Thanks for Babsca, my BETA for all her help.
O’Neill’s gaze passed over the narrow beach line. ‘It should be here’ he thought as he frantically searched his memories. Suddenly, he felt dizzy, his eyes didn’t want to focus. Jack shook his head hard to clear it, but his relief didn’t last long as the dizziness washed over him again. ‘Damn’ he thought, almost loosing his footing as he climbed the onshore hillside. Then he saw it, the old tree which bowed deep toward the lake’s surface. Jack remembered vividly from when it was covered with white snow, such long time ago. He remembered the desperation, the hopelessness and the bone chilling cold wind, when he climbed off of the lake’s ice covered surface.
Sweat began to roll down on his neck and back, and when the soft wind caressed his overheated skin despite the air’s mild temperature his frame shuddered. His gaze swept around to spot something else familiar, to find a clue where he should go to find THAT cave.
He didn’t notice as he turned away from the old tree toward the hill side, that two pairs of brown eyes watched his every move; nor as the eyes owners exchanged a look, which communicate their questions and their concern. Neither did Jack take notice as Teal’c stepped protectively closer to him almost to reaching a distance to catch him if he fell. He was almost oblivious to the world around him.
Jack’s body protested with every movement he took and the tingly sensation, which he associated with his wounded side, became more and more unbearable. He felt hotter, a thin layer of sweat now covered his body and his hair was almost soaked. His lips and throat felt dry, his eyes itched and just to keeping them open was becoming hard. Jack knew he needed to rest, but they were so close. After almost thirty years he was here almost a stone’s throw away and he could not just sit down and rest. He was afraid that if he did that, he would lose the trail and never find it again.
Jack was so preoccupied, that he almost didn’t notice that faint presence at the edge of his consciousness. Having felt it once or twice before, it was almost like when he could feel that something bad was about to happen, but not quite the same. It was more like a buzzing, but without the actual sound, he could not really describe it. It was like something calling him, something almost alive, it was more a feeling, a vibe, a hunch than anything else. O’Neill could have turned away, could have walked in the other direction, but something deep inside him knew it won’t hurt him, it was a good thing. It was the same way he knew he could trust Teal’c, or Bra’tac. And for the first time in his life he realized where he had felt this calling before. Here at this very place he had followed the call which lead him to the cave and he had felt the very same thing only hundred times stronger when the Ancients’ device had caught his head. Jack’s breath caught in his throat. The memory always caused shudders to run down his back. He had almost lost himself, and it scared him more than death. Still, he stepped forward, toward the calling, toward the cave without even noticing he moved, and he knew without doubt there would be another Ancients’ device.
They didn’t need to hike long after that to find the small valley, it looked the same as Jack remembered. He gracefully slipped down the hillside, his eyes never left the crack on the other side of the valley. He tore away his eyes only when he heard a muffled puff behind him. He couldn’t help himself but smile at Daniel sprawled form, a mop of grass was on the younger man’s head and in his mouth. Jack’s brown eyes met with Carter’s blue and they shared a smile. Their smile, like old time, before Sam remembered that she wa still angry with him, her smile vanished and she looked away.
The just arriving Teal’c helped the grumping Daniel up to his feet while Jacob slid down as well and positioned himself close to Jack. This time Jack noticed the older man’s closeness but didn’t say anything. Daniel tried to dust off his clothes, although he only managed to smear the dirt in more. He suddenly looked up, like he just noticed they stopped.
“Jack why have we stopped?” Daniel asked.
“Besides admiring your acrobatic diving, we’re here.” Daniel’s eyes narrowed at the Colonel’s first sentence, before his blue eyes lit up like a child’s in the candy store. He threw down his back pack and started to pull out his note and pen without waiting for anyone. Then the archeologist looked around, blinked once and asked, “Where?”
Jack put down his own backpack and started to walk toward a small fissure on the opposite side of the tiny valley, it looked smaller them he remembered. Of course he himself was taller and bigger. He moved closer, he needed to kneel down to examine the side of the cave’s entrance. His fingers ran down the almost smooth surface. Yes, now he was sure, it was the same cave. The stone felt almost warm and inviting, he could feel the light buzzing in the back of his mind. Like on the planet XP1-whatever where the Ancient’s download device was. Oh yes, it was like that and it almost felt like it caressed him, welcomed him.
“ Tha…t?” A voice pulled him back from his musing.
“That’s it?” asked Daniel excitedly.
“Yes.” His voice sounded, even to him, a bit strange. O’Neill cleared his throat. “I’ll go in first,” he said as he laid down on his stomach to be able to fit in the narrow mouth of the cave. As he crawled inside, one of the rocks caught his wounded side, the pain flared up and he bit his lip to not to moan out loud. As he slipped deeper his right leg suddenly came to the end of the rock and only air was under him. He carefully let down his leg at the side to try to find a solid point to brace himself. When he found it he lowered his other leg as well. “Daniel!” he called out.
“Pass me a flashlight.” After a few minute the flashlight was in his hand he half turned around to see the room better in the light. The bottom was about a foot or two away. As he dropped down, his wound opened up and he could feel to fresh blood slipping out of it. He swore in pain but luckily nobody heard it, they were to engrossed by the flashing symbols which had come alive the moment his feet had touched the ground. He stepped aside to let the others enter as well as he looked back he mused about the entrance height. He didn’t remember the cave being that deep. The more so he have almost clear memory it reached up only his chest, he was able to climb out easily. Strange.
Considering how they always seemed to manage to find things at the last moment when they just about to fall apart, or were just found by a Goa’uld. Jack wouldn’t be that terribly surprised if this place suddenly sank deeper while they were trying to find out it secrets. It would not be outside the norm for SG-1.
Daniel dropped down beside him nearly repeating his early performance on the valley wall, but the younger man hardly noticed. He was in full scientist mode. As he zoomed in on of the symbols on the wall. “This is brilliant it is one of the oldest Ancients’ dialects I’ve ever seen. You can see it in the inflections, oh and look at this! I never see that symbol or that… I need to see the others.” And with that he was off, mumbling to himself something of great importance. Yada-yada-da, O’Neill thought fondly, and sighed. Danny was just like that give him a rock and he could play with it all day.
Major Carter’s blond head appeared next to him, and she was in her scientist mode as well. She moved her equipment toward the far wall to begin investigating the energy reading’s of the place. And dropped down to the floor to open a secret panel, her face was like a kids at Christmas.
Jacob was the next to climb down, his eyes flashed when he looked around and Selmac took over his host’s body. Jack found it a bit disconcerting when Selmac took more time to look him up and down than to look around in the room.
Jack knew he was in deep shit, Jacob and Selmac knew, well if not knew, they’d guessed something. And he didn’t like the meaningful look the Tok’ra exchanged with Teal’c either. ‘Uh oh’ he thought ‘It’s time for plan A. I‘ll just act like nothing’s happened. Good plan. Great. Simple and brilliant.’ With that he put his hand in his pocket and leaned against the wall and waited, and waited. The only problem with his great plan was that he hadn’t as much patience as the other two. In fact, if he want to be totally honest he hadn’t any patience at all. After five minutes doing nothing he’d had enough. ‘It’s time for plane B.’
“T, we should set up camp while the kids play.” He said nonchalantly. He thought he’d managed to pull it off, but his quick smile vanished as soon as it became apparent from Jacob’s grim expression that he hadn’t succeeded in fooling him. Damn.
“Indeed, O’Neill.” Teal’c replied from outside the cave. Jack managed to climb out without drawing any more attention to himself. He could barely control a sharp gasp when his weight landed fully on his injured side, and it didn’t help that Teal’c accidentally stood about a foot away from the entrance looking straight at him. Damn both insufferable old men, or three if you counted Selmac. Until he was safely on his feet Jack didn’t dare say anything. He was not really sure if his voice would not waver if he tried.
“T, you put up the tents and I’ll go get some wood for the fire.” He saw Teal’s raise an eyebrow but said nothing as he turned away from Jack. Teal’c always looked at him that way when he knew Jack had done something wrong or was not telling him something, but he was willing to wait for Jack to come clean in his own time. Of course Teal’c would only wait so long before he’d come and ask directly what going on. So before the big guy could corner him, Jack turned toward the closest tree line and he was just about to disappear in the woods, when the sound of Carter’s voice stopped him.
“Damn it to hell!” Now it was not everyday Carter swore, only if something truly bad happened, something like the world was ending or she was trying to fix Jack’s computer.
O’Neill turned back toward the cave’s opening where his two scientists and Jacob now stood.. Daniel spotted him, and thought he’d be the best one to tell Jack the bad news.
“Jack the damn thing just broke down and the lights just went out. I did not even see enough to translate it.” whined Daniel. Really the boy sometimes sound like a spoiled kid. Jack give a last wistful look at woods behind him, and the hope he could clandestinely put a new dressing on his wound in the near future and made his way back to his team and Jacob. Not forget Jacob. Who was clearly watching him with a speculative expression. Now where had Jack seen that look before. Oh, it was the same look Carter got when she puzzling out something tricky. Oh he is so doomed. He’d only wanted a calm peaceful vacation, not so much to ask for, for crying out loud. He managed not to roll his eyes.
“Maybe sir, we could attach one of our naquada reactors, it could power the place for a time. I just need to find the energy crystals which channel the bioelectric charges, to ease the power surges.” She was in deep thought and only said it out loud Jack knew but he never understand why she even bother to do it.
“It won’t be necessary Sammy.” Added Jacob. Why does that sound so wrong for me, Jack mused. “Selmac and I think it maybe reacted to the same thing as the Ancients’ device on that planet.”
“But dad, Teal’c was not near the cave so it should work for as… or you mean it reacted at you.”
“No I don’t think so, it more likely reacted to Jack’s presence.”
“Yes why didn’t we see that before.” exclaimed Daniel. “Sam don’t you see.” To Jack it looked like she didn’t. “Remember when Jack stepped through the circle the device apparently activated and when he touched it, it reacted to him.” Sam eyes grew large as the realization hit her.
“Holly Hannah, we need to test it out.” Her big blue eyes zoomed at him, Jack knew now how the lab rat felt when saw a mad scientist.
“How?” he dared to ask.
“It’s easy you just need to climb back down.” Carter responded.
Jack groaned. Oh yeah, like that was at the top of his things to do list. Not! But he couldn’t admit it, and there was no backing out of it without reveling why he didn’t want to do it. So like a good soldier, he would pull himself together and make it back down to the cave, room or whatever. As his weight pressed down his wounded side again, he knew one thing: if he needed to do it again he’d pass out. As his foot reached the floor the room immediately lit up.
“Wow. Do it again.” demanded Daniel. Jack could not help but glare the man, who saw the look on his face and stayed quiet.
“Well, you three stay down here while Teal’c and I finish the camp.” added Jacob.
After ten minutes Jack felt a bit useless, while Daniel studied the writings and Sam the crystal thing, he just sat near the wall and did nothing. He pulled up his knee and put his head on it. He decided to close his eyes only for a minute just to rest them, but he soon fell fast asleep.