To anyone following either of my other stories: remember back when I went something, like 6 months without an update? Well, I blame it entirely on Stargate. It ate my brain. This story is the direct result of that brain-eating.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything except the plot. And the painting. Only not in real life, cause, um, yeah...
Just Another Mission
An unidentifiable number of Black Ops missions, too many years preforming scores of military operations and 4 years of walking through a giant stone circle that connected to other planets (completed by all the mirade of alien encounters that entailed) and dealing daily with the, in equal parts brilliant and infuriating, mind of one Doctor Daniel Jackson, Colonel O'Neill thought nothing could truly surprise him anymore. No, scratch that, he'd foolishly thought he was immune to thinking anything he could find on an alien planet truly strange anymore.
It was actually somewhat ironic that the strangest thing he'd seen in quite some time was actually a rather ordinary sight.
They were a pleasant-looking couple, happy, open-faced with a healthy thirst for adventure shining in their eyes as they wandered through the market place like over-eager tourists. She had long, red hair that shone under the rays of the late afternoon sun and her clothes weren't unusual in any way either: a pair of slim-fitting jeans and a silky green, short-sleeved blouse. He had short, brown hair and was wearing Levis jeans with a white t-shirt underneath an orange and white check, short-sleeved shirt.
Really, nothing unusual in and of itself. Normally, Jack wouldn't even have taken any notice of them, except maybe to note the happy mood surrounding them that made him think of newlyweds on their honeymoon. Nope, nothing strange at all.
Except for the slight detail that Colonel O'Neill wasn't in Colorado. Or anywhere near it for that matter - 'anywhere near' including Earth and the entire Solar System.
"Uh, Daniel, are you seeing what I'm seeing?" he asked hesitantly, not sure whether he'd rather hear he was hallucinating or deal with the question of how it was possible for him to see what he was seeing.
"Yes, the architecture of the temple is even more impressive up close," Daniel answered immediately. "The images carved into the side definitely match the ones we found on P3X 778, which suggests..."
Jack turned slowly to look at his archaeologist and then rolled his eyes. Figured Daniel would miss the woman while staring at a pile of rocks – an aesthetically pleasing pile of rocks, but far from the red-haired beauty that had caught Jack's attention. He exchanged looks with Major Carter and Teal'c, one of whom met his eyes with amusement and other with a stoically raised eyebrow and a gleam of something that may have been amusement, possibly.
"Daniel, eyes front and centre!" he barked. The archaeologist swung around, looking confused and blinked startled blue eyes at the colonel from behind his glasses. Jack motioned at the bustling marketplace before them with a wide sweep of his arm. "Tell me, oh historically-knowledgeable one, what doesn't belong?"
Daniel frowned and his eyes scanned the brightly-coloured stalls and multitudes of people. Jack knew the moment his friend found the misplaced couple, because his eyes widened and his frown turned from annoyance to curiosity.
"I don't think the locals manufacture Levis jeans and Nike shoes," he said simply.
"Well you never know, sir, maybe Nike shoes are really manufactured by aliens," Carter interjected cheekily.
"And anyone who finds the secret to their rubber soles comes from another planet gets their mind erased?" Daniel added with a small smile.
"Indeed, they are, in fact, likely from the same planet as the Tauri singer Elvis," said Teal'c.
"Okay, did I miss a Men in Black marathon or something?" said Jack, shooting the newly-formed comedy trio an annoyed frown.
Jack glared at Daniel's wide smile.
"And why wasn't I invited?"
"You were fishing, sir," said Carter.
"Wha- hey! You guys all said you were busy that weekend!"
"We were, Jack." A pause. " And then we watched Men in Black."
"I don't think I like you anymore."
"O'Neill, neither one of those people are wearing black, although they certainly appear to be Tauri," said Teal'c, bringing them back to the actual problem at hand.
"Right." Jack sighed. "I was kinda hoping they were a hallucination."
"Sorry, sir, no such luck," said Carter, her smile saying otherwise.
"Maybe we should just go say hello," Daniel suggested. "I mean, I'm sure there's a logical explanation as to what they're doing here."
"And how they got here," added Carter.
"Well, I for one would love to hear it," Jack said before heading towards the two.
The couple in question didn't notice them approach, too busy bartering over the price of some piece of jewelry. Well, the woman was bartering, the man was watching her with his hands in his pockets. Their stance was relaxed and they seemed completely unarmed. The man even had a small digital camera in his pocket. Typical tourists. Crazy, intergalactic, should-not-possibly-be-where-they-were tourists.
Jack cleared his throat. The man turned to him with a pleasant smile.
"Oh, hello there," he said, making Jack blink at the British accent (he wasn't quite sure why that made it even stranger, but somehow it just did). "Sorry, are we in your wa-?"
The smile froze on his face as he got a good look at the insignia on Jack's uniform.
"Howdy," said Jack with a smile that he hoped managed to look at least somewhat friendly (the disapproving frown on Daniel's face told him otherwise). "We were passing by and couldn't help but notice you look like you're from the same neighbourhood we are so we figured we'd come by and say 'hi' and, you know, swap stories. Simple stuff, like how you happened to choose this spot for your vacation."
"Bloody hell," said the man. He partially turned to look behind him at the woman. "Uh, Amy, love...Amy!"
"Just a minute, Rory!" she called back, annoyance heavy in her voice.
They waited in tense silence as the young woman concluded her business, exchanging some sort of coins in exchange for pendant with a pale pink stone encased in some sort of thin wire cage, which she immediately hung around her neck. She turned towards them with a big, satisfied smile on her face. It wasn't until now that it struck Jack just how young both of them were. A couple of newlyweds on their honeymoon probably wasn't such a large stretch.
"What is it?" she asked with a happy smile and a dose of good ol' Scotland in her voice, putting an arm around the man's shoulder before placing a kiss on his cheek.
"Well, um, are we sure we're where we're supposed to be?" the man – Rory, Jack supposed – said.
The woman, Amy, pulled away from him with a confused frown and her boyfriend/husband/whatever motioned to SG1. Then she finally noticed them and frowned.
"The US military?" she said, scanning their attire. Then she pointed to Jack's zat. "I have no idea what that is, but that-" She pointed to his P90. "-is definitely a twenty-first century weapon."
That got a raised eyebrow from Jack. It was one thing to identify something as an American weapon or a Russian weapon, but entirely another to specify it as a twenty-first century weapon – particularly since it was the twenty-first century.
"As opposed to a weapon from when?"
Jack could've kissed Carter for asking the question. The woman merely shrugged.
"I've been around," she said, which, of course, didn't answer any part of the question.
"What's the US military doing on Rapeltraxin anyway?" Rory asked, looking highly suspicious.
"Rap-whatnow?" Jack asked.
The young couple looked at each other.
"You don't know the name of the planet you're on?" Amy scoffed. "Who travels to planets they don't know the name of?"
"Well, we do, actually," said Rory.
"Yes, but the Doctor knows their names, usually. When he gets them right."
"Well, to be fair, he usually does I suppose...eventually."
Amy snorted. "Yes, eventually, after we've already figured out he was wrong in the first place. Remember that time we spent three days on Taravain until we found out it wasn't Taravain at all, but an entirely different planet on the other side of its galaxy!"
"How could I possibly forget? It turned out the people of that planet were cannibals and, if you recall, I was the one, who got invited to be dinner."
"Serves you right for accepting dinner invitations from strange women."
Jack removed his cap and ran a hand through his greying hair.
"You seem to travel quite a bit," Daniel interrupted their bickering. "How exactly did you manage to get here from Earth?" He paused. "You are from Earth, right?"
"Scotland," said Amy pointedly, before folding her arms over her chest and raising an imperious eyebrow at them. "And, for that matter, how did you manage to travel here from Earth?"
"Well, through the star-"
Jack glared at Daniel, while Daniel shot him an annoyed look. And, yes, Jack could see Daniel's unspoken (yet) point that the couple were already somehow on an alien planet – and had apparently travelled to many other alien planets – and were meeting his team so there was probably very little they didn't already know, but still. The project was classified and these two were from Earth, which meant they'd have to sign non-disclosure statements at the very least before they were told anything.
"Jack, don't you think it's a little pointless to quote the classified line when it's sort of obvious what we're up to?"
Yup, there was Daniel's protest. Meanwhile, Amy and Rory exchanged a look.
"Um, this might seem like a bit of an odd question, but what year is it?" Rory asked.
"2001," said Carter.
The two looked at each other again and then shrugged.
"Maybe the Doctor will know," said Amy. She scanned the marketplace. "Where the hell did he get to anyway?"
"I think he was saying something about dropping in on a famous artist," said Rory.
"An artist? We're here because of an artist?"
Rory shrugged. "Well, so far it's working better than our honeymoon in Venice."
Amy snorted. "Don't jinx it. We've only been here two hours, plenty of time yet for something to come and try to kill us or turn us into odd vampire fish creatures."
"So, what year do you think it should be?" Jack asked, starting to lose patience with these two anomalies. He hated thinking the Russians had shared the secrets of the Stargate to the British; they had an agreement, dammit!
"Depends," said Amy.
"2001 isn't too off," Rory added. "Not that it matters horribly when you're on another planet, really. We were just wondering - for reference, you know."
"Yeah, I didn't think anyone on Earth had the ability to travel to other planets."
"You mean like the two of you are?" Jack glared at them.
"Who, us?" Amy laughed. "Oh, we're just along for the ride. It's the Doctor, who does the travelling."
"This Doctor have a name?"
"Yes," Rory deadpanned. "The Doctor."
"I was under the impression that 'doctor' is a title rather than a name," said Teal'c, his expression showing only a hint of confusion.
Amusement danced in green eyes. "Oh, I'm sure he's got an actual name, somewhere. But he's known as just the Doctor."
"Or the Oncoming Storm."
Jack felt a chill run down his spine. Oncoming Storm: that sounded rather ominous.
"And this Doctor of yours has a ship or something then, does he?"
Jack growled. "Do you two have some sort of aversion to giving straight answers?"
Amy raised a perfectly-plucked eyebrow. "Maybe the answers are classified."
Daniel snickered. "She's got you there, Jack."
Jack glared at Daniel. The archaeologist smiled back and then turned to the couple.
"Sorry, we've been incredibly rude here-" Jack narrowed his eyes at Daniel, because he could tell full well that when Daniel said 'we' what he meant to say was 'Jack'. "-I'm Doctor Daniel Jackson and these are Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter and Teal'c."
"Amelia Pond and my husband Rory Williams."
Anything else they were going to say was interrupted by a man that came careening out of nowhere and threw an arm over Amy and Rory's necks. He looked young - Jack would've guessed him to be somewhere around thirty – with short, dark hair and a wide smile that made his cheeks dimple and his eyes glow with excitment. He, too, looked human, although he was wearing a tweed jacket and a bowtie.
"Amelia Pond, Rory Williams, this is your lucky day," he said looking between Amy and Rory, not noticing (or perhaps ignoring) SG1.
"I take it you found your artist friend?" Amy asked, looking sceptical.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. But now we have to hurry."
"Hurry to where?" Rory asked, looking oddly resigned already.
"You'll see." His smile widened, the energy and excitement pouring off him reminding Jack of Daniel when faced with a particularly significant pile of rocks decorated with even more significant squiggles. "Well, come along then, no time to linger or we'll be late!"
"Late for what?!" Amy demanded as the man unwound his long arms and then grabbed her by the arm and began dragging her off. "Oi, hang on! Doctor?!"
"Not now! I'll explain later; we're about to witness history in the making!"
Rory looked briefly to SG1 and shrugged. Then he jogged after them.
Jack watched them leave, feeling a bit overwhelmed.
"So... any thoughts?" he finally ventured.
"I think we should follow them," said Daniel.
"Now, how did I know you were going to say that?"
"Daniel's right, sir," Carter added. "After all, if that, um, Doctor does have some sort of ship, then we need to talk to him and find out what he knows of the Stargate program. It's highly unlikely the British have a Stargate program we don't know about, but they did get here somehow and we need to know how."
"Right," said Jack. "And, for once, I thought this was going to be a relatively easy mission." He sighed. "Alright kids, let's go find out why there are three Earthlings outside of the SGC on this planet."
"O'Neill," said Teal'c once they were moving. "I feel I must point out that neither Amelia Pond nor Rory Williams identified the Doctor as being of the Tauri."
Jack looked to the Jaffa, his eyes narrowing. He saw Daniel and Carter exchange looks.
"He's got a point,sir," said Carter, looking thoughtful.
"It would make a lot of sense, actually," Daniel added, looking equally thoughtful. "If an alien came to Earth, met those two and then for some reason took them with him..." He shrugged. "Would certainly count as a logical explanation as to how they got here without a stargate. I mean, they don't exactly look military."
"Hmmm." Jack wasn't sure he liked that explanation any better. It would mean they had aliens they didn't know about coming and going from Earth. "Guess we'll have to ask and find out. I just hope the guy's not a snake."
Jack picked up the pace, frowning as he realized the crowd around them was getting thicker. Luckily, most of the people were going in the same direction they were. Which meant something was going on and this Doctor was leading them right to it. The strange, excited man had called it history in the making. Jack really, really hoped there wasn't a snake involved.
"Ah, Doctor Jackson!" a high-pitched nasal voice cried.
Jack cursed under his breath as the group stopped to wait for Nimrod (or whatever his name was), the town's chief scribbler to catch up to them. The only good thing about him was that, for once, he and the rest of the town's inhabitants, spoke English. Which Daniel thought was kinda strange, but Jack liked since it meant he could actually communicate with the people around him. Unfortunately, it also meant he had to watch what he said out loud.
"Nimril," Daniel greeted the man with a polite smile. "Has the town council come to a decision?"
"No, I am sorry to say they have not," the man answered, looking entirely too unconcerned by that fact for Jack's liking. "They have, in fact, taken a break in their debate in order to attend the unveiling. I was coming to get you to take you to see it as well, but I see you are already on your way there."
Jack exchanged a look with Carter. An unveiling?
"We're actually just following people to see what's going on," said Daniel. "What is it exactly that's being unveiled?"
The tall man straightened himself and puffed his chest out, beaming at Daniel with the same sort of excitement the Doctor had had.
"Urselus, one of our most prominent artists is finally ready to show us the painting he has been working on for the past three years. He's calling it his ultimate masterpiece and has been closely guarding it – in fact none but his apprentices have seen it and their lips have been very thoroughly sealed. The guards he hired have kept everyone else out."
Jack's eyebrows rose. "I guess he wasn't just painting a vase of flowers then?"
The scribe looked at him in confusion while Daniel rolled his eyes.
"It would have to be a very elaborate flower arraignment for him to take three years and a cliff-face to paint it. It also took him an entire year to plan out his project and find the necessary benefactors to fund him."
"A cliff?" he said, wondering if he'd heard that right. "The guy painted his masterpiece onto a friggin mountain?!"
"Holy Hannah, that sounds huge," said Carter, her voice sounding a bit in awe.
"I really hope it ain't ugly, 'cause unless the rain washes it off, that'll be a bit more difficult to cover up than a tattoo," said Jack.
Nimril looked insulted on behalf of the artist in question and had opened his mouth to no doubt defend his honour or something, when Major Carter nudged Jack.
"Sir, there they are."
Jack looked over to where she was pointing and sure enough, Amy, Rory and the mysterious Doctor were standing a bit off to the side underneath a bushy tree that shaded them from the sun's rays. The Doctor was standing with his hands in his pant pockets, practically bouncing on the balls of his feet. Amy was talking at him and by the look on her face, the man seemingly still hadn't told her what it was he'd dragged her and her husband off to see.
"Nimril," Daniel corrected him.
"Right. Anyway, do you know those three by any chance?"
Nimril looked over at the three in question and blinked.
"Oh, that is the Doctor and his companions Amelia and Rory," he answered after a few moments. "They are travellers from afar like yourselves. Although they did not come through the God's Circle like you did. Like many others, they've come to attend the unveiling."
"If they didn't come through the stargate then they must have a ship of some sort," Carter said quietly. Jack simply nodded.
"I wonder what's so special about this painting that the Doctor would travel all the way to this planet to see it," said Daniel thoughtfully.
"It is the greatest achievement of a truly gifted artist, the culmination of many, many years of work and a lifetime of skills," Nimril answered without pause.
"You know, you seem really sure about that considering no one's actually seen the picture," Jack commented.
"Urselus' talents are peerless."
"Well, it will be an honour to attend this historic event," Daniel interrupted, effortlessly smoothing the ruffled feathers Nimril had been developing. "I, for one, am looking forward to seeing this masterpiece."
Sure enough, Nimril's delighted smile lit up his face, which he then turned back to Daniel.
"Come," he said. "The council members are sitting at the front. They have invited you to join them."
Playing nice with a bunch of annoying politicians did not sound like fun. He glanced to where Amy was showing the Doctor her new necklace. The Doctor touched the stone briefly and then seemed to launch into a story of some sort, reminding Jack of Daniel once again. With the difference that, unlike Jack, Amy and Rory were hanging onto his every word. Well, there was some eyerolling, but they were clearly listening.
When he looked back to his own group he noticed Daniel's eyes were on him. He nodded slightly to Jack.
"Actually, Nimril, we were thinking of joining Amy, Rory and the Doctor," Daniel said, looking just a bit embarrassed. "As we said before, we're interested in learning about other cultures and since they've travelled such a long way to get here, I'd love to take the opportunity to learn a bit about theirs."
Nimrod blinked. "Oh, but of course." He looked into the distance. "The view will likely be better from back here anyway."
Jack looked at what the scribe was looking at and couldn't help the whistle of admiration.
"Oh wow," said Carter.
"Is that the painting?" Daniel asked.
All four members of SG1 stared in silent awe at the cliff that loomed over the far end of the town. It was a good forty or so metres high and spanned the entire length of the east side of town. Trees with bright yellow and red flowers amongst their branches grew up the sides of the steep mountain, which looked like someone had taken a giant knife to it and cut off a huge chunk, exposing dark grey rock to the elements.
At least what they could see of the rock was dark grey Most of the cliff was currently covered in the largest green sheet Jack had ever seen. It was little wonder they hadn't noticed the cliff before, since the green was only a shade or two different from the surrounding plantlike. From a distance it would have looked like a less tree-populated side of the mountain.
"Yes, the painting is behind the green veil," Nimril answered. Then he bowed slightly to the group. "I'm afraid I must now go join the council members at the base of the cliff. As Chief Scribe it is my duty to record the proceedings." He then smiled at Daniel. "I do hope you will take as much joy from the unveiling as we will."
"I'm sure we will, thank you Nimril."
As Nimril scurried off to do his official scribblings, Daniel immediately turned around and began to head towards the other three offworlders. Jack grabbed him as he brushed past him.
"Ackt! Slow down there, Dannyboy," he said. Daniel glared at him over his shoulder. "We don't know anything about the guy and for all we know the happily married couple is lying."
Daniel rolled his eyes.
"And maybe he's an intergalactic art critic," he said. "Sam, did you feel any goauld from any of them?"
Carter shook her head. "No, I didn't."
"It appears we have been noticed," Teal'c suddenly announced.
Jack looked back to Amy, Rory and the Doctor. Sure enough, Amy was motioning towards SG1 and talking a mile a minute, while Rory was simply observing them. The Doctor, however, was holding his chin in contemplation as he mostly ignored what Amy was saying in favour of staring at them with an intense, thoughtful expression, as though they were a puzzle he was determined to solve. And the intensity in his eyes as he met Jack's made Jack certain he was indeed capable of solving said puzzle.
This time he didn't stop Daniel when he walked over to meet the Doctor. He did follow close behind, however.
"Hello, my name is Doctor Daniel Jackson," Daniel began, holding his hand out in greeting. "We met Ms. Pond and Mr. Williams here a little earlier-"
"Daniel Jackson... Daniel Jackson... Doctor. Daniel. Jackson..." the Doctor said under his breath, his eyes narrowing even further. He ignored Daniel's hand and instead began pacing.
After about a minute he stopped and turned abruptly, focusing his entire attention on Daniel.
"Doctor Daniel Jackson. I know that name, which means it's rather an important one. Or else I've met you before. But I never forget a face, and I don't know your face, which means I've never met you. So why do I know your name?"
He crossed his arms in front of him and paced some more. The Doctor paced like he seemed to do everything else: quickly and with much more energy than the act actually required. It made Jack wonder what the man would be like in an emergency situation.
"What are you a doctor of, exactly?" Rory asked Daniel. Although there seemed to be some genuine curiosity behind the question, the young man mostly seemed to want to fill in the awkwardness caused by his travelling companion.
Daniel blinked at the young man. The Doctor's behaivour was clearly unnerving him. Especially, since Daniel's most memorable achievement outside of a top-secret airforce program was being laughed out of his chosen profession for his theories. Danny hated being reminded of that.
"Oh, um, archaeology, linguistics and anthropology," he replied.
The Doctor froze in his tracks and stared at Daniel with a blank expression on his face.
"My, my, you're slipping, sweetie," an amused, female voice said.
Jack started, automatically grabbing for his weapon and pointing it at the newcomer. Not many people could sneak up on Jack O'Neill and the people who could weren't usually harmless tourists. The action was not, apparently missed by the woman.
"I'd put your weapon down Colonel O'Neill, if I were you," she said casually, as though having a weapon pointed at her didn't really bother her.
Jack bristled. The woman was beautiful, with a long cascade of curls flowing over her shoulders and a red leather jacket and pants that almost looked like jeans, except not quite, which hugged every curve. There was amusement in her eyes and a small, mysterious smile on her face which seemed to hint at all the many things she knew and wasn't telling. Jack decided he didn't like her.
"Oh, hello, River," said Amy with a smile. Rory nodded in greeting.
"Amy, Rory," the woman nodded to the couple in greeting.
"Aaah, River Song, I was wondering if we'd be seeing you here today," said the Doctor with a wide smile.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world – any of them." Her smile echoed the Doctor's. Then she turned back to Jack again and the smile disappeared. "I meant it about the weapons, by the way."
"Really?" Jack said, dosing his words with plenty of sarcasm. "And how do I know you're not a goauld?"
The woman laughed.
"I've been called a lot of things, but I've never been accused of being a goauld," she said, then took on a more teasing tone when she continued. "They're not exactly a problem where I'm from. Besides, if I was one, then Doctor Major Samantha Carter, here, would've been able to tell."
Jack froze. He exchanged looks with Carter. Her eyes were also wide with surprise. She shook her head slightly. So, no, the woman didn't have a snake passenger. But she did seem to know all about them – and SG1. That was never good.
"Goauld?" the Doctor asked with a frown. "They never returned to Earth after Ra was knocked off his godly pedestal. Which only required a small amount of tampering. Humans can be quite resilient and clever when they put their minds to it."
Jack could've sworn there was pride in the Doctor's voice when he said the last part.
"Tampering? What sort of tampering?" Daniel began. "Do you know something about the rebellion against Ra?"
Oh boy, they didn't even know who the Doctor was, and there was Danny getting caught up in details about ancient history. The Doctor looked at Daniel again, only this time his eyes went wide.
"Of course!" he exclaimed with a wide, triumphant grin. "Doctor Daniel Jackson, the Father of modern archaeology and the namesake of the Daniel Jackson school of History and Archaeology at the University of New New New Oxford!"
Jack was pretty sure he wasn't the only one of SG1, who was now staring at the Doctor like he was an escapee from an intergalactic mental institution. Well, Daniel mostly just looked overwhelmed.
"You forgot his many awards," River Song added.
"And spoil the surprise?" the Doctor acknowledged with a wave of his arm. "There's a Nobel Peace Prize and a bunch of other medals and such in there, of course." The Doctor paused and the sparkle in his eyes became blinding. "But, most importantly, Doctor Daniel Jackson, you are The Man Who Gave Earth the Stars."
The Doctor grabbed Daniel's hand and shook it vigorously.
"It is a pleasure and an honour to meet you. Tell me, have you discovered Atlantis yet?"
"Ah, well... th-thank you, Doctor, um..." Daniel stuttered, his blush reaching all the way to his hairline. "W-wait, Atlantis? What do you mean Atlantis?"
"Not yet? Oh well, don't worry about it then. It'll all come in time. Musn't give out too many spoilers." The Doctor winked at the rest of them.
Jack finally relaxed his hold on his weapon. He met Carter and Teal'c's eyes. They exchanged confused looks – with some amusement hidden in there somewhere, because, well, watching Daniel get so flustered was fun. But that didn't change the fact that the Doctor was quickly winning Jack's vote for Most Likely to Have Escaped from an Asylum. He shook his head.
"Hang on, Doc, I may not know everything there is to know about Danny here, but I'm pretty sure I would've noticed if he'd been awarded a Nobel prize."
"Although the Daniel Jackson School of History and Archaeology does have a nice ring to it," said Carter with a smile.
"It's a beautiful school," said River. "Lots of tall spacious halls with large windows, marble floors and carved, mahogany pillars. There's this large courtyard in the back with a Minoan-style fountain in the middle and tiled moziacs along the wall, which are exact replicas of ones from ancient Roman bath houses." She smiled warmly. "I'm a graduate. Class of 4059."
"That's a lot of graduates for one university," said Carter with a frown.
"You're misunderstanding her," said Rory. "She graduated from the school in the year 4059."
Jack couldn't help it. He gaped. Then he laughed, because not even the goauld were full of this much shit.
"Time travel?" Carter asked, her eyes practically glowing. "But that should be impossible."
Yup, even through her scepticism, Carter's eyes didn't stop glowing. It was like watching a child get their first real bike under the Christmas tree, wanting it so much to be for them, but not believing it could possibly be real.
"Not even the Ancients managed to perfect time travel," Daniel added. He was frowning, but the glow in his eyes mirrored Carter's. "Not even to save themselves."
"The Ancients?" the Doctor frowned for a few moments. He snapped his fingers as his face lit up in comprehension. "Oh, you mean the Alterans! Please, they barely touched time travel. Scratched the surface and then went about it entirely the wrong way. Got so caught up in their invention of the Stargate system and then when it came to time travel they couldn't dig themselves out of their own scientific box in order to figure out how to manipulate the time vortex. Or even find it properly for that matter."
"So you're saying the Ancient's technology was essentially unsuitable for conversion to time manipulation?" Carter asked.
"Well, it's all a bit more complicated than that, but essentially, yes, that was the problem. They'd dedicated so much of their own science towards creating what they had that they just couldn't out-think themselves. Couldn't comprehend the huge, gaping universe of a difference between wormholes and the space/time vortex. Entirely different stack of cards, you see. Which is not to say that the stargate system isn't an absolutely brilliant feat in scientific engineering, it's just not time travel."
The Doctor smiled at her.
"I wouldn't worry about time travel though, Samantha Carter," he said. "It'll be a couple of millennium before mankind cracks those secrets. You just continue on with your own research. I'm afraid I can't tell you too much, but let's just say the Carter Theories of Wormhole Physics stand unrefuted for a good two thousand years. And I suppose they're never really refuted, just sort of, altered a bit."
Now it was Major Carter's turn to look stunned.
"Oooh, look, something's starting!" said Amy.
As one, they all looked to the sheet-covered cliff. Jack could faintly hear music playing.
"I can barely hear it," said Daniel.
"Be glad," said River with a conspiratorial wink. "People come to the Northern Continent to look at the artwork, not listen to the music."
"Oh, it's not that bad," said the Doctor, although he didn't seem too convinced of it.
Jack felt glad they hadn't sat up front with the council members.
"So what is the big deal with this picture we're about to see?" Jack asked, hoping maybe the time-travelling (apparently) Doctor and his archaeologist ladyfriend might be able to shed some light on this mystery.
"Hmm... oh, right!" The Doctor looked off into the distance and seemed to listen for a few moments. Then he jumped slightly and clapped his hands together, rubbing them in anticipation. "So, I imagine there's a whole lot of speeches going on right now, so I'll just give you the condensed version, shall I?"
"Please," said Jack, with no real hope of actually getting anything remotely close to 'condensed'.
"Now, Urselus, already known for many, many wonderful painting and sculptures – you can think of him a bit like the local Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo – lost his wife about, oh five years ago or so, a beautiful woman and talented poet. Anyway, on the first anniversary of her death, Urselus got a truly inspiring idea. He decided he would paint one, last masterpiece and dedicate it to her memory. One, last monumental piece of art that would immortalize him as an artist and pay homage to the wonderful woman that was his wife. Took him a year to plan everything and three years to actually paint it."
He trailed off and seconds later, a loud blast of some sort of trumpet-like instrument thundered through the air. Everyone looked to the cliff face. There were now men standing on top of the cliff holding something gleaming in their hands. The trumpets ended and someone shouted something Jack couldn't make out. As one, the men on top of the cliff raised the gleaming objects (Jack guessed axes). Another shout. The men swung.
The gigantic, green cloth fell loose and tumbled to the ground in a waving heap. It was like when Jack let his sheets fall to the floor of the laundry room. Except bigger. A large cloud of dust billowed upwards, partially obscuring the image painted on the cliff face. Although, even being partially obscured by dust did not diminish it.
"Holy Hannah," Carter breathed.
"Oh wow," said Amy, grabbing Rory and pulling him into a sort of half-hug. He kissed her forehead and pulled her closer.
"Gets me every time," said River as she stared up at the painting, her eyes noticeably wetter than before.
Jack was having a hard time keeping the tears from his eyes.
The painting covered most of the cliff. It was woman with long, dark locks and bright blue eyes. She was wearing a pale green dress with yellow accents. It wasn't a simple thing, but neither was it an elaborate ball gown and Jack wondered if, perhaps, it had been her favourite. The woman's portrait was cut off just below the waist, with just enough hip to hint at the curves the artist wasn't allowing his viewers to see. And this woman definitely had a nice figure. Perfectly proportioned as far as Jack was concerned.
However, it wasn't the woman's figure, or her long, midnight hair that seemed to sparkle underneath the rays of summer sunlight, which made the portrait breathtaking. Nor was it the painted background, which had transformed a dull, grey cliff into a meadow full of small, white flowers and a lake with water that looked so clear you could drink from it.
It was the woman's expression. The loving twinkle in her eyes, creases in the corners of her eyes, which spoke of many years of giving loving twinkles and full lips which seemed seconds from erupting into laughter. And the arms, which were held out to her sides, perpetually prepared to come up to hug the man those beautiful, loving eyes were looking at.
The woman looked happy and in love. And she was clearly looking at the object of her love.
The only things that had managed to take Jack's breath away like this had been that first glimpse of Sarah in a wedding dress as she'd walked down the aisle towards him and then his first glimpse of the perfect baby boy that was his son.
"It's called Mirial," said the Doctor after a few moments. "Urselus knew what he was doing. The paint he used will withstand millenia of change. One hundred and twenty years from now this planet will know the beginnings of its first major industrial revolution. Many people will leave the town to move to the bigger one on the other side of those mountains and they will carry with them the story of the painted cliff-side. Then fighting will break out on the other side of the mountains." He paused. "This painting will stop a war."
Jack couldn't tear his eyes away from the painting, but he listened to every word the Doctor said.
"A series of brutal mid-summer storms force the two opposing armies into the hills," River continued the narrative. "They each circle the mountain from either side until they meet just before this town. By that point, this town will be nothing more than a few houses and that temple back there. The two armies spend the night waiting in the forest on either side of it. They waited for the first rays of dawn to attack, but what they didn't count on was how the sun would rise just over that cliff in the morning."
"Like I said, Urselus knew what he was doing," the Doctor took over without missing a beat. "He'd travelled a lot during his life, but his childhood was spent here, underneath this very cliff. When the sun came over that cliff, it shone out into the town, bathing everything in light and giving Mirial a beautiful halo of sunlight."
"Silently we waited,
Weary of the night, of the dark.
Weary of the cold and the rain.
Until the world stood still,
Those last few moments of night,
before it all awoke.
Silently, we waited.
Waited to raise our banners,
Then it came: the sun.
It rose above the ridge,
bathing the valley,
with its warmth.
We raised our banners
and then we saw.
The Celestial Being.
By the sun granted
a halo of light,
she gazed down upon us,
as though we were
Blue eyes smiled down on us,
her arms ready to embrace,
her lips ready to kiss.
We didn't run or fight.
out into the sunlight,
into her sight,
I thought of my home:
of my sister,
of my wife,
of my mother.
And then all I wanted,
was to embrace them.
I looked to my fellows.
We looked to our leader,
watched as the tears disappeared
into his beard.
He looked to our enemy.
We saw their tears,
so much like our own.
We bathed in the warmth
of the Celestial Being.
Then we went home."
River finished reciting the poem and silence fell upon the group once more. Jack tore his eyes away from the painting (steadfastly ignoring any signs of moisture in them, because, dammit, he was made of sterner stuff than to get teary-eyed over a damn painting and a silly poem) and looked at her. She either didn't notice his attention or ignored it as she stared at the painting, a single tear trickling down her cheek.
"Was that written by one of the soldiers?" Daniel asked after a few moments.
"Yes," River answered. "There were probably more, but this one was found in a book that was recovered from the ruins of this town's temple."
"From the ruins?" Jack could hear the puzzled frown in Daniel's voice.
"Things change, Daniel Jackson," the Doctor answered. "The people on this planet will make the same mistake yours once did, only they won't catch it in time. They'll create a substance that quickly becomes an important component in their manufacturing – a sort of quick and easy fuel-substitute. Only it has a devastating effect on the environment and they won't realize it's to blame until the planet is quite literally dying around them."
"Oh my god!" Carter gasped. "That's horrible!"
"Could they not use the stargate to escape?" Teal'c asked.
"Aaah, well now they could, yes, of course they could," the Doctor answered, his eyes glinting with something akin to pride – as though Teal'c was a student who'd just asked a particularly clever question. "But, you see, the only ones, who know about the stargate are the people of this village. I mean, sure, there are stories that spread farther, because people moved. But that's all most people thought they were: stories. I think it was the Keeper of the Temple, who remembered the old stories and had access to the scribes' documents that mentioned visitors from the other side of the stargate-"
"God's Circle," Daniel interrupted. "They call it the God's Circle here."
The Doctor blinked, taken aback at the correction. Then his face split into a wide grin.
"Right you are, Daniel Jackson! They do call it the God's Circle and the scribe you have most certainly already been talking to – because how else would he know enough to write about it later – described, in his writings, how the travellers from afar used the stone dais by the Circle to 'dial' it to their home. The mysterious travellers even gave him their address, should he ever need to use it. He figured out how to use the Circle and the entire town left the planet and were taken in by the people of Earth."
"So you're saying that because of us, some couple of hundred years in the future, this town's inhabitants will be saved?" asked Carter, speaking the words slowly as though trying to figure it out as she was saying it.
"In a nutshell: yes, absolutely!" The Doctor rocked backwards on his heels, hands in his pants pockets as he grinned.
"I take it that means we already know the town council's decision," said Daniel with a sigh.
Jack frowned and looked at Daniel, wondering how the hell he'd figured that out. He ran the Doctor's words over in his head. Then he groaned.
"'Cause if we'd actually set up a treaty, then they'd have more than just stories and a gate address," he said. "The general's not going to be happy."
"You should try the fifth planet from the second sun one star system over from here," River suddenly said.
Jack looked over at her sceptically. "Why, are the natives real friendly there?"
River smiled that annoying all-knowing, mysterious half-smirk of hers.
"Well, yes, you could say they're very friendly indeed, although personally I'd pack some heavy-duty bug repellent to keep them away." She shrugged. "No one's ever been quite sure, why the Alterans put a Stargate there, but the leading theory is that it was an experimental site of some sort. Won't look like much at first, since the swamp's taken over the area around the stargate, but beyond the swamp... well, let's just say you'll find it well worth your while."
"Which is wonderful, I'm sure," Amy interrupted with an impatient tapping of her foot. "But could you please finish one story before you go on about bug-infested planets?"
"Story?" the Doctor asked with a blank look. Amy rolled her eyes and indicated the painting with a flick of her wrist. The Doctor's eyes widened in comprehension. "Oh, right, the story! Sorry, um, where was I?"
"The planet died except for the people, who managed to escape through the Stargate circle thing."
"Right. Well, um, a long time later-"
"Roughly 1,5000 years," River interrupted. The Doctor shot her an annoyed look.
"A civilian transport crash lands onto the planet's surface. Now the planet's had some time to recover since then, so luckily for the survivors it's not the wasteland it had become, but edible food was still rather sparse."
The Doctor paused and looked around, turning in a circle as he did so. His eyes lit up when he spotted what he'd been looking for.
"There, see that small hill with all those trees on it?" he said, pointing just to north-west. Jack judged it to be just over a click away from the town. "Just behind that hill there's a long valley and that's where the transport crashes. And luckily for everyone, there are several children aboard the transport and once they know their lives aren't in any immediate danger they do what most children in an unknown place are pretty much duty-bound to do: they go exploring!"
The Doctor grinned and winked at them. Jack couldn't help himself, he grinned back, feeling a slight pang of sadness when he thought of Charlie. Yep, stuck in an unknown place with nothing to do, his son would've been chomping at the bit, begging his parents to be allowed to go exploring until they finally relented with warnings not to stray too far from camp (warnings, which would, of course, get forgotten the second something interesting came up).
"So just imagine their excitement, when they find the remains of this town on what all those silly adults were certain was an uninhabited planet! And the painting! Of course, by then it had faded quite a bit and there are some cracks and pieces missing, but it's still very much there. One of the greatest archaeological and historical discovery of that century and it was found only thanks to the insatiable curiosity of children!"
The Doctor's face was practically glowing by now, as though he himself had been one of the children to have discovered it (which, for all Jack knew, he very well might have been). Then the Doctor looked back to the painting and River took up the story.
"After the transport was rescued, several teams of archaeologists and historians descended on the planet to discover what they could about the planet and the painting. They learned about the civilization that had once lived here and how they killed their own planet because of the uneven way their technology had developed."
"Uneven?" Carter asked.
River turned to Carter with a solemn face.
"Yes, their industries, you see, hadn't all developed at the same pace. If they had, they'd have been able to figure out what was happening to their planet much sooner and what was causing it and still been able to prevent it. Their production industries expanded monumentally due to the creation of the fuel the Doctor mentioned and, while it certainly wasn't the only cause of the environment's deterioration, it was likely the largest factor. But their biological and environmental sciences hadn't kept up with the advancements, so the first minor changes in the plant and animal life had gone unnoticed. And once they had been noticed, it took a while for scientists to analyze the changes, develop the necessary technology to analyze it further and to figure out what the cause of the changes was. To make matters worse, from what historians have been able to figure out, it seems like these environmental scientists weren't given a very high priority by most governments, which made their progress even slower."
"Of course, even once they figured out what was happening, they still needed to convince everyone else about it as well," the Doctor said. "And then came the problem that they didn't really know how to fix it. Stopping the use of the fuel and other chemicals during production would've helped a bit, but they had nothing to replace it with. The problem, was that there weren't enough people trying to fix the problem. How do you convince a government to stop all industry in your country even if you have solid proof it's destroying the planet?"
The Doctor paused and Jack looked at the man, somewhat surprised by the sadness in his eyes – it made Jack feel a bit better knowing the Doctor didn't like the idea of everything around them, this planet and its people, dying out anymore than he did.
"By the time the whole planet knew what was going on, they were past the point of no return," River said after a few moments in a quiet voice. "Drastic measures would've needed to be taken in order to save the planet, but they didn't have the technology capable of it. All they could do was watch the planet die around them and then die with it."
"So they just gave up?!" Carter demanded angrily, her eyes shining with unshed tears.
"No," said the Doctor in a soft voice, eyes filled with sympathy. "But, in the end, they weren't fast enough."
Carter placed a hand over her mouth to stifle a sob and looked away. Jack idly wondered what their group must look like to the people around them. He looked away from their group, happy to note they were mostly being ignored by the natives, who were cheerfully carrying on about their business. Some were still standing there, staring at the painting with dreamy looks on their faces. Those were the ones that made Jack smile. He wondered how many of them had known the woman looking down at them from the cliff face. A group of children ran by, laughing and calling to one another as they raced towards the marketplace, arguing which stand sold the best something or other (Jack assumed it was some sort of sweet).
He couldn't help the sadness as he looked at them, at the colourfully-dressed women and more sombrely-dressed men and even that little old lady with the high, elaborate hairstyle that looked like it weighed more than she did and realized everything he was seeing would die and disappear. That the vibrate life he was seeing would be gone.
This town wouldn't die. The people of this town would survive. Because of them, because of SG1.
"Daniel," he said.
"Yes?" the archeologist's eyes were misted with tears, but Jack could see the determination in them. Rather predictably, the man had likely already come to the same conclusion Jack just had.
"I want you to make sure you give Nimril a very detailed demonstration of how to work the Stargate and write down the address for him. Stress the whole 'keep this in case you need it' bit."
Daniel smiled. "Of course, Jack."
"Good," said Amy. She was looking at SG1 with satisfaction. "We'll make sure he doesn't miss the message."
The Doctor's eyebrows raised. "We will?"
Amy rolled her eyes. "Of course we will. You wouldn't have mentioned any of this if it was something you didn't plan to do anything about. I mean the civilization and planet dying is probably one of those fixed points in time you can't actually do anything to change, but that doesn't mean you can't make it easier for the people, who are supposed to survive, to survive."
"The sooner that Temple Keeper bloke figures out how to operate the Stargate to get them out of here, the less people die," Rory added.
"You're getting predictable in your old age, sweetie," River teased.
The Doctor stuck his tongue out at her. Amy and Rory laughed. Jack tried not to think about the implications of 'old age' on the young-looking Doctor.
"The scribe, Nimril, approaches," Teal'c suddenly announced.
Jack sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
"Well, I guess we'd better go hear the verdict so that we can give these guys the information their, um, great-something-or-others will need to save themselves."
"Um, Doctor," Daniel suddenly spoke up.
"What happened to the painting in the end?"
"Oh. Well, they never did figure out its proper name or who painted it, so I'm afraid our friend Urselus doesn't get remembered for it the way he deserves to. But, a bit of clever partial-terraforming, some holographic reconstruction and a hotel or two later, Mirial, here, becomes the most-visited work of art in the three galaxies! Except they don't call her Mirial. Thanks to that poem River recited for you, she's known as the Celestial Being."
Daniel closed his eyes and looked to the ground. Meanwhile, Carter effectively distracted Nimrod from overhearing the conversation he was having with the Doctor by gushing over the painting (the scribe was very willing to be distracted). When he raised his head again, there was a bright smile on his face.
"Thank you, Doctor," he said and then chuckled. "You know, it feels rather odd doing this backwards. I'm here at the beginning of history instead of trying to piece it together after the fact." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "It must be very odd being a time traveller, seeing things happen out of order. I'd imagine that would get very confusing."
River snorted. "You have no idea, Doctor Jackson. Which reminds me..." She dug into her jacket pocket and took out a blue notebook with some sort of odd rectangular design on the front and then, opening it, turned to the Doctor. "Now then, where are we? Have we been to Lakertya yet?
The Doctor blinked. "Well I have, but not with you. Met Einstein there, interesting fellow: cool hair, wore a bowtie." He frowned. "You know, I don't think I ever did find out what happened to the Rani..."
"So, no then."
Jack sided up to Amy.
"What are they doing?" he whispered.
"Catching up," she whispered back. "See, they keep meeting in the wrong order, so River carries that book, where she writes down everything they do together and that way, when they meet, neither one of them gives the other spoilers about what happens in the other's future."
"Gee, and I thought my life was complicated. What was I thinking?"
"Jack," he heard Daniel call. He turned to where his archaeologist was now standing by the scribe. "Nimril says the Town Council is ready to see us now. Want to go hear their decision?"
He turned to the Doctor and his friends.
"Well folks, it's been a pleasure. Can't wait to write up this report. I think I'll have to run very fast to escape the mountain before the MPs come after me to drag me into the MacKenzie's office."
"Well, at least you'll have company, sir," said Carter with a bright smile.
"Think they'll put us in neighbouring padded cells?"
"Oh, I doubt it'll come to that, Colonel," the Doctor said with a grin.
Amy looked at him with narrowed eyes.
"What are you planning?"
The Doctor's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"What makes you think I'm planning anything?"
"I know that look and it means you're planning something."
Jack glared at the Doctor.
"You realize we work at a highly-classified, heavily-guarded military facility, right?"
The Doctor laughed. "Oh, I don't need to break into your base to prove anything. Not that I couldn't; I'm very clever you see and have lots of practise of getting into places I'm not supposed to be in. Although, admittedly, I usually end up doing it by accident."
Jack glared harder. Daniel placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Let it go, Jack," he said with an amused shake of his head. Turning to the Doctor he held out his hand. "It was a pleasure meeting you Doctor. I hope we manage to run into you again sometime. When we have more time. There are so many things I want to ask you."
The Doctor took Daniel's hand and shook it.
"Well, you never know, I rather like this part of the universe, so we very well might."
Several hours later, after SG1 had seen the Town Council, heard their verdict of 'no, sorry, we're really not interested in trading', followed by a quiet 'thank you for visiting' dinner and even met the famous artist Urselus himself, they were heading back towards the Stargate. Daniel and Carter had taken one, last look around, but as predicted, the Doctor and his companions were nowhere to be found.
Jack looked backwards, to where Daniel was conversing with the scribe, describing in-depth how the Stargate worked. Nimril was holding a piece of paper in his hand, which contained the gate co-ordinates for Earth Daniel had insisted he have in case they ever needed it. The older man was listening to Daniel with amusement (Daniel in lecture-mode might usually be tedious to listen to, but could be amusing to watch if you didn't have to be paying attention to him). Yep, SG1's archaeologist had that corner covered very well.
Jack sped up a few steps, so that he was walking alongside Teal'c. The Jaffa warrior had been sporting a rather pleased smile all afternoon – the equivalent of a delighted grin on anyone else. And Jack needed to know why – it was practically killing him to not know.
"So, T," he began casually, "what was it the Doc told you that has you looking so chipper?"
Teal'c responded with a stoicly-raised eyebrow – or at least as stoically-raised as one could make it when their inner spirit seemed to want to break out a grin the size of the Grand Canyon.
"Aw, come on, I saw the Doc shake your hand and then tell you something. And ever since then you've been practically bouncing around with a silly grin on your face! Did he give you the secret to a perfectly-glistening scalp or something?"
Behind him, he heard someone begin coughing violently. He was pretty sure it was Carter. Jack would've looked back to find out, but he was a bit preoccupied with wincing at the glare he was getting from Teal'c. Who'd stopped walking. Oops. Did he go too far with the 'glistening scalp' jab?
"The Doctor advised me not to give up hope, as there are yet many hardships ahead for all of us. However, he also said I would live to see my people free."
Jack's face split into a wide grin.
"Well, damn. That sure beats a Nobel prize."
"That's wonderful, Teal'c!" Carter exclaimed with a wide smile of her own.
"Aaah, you do both realize that he never said how long Teal'c will be alive for and seeing as he will probably live at least twice as long as we will, well..." said Daniel cautiously with a frown on his face.
"Aack! Positive thoughts, Danny, positive thoughts." Jack held up a hand to stop Daniel. "The point is that it will happen."
Daniel conceded the point with a nod and a small smile aimed in Teal'c direction. Teal'c was, by now, practically beaming with happiness.
Nimril just looked confused.
Jack coughed. "Alright, now that that's settled, let's get moving."
Another fifteen or so minutes and the gate was in sight. Jack was trying to decide just how to explain this mission to the general, when Carter let out a single, agonized scream. Not even taking the time to think, Jack swung around, shouldering his P90 and looking over its top. A quick look saw that both Daniel and Carter were unharmed and not under attack. Their escort to the stargate seemed to be doing okay too.
Jack frowned as he scanned the area from behind his weapon.
"Uh, Teal'c, you seeing anything?"
"I am not, O'Neill."
"Yeah, neither am I. Carter?"
Silence was his only response for a few moments. And then someone snickered. Jack relaxed his hold on the P90 and looked to Daniel (who was trying to hide his mirth behind a hand) and Carter (who was doing a rather impressive impression of an over-cooked lobster). He met his second-in-command's eyes and raised an eyebrow in question. Carter cringed, looking sheepish and very, very embarrassed.
"I, um, sorry, sir... I just suddenly realized that I um..." Jack straightened and lowered his weapon. Carter took a deep breath. "I got so caught up in thinking about those Carter theories and speculating what they might be that I, um... completely forgot to ask to see his ship..."
Jack stared at her. Then he rolled his eyes and lowered his gun all the way.
"He probably figured if he ever let you near it, he'd never get you out again," he threw over his shoulder as he turned around to continue towards the stargate once again.
"The Doctor did say you were not to worry about time travel, Samantha Carter," Teal'c added.
"Yeah, and he probably wouldn't have let me see it even if I had asked," she said, disappointment heavy in her voice.
"Hey, look at the bright side, kids," Jack called behind him. "At least he gave us a new planet to explore and that one promises to be full of goodies."
"And bugs," said Teal'c.
Jack grimaced. He was trying not to think about the logistics of actually travelling to the planet in question.
"I'm gonna tell the general I call dibs on not going on that mission," he said to the rest of his team. "I mean, we're a first contact team, so unless the MALP shows proof of the bugs building temples or something, we've got nothing to make contact with."
Once at the Stargate, Daniel once again launched into a detailed explanation about the gate and the DHD and how they worked. It made Jack want to bang his head against it and wonder what possessed him to think he needed to give the archaeologist orders to talk more than he usually did. And, of course, this would be the one time the man followed his orders to the letter.
Eventually, Jack simply snapped at Daniel to dial up Earth.
Jack couldn't help smile at the gasps that accompanied the gate coming to life – he just loved watching people's first reactions to it. Carter and Teal'c walked through the gate side by side. Daniel followed a few minutes later, after wishing Nimril and the council members, who'd accompanied them to the gate, a final farewell. Jack brought up the rear.
Something – instinct perhaps – made him pause just in front of the gate and turn back to scan the area one, last time. It was a beautiful planet, he realized, noticing the oddly blue colour of the grass. He looked past the people assembled in front of the stargate, at a small patch of trees with large, yellow blossoms. In the shadows of those trees stood four figures: two male and two female.
They waved at him. Jack chuckled and waved back. Boy, would Carter be pissed when he told her the Doctor and his time machine/space ship thing were still on the planet.
There was a slight bounce to his step as he entered the wormhole.
The wormhole disengaged a few moments after Colonel Jack O'Neill stepped into it.
"Well, it may not be a time machine, but that still looked pretty cool," Rory commented.
"So, they're all on Earth now?" Amy asked.
"Yes, they are," said the Doctor. "No one quite understood wormhole physics the way the Alterans did. The Stargate system is one of the most brilliant endeavours in the universe."
River chuckled and looked to the Doctor.
"So, what now, Sweetie?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
The Doctor looked at her with wide eyes.
"Whatever do you mean?"
"What she means," said Amy, her arms crossed in front of her and her eyebrow eerily mimicking River's, "is that you clearly have something planned, so spit it out."
The Doctor grinned.
"Oh, it's nothing really. I just suddenly have this desire to visit a few places I haven't been to in a while."
He was met with three sceptical looks. He ignored all three of them.
"Well, come on then, places to go, people to see!"
He walked to the last tree on the hill, by far the oldest and largest of the bunch and which cast enough shade to hide the TARDIS within. Not that people tended to notice her when she was out in the open, but, well, hidden in the shade was always better.
He opened the door and ushered his passengers inside.
"By the way, Rory," he said as he followed in after them. "Is your digital camera charged?"
The door to the TARDIS closed. Minutes later, a loud whirling noise shattered the silence in the clearing as the ship disappeared from the clearing.
Not that there was anyone there to watch it do so.
Lakertya – A planet visited by the eighth Doctor, Slyvestor McCoy in the episode The Time and the Rani. It was McCoy's first episode as a matter of fact and yes, Einstein was in it, but only as a very minor character.