"Okay. What's up?" Jack asked when he found Daniel pacing back and forth across the tree lined walkway outside the hotel. He leaned against a pillar and waited for Daniel to unload.
"Them!" Daniel said, agitated.
"No, Daniel. What's up with you?" Jack said, keeping his voice low.
"Me?" Daniel asked, finally stopping his pacing and looking at Jack with a puzzled frown.
"You don't normally get so worked up. Not like this."
"I don't know," Daniel said, running a hand through his hair. "I don't know. I just know this is wrong."
"Yes," Daniel said, not sounding entirely certain. "I think this is bad, Jack."
"An entire alien race is dead," Daniel pointed out.
"And you still think it's tied to these crystals?"
"Yes. Professor Teggaz has been digging through all the knowledge that has survived about this alien race," Daniel said, waving the note from Mays at Jack. "The answer is in those ruins. And it is what killed the Praseen."
"Go," Jack said after a slight hesitation.
"Go find out," Jack said. "Take Teal'c with you."
"I don't need a baby sitter."
"I know. This isn't for you. It's for Teal'c. He's not into diplomacy like we are."
Daniel nodded and walked away before Jack could change his mind. Jack turned back toward the hotel to see Paul Davis hurrying along the walkway, trying to catch Daniel before he got away. Jack stuck out his arm to halt Davis' progress. Davis gave Jack an exasperated look as Daniel disappeared around a corner.
"Let it go, Major."
"I know it's difficult under the best circumstances to get Dr. Jackson to obey an order...."
"And this time I'm not going to try."
"Sir, Daniel is the embodiment of our claim. If he doesn't cooperate...."
"You knew from the get-go that Daniel's 'cooperation' in this affair was reluctant at best," Jack said.
"And you know that the Goa'uld are not going to wait around for us to advance on our own."
"Yes, I do. And so does Daniel. There is no one on Earth who hates the Goa'uld worse than Daniel Jackson does."
"I realize that, sir," Davis said.
"Daniel thinks there's a problem," Jack said, offering Davis an explanation. "And Carter's not entirely copasetic with the situation herself. This tends to give me a bad feeling. Now that could just mean that I need to lay off the Szechwan, but it could also mean that they're on to something."
"We can't withdraw," Davis said.
"I'm not saying we should. But Daniel's right. We should be absolutely certain about what it is we're getting into."
"Wow," Daniel said softly, looking at the verdant mounds before him.
"These aren't hills," Mays said. "They are actually the remains of the city, now overgrown."
"Yes, I've been to similar places on Earth," Daniel said. He walked slowly along the closest mound, mentally calculating its size. "How...how big?"
"The entire area? Approximately 30 lineans."
"That's big," Daniel said, quickly converting the measurement into a rough metric figure. He pulled out a small notebook and starting making a rough sketch of the mounds. "But not as big as I would've expected if this was their main population center."
"I don't know that they were ever an especially populous race," Mays said. He followed Daniel as he walked along the base of the largest mound. "And we know that their numbers had decreased severely before the end."
"What did happen to them?" Daniel mused, turning to face Mays.
"If Patun was correct they were destroyed by the 'accident' he wrote of."
"But how?" Daniel asked. "An accidentan explosion or somethingthat could kill a lot of people, but enough to end their civilization?"
"Suli said that what little we know of the end of the Praseen indicates an illness of some sort."
"Illness. Accident," Daniel said thoughtfully. "Maybe they were developing a biological weapon of some kind?"
"For what purpose?" Mays asked, clearly skeptical.
"You tell me," Daniel said.
"The Praseen had no enemies," Mays said.
"Can you be sure of that?"
"No, I suppose we can't be certain," Mays agreed. "There's too much that we don't know. But what we do know doesn't support the idea of warfare on this planet."
"On this planet.... Even if you're right that doesn't mean they couldn't have had enemies on another planet." Daniel stared off into the distance for a moment. "Do you know if the Praseen used the stargate? Or ships? Any method of traveling to other planets?"
"Not that I am aware of, but again, it's impossible to say for certain," Mays said.
Daniel grimaced and turned back to the silent mounds. "An accident," he said with a touch of exasperation.
"One that, whatever it was, I'd prefer never happen again."
"Then I guess we'd better get to work."
"Carter?" Jack slowed his pace slightly so that Sam could catch up to him.
She'd disappeared right after the conclusion of that day's meetings, planning to check in with SGC. When she missed supper, Jack had begun his evening walk wondering if he needed to track her down. Having one scientist wandering around the planet unsupervised was bad enough. He didn't need two.
"I was right, sir," Sam said, a little breathless after her jog back from the gate.
"And that's news?"
"I just finished talking with Dr. Scott," Sam said, trying not to roll her eyes at Jack.
"The head of the geophysics department," Sam reminded him.
"Right. Tall, skinny guy with a comb-over?"
"That's him. He agrees that the crystals most likely didn't form in this rock."
"So...how did they get there?" Jack asked.
"Well, they didn't 'get there.' I meanthey weren't moved or anything like that."
"Maybe you should start at the beginning," Jack suggested with a sigh.
"Dr. Scott thinks that the crystals formed by processes that we're familiar with. And in a type of rock that we would expect. Now, there was probably something unique about the surrounding rock given that these crystals haven't been found anywhere else. But we may never know what that unique ingredient was."
"So normal crystals, normal rock...what happened?" Jack asked.
"Something changed the rock."
"Changed it? What could change rock?"
"We don't know. Heat, maybe. Very intense heat," Sam said.
"From where? Volcanoes?"
"I didn't see any evidence of volcanic activity," Sam said.
"There were those big cones of rock," Jack said. "The ones right over the mine."
"Yeah," Sam said thoughtfully. "I suppose those could be the remains of ancient volcanoes. Or maybe...maybe not true volcanoes, but if there were intense heat underground, intense enough to melt the surrounding rock, it might have extruded through weak points in the surface."
"Isn't that what a volcano does?" Jack asked.
"My point is that it never developed that far. I think this was a one time occurrence. Something happened that changed the rock. And then it stopped."
"Okay, it changed the rock. Did it change the crystals?"
"I don't know," Sam admitted. "I suppose it could have."
"Can you find out?"
"I'm guessing that this will involve more research?" Jack asked.
"Yes, sir," Sam said with a smile.
"Teal'c's right," Jack said, shaking his head. "I've got to stop asking questions."
"What's going on, Jack?"
"You knowall this lurking about in the shadows does not make for great confidence building," Jack said, turning on Maybourne with an exasperated scowl.
Harry leaned against the doorway leading from the stairwell to Jack's floor. And he didn't look inclined to move anytime soon.
"What are you up to?" Harry persisted.
"Don't play dumb with me, Jack. Your team has been sneaking off right and left. First it was Major Carter. Now it's Dr. Jackson and Teal'c. What are they doing?"
"Not that it's any of your business but they're doing research."
"Pankeeran history, I believe."
"I believe I mentioned that this was none of your business," Jack said.
"Jack, you have to help me out here."
"No, I don't."
"If you don't work with me, I'll have no choice but to accept a less than attractive offer."
"The Association?" Jack asked. Harry's silence was all the answer he needed. "There's always a choice, Harry. You may not like the alternative, but it is an option."
"It has nothing to do with whether I like it or not. I either do as they want or...it gets nasty."
"So walk away. If you're not involved in the mine, they have no leverage."
"Walk away? What kind of choice is that?" Harry asked angrily.
"In this case, I'd say it was a wise one."
"Get real, Jack."
"I am getting real, Harry," Jack said sharply. "The first time we came here was at your request. What you didn't tell us is that you were looking for a way to eliminate your former co-workers."
"That's not true."
"The next time we came, also at your request, you'd already eliminated part of the problem...."
"I didn't do it," Harry said indignantly.
"But somehow it was tied into alien technology and an organization operating on the darkside," Jack continued, ignoring Harry's protests. "And like a fungus, you, too, work best in the dark."
"Forget it, Harry," Jack said.
"Fool me onceshame on you. Fool me twice...shame on me. Fool me three timeswe're just not going there."
"I asked for your help. I don't deny that," Maybourne said. "But I didn't knowingly try to involve you in anything underhanded."
"Even if you weren't trying to screw us over, the fact is that you never give us the full story," Jack said, exasperated. "I'm getting a little tired of having to drag the truth out of you one piece at a time."
"Oh, please," Harry drawled. "You love playing the hero."
"Do not," Jack refuted.
"Do," Harry insisted.
"Even if that were trueso what? There's nothing wrong with being one of the good guys," Jack said. "You should try it sometime, Harry. Just for a change of pace."
"Daniel?" Jack asked, speaking through a radio relay to Mays' hovercraft. "What's going on?"
"Hey, Jack." Daniel's voice sounded positively electric. "We found something."
"The ruins of the ancient city. I mean I know that's what we came out here to see, but it's so much more than I expected. It's amazing, Jack. These aliens built into the ground. The ruins on the surface are just the tip of the iceberg."
"Yes. We found a way in and.... God, there's so much to study."
"Underground, Daniel?" Jack repeated loudly.
"Is it safe?"
"Yes. Probably. I mean...."
"Put Teal'c on."
"Daniel, put Teal'c on now." Jack could almost see the exasperated roll of Daniel's eyes.
"Teal'c, what's the situation?"
"The ruins are completely buried," Teal'c reported.
"It is impossible to say at the moment. We have gained entrance to part of only one building. It appears to be stable. I cannot say what the rest of the ruins may be like."
"He's doing it again, isn't he?" Jack said, rubbing his forehead.
"He never stops doing it, O'Neill."
"Daniel Jackson!" Teal'c called.
"Here." Daniel's voice was no more than a muffled echo.
"Where, precisely, is here?" Teal'c said, aggravated by Daniel's all too frequent tendency to disappear from sight.
"To your left. Right! I meant right. Just follow the hallway."
With a deep sigh, Teal'c ventured into the dim corridor. He played his flashlight over the walls and ceiling of the ancient building looking for signs of damage or stress as he went. Mays and Daniel had found a sort of sinkhole on one of the mounds, a place where a section of an ancient structure's roof had collapsed.
After a brief reconnoiter, Daniel had assured Teal'c that this small area of the ruins was safe. Teal'c remained skeptical. Although he had great faith in Daniel's archaeological skills, he had less than great faith in Daniel's sense of self preservation.
"Look!" Daniel said excitedly when Teal'c reached the chamber he was in. Teal'c looked at the arched doorway on the far side of the chamber, now blocked by rubble. "We're going to have to do some major excavation to get any further."
"Is that necessary?"
"If Daniel's right, that's the direction we need to go," Mays said. He was kneeling on the floor, making notations of what they'd found and correlating them with the sketches they'd made of the surface mounds.
"It's an educated guess," Daniel admitted in response to Teal'c's questioning look. He gestured around the room. "Semi-educated anyway."
"I do not believe that would be wise, Daniel Jackson."
"What?" Daniel turned to Teal'c, surprised.
Teal'c took in the bright eyes behind dust-coated lenses and feared that he had a fight on his hands.
"This area may be unstable."
"Teal'c, I've been working on archaeological excavations almost my entire life."
"I am aware. Still, we do not have the proper equipment or the necessary manpower with which to do it safely."
Daniel drew in a quick breath, opened his mouth...and then let the breath out again.
"He's right," Daniel told Mays reluctantly. "We're going to need help."
"I know where I can find a few volunteers who'd be willing to help with the manual labor. But I don't know about the equipment."
"Ground penetrating imaging," Daniel said absently.
"That's what we really need," Daniel explained. "GPI would allow us to map the ruins. Then we'd have a better idea if this really is the right direction to go."
"I don't know if we have anything like this GPI."
"I'll talk to Jack," Daniel said, heading back down the corridor Teal'c had just traversed.
Mays looked up at Teal'c, a question plain on his face.
"And so it begins," Teal'c sighed.
"Daniel...." Jack trailed off, unable to fight the fast flowing current of Daniel's words. He glanced quickly at his watch, knowing Davis expected him back at the conference ASAP.
"...and we can narrow the search area down considerably until...."
"Daniel!" Jack said more forcefully.
"Is this necessary?"
"That's it? Just yes?"
"What were you expecting?" Daniel asked.
"An explanation, a theory, an excuse?"
"Which you wouldn't listen to anyway. Thought I'd save some time."
"Put Teal'c on," Jack said.
"No," Daniel said flatly.
"Jack, the answer is here."
"The answer to what?"
"What happened to the Praseen. What happened to the crystals. It's here. We just have to find it."
"How do I get there?"
"I'm coming out there to see where this 'answer' is."
"You don't have to," Daniel said. "I can handle it."
"I know you can. But I'm a hands-on kind of guy."
"You'll get the equipment first?" Daniel asked.
"Daniel, are you trying to blackmail me?" Jack asked, amused.
"Do I need to?" Daniel shot back.
"Honestly, Jack, there's nothing to see right now. Give me a couple of days with a decent team and I'll have something for you."
"All right," Jack sighed. "I'll talk to Hammond."
"Dr. Jackson, we've got company," Sergeant Chu called out.
Frowning, Daniel turned from the computer screen to look to the far side of the camp where a small hovercraft had just arrived.
"Mem Teggaz?" Daniel said as the woman climbed from the craft.
She hurried toward the central tent which Daniel had designated as their center of operations.
"What?" Mays asked, looking up in surprise. He'd been working on correlating their rough surface map to both the GPI images and a very simple map of the ancient alien city. He climbed to his feet, brushing grass and dirt from his slacks.
"I think I've found it," Teggaz called excitedly as she bustled into the tent.
Daniel and Mays stared at each other, stunned, before following her to a table.
"You found the maze?" Daniel asked.
"I believe so," Teggaz said, practically bouncing with anticipation. "Brentonbring over that map of yours."
Mays hurried to lay out the city map, weighting the corners with stones.
"The key was realizing that it wasn't a formal name," Teggaz said as she consulted her notes. "The Maze was a colloquial name used by the local inhabitants."
"And you know where it is?" Daniel asked again.
"I have an idea. I've only found a few references to the maze, and none that specifically give its location," Suli said, peering at the map. "But...ah, yeshere."
"That's...." Mays paused a moment as he translated the words in his head. "It's an auditorium of some sort."
"Yes, on the surface level," Suli agreed. "The Maze is, I believe, on the next level."
"Below the auditorium?" Daniel asked.
"It's in the general direction you thought we should go," Mays observed.
"Lucky guess," Daniel said absently. "Do we have a map of the lower levels?"
"I've been unable to find any maps that show anything other than the surface level," Suli said. "Just a few descriptions of some of the city's layout. I brought the translations I've made so far, though I don't know how much help they'll be."
"Any information is more than we had," Mays said. "But...."
"But we don't have enough surface landmarks to pinpoint the area," Daniel said, waving at the overgrown mounds in front of them.
He studied the map intently, glancing periodically at the preliminary GPI scans. He tapped his finger on Mays' sketch of the surface topography.
"Okay. I'm going to move the team over to concentrate on this area."
"I think that's about as good a guess as any," Mays agreed.
"You should've seen his face," Davis said, leaning in close to Sam as he finished his story.
"I would've liked to have seen your face," Sam said with just a touch of nostalgia for her D.C. days.
"You have no idea," Davis agreed. "I was dumbstruck. That jerk's been throwing his weight around the Pentagon for years. Decades. And to see someone finally call him on his sanctimonious bullsh...."
Sam looked up to see Jack winding his way through the conference room. Most of the participants were slowly returning from the midday break, impeding Jack's path to Earth's table.
Davis turned in his seat to face Jack.
"Lookyou'll be okay here if I'm not around for the next twenty four hours or so, right?"
"Sir?" Sam said, puzzled.
"I think I should go check on Daniel," Jack said.
"Is something wrong?" Sam asked with concern.
"Teal'c said Daniel's a little...excitable."
"Oh," Sam said with a knowing nod.
"Excitable?" Davis questioned.
"It's a Daniel thing," Jack said dismissively. "So if I leave, you can handle it?"
"Frankly, sir, I think I could handle it better if you weren't around," Davis said.
"Okay," Jack said, trying to decide whether he should be insulted or not. He decided on not. "I'll be going then."
"Sir, if I may...?"
"I don't know," Jack told Davis, leaning across the table and lowering his voice so that he couldn't be overheard. "I just know Daniel thinks it's important and when he thinks it's important I've found that I usually need to pay attention."
"Okay," Davis said slowly.
"Carter agrees," Jack said, nodding hopefully at Sam.
"Well...there's still a lot we don't know," Sam said.
"See?" Jack said, clapping Davis on the shoulder. "Stay in touch!"
"Hey, Teal'c. How's it going?" Jack asked, taking a look around as he approached the campsite.
"Daniel Jackson appears to be pleased with our progress."
"You're being watched," Jack said almost casually as he drew even with Teal'c.
"I am aware."
"Shortly after the team from the SGC arrived," Teal'c said.
"Someone's been monitoring our communications."
"So I suspected. That is why I did not contact you with the information about the surveillance."
"Probably a smart move," Jack agreed. He let out a long breath. "If Maybourne's behind it I'm going to kick his ass."
"You'll have to wait in line for that," Mays said, walking up to greet Jack and Teal'c.
"Uh uh," Jack said firmly. "I've been putting up with Harry a lot longer than you have. I got dibs."
"I guess we'll have to see who gets to him first," Mays challenged, a slight smile on his face.
"Should we not wait to determine if Maybourne is, in fact, responsible?" Teal'c asked.
"Do we have to?" Jack asked.
Teal'c merely shrugged and began walking toward the open front tent in the middle of the camp. Jack saw Daniel talking to a woman, leaning over her as they both studied a book.
"Daniel," Jack called.
Daniel looked up, startled, before giving Jack an offhand wave.
"Daniel, they've finished the next section," Bill Lee said, appearing from around the far side of the tent.
"Great!" Daniel said, hurrying over to a small folding table where an SGC tech sat analyzing the data.
"We'll want to see this, too," Mays said, his footsteps quickening as he headed toward Daniel.
"We will?" Jack asked Teal'c.
"So it would seem."
Jack and Teal'c closed on the small group of people knotted around the computer screen. Daniel was pointing to the image on the screen, talking to Dr. Lee.
"Can we see this overlaid with the last two sections?" Daniel asked.
The tech nodded and started tapping keys.
"Daniel?" Jack prompted.
"Hey, Jack," Daniel said absently, his eyes glued to the screen. "Wow."
"Wow what?" Jack asked.
"Wow this," Daniel said. "Mays, do you see this?"
"I'm sorry, Daniel. I'm not sure I understand these images."
"Explain, young man," Teggaz said, using her shoulder to nudge Jack out of the way so that she could observe the screen.
"Right. Okay, well these are images of the buried structures. This here," Daniel said, drawing his fingers along one side. "This is the outer walls of the building we were in. And this area here is just beyond the last doorway we were able to clear."
"Looks like a mess," Jack said.
"Yes, it does," Daniel said, frowning.
"I'm right?" Jack said with surprise.
"Yes. You can still make out the basic structure here and here."
"I see," Mays said, crouching down, entranced by the image.
"But...." Daniel leaned back, tapping his finger against his chin. "This is the area we think the legacy is. It appears to be relatively intact." Daniel shook his head. "I don't understand why the rest of the area appears so much more damaged."
"Damaged like collapsed?" Jack asked.
"Maybe. But why would this part be relatively intact and everything else so...."
"There's only one way to find out," Teggaz said firmly.
"And you would be?" Jack said.
"Oh, sorry," Daniel said, looking over his shoulder at Jack. "Suli, this is Colonel Jack O'Neill, my...boss." Daniel ignored the surprised look Jack threw at him. "Jack, this is Professor Suli Teggaz. She's been doing the translations."
"She's the top expert on the Praseen language. Of course, that's not saying much given that there are only six other people on the planet who've studied it."
"That's a bit rude, isn't it, Daniel?"
"The young have no respect for their elders," Suli said with a disdainful sniff. Then she offered Jack a wry smile. "Unfortunately, he's right."
"Oh. Well, nice to meet you," Jack said. "Now, about this 'only' way to find out?"
"We dig," Suli said.
"I was afraid you'd say something like that."
"We think we know roughly where the 'legacy' is. Suli's been working through the documentation, and she's got it narrowed down to this area," Daniel said, tapping his finger against the screen. "And at least one story underground. We'll use the GPI scans to guide us. It's perfectly safe."
"Safe? Define safe," Jack demanded.
"Well, there won't be any Goa'uld down there," Daniel said flippantly.