gate guarded," Carter said.
Ba'al shrugged. "Have you found the cavern?"
Arthur sighed. "No."
"Which means nothing," Carter said. "Because if it's a cavern of the Ancients, it'll undoubtedly be well hidden."
"But as you said, we have the opener," Ba'al said, "and I think I can get my hands on one of these crystals." He gestured at one of the guards, who moved forward. Taking the crystal from Carter, he handed it to the guard, who exited the day, presumably, Sam thought, to some sort of transport system. He wished he could see it, but as O'Neill, who, presumably, was an old hand at these things, he sat still.
"So," Ba'al said to Sam, "anything new happen to you lately?"
Sam started laughing.
Al and Jack looked at the video feed from Stargate Command. Hammond looked at the both of them and muttered.
"That's exactly what I said," Jack said. "Wasn't it?"
"Actually," Al said, "I think your language was a bit saltier."
"That says it all, sir," Jack said.
"What's your history with him?"
Jack looked at Hammond. He nodded. "Ba'al killed me… oh, about twenty times."
Al looked skeptically at him. "Metaphorically, right?"
"No. He kept bringing back to life so that he could kill me again. Knives, acid, gravity, you name it, he did it."
"O-kay. For the fun of it?"
"He was trying to get information out of me that I didn't know. Long story." He looked at the table.
"I have a feeling we could tell you a few stories, too," Al sighed.
"So. They have hostages. Is there anything we can do here?"
Hammond winced. "We still have the MALP over there, but it's only a matter of time before they do something to it."
"Can we lob one of those knock-out bomb thingies through it?" Jack said.
"We can try," Hammond said, "But I'm sure they'll be wise to it."
"Those Jaffa. They seem basically human," Al said.
"Actually, we call them aliens, but almost all of the aliens we've met were human. Their ancestors were kidnapped from Earth," Hammond said.
"Can you send something through your MALP. Like some sort of sonic waves that would drive them nuts? Something that might drive them away from the Stargate so that you can send a force through?"
Hammond considered. "Possible. But what would keep them from harming the hostages?" He shook his head. "I don't think we can risk it."
Jack turned to Al. "Didn't you tell me that Sam never… Leapt… until his task was over?"
Al winced. "Yeah, but…."
"His task isn't going to be over until Ba'al's out of there. And I have the most experience with Ba'al."
Al closed his eyes. "I don't think I like what you're leading up to." He looked at Hammond.
"General. Can we use the transporter technology on the Prometheus?."
"But, the travel time -" Al said.
"Will be negligible," Hammond said. "But Jack, you would be risking Dr. Beckett's life."
"He is talking about going to the planet," Al said.
"Transporter technology, huh? 'Star Trek'?"
"Close enough," Jack said.
"I'm going too," Al said.
"Look, if we don't have Sam, we don't have Project Quantum Leap. He's saved my life many times, and went back in time to save my marriage to my wonderful wife. I'm going." Al shrugged.
"You're not a young guy anymore."
"Neither are you."
"Gee, thanks. What about your wife?"
"She'll agree with me. Hell, I told her what happened after I knew – strange, sometimes, having two sets of memories – and she's been wonderful."
"I have to say that this is against my better judgment," Hammond said, "But I'm going to let you go."
"Gooshie?" Al yelled out of the door. "Have you got that problem fixed yet."
"All fixed, Admiral!"
"I'll hologram over and let them know we're coming."
"So that we won't get shot coming through the Gate?"
"Something like that."
"Now that was a kick in the butt!" Al said, as they emerged from the Stargate. He looked around. "Our escorts are here. So that's a Jaffa."
Jack smiled at Al's enthusiasm. "Yeah." He raised his voice. "Just a bit misguided!"
Jack shook his head. "Nobody wants to hear the truth."
"Let me guess," Al said. "Not a diplomat, huh?"
"We shall take you to our God, Ba'al," said a guy that looked like a sumo wrestler.
"You do that," Al said, looking him up and down, not giving an inch. "I've never met a God before."
The Jaffa looked uneasily at each other. "I don't think they believe that we're the experts here."
Al shrugged. "Whatever." He looked sideways at Jack. "How're you doing?"
"Not terribly fond of the long underwear." He plucked at his fatigues to show a flash of white. Al had insisted that he wear the Fermi suit.
"Just being cautious."
Jack sighed. "I know."
After a half-hour walk, they were at the city. Al looked around with interest. His first impression was right. Modern medieval. Streetlights contrasted with, well, not huts, but thatched, and not necessarily modern, either. The streets were clean and certainly not medieval. Well, not maybe a little medieval. He sidestepped to avoid stepping in animal manure. But no slop, no human waste, except maybe a few that were walking around. He didn't believe in paradise.
They brought them into a small scale castle. He looked around the great hall with interest. Tapestries, but not with knights. Was that a Goa'uld the warrior was cleaving in half? He was glad that Hammond gave him a glimpse of what they were actually fighting.
Ba'al walked out of a side chamber. "Admiral!" he said, extending a hand. "How nice to see you 'in the flesh', so to speak."
Al dropped his hand. "I don't think so. But it is rather… interesting… to meet you."
Jack was shooting daggers at Ba'al. Al nudged him. "This is our expert, Dr. Samuel Beckett."
Ba'al looked him up and down. "I don't know what makes him an expert, any more than your Dr. Jackson."
"Dr. Jackson is a generalist. Dr. Beckett is a specialist," Al lied with ease.
"Is that right?"
"Yes," Jack said flatly, as if he couldn't trust himself to say much
"More than you know."
Ba'al looked at him sharply.
"Sam's never been in the military," Al said.
"And he's an expert on the ancients."
"Book learning," Jack said.
"Right." He gestured to a guard. "Put them in with the other prisoners."
The guards raised their staff weapons. Jack raised his hands and gestured to a hall with a raised eyebrow. The guard nodded, Jack nodded. Al looked at the interplay and closed his eyes.
They walked down the hall, and a guard opened the door. Sam stood up in alarm. "Al!" He glanced at Jack. "What…"
"General Hammond and I thought the situation called for… more experts, Colonel O'Neill," Al said, staring at Sam. He glanced at the Jaffa at the door. There was a small crowd in the room at this point, and more Jaffa out in the hall. Ba'al apparently trusted them as much as Al trusted him.
Carter, in the meantime, was staring wide-eyed at Jack. Then she looked at Sam, then at Al. "Is that Dr. Beckett?"
Al nodded. "Our resident Ancient expert," he nodded slowly.
"I see," said Daniel. Teal'C smiled slightly, as if calculating odds.
"So when are we going to do something?" Al asked.
"I, for one, could use a bathroom break," Jack said, straight faced, staring at the guards. The guard gestured at another doorway.
"The garderobe is in there. Don't worry, we have indoor plumbing," Arthur said.
"I was speaking metaphorically."
"A metaphorical pee," Daniel said.
"You can never tell… Dr. Jackson."
"Still," Arthur said. "Dr. Beckett has a point. Why are they waiting?"
The guards at the door parted. "We were waiting for the replacement crystal," Ba'al said.
"My bad," Daniel said. "I had forgotten."
Jack started to speak. Al kicked his ankle. "So how're we supposed to find this cavern… aim the device towards the mountain."
Ba'al looked at Jack. Jack looked at Ba'al. "Well?" Ba'al said.
Jack shrugged. "Sounds as good as anything. After all, who knows what the Ancients were thinking?"
"I heard that Jack knew once," Ba'al said. He smiled. "Word gets around."
Sam raised his eyebrows, then shrugged, looking at Jack. "Highly overrated."
"Shall we leave?" Ba'al led the way, with over a dozen Jaffa surrounding the small group as they left the room. As they exited the castle, a small group of villagers came out into the street. "Remember," Ba'al said loudly. "We have your children."
"Sweet," Jack said lowly. Carter looked at him. He looked around. "So, Ba'al, which mountain are you going to pick?"
"You're the expert."
"Ok," Jack said slowly. He turned around and around. "Where were the items found?"
Arthur pointed. "Over there."
Jack nodded. "Over there we go."
Ba'al rolled his eyes. "This is your expert?" he said to Sam.
Sam shrugged. "Better than I am," Sam said. He tried to move away from Ba'al and closer to Al, trying to communicate with his eyes. "Why did you bring him?"
"I told you… O'Neill. Hammond and I thought it was a good idea."
"Why did you come?"
"I wasn't going to let him out of my sight. He… has the magic undies."
"Really," Sam said. "Aren't you taking a… Leap of faith that nothing will happen?"
"Yeah. But the odds seemed worse if we sat still in New Mexico. Ziggy agreed."
Sam frowned. "Ziggy agreed?"
"Forty percent compared to ninety."
Sam screwed up his face. "What does Ziggy know about this situation?"
"She tells me that I'd be surprised and that you'll find out later."
Al shook his head.
After another walk, the group came up to signs of excavation. "Here," Arthur said shortly and dejectedly.
Ba'al handed the instrument to Jack. "Go ahead."
Jack tightened his lips. "Gee, thanks. I love you too." He took the instrument and inspected it.
"What are you waiting for?"
"I've never seen it before, okay?" Jack said. He pushed at it. To his obvious surprise, an opening appeared in the rock face.
Ba'al looked surprised, then schooled his face. "After you, expert."
Carter spoke up. "I think Teal'C and I should go first."
"But he'll be right behind."
"He'll be right behind," Carter repeated. She took point at the entrance, looking around the wall face. Teal'C looked at the other side. He pointed at pits in the wall. Carter nodded, then threw a rock and a small bit of dust across the entrance. The rock bounced back, the dust slid downwards.
"Some sort of force field?" Jack said.
"Yes, s… Sam."
"I think we can assume that it's lethal." Daniel said. "Considering what Apophis said."
"Can you see anything in there?"
Carter peered through the darkness. "No. Can I have a flashlight?"
"No." Ba'al turned to Jack. "Perhaps another control will turn off a force field."
"Sam." Carter said.
"Yes, Major Carter?" Jack said.
"I would suggest that you concentrate on what you want done."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "All right," he closed his eyes in concentration. Nothing happened for a moment, then he felt the force field go down. He opened his eyes, then closed them again and tried for lights. He felt the lights go on. "Gotta love those Ancients," he said.
"As I said before," Ba'al said. "After you."
Jack entered the room and looked around. "Gee, this is a lot of – stuff."
Carter followed. "Wow."
"But," Sam said. "What is it?" He picked an item up and it started buzzing. He dropped it. Carter picked the item up, and it remained silent. She cocked a surprised eyebrow at him.
Daniel looked around. "You know, if this is ancient technology – which it seems to be – I would doubt if you would find a weapon in here."
"Defensive technology could be used as a weapon," Ba'al said.
"So it could. But, say, what if all it is knowledge?" He caught Ba'al's look. "I know, knowledge is power." He looked around. "What I'm saying is that I don't think you're going to be able to use it."
"And you're basing this on what?"
"Age." Daniel shrugged. "Sure the force field worked, but - pick something up."
Ba'al gestured to a Jaffa, who picked up a rod. It seemed to have controls. The man pushed one, and the group looked around. Nothing seemed to happen.
"Try something else," Daniel said. "Or, better yet, I'll try something. He picked up something that looked like a cell phone." Nothing happened. He looked up and raised his eyebrow. "See?"
Ba'al flushed. "Is all of this stuff useless?"
Al had picked something up. A light shone out. "This flashlight seems to work."
Ba'al closed his eyes and seemed to count to ten. "Jaffa, kree." He strode out of the cavern. He turned around as they cleared the entrance. "Kill them." They fired -
- and the weapon fire bounced off of the force field. Jack held up the control and smiled. "See you later, buddy!"
Ba'al growled and turned away. The Jaffa looked at each other, then followed. Another Jaffa ran up to Ba'al, told him something, and he growled again. Motioning to the Jaffa, they headed towards the woods, presumable to another transport site, Sam thought.
"But… our children! They're not safe!"
Al pulled his hand link out of his pocket. "They are safe. I got the signal – meaning that the hand-link vibrated – a half an hour ago. Stargate Command was to send troops after we had left. We knew that this Ba'al had limited resources, so they figured there were going to be less guards at the gate. The plan was for them to hide the hostages in the woods and wait until Ba'al left."
Arthur sat down. "Oh, thank God." He put his head in his hands.
Sam picked up the item that Daniel had tested. Lights started shining. "Why did that come to life for me and not for you?"
Daniel had picked up the "flashlight" that Al had tested. "Genealogy. Jack has a recessive gene from the Ancients that allows him to use Ancient technology." He looked back and forth between Sam and Al. "Apparently, so do both of you."
Sam and Al looked at each other. "That and pocket change will get me a coffee," Al finally said.
"You could join Stargate Command," Jack said. "I'm tired of being the resident guinea pig."
"Wouldn't you rather get your own life back first?"
Jack pulled at the Fermi suit. "Oh. Yeah."
"And I really haven't done anything yet."
"Actually," Al grimaced. "We have. Ba'al's gone, and we've discovered that we've got this gene thingagummy." He looked over at a table, stared, then picked up a piece of metal. "Sa-am – does this look familiar?"
He walked over and looked at it. "The translation device. The one that allows us to communicate with each other when I'm on a Leap." He looked again. "The one that I found the schematics to on my desk, but didn't remember drawing…"
"And I suspect it works better with some people than others," Carter said. "Does it take DNA to start it?"
"Um. I guess… I have at least one more Leap," Sam said.
They heard a commotion outside the cave. Jack quickly took the force field down. Arthur looked up, then hurried out. The group moved out of the cave, all on alert. Arthur ran toward a woman, lifted her up, then hugged a child.
One of the troops headed towards SG-1 and stopped on front of Sam. "Mission successful, sir."
Jack motioned to the trooper. "Watkins," he said dryly, "over here."
Watkins screwed up his face. "Not again," he moaned.
"That's 'Not again, sir'," Jack said. "It'll be fixed soon, Watkins," Jack said. He looked over at his face. "Right?"
"Right. As soon as we get back to the Project."
Jack looked over at the happy family group, then back at the cave. "They're reunited, and this is a job for the experts. Our job here is done."
"So," Hammond said as they walked down the hall. "When exactly does this Leap happen? It's been a couple of days."
Sam grimaced. "I'm sorry, General. I can't control the Leaps." He hesitated. "Usually, this means I have something more to do."
"Well, I wish you'd do it. Jack is driving me nuts. They're keeping re-runs of the Simpson's going, but he doesn't deal with cages very well."
"It's not a cage."
Hammond shrugged. "Tell that to Jack."
They rounded a corner. As they walk, Sergeant Siler, who was up on a ladder looking into the ceiling, lost his balance and began to fall. Sam ran forward and caught the sergeant before he hit the floor, then caught the huge wrench that was falling and would have hit his head.
"Thanks!" Siler said.
"You're welcome," Sam said, then looked up. "I'm Leaping…"
Jack looked up, then down. "General, why am I about to brain Sergeant Siler with a wrench?"
Hammond laughed as he extended a hand to Jack. "Welcome back, Colonel O'Neill."
Sam set the schematics on the desk where his younger self would be sure to see them. He looked around and sighed.
"Wish you could stay?"
"Think your next Leap will take you home?"
"You know, you have a standing offer for a job if you ever want it. Hammond told me so."
"I'd love that!" Sam looked up. "I'm Leaping. See you on the other side of the gate?"
Al smiled. "Always!"