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Part 4


"Maybourne," Sam said, turning around to find Harry hurrying down the hall toward her. She was on her way back to SG-1's hotel room planning to take a fifteen minute power nap before rejoining the conference.

"What's going on?" Harry asked when he drew even with Sam.

"I don't know what you mean," Sam said, keeping her expression bland.

"Let's not play games, Major."

"No games."

"Where's Jack?"

"The colonel's whereabouts aren't really your concern."

"I happen to think it is," Harry argued.

"You're entitled to your opinion."

"If something's going on I have a right to know what it is," Harry persisted.

"A right?" Sam said incredulously. Then she gave an exasperated shake of her head. "The fact is that you know as much as we do. Possibly more."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You live here, Maybourne. And you have...connections."

"Connections? You mean to the Association?" Harry shook his head. "I'm not connected to them."

"Whatever," Sam said dismissively, pulling out her passkey and preparing to escape Maybourne.

"Major," Harry said sharply, grabbing Sam's arm. She glared at him and he quickly released her. "I'm not connected to the Association, and I'm trying my best to keep it that way."

"All we're doing is trying to find something about the history of the crystals," Sam said, relenting.

"That's it?" Harry said skeptically.

"That's it."

"Then why all the secrecy?"

"Because Colonel O'Neill doesn't really trust anyone to tell us the truth. You said it yourself: there's a fortune at stake here." Sam shrugged. "He doesn't want us to get caught flat footed if things are not as they seem."

"I can understand why the Praseen chose to live here," Mays said thoughtfully, staring into the quiet twilight.

"A nice lake, a few fish, and it'd be paradise," Jack agreed, tossing a small branch onto the campfire.

Teal'c and Sergeant Chu were officially taking the first watch, but Jack, Mays and Suli were sitting up late, too keyed up to sleep just yet.

"I think there's a lake...," Mays said, turning slightly to point away from the mounds of the ruined city.

"Don't encourage him," Daniel said firmly, taking a seat on the ground next to Jack. Mays smiled at Jack's thwarted look.

"So tell me," Jack said, turning back to Mays when Daniel refused to look the least bit apologetic. "How do you manage to take a vacation when you're supposed to be working?"

"I am working."

"I thought your assignment was conference security," Jack prodded.

"My job is to protect my people," Mays said calmly. "I believe that goal will be more fully served by focusing my attention here."

"Interpretive compliance," Jack said with a nod. "I like it."

"You would," Daniel said with amusement.

"Says the man who taught me what interpretive compliance is," Jack accused.

"I want to start digging tomorrow," Daniel told Mays. "We should be able to get through to the Maze within a day or two. If we're lucky, enough of the architecture will be intact so that we won't have a lot of debris to clear."

"Excuse me," Jack said, cutting Daniel off. "Not to rain on your parade or anything but...even if you find this 'maze' place, what makes you think you'll be able to find the legacy?"

"Patun's letter says it's there," Daniel said.

"But how will you know what it is? What it looks like?" Jack persisted.

"Well...it must be identifiable," Daniel argued.

"To whom?" Jack asked.

"Patun was a historian," Suli said.


"He would've understood the process of cultural evolution," Mays said. "And he expected that it would be a long time before anyone looked for the legacy. He surely would've taken into account the need to make it identifiable."

"Okay," Jack said slowly. "So this Patun made some kind of...thing that would be easily identified and put it somewhere easy to find and then...what? He turned off the lights and the entire population left town so that the legacy wouldn't be disturbed?"

"Um...yes?" Daniel said.

"Carter's right—you are an irrational optimist," Jack told Daniel.

"Daniel, you've had some experience with other aliens. Have you met any others who have shared their home worlds with humans?" Suli asked.

"Certainly some races have been known to protect humans," Daniel said, staring into the campfire. "The Asgard, for example."

"Who are the Asgard?" Teggaz asked.

"Little gray fellas. Big eyes," Jack said. "Nice guys."

"Um, yes," Daniel agreed. "But although they've protected humans, to my knowledge they've never lived with them."

"What were they protecting the humans from?"

"Well, the Goa'uld mostly," Daniel said.

"Goold? You mentioned them earlier."

"Your people don't know about the Goa'uld?" Jack asked Mays.

"Our government decided not to make it common knowledge," Mays said.

"The Goa'uld aren't public knowledge on Earth either," Daniel said.

"What are these Goold? Ga-oold? Goa....?" Teggaz asked.

"Snakes," Jack said helpfully. "Slimy, sneaky snakes. With really bad taste in clothing."

"The Goa'uld are a parasitic life form," Daniel said with an exasperated look at Jack. "They choose some humans as hosts and enslave the rest."

"I think it's safe to say that our aliens were not the Asgard or the Goa'uld."

"No," Daniel agreed. "I think we can rule out the Ancients, too."

"Ya think?" Jack said sarcastically.

"The Ancients?" Mays asked.

"Ancients. Ascended. Bunch of glowy good for nothings," Jack said with a dismissive wave of his hand.

"Jack," Daniel chided.

"Trust me," Jack told Mays and Teggaz. "If you're drowning and they're standing on the shore holding the only life preserver... you're as good as dead. Just ask Daniel."

"You're familiar with these aliens?" Suli asked, turning her attention to Daniel.

"You could say that," Daniel admitted reluctantly. "I was temporarily ascended."

"You were...?"

"Big glowy good for nothing," Jack said. Daniel shot him a dirty look. "Maybe not good for nothing."

"You actually became one of these beings?" Mays asked Daniel, fascinated. "How?"

"It's a long story. And it didn't work out," Daniel said uncomfortably.

Mays shot a questioning look at Jack. Jack gave a small shake of his head, warning Mays away from the subject.

"Could it have been the Nox you spoke of at the conference?" Mays asked.

"The Nox really don't get out much," Jack said.

"But that may not have been true a thousand years ago," Daniel pointed out. "We know that at some point they interacted with the other three races of the alliance at least."

"True," Jack admitted. "But this place just doesn't have a Nox-y feel to it."

"The problem is we've got two alien races involved with the Pankeerans," Daniel said. "The race that brought them here and the race that actually lived here. And while the race that brought humans to this planet could conceivably be one that we know of, the other is not one that we've likely ever encountered."

"Can't you tell from...stuff?" Jack asked, gesturing vaguely.

"Stuff?" Daniel asked.

"Stuff," Jack repeated. "You know—architecture, artifacts.... Stuff. You usually know which aliens have been involved based on the stuff we find. If it's Norse, then the Asgard have probably been around. That kind of thing."

"Stuff," Daniel said, nodding his head slowly, amused by Jack's interpretation of his work. "Well, that's true. But the Pankeeran culture isn't like anything I've ever seen before. Presumably it's been heavily influenced by the Praseen, and most traces of whatever Earth based cultural tradition they started with have been subsumed."

"Until recently we didn't even know the name of the planet of our origin. And now...what I wouldn't give to know what our specific Earth origins were," Suli said with regret.

"It might be possible," Daniel said. "A thorough analysis of your earliest known history, your traditions and religious practices.... I might be able to find a clue or two."


"No, you're right," Daniel said, apparently missing the point of Jack's interruption. "We might want to start with a DNA analysis, narrow down the possibilities...."


"But I probably won't have time to do the research any time soon," Daniel admitted at Jack's prompting. Daniel looked at Suli. "We'll work something out, though. I can send back information about some of our oldest known cultures for you to compare to your own history."

"Guess I know what I'll be doing for the next six months...or years," Suli said, looking pleased at the prospect.

"At least that's one grant request you won't have to worry about the University board of governors rejecting," Mays said.

Daniel and Suli both stared at him.

"He obviously hasn't spent much time in academia," Daniel told Suli.

"Too busy saving the world," Suli agreed.

"And they say that as if it's a bad thing," Jack said to Mays.


"Sergeant?" Jack asked, walking over the entrance to Daniel's 'test' hole...which now led into a tunnel.

"I'm not sure but...."

At that moment, Jack felt it. A tiny, almost imperceptible, momentary trembling of the ground under his feet.

"Teal'c!" Jack said, grabbing his radio.

"The area has become unstable," Teal'c responded immediately.

"Get out of there."

"That is precisely what I am attempting to do."

"Damn it," Jack spat. "Daniel!"

"Just a minute, Jack," Daniel answered, sounding distracted. "We almost have it."

"Now, Daniel." Jack turned back to the sergeant as a more distinct tremor shook the ground. "What kind of gear do we have for SAR?"

"Standard issue equipment, sir."

"Okay, I want...."

At that moment the ground not only shook, but gave way. A hole opened up about fifteen yards from the entrance to the test hole as hundreds of pounds of earth and debris collapsed inward.

"Whoa! Everybody back," Jack ordered unnecessarily.

The small group had already instinctively edged carefully away from the unstable area. Seconds later, as Jack stared at the pit, Mays scrambled up out of the tunnel entrance, closely followed by Daniel and Teal'c, all of them coughing and coated with dirt.

"Well, that was close," Daniel said casually as he coughed again, trying to clear the dust from his throat.

Jack just shook his head and looked at Mays, who had an almost beautific smile on his dirt smeared face.

"You're enjoying this?" Jack asked.

"I haven't felt this kind of excitement in far too long," Mays told Jack.

"Are you nuts?"

Mays glanced over to Daniel, who was drawing Suli along in his wake as he walked to the command tent, talking excitedly, his hands flying.

"Is Daniel nuts?" Mays asked.

"Yes," Jack said without hesitation.

Mays' smile grew even bigger before he turned and went to join Daniel and Suli.

"I'm surrounded by crazy people," Jack told Teal'c.

"As am I."

Jack gave Teal'c a warning look before wandering over to the open front tent. Daniel, Suli, and Mays were all babbling over the object Daniel had just produced from under his shirt.

"What's that?" Jack asked.

"If we're lucky it's the information we're looking for," Daniel said, still making little coughing noises as he talked through the dust irritating his throat.

"That?" Jack asked, nodding at the flat black box.

"It's a memory module," Suli told him. "Archaic but, as far as I can determine, undamaged."

"Memory module?"

"I think it must be like a removable hard drive," Daniel said. "Or maybe a zip drive...."

"Yeah, I got that," Jack said. "Do you have the right kind of machine to retrieve the information from this kind of...module?"

"I'm not certain we have anything as old as this," Suli said. "But we do have a few restored computers at the University that may work."

"Give it to me."

"Jack?" Daniel said quickly.

"We're being watched," Jack reminded him. "They may realize that you found something. Slip it to me and I'll take it back to the city."

"Why you?" Daniel asked.

"Because they won't expect me to have it. And it won't be particularly suspicious if I leave. I haven't done much more than hang around since I got here...."

"Complaining about how long it's taking," Daniel interjected.

"Exactly," Jack agreed. "I'll make a fuss about being back at the negotiations since you obviously don't need or want me here."

"Take it to my assistant, Kye," Suli said. "Tell him to put it my office safe."

"Will he? He doesn't know who I am."

"Sam," Daniel said abruptly, looking at Jack.


"Kye's seen Sam. He knows she's working on Professor Teggaz's project," Daniel explained.

"So I'll give it to Carter."

"Where's Sam?" Daniel said as he burst through the door looking dusty and disheveled.

"She said was going to catch forty winks...." Jack said.

He looked up from the solitaire game he had laid out on the coffee table in time to see Daniel rush into Sam's room. Jack looked back at the door where Teal'c stood, looking nearly as dusty as Daniel.

"Daniel seems excited," Jack observed.

"Indeed," Teal'c said sourly.

"Should I be worried?"

"In my experience that is usually the safest response."

"Great," Jack sighed. "Any trouble getting the site packed up?"

"None. Sergeant Chu is returning to the SGC with the equipment as we speak."

"No trouble from our watchers?" Jack asked.

"No. You?"

"Not really. Picked up a tail as soon as I got back to the city," Jack said. "But he got bored and gave up when I didn't do anything more exciting than veg out in the hotel room."

"These people seem remarkably...restrained."

"Yeah, it worries me, too," Jack said. "Although they wouldn't need to be aggressive if Harry really is working for them. They can afford to sit back and wait for Harry to feed them information."

"But Maybourne does not know anything," Teal'c pointed out.

"You think he's going to let that stop him?"

Moments later both Sam and Daniel exited her room, talking at each other a mile a minute.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Jack said.

"Sir?" Sam said, surprised by the interruption.

"Care to share the excitement?"

"You usually don't like it when I share excitement," Daniel said, frowning at Jack.

"Just give me the Reader's Digest version."

"I don't have it." Daniel sighed at Jack's raised eyebrow. "Yet. I don't have it yet. But Suli's working on getting the computer to read the module. We're going to translate as we go."

"And Carter?"

"We may need her help interfacing the computer and the module," Daniel said. "And Sam's got the background in hard science we'll probably need to understand any data on the crystals."

"Okay," Jack said, casually dismissing them.

"That's it?" Daniel asked, regarding Jack warily.

"You were expecting more?"


"I'm feeling generous today. Don't pass up such a rare opportunity."

"Going now," Daniel agreed, pointing at the door.

Jack and Teal'c watched the door close behind Sam and Daniel before turning to stare at each other.

"Right," Jack said, getting to his feet with a sigh. "You go ahead and clean up, get something to eat. I'll keep an eye on the Bobbsey twins."


"Hey, Teal'c," Jack called, looking over his shoulder. "Feeling better?"

"I have eaten and bathed," Teal'c said as he gazed around the empty university library. He turned to Jack and smiled. "My mood is much improved."

"That'll do it," Jack agreed, feeding another sheet of paper into the scanner. He finally took his feet off of the desk and turned to face Teal'c as the computer slowly processed the document.

"What are you doing, O'Neill?"

"Carter got that module thing jiving with the computer," Jack told him. He picked up a sheaf of papers. "These are some of the documents. I'm translating...literating them for Daniel."

"Daniel Jackson is capable of reading the Pankeeran writing," Teal'c pointed out.

"Yeah," Jack said slowly. "But Carter can't and they want her to go over the technical stuff."

"He could read them to her."

"Are you implying that they gave me busy work?" Jack said, eyeing Teal'c suspiciously.

"Not at all."

"Good. Take over for me then."

"I think not."


"How long since a perimeter check has been made?" Teal'c asked.

"Um...." Jack checked his watch. "Mays and I did a sweep about half an hour ago."

"I will perform another one."

"Wait up, I'll go with you."

"I can manage. I do not wish to take you from your important work."

"It is important," Jack insisted to Teal'c's retreating back.

"Indeed." Teal'c's voice carried back in from the hallway.

"Everyone's a wiseass," Jack muttered, turning to put the next document in the scanner and putting the transliterated version of the previous page onto the slowly growing stack.

"Colonel O'Neill!"


"I must leave," Mays said, walking quickly across the library.


"There's been an attempt to use the transporter without authorization," Mays explained quickly. "My men were attacked. One was able to fight the attackers off long enough to set off an emergency signal."

"Who?" Jack asked. "Why?"

"The crystals, I'm sure," Mays said, the clipped words indicating his anger. "And while there are any number of 'whos' as suspects, at the top of my list is the Association."

"Why now?"

"They suspect we've found something. Perhaps they're afraid to wait any longer." Mays shrugged. "I really must go."

"Yeah, go," Jack agreed. "We got it covered here."

Jack sat thoughtfully for a moment after Mays left, absently feeding in the next page.

"Nope," he said, getting to his feet. "This does not feel right."

Daniel skimmed the page as he entered the stairwell. He wanted to get a rough translation in his head before handing the papers over to Jack for transliteration. He was tired enough that the effort of going back and forth between the Pankeeran and Roman alphabets was giving him a headache.

He flipped the folder shut as he rounded the landing, just before a sudden shove sent him tumbling down the next flight of steps.

"What the...."

Daniel grabbed his ankle which had smacked against the edge of a step during his fall. It was like hitting his funny bone, except that in this case it was his foot that was both numb and painful.

Out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of someone moving down the stairs toward him. He continued holding his leg, moaning loudly for effect, until the man stood just one step above him. Then he kicked out, knocking the man's feet from under him.

"Ow," Daniel muttered, rubbing at his ankle again as his attacker tumbled down the next flight of stairs.

"What the...?"

Startled, Daniel looked down to see Jack coming up the stairway. He stopped to stare as Daniel's attacker landed in an unconscious sprawl on the landing in front of him.


"Daniel?" Jack looked down at the man again. "You do that?"

"Uh...yeah," Daniel said, starting to gather his papers and shove them back in the folder.

"Any particular reason?"

"He pushed me first."

"Well, he had it coming then." Jack pulled his belt from around his waist and rolled the man over, securing his hands behind his back. "You okay?"

"Just a few bumps and bruises," Daniel said as he got to his feet. He tested his ankle; it still had that unpleasant pins and needles sensation, but it wasn't disabling.

Jack quickly patted the unknown man down, pulling a small device from his pocket. Jack wasn't sure what it was but he'd seen the Pankeeran Security Officers with them so he tucked it away in his own pocket.

"Who is he?" Daniel asked.

"Don't know for sure, but I'm betting there's more of them," Jack said. "Carter?"

"Sam's still in the lab with Suli," Daniel said, jerking his thumb up the stairway.

"Let's check it out," Jack said, waving at Daniel to lead the way.

"Sam?" Daniel said as he and Jack entered the lab.

Sam had a strange man face down on the floor. She was practically sitting on him, her knee positioned right between his shoulder blades as she wrenched his arm up to her knee.

"Hey, guys," Sam said, sounding a little breathless. "I could use a hand."

"Daniel, belt," Jack said as he crossed to Sam. Daniel slid his belt off and tossed it to Jack. A minute later Jack had the man firmly trussed. He offered Sam a hand up.

"Thanks," Sam said, hopping to her feet. "Too bad you missed all the excitement."

"No, not really," Daniel said, looking around the lab. "There was another one in the stairwell."

"Really?" Sam said with a frown.

"Where's Dr. Teggaz?" Daniel asked.

"Right here," Suli called, rushing back into the room. "I've notified the Security Forces. They'll be here shortly. But I don't know where Brenton is."

"Somebody staged an assault on the transporter," Jack told them. "Mays was called away."

"A distraction," Sam guessed. "Figuring we'd be defenseless as a result."

"By now they ought to know we're not exactly sitting ducks," Jack said as he searched the second man. "But they probably thought they'd evened up the odds a bit."

"If they really knew what we were looking for they probably wouldn't want it," Daniel said.

"What do you mean?" Suli asked.

"The Association probably thinks we've been looking for the secret to making the crystals work," Sam said.

"Ah," Suli said, nodding. "That would be very valuable to them."

"It'd be very valuable to anyone," Sam admitted.

"Unfortunately, I don't think it exists," Daniel said.

"What's this?" Jack asked, pulling another of the strange devices from the second attacker.

"It's a weapon which creates an electrical discharge and renders the victim unconscious," Suli told him.

"Stun gun. Sweet," Jack said. He tossed it to Daniel, keeping the other for himself. "You stay here with the professor. Carter and I'll go make sure there aren't any more bad guys."

A strangled squawk coming from behind a closed door halted Jack and Sam in their footsteps. Sam quickly took up a position opposite Jack, nodding to him when she was ready.

Jack kicked the door open, holding the stun gun steady in front of him.

"Hey, Teal'c," Jack said, lowering his weapon. "Carter, come see what Teal'c found."

Cautiously, Sam moved into the doorway, then shook her head at the scene that greeted her.

"Maybourne," she said.

"Should've known," Jack agreed.

"Jack," Harry complained. He tried to turn to speak to Jack, but Teal'c's hand on his throat remained firm. Harry glared at Teal'c. "Do you mind?"

"I do," Teal'c said.

"Let's make this quick, Maybourne: we've got two of your associates. What I need to know is how many more are there?" Jack asked.

"They're not my associates and I don't know how many," Maybourne said. He appealed to all three. "I came here to warn you."

"He came here to help us," Jack said to Teal'c.

"So he says," Teal'c answered. He studied Maybourne for a moment. "I do not believe him."


"Tell me, Harry. How did you know there was anything to warn us about?" Jack asked.

"What?" Harry asked.

"If you aren't working with the Association, then how did you know what their plans were?" Sam clarified.


"Bit of catch-22, isn't it?" Jack said with mock sympathy. "No matter what you say you're in deep doo-doo."

"I knew because they came to me wanting to know what you'd found," Maybourne admitted.

"What did you tell them?" Sam asked.

"The only thing I could tell them—I don't know," Maybourne said.

"But you decided you'd help them find out," Jack said.

"No. I overheard their plans and thought I might be able to get here first and warn you."

"Yeah, right."

"Think about it, Jack. If I wanted something you had wouldn't I just take for myself? Why would I involve them?"

"Because you like getting others to do the dirty work."

"I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty if the need arises," Maybourne argued.

"Strangely, that's not reassuring," Jack said. He waved Harry toward the door. "Come on, let's go round up your buddies."

"So what's going to happen to them?" Jack asked. He looked over at Mays, sitting in a folding chair across the hall. The door to the lab where Daniel and Suli were still working doggedly to decipher the legacy was directly across from Jack, and immediately to Mays' right.

After the previous evening's excitement, Daniel, Suli, and Sam had worked through the night, translating and interpreting the data as fast as they could. Sam had finally left early that morning, accompanied by Teal'c, taking pages of technical data for analysis.

"Very little," Mays said ruefully. "We're unable to charge them with anything more than simple assault. A good counselor will be able to keep them out of jail. And the Association can afford good counselors."

"At least we stopped them from getting what they wanted," Jack said. He slumped back in his own folding chair.

"They'll try again," Mays said. Jack nodded thoughtfully.

"Maybourne?" Jack asked after a moment.

"He can't be charged with any crime," Mays said. "Teal'c interrupted him before he could do anything. And technically the University is public property; we can't even charge him with trespassing."

"He's good," Jack said, thinking of all the times Maybourne had weaseled out of trouble. Jack sat silently for a moment, tapping his foot restlessly. "You think he's telling the truth?"

"You know him better than I. You tell me," Mays said.

"Harry'll do whatever is best for Harry," Jack said.

"Which is not necessarily the Association," Mays pointed out.

"Nope," Jack agreed.

"So he could be telling the truth."

"Could be. Not going to count on it."

Jack and Mays both looked up as the lab door opened. Daniel appeared, looking distracted.


"What?" Daniel said, looking at Jack. "Oh. Hey. You been out here all this time?"

"Yeah," Jack said. "And I have to tell you—my butt went numb an hour ago."

"Oh, well, we're done. It's done. We can go."

"Done?" Mays questioned.

"That's it, that's all. It's a bust," Daniel said with an agitated wave of his hand.

"Er.... Do I need to call the men with butterfly nets?" Jack asked apprehensively. Daniel just looked at him with a rueful grin. "Daniel?"

"Let's go home."


"Really. I'll explain when we get back to the hotel. With a little help from Sam."

"Daniel.... Colonel, there you are," Davis said, sticking his head through the door to their hotel suite. "I could really use some back up."

"Nope," Jack said cheerfully as Sam and Teal'c joined them. "We're going home."

"No, we're not," Davis said, entering the room with an alarmed expression.

"Yes, we are."

"But the mine...."

"Is worthless," Daniel said.

"What?" Jack and Davis both exclaimed.

"It's worthless," Daniel repeated. "Let them fight over it."

"Would you mind explaining that a little more?" Davis asked.

"Jack was right," Daniel said.

"I was?" Jack said.

"The last of the Praseen did turn off the lights and leave town."

"Why?" Davis asked.

"They were finished," Daniel said simply. A brief smile crossed his face at the puzzled looks of the others. "There were very few of them left. So they put the legacy in place and retreated to another, smaller, town to live out the rest of their time. No, I don't know where; that'll be something for Pankeer's historians to discover. But before they went, the Praseen destroyed this city."

"They did?"

"Most of it. The surface level. They left only a small section intact."

"So it was big time bad?" Jack asked.

"Very bad," Daniel agreed.

"Kelowna-style bad?"

"Quite possibly."

"You said the crystals are useless?" Davis prompted.

"They are," Daniel said firmly. "The Praseen did something. I don't know what. Sam's still working on that."

"The Praseen apparently caused some kind of reaction that rendered the crystals inert," Sam said. "I don't know whether it was chemical or thermal or even nuclear, but they found a way to alter the crystals in situ."

"That's why the Vasuman plains are so different from most of the rest of Chandre," Daniel added.

"Exactly," Sam agreed. "We knew that something, some process, had probably changed the rock. Turns out it was the aliens who did it, but that wasn't their intent. They meant to destroy the crystals, and the surrounding rock was affected by the process."

"These aliens destroyed part of the moon's surface?" Teal'c asked.

"Yes. Vasuman wasn't the original name of that area. In fact, there was no specific name for that region until after they did...whatever it is they did," Daniel said.

"What's the significance of 'Vasuman'?" Major Davis asked.

"It means born of fire," Daniel explained.

"What ever they did caused a huge release of thermal energy," Sam said. "There's no question about that. We just don't know if that was the means to destroy the crystals, or simply a by-product of the process."

"Is there no way to undo this change to the crystals?" Teal'c asked.

"I don't think so," Sam said. "Certainly not with our level of understanding."

"The point is that we shouldn't even try," Daniel interjected. "The Praseen destroyed them because of an accident. They were working with the crystals, trying to boost their energy capacity, and something went wrong. Very, very wrong."

"My suspicion is that they triggered some kind of nuclear reaction," Sam said. "I could be wrong about that—they were very careful to not leave any specific data behind. But the accident was devastating."

"Ultimately that's what killed the Praseen," Daniel said. "Some died as a direct result of the accident, from an illness that sounds a whole lot like radiation sickness."

"Ouch," Jack said quietly.

"Yeah," Daniel agreed tersely. "And the ones who survived, who were not obviously or directly affected...they were left infertile. Or worse. The few children who were born in the years after the accident were often affected by physical and mental abnormalities."

"An entire civilization destroyed," Teal'c said soberly.

"Yes, but if we know what they did and can figure out a way to avoid...." Davis began.

"They destroyed all the data to prevent that," Sam reminded him.

"I know, but...."

"Major," Jack interrupted. "The Praseen are dead."

"Yes?" Davis said.

"And they were a lot smarter than we are." Jack nodded to the rest of his team. "Pack it up, kids. We're out of here."

"Jack.... Jack!"

Harry hurried down the sidewalk toward the hotel entrance.

Jack finished stretching, enjoying the feel of the morning sunlight, before turning to acknowledge Maybourne.

"Top of the morning, Harry."

"What are you up to?" Maybourne asked, taking in the fact that Jack looked far too cheerful to be preparing for another day of diplomatic negotiations.

"Harry, I'm going to do you a favor here," Jack said. He gestured back toward the hotel and the conference hall within. "Walk away from this."

"Jack," Harry groaned. "We've been through this before."

"Fine," Jack said, throwing up his hands in a casual dismissal. "But don't say I didn't warn you."

Harry watched, at first surprised, then suspicious, as the other members of SG-1 and Major Davis filed through the door. They were dressed in BDUs and carrying full packs.

"What are you doing?" Harry asked Jack, eyeing the team warily.

"Walking away from this," Jack said with a grin before turning to follow his team.

Harry looked toward the conference hall, and then back at SG-1, retreating steadily in the direction of the stargate.

"Oh, for crying out loud."

"Oh, for crying out loud."

The End

Disclaimer: The SGC and its employees are not the property of the author. And in this case, they're pretty damn happy about that. This story written purely for entertainment purposes and with no intent to infringe on the rights of others.

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