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Keys to the Gate (1/3)

Title: Keys to the Gate
Fandom: The Pretender/7 Days/Stargate SG-1
Genre Crossover
Word Count 9744
Summary Jarod is diving off the Florida Keys and discovers a site that bears an unfamiliar alphabet. There's only one man he knows he can call to interpret them: Dr. Daniel Jackson.
Follows Trust Someone, 7 Days to Pretend, Building a Better Mousetrap, Thicker Than Water and Brave New World
Author's Note This is the latest in my ongoing Pretender crossover series. If your curious as to how the characters arrived where they are, you can read the others but I don't believe that it's necessary to enjoy this one. I'd like to thank Shad, Leanne, Heidi, and Laura for helping flesh out the story and answering plot questions. It's been sometime in the making (almost a year) but it's been sitting waiting for a few points to be cleared before posting. Please enjoy and don't forget to tell me what you think!



KEYS TO THE GATE by DTS
(A Pretender/7 Days/Stargate SG-1 crossover)


Jarod steered his ship through the reefs towards the dive site he had found for himself. He was glad he had chosen the pretend that brought him to this southern paradise. Everything and everyone was so laid back it was easy to forget the dog-eat-dog world past the city borders. The only appointment a person made a point of keeping was with the sunset. He had never felt this relaxed since, well, ever. Diving and snorkeling opened a completely new vista to him and he wondered why he had never tried to experience it earlier.

The maps and sonar told him he was where he wanted to be. He shut off the engine and lowered the anchor. He then went to the stern and put on his wetsuit before checking the scuba gear to be sure it was functioning properly. Once assured everything was all right, he put out his "diver down" buoy before entering the water.
He had been diving a few weeks now and the variety of underwater life never failed to amaze him. Swimming through schools of brightly colored fish, he soon came upon the object of his search. It spread across the seabed, an underwater Stonehenge. With his digital camcorder effectively waterproofed, he documented his approach. He circled around to get the full expanse of the structure before focusing in on areas that piqued his curiosity. One such area was what he deemed the main approach and entrance. Two large standing stones on either side bore carved inscriptions in unfamiliar glyphs partially covered in barnacles.

As both his oxygen and the camera battery were running low, he scanned as much of both stones as he could before surfacing. Thoughts darted through his mind over his discovery. Could this be Atlantis? There didn't seem to be any other structures nearby, so why would there be something like this in the middle of nowhere? He couldn't wait to upload the video into his computer and begin to decipher the writing.

*******************************************************

Dr. Daniel Jackson knocked politely on the open door. "Come in," said the voice of the occupant a tad too late as Daniel was already sitting down.

"Hey, Jack, I'm gonna need some time off the base."

"Why did you even bother knocking?" Gen. Jack O'Neill asked exasperated.

"Just out of courtesy. Anyway, an online connection sent me some photos he took of an underwater site he found off Florida."

"And you want to go off and play archeologist in the sun and surf?"

"Well, not play. I am an archeologist. Jack, the pictures are of an Ancient structure. There's no mistaking the writing."

"And what does it say?"

"I haven't had a chance to fully examine it yet. He only sent me the clearest shots. I think it's worth taking a look myself."

"Can you trust this guy?"

"Jarod? Yeah. We hooked up when he was researching a particular symbol he had found a couple of years ago before I ascended. I contacted him again when I got back. His perspective on this is so fresh. It sparks great discussions." Daniel looked at his best friend with pleading eyes. He knew that since the promotion, the administrative duties of being base commander seemed to elude Jack. Barking orders came naturally.

"Daniel," Jack hesitated.

"C'mon, Jack. Things are slow right now and you have a number of teams between missions."

Jack looked down at the papers on his desk as if the decision required thought. Daniel knew better than to push the advantage. "I guess we could always contact you should we need you."

"Thanks, Jack." Daniel stood and headed for the door. He paused and turned to face Jack, his mouth open and ready to speak.

"You want me to arrange a flight for you?"

"Yeah, that would be great." He left the office.

"Daniel!" He popped his head back in the door. "Where am I arranging a flight to?"

***************************************************

It was close; she could sense it. The next time it sent out a pulse, she would have its location. Her mission complete, she would be able to leave this planet and return to her own kind away from the Tau'ri. These humans left to their own devices had multiplied at a ridiculous rate and warred amongst themselves. They were also a plague on the senses. The stench of them assailed her nostrils and their loud, shrill voices grated on her ears. However, once she brought Ba'al the weapon of the Ancients, Earth would fall and the first victims would be SG-1.

***************************************************

Jarod stood on the tarmac and watched the Cessna taxi up to the gate. Once the engines shut off, the door opened and the steps were lowered. A man in his mid-thirties stood at the opening and spoke with the pilot before stepping down. He wore a pair of light khakis and a loose short sleeve button-down shirt. He had a duffle bag slung over his shoulder and sported a baseball cap with some sort of emblem on it that he couldn't decipher at this distance.

"Daniel?"

The man in question looked up, smiled, and changed direction. "Jarod, it's good to finally meet you," he said as he reached out his hand.

"Same with you." Jarod shook the proffered hand. "You travel light."

"I've learned from digs to only take necessities."

Now that Daniel was closer, Jarod could see that the insignia on the cap was that of the Air Force. From all the chats and emails, Daniel didn't seem like one to sport military accessories. "Nice hat," he said in the hopes of an explanation.

"Yeah, a friend of mine's in the Force. Just got promoted recently, too."

"I guess that explains the lift." They reached the parking lot and Jarod stopped in front of his Indian motorcycle. "Here, you had better put this on." He tossed the archeologist a helmet. "Safety first."

*********************************************

Jarod was not at all what Daniel expected. He thought the man would be a bit more academic looking and more...subdued. Kinda what he had been like before meeting Jack. The man who met him looked to be in top physical condition and tanned from outdoor living. His dark brown hair was longer than Daniel's own, but not as long as it was when he first became involved with the Stargate. His curiosity and observation skills were definitely those of a scholar. He knew he shouldn't have worn that cap but one of his old floppy brimmed ones instead. At least he didn't lie about it.

Now, to add to the dichotomy that was Jarod, he stopped in front of an Indian motorcycle and tossed him a helmet. "This is yours?" he asked in disbelief.

"Parking is at a premium here. A motorcycle makes much more sense."

Daniel shrugged, put on the helmet and climbed on the back of the motorcycle behind Jarod. Thank God Jack can't see this!

***************************************************

Col. Samantha Carter watched the monitor as the computer ran a number of simulations regarding a new power source to run the Ancients outpost in Antarctica since the ZPM the general found on Proklarush Taonas. That was now dead since all its remaining energy had been used to send a group of military personnel and scientists through the Gate to an address Daniel had deciphered and believed to be the location of the Lost City of the Ancients.

She had missed witnessing their departure as she had taken some well-deserved leave with her father offworld. She needed the time to think over what she had experienced at the hands of the evolved Replicator, Fifth. Even now, she could understand Fifth's motivation. He had felt used and betrayed by SG-1-her in particular. He had lashed out the only way he knew how, acting more human than he knew.

She shook her head to clear her thoughts. The prompt on the computer was blinking and she keyed in the next set of instructions. General O'Neill couldn't understand that this was her way to relax. For him it was fishing in the wilds of nowhere with the least amount of communication with the outside world. No, working on puzzles of any sort or tinkering with her bike helped her relax and forget the rest of the world.

She sighed and leaned back in her chair. Nothing was working. She couldn't find a way to maintain power and stay within the safety parameters. She wouldn't mind a little deus ex machina right now to give her a nudge in the right direction. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back. When she opened them, she spotted a mark on the wall. No, it couldn't be. That was just too much of a coincidence. She got out of her chair, crossed the room, and reached out for the spot. The glyph was transferred to the back of her hand. There was only one thing it could be projected from. She reached across the desk to where the ZPM was sitting, the lamp shining through. Sam ran her fingers along the side until she felt a slight etching. This has to mean something, or why put it there? Thankfully, the SGC employed someone who could tell her what it meant.

She made her way to the general's office. She knocked and waited for him to look up. "Sir?"

"C'mon in, Carter. Any excuse to avoid paperwork. How's it goin'?"

"Not well. Every simulation I've run to get the proper amount of power needed has either resulted in a release of lethal radiation or an explosion that would take Colorado and seven surrounding states."

"Ah."

"However, I did discover something on the ZPM itself that might give us a clue of sorts."

"And what might that be?"

"An Ancient symbol etched onto the casing. You don't remember anything, do you?"

"No, Carter, it's all gone. Thor wiped it clean."

"Then I need to show Daniel."

*****************************************************

Recently promoted Brigadier General Jack O'Neill had to play this one a little carefully. It wouldn't do to have his best team halfway across the country should a mission pop up. Maybe if he didn't tell her where Daniel was. "That might be a little tough. He's off the base tracking down a possible lead to more Ancient technology."

"What kind of lead, sir?"

"Some guy Daniel's been corresponding with online sent him photos of Ancient writing he took at some site." C'mon, Carter, let it die.

"Wow, I'm surprised Daniel didn't say anything. Do you know where he is?"

I should have known better. She's like a dog with a bone. "At this moment, no, I don't."

"He must have told you where he was going, left you a way to contact him. It's SOP when off the base."

"I'm aware of procedure, Colonel. Daniel said he would call when he meets up with this friend."

"There is a way I could contact him first."

Jack could practically see the gears turning in her mind. He had an idea of what she was planning but played dumb. "I only know the guy's first name. Kinda makes it hard to let your fingers do the walking."

Carter gave him one of her trademark looks of weariness, having to explain her thought processes again. "Knowing Daniel, he wouldn't have deleted such an important email. I just have to find which one it is and send a copy of this symbol."

"After hacking into Daniel's email." Jack sat there a moment considering his options. If she did get a hold of Jarod's address, it wouldn't reveal where he was. The only problem would be if she read anything in the mail itself. Of course, as her commanding officer, he could prevent her from going. "There is one possible way around it, if you can't wait for Daniel to call."

"The quicker we can get the translation, the better, sir."

"Daniel may have printed a hard copy and left it on his desk." He smiled. "Though with Daniel in mid-project, who knows exactly where it might be."

"It's a start, sir. Thank you."

After Carter had gone, Jack began to mentally prepare his defense for when she learned that Daniel had gone to Key West. Thank you, Danny boy.

**************************************************************

Jarod pulled the motorcycle into the space designated for his berth. He shut off the engine and let Daniel get off first. The breeze blowing in off the Gulf made things a little less muggy, but only slightly. "C'mon, I think we could both use something a little cold."

"Sounds great." Daniel pulled at his shirt where it clung to his body from the heat. "One thing about Colorado; there's not this much humidity."

"When we get out on the water, it won't be this bad." Jarod led the way down the dock to where his boat was tied up. It was a 45-foot cabin cruiser with both a for- and aft-cabin. She was named Centre of Attention, which Jarod felt appropriate considering the Centre had their attention on him. He climbed on first then held out his hand for Daniel's pack so he wouldn't be off balance.

Ignoring the hand, Daniel jumped nimbly aboard. "Now this is what I call a mobile home."

"You can store your gear in the forward cabin." Jarod unlocked the main cabin door and stepped into the living/dining area. As the passageway through the galley to the forward cabin was narrow, he motioned Daniel to go first. As Daniel set down his duffle on the bunk, Jarod stepped down into the galley and pulled two sodas from the fridge. "I hope this is ok."

"Yeah, that'll be fine." He paused in the passageway. "Um, I just need to use the, um..."

"Head? I'll wait up on deck."

Jarod took the two bottles of soda, went up on deck, and sat in one of the folding canvas chairs that faced the dock. He thought it best that he and Daniel get to know each other a bit better before they discussed the ruins and the symbols. He took advantage of Daniel's absence to review what he knew of the other man's life.
He had been born July 8, 1965 to two archeologists. Unfortunately, his parents were crushed to death when a stone slab fell on them. Daniel was only eight years old. He was then raised in a number of foster homes as his only living relative, grandfather Nick Ballard, was off on a number of his own digs. In the course of his education, Daniel mastered 24 languages and earned doctorates in archeology, anthropology, and linguistics. It was while working with Dr. Jordan in Chicago that Daniel first voiced his theories that the pyramids, even Egyptian culture itself, were older than previously believed. He was publicly ridiculed at a lecture in 1995 after which he virtually fell off the face of the earth.

When Jarod asked him Daniel what he had been doing in the intervening nine years, Daniel merely said that he was doing research and consulting work for a large private organization. His first thought was that Daniel had been "absorbed" by the Centre but then realized that the government or the military was more likely, though why they would need an archeologist of Daniel's caliber puzzled him.

Then there were those strange sightings in the sky a few months back. Mulder believed there were alien ships attacking Earth because how else could a number of navy vessels explode with no enemy ships nearby. Add to that the weird readings over Antarctica and another explosion out in space. Jarod had heard of them as well but didn't give them any credence. Now, however, it could be a distinct possibility.

Daniel stepped out onto the deck looking much refreshed. Jarod handed him the other soda and he sat. "Thanks."

They sat in companionable silence for a few moments, neither really knowing what to say. Daniel spoke first. "I never got the chance to ask you if you ever found the origin of that symbol you asked me about."

"The skulls? Yeah, I did. It had to do with some knights from the Crusade who guarded supposedly mystic scrolls. At least that's the story I got in Scotland."

"Did you find any proof that the scrolls existed?"

"Nothing concrete, no." It wouldn't do to let Daniel know of the scrolls. It would lead back to the Centre and he didn't want to involve anyone else with his past.

"Where did you go for a year or so? No one on the boards seemed to know where you went."

"I was on sabbatical for a very remote dig. Very little communication available."

"Did you find anything on the dig?"

"Some interesting artifacts, but nothing I can talk about just yet. We have to wait for the tests to come back."

Jarod interpreted that to mean Top Secret. "Can't have anyone stealing your thunder, eh?" Daniel gave him a nervous smile. "Don't worry, I won't ask any more."
Jarod finished the last of his soda. "If you're up to it, we need to get a few provisions for tomorrow, plus you can't come all the way to Key West and not see the sunset. No need to protest, we can walk it."

******************************************************************

She made her way through the Tau'ri as they thronged the waterfront square as they did every night at the same time. She could not understand what drove them to do such a thing. There was no great proclamation by an overlord or god and no great enemy to confront. The food was not given away, in fact, it seemed more expensive here than elsewhere. The entertainment was common: jesters and gypsies. Yet, when the sun set in the west, a loud cheer went up from all who watched. To treat such an everyday occurrence as a festival befit these humans. It was a wonder they had come as far as they had.

She made her way to the edge of the water practically unnoticed by the crowd. To them, she was merely another observer in this nightly ritual. She had no fear of her small detector attracting attention as the majority of the humans carried personal communication devices and other small electronics. She was getting no readings at all. Every day she walked the perimeter of the island, waiting for the reading that would give her the direction of the Ancients' device. It had to give off another pulse soon. It had not set a pattern, but it had been too long since the last one.

She put the device away and prepared to meld into the crowd when she saw a face near one of the many vendors of what passed for food to these humans. It was a face she had never thought to see though it was one she knew by heart; a face that all major Goa'ulds had been trained to spot. If Daniel Jackson were here, the Tau'ri must know of the Ancients' device as well.

A young boy-child looked up at her in awe. She glared at him before the mother pulled him away. "Mommy, did you see? That lady's eyes glowed!"

****************************************************************

Daniel was enjoying the celebration with all the hawkers selling their wares as well as all the street performers competing for attention. Jarod had transformed into an excited child as if he were absorbing the atmosphere directly through his skin. Now wouldn't that be something. He took a bite of his hot dog and a swig of beer and observed everything. Jarod, munching on a piece of frozen key lime pie, found a spot on the water's edge near a tight-tope walker.

It was amazing, this daily celebration of life. It harkened back to all the pagan celebrations of the sun-though a bit more commercial. That would be an interesting thesis. Why in this technological age that man still feels the need to come together and celebrate nature.

Jarod was watching the performer intently. To Daniel it looked as if he were making mental notes. "You planning on trying that yourself sometime?"

"Oh, I did a stint with Cole Brothers. It's just basic physics with a little showmanship thrown in. He's pretty good."

An archeo-symbolgist who performed with a circus? You don't see that every day. "You're a man of many talents, Jarod."

The man only grinned as if it was not the first time he had heard that.

"Mommy, did you see? That lady's eyes glowed!"

At the sound of the boy's voice, Daniel whipped about, trying to locate the direction of the child. There was a Goa'uld on this island and Daniel didn't need three guesses as to why. Thing was, did it recognize him? He'd have to call Jack as soon as he could manage a bit of privacy. He turned his attention back to Jarod and the sunset. It wouldn't do for him to get suspicious at this early stage.

*******************************************************

Lyle sat in his office, a newly issued memo sitting on his desk. The higher-ups were not pleased regarding the pursuit of Jarod. With his sister's departure, that duty had fallen to him. There hadn't been any packages sent to taunt them and there had been no communications with Sydney. The man would probably lie anyway, which was why all his phone calls and e-mails were monitored.

He knew that Jarod had a soft spot when it came to Miss Parker, trying to point out what he called the truth, to chip away at her and make her as weak as their mother had been. Now she was gone, having run off with that irritating son of a bitch that was his younger half-brother. Through his government contacts, he probably provided her with a new identity making it easier for her to slip away undetected.

There was a soft knock on his office door. "Enter." Broots, the computer geek who used to work with his sister, entered timidly. "Well, what is it?"

"We have a possible lead on Jarod." He handed Lyle a printout of a newspaper article from the Key West ----. A dive instructor was arrested for negligence after two divers nearly died of "the bends". He was only brought to justice after a newly-hired boat captain checked the equipment and saw the gauges were giving false readings. "That sounds like something Jarod would do." Lyle looked at the date. "This is from three weeks ago! What makes you think he's still there?"

Broots gulped. "Um, since you, ah, took over, it seems that he's, um, staying longer after each pretend."

"You think he's not worried about me catching him? Just because I don't go haring off at each little sighting does not mean the chase is off. Contact this dive school and see what you can learn about the captain. We'll see if he's still there before we leave."

"Yes, Mr. Lyle." Broots retreated out of the office.

The news that Jarod didn't seem the least concerned about him irked Lyle. He had cultivated his menacing persona to an art. Intimidating Broots cheered him somewhat and hopefully they would receive the news that Jarod was still in the Keys. He picked up the phone to call the hangar. "Have the jet ready to leave for Key West as soon as you hear from me."

********************************************************

Mira Parker answered the phone on the second ring. "Parker."

"How are things in Nevada, Miss Parker?"

"Jarod. Why are you calling? Is something wrong?" She didn't bother trying to hide the worry in her voice.

"No, everything's fine. Your brother doesn't seem to be as gung-ho as you in his pursuit."

"Don't let that fool you. He's just biding his time until your capture will most benefit him." She sat back in her office chair. "What is it you need?"

"A little information. I didn't want to risk calling Sydney or Broots."

"And you think I can get it for you."

She heard him chuckle on the other end. "You're with the NSA. You're supposed to have the lowdown on everyone. Besides, I know you have a top-notch hacker there."

"Can't you look it up yourself? I thought there was nothing beyond your skills," she teased.

"Kinda hard to do when I have company. And not much time," he added.

"OK, tell me what you need."

"USAF officer, recently promoted either to colonel or general, stationed somewhere in Colorado named Jack."

"You know his name but no other details?"

"He's a friend of Daniel's. I caught the name as Daniel made a phone call. He's out there now talking to him."

"Who's Daniel?"

"An archeologist, Parker. An academic. Not your type at all."

"Who knows? Maybe an academic is just what I need." Her computer beeped. "Search is done. Looks like there are a few that meet your criteria. Your best bet, though, is General Jack O'Neill stationed at Cheyenne Mountain." That clicked in her head for some reason. She knew she had heard someone mention it casually in conversation. She let her mind drift in order for her inner sense to work. "Jarod, Mulder mentioned a top secret project going on there. Do you think..?"

"From what I've heard, it's a strong possibility. Thanks, Miss Parker. Say hi to Frank and the others for me."

Miss Parker couldn't help but smile at the change of circumstances involving Jarod and herself. Formerly his nemesis, he now called her for information and she gladly gave it. Jarod had saved her life-and her soul-by forcing her to choose between her newfound family and the family she thought she had known all her life. With her schedule free at the moment, she decided to do some further digging into this Col, Jack O'Neill and whatever he was doing at Cheyenne Mountain. If Jarod needed more information, he'd have it.

*************************************************************8

Jack pushed his chair away from the desk. Paperwork was caught up and all teams had reported in on time and no emergencies. He checked his watch: 6:00. "Not bad, Jack. Getting better." He walked toward the door and was reaching for the light switch when the phone rang. Almost made it. He picked up the receiver. "O'Neill."

"Jack."

"Daniel. Having a grand time in 'de islands'? You must be because it's taken, what, four hours to call."

"It's the first opportunity I've had. We had to get a few last-minute provisions then we went to the Mel Fisher Museum. You know, they have a gold bar there you can-"

"Daniel, have you looked at the photos?"

"No, not yet. I think we'll look at them now. Jack, there's something else. I believe there's a Goa'uld here. I didn't see for myself, but I heard someone point out a woman's glowing eyes. They must be on to this-whatever it is too."

"How do they know about it?"

"I don't know. Maybe it gives off some sort of energy and they've homed in on it."

"You watch your ass, Daniel. Nothing good ever happens with those snake heads around."

"Is that Daniel, sir?"

Jack looked at the door to see Carter. "Yeah. Hold on, Daniel, Carter wants to talk to you." He handed Carter the phone and stepped aside. With one ear, he listened as Carter recounted her problem while he thought on what Daniel had told him. He knew Daniel could defend himself against a Goa'uld when on solid ground, but on open water with a civilian-well, more of a civilian than Daniel himself-he wasn't so sure. Maybe he could arrange some inter-branch backup.

"Sir, do you want to speak with Daniel some more?"

"Hunh? Oh, yeah." Jack took the phone. "Daniel, I'm gonna contact the Naval Air Station there and inform them of what you're doing. If I need to, I'll go through Hammond."

"Thanks, jack. I'm sure Jarod knows what channel to use if we need to contact them."

"Watch your back." Jack replaced the receiver. Carter was still there, watching him. "What?"

"Nothing, sir. Do you think you'll be able to get the Navy to cooperate?"

"I'll do what I have to, Carter. I don't want Daniel to die-again."

***************************************************************

Jarod stood at the sliding door that opened onto the deck. He watched through the glass as Daniel paced back and forth, gesturing with his left hand while he held the phone in his right. It was a habit he had seen other academics display. He had even adopted it himself a few times. He knew the call was related to the site and Daniel's reason for being here. What was it about those strange glyphs that made Daniel fly out here at the first available moment?

Daniel finished his call and put the phone back in his pocket. Jarod slid the door open. "Everything okay?"

"Hm? Oh, yeah. Jack was just a little peeved I didn't call when I first got here."

"Your Air Force buddy?"

"He thinks he's my big brother and is slightly over-protective. Who can blame him?"

"Are you going to elaborate on that?"

Daniel gave a crooked grin. "I have a tendency to attract...trouble."

That's an interesting bit of information to add to the Not A Normal Archeologist column. "C'mon in and I'll show you the footage I shot. Maybe you can make something of it and plan how you want to go about exploring."

They sat on the sofa as Jarod pulled up the video on his laptop. The eagerness in Daniel's eyes and the incoherent speech made him realize that there was more to this than first believed. When he thought on Daniel's theories paired with this reaction, maybe Mulder's views about aliens weren't so far off. "So, what's it mean? It's all alien gibberish to me."

For a split second, he saw that he had hit a nerve. Daniel quickly recovered. "I'm not exactly sure, but I think it could be a precursor to Phoenician, Cuneiform, and Linear B. There are similarities, anyway." He leaned forward and peered intently at the screen.

The computer beeped and informed Jarod he had mail. Hoping it wasn't something he needed to hide from his guest, he went to his mailbox. The sender's address was unfamiliar but the provider was the same as Daniel's.

"I hope you don't mind. A colleague found something she wanted me to look at."

"Sure." Jarod opened the email and was surprised to see a photo of a glyph from the same mysterious source as those from the site. "That's odd. I've never seen them before and now twice in three days."

"I didn't know what to make of it when I first saw it either."

"You know this symbol?"

"I think it represents 'power' or 'energy' depending on the context," he said as he typed and sent his reply."

Jarod looked at the new photo. "This is on one of the pillars!" he declared after a moment. "I know I've seen it." He played the video through again and slowed it down. "There," he said, stopping it.

He could sense Daniel was torn between sharing his knowledge and keeping a secret he had been sworn to. "Yes, that does look like the same symbol. I think I'll have to study it further." He removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes.

Jarod took the hint. "Why don't we call it a night? You've had a pretty long day. You can look at it some more tomorrow on the way there. You don't get seasick, do you?"

"It's a little late to be asking that, but no, I don't." He stood and headed towards the forward cabin. "Thanks again, Jarod. You don't know what this means to me."

I'm sure I do. "Good night, Daniel."

**********************************************************

She followed Jackson and the other man to one boat among many and watched Jackson as he used a small communication device. She could not hear his voice but his gestures denoted a sense of urgency. That could only mean he was in contact with the one known as O'Neill. Had her presence been revealed due to a child?
It was late and she knew these Tau'ri did not like traveling in the dark; some remnant of their primitive past. She would have some time to find a means of transport to follow. She would let them do the work of retrieval then take it from them when they were vulnerable.

**************************************************************

Daniel awoke slowly to the aroma of 100 Columbian nectar. He hadn't slept so soundly in ages. The sea air and the rocking motion must have worked their magic on him. He pushed himself to the edge of the bunk and stood slowly, waiting until he got his sea legs. He opened the cabin door and made a beeline for the coffeemaker. It wasn't until he was pouring the coffee that he noticed they were moving. Jarod must have gotten up and underway early.

He made a visit to the head then back to his cabin to change into shorts and a tank top. With his sunglasses and coffee in hand, he went outside. A quick glance around told him they were out of sight of land. How early did he get up?

"I was wondering when you'd show up," he heard Jarod call down. "You must have slept well."

Daniel climbed the ladder up to the steering console. "Better than I have in a long time. What about you? What time did you get up?"

Jarod spared his watch a quick glance. "Oh, about 5:30, I think. There are some storms supposedly heading our way and I figured we'd get a good head start before they arrived."

"How far away are we from the site?"

"Jarod pointed at the nautical map folded beside him. "We're about here and this," he said indicating a red circle "is the site. I'd say close to two hours."

Daniel sipped his coffee savoring its flavor as he thought on his next question. All he had heard of Dr. Jarod Dodson led him to believe that the man was dedicated to his profession. What would make him leave that behind? Daniel had been left with no choice. "I can see why you came down here. Certainly has better weather than Boston."

"If you don't count the hurricanes."

"Have you been through one of those?"

"A few years back. I was on Bahia Grande during Cassandra."

"Were you there for research?"

"No, a different job altogether."

Daniel knew he was getting edited answers. "What made you decide to leave the museum?"

"I was beginning to feel hemmed in by the walls. I needed open spaces and the ability to make my own hours. I might go back to that life later, it all depends."

Daniel swallowed the remains of his coffee and was ready for more. He saw Jarod had a cup. "Need a refill?"

"Thanks. Oh, and there's sunscreen in the cabinet by the couch."

"Great, I don't want to look like a lobster at the end of this," Daniel smiled crookedly. "I'll be right back."

Inside, Daniel saw the laptop set up, the video waiting to be played. His hand hesitated over the keyboard. Should he take advantage to search the computer for whatever Jarod was hiding? But I'm hiding something too. I'm not a snoop or a spy. If he wants to tell me, he'll tell me. He'd probably know anyway.

Daniel refilled Jarod's coffee and took it back to him. "I'll look over that video and try to translate it. If you want me, call. I'll leave the door open."

"Great. I don't think I'll need you for anything though."

Daniel went back to his cabin, removed the file on Ancient script from his pack, and returned to the living room where he spread the contents on the couch for easy reference. If he could translate it before they arrived at the site, he'd know what they were heading into.

***********************************************************

Lyle stepped off the Centre jet into the mugginess that was Key West. Aware of what he would be walking into, he wore a lightweight white linen suit so the heat wasn't as oppressive as it could have been. He looked at the two Sweepers beside him and winced inwardly. They both wore the traditional dark suits and therefore stood out like sore thumbs.

They strode across the tarmac to the waiting car. Sam opened the back door for him while Willie walked around to the driver's seat. Lyle got comfortable. "You have the address?"

Sam patted his jacket pocket. "Got it right here."

"Good. This is the best lead we've had on Jarod in months. Mr. Raines will not be pleased if we come back empty handed."

"Yes, sir." Sam shut the door and took his place in the front passenger seat.

Willie drove across the island to the dive charter where Jarod had worked. The man inside the kiosk was lanky, longhaired, unshaven, tanned, and everything Lyle expected of a laid-back hippie with little or no ambition. His "big city" charm should work a treat. He pulled out the most current photo they had of Jarod. "I was told this man worked for you."

The man looked at the picture. "Jarod? Yeah, he does. He went out this morning on a private charter."

"When do you expect him back?"

"Don't rightly know. They could be out there for days."

Damn! Just missed him. We could use the jet to locate him. He looked at the man like a benevolent dictator. "Where was he headed?"

"I'm not positive. He didn't tell us much about this charter." Sam and Willie each took a menacing step forward. "Look, I don't know why you want him, but Jarod is one of our best captains. Both novice and experienced divers liked him."

"He has that effect on people." An idea came to him. "Every ship has to log their destination with the harbormaster, correct? We will simply take that bearing and find him."

Lyle turned on his heel and walked back to the car. Even if the guy did get a hold of Jarod, what would he be able to do in the middle of the ocean? He is not going to humiliate me again!

*****************************************************************

Mira was reading the newest information she had discovered on Brig. Gen. Jack O'Neill when there was a knock on the door. "Hey, you wanna go into town for a few drinks?" asked her brother Frank. Drinking seemed to be one of his favorite pastimes. That, and gambling.

"Sorry, I'm in the middle of something." She wheeled her chair back to block his view.

"What is it? Maybe I can help you."

"Frank, there's no need--"

He had already seen the screen. "Whaddya know, Jack made general."

"You know this guy?"

"He was in special ops and our paths crossed a few times." He peered at the monitor. "He's still at Cheyenne Mountain too. Kinda tame for him."

"What if there's something going on there? Something that would keep him there."

"Something more suited to his qualifications? It'd have to be big. How did you hear about him anyway? You heard from Jarod, didn't you?"

"He wanted me to look some things up."

Frank grinned. "Maybe we can go see him in person."

"How to you propose we get Talmadge to let us go there? Declare a field trip?"

"We did it once before. We just need to persuade Olga or Hooter to come up with some need to go to NORAD. Once there, we track down Jack on our own."

"OK, let's say we get there, what's to say your friend the general will even remember you or want to see you?"

"You forget my winning personality!"

******************************************************************

Jarod stopped the engines and set anchor. He then stood and stretched before heading down to Daniel. As he thought, the man was deep into his research, not even realizing they had stopped. "Daniel, we're here."

"Hm?" He looked up. "This is fascinating. Some of these I've encountered before, but in context, they're different."

"OK, then let's suit up." He made an effort to help Daniel with his papers.

"That's OK, Jarod. I've got them in a certain order."

"I'll be outside when you're ready." Jarod went on deck and set up the equipment. There was something else about those symbols on the papers that Daniel didn't want him to see. If it were only the fact that they were alien in origin, it wouldn't be much of a shock since he knew Daniel's earlier theories. He said he had come across them before so that would mean there are other similar sites. But why keep those secret since he found this one? Unless it's where they're located that's the secret! When they were done exploring for the day, he'd broach the subject.

Daniel came out and blinked a few times in the sun. "It's bright."

"It happens with the sun." He stood. "Come on, I thought I'd have to hold you back at this point, not prod you."

"Sorry." He walked over to where the suits were.

Jarod was already pulling his on over his shorts. "So, have you decided on the approach?"

"Yeah." Daniel sat on one of the deck chairs and fought the suit as he pulled it on. "I was thinking we'd go up what could have been the main avenue to those two pillars with all the glyphs. From there we can examine the inner workings."

The two men finished preparing for the dive, assisting each other with the tanks. Jarod tossed the buoy over the side so anyone who came near would know they were underwater. Armed with waterproof cameras, the two divers jumped into the water.

Jarod led Daniel to the site and was sorry he couldn't see the archeologist's face. Granted, he didn't know the size of the places where Daniel had already seen these glyphs, but even so, this was quite impressive. They each took a pillar, both documenting with cameras. Daniel ran his fingertips lightly over the writings almost like a caress before they moved into the center. As they neared the raised stone platform that mimicked a triangle, Jarod felt a humming begin in his head as if he were sitting near a fluorescent bulb, soft but insistent and annoying. Jarod saw a strange glow coming from a spot near the base of the pedestal. It couldn't be light reflecting as they were too deep. It must be phosphorous of some sort. His curiosity aroused, Jarod swam closer.

The light seemed to be coming from beneath the dais; a delicate metal tracing like leaded stained glass covering it. As if under some outside compulsion, Jarod reached out his right hand regardless of any possible hazards. He pressed the area about the glow and the whole area within the pillars began to glow, coming back to life. Stunned, Jarod could only stare as he tread water.

Daniel came over quickly and gestured from Jarod to the pedestal. Jarod interpreted "What did you do?" He repeated the gesture for Daniel and everything shut down. Excited, Daniel had him do it again, catching it on camera this time.

Jarod couldn't help but grin at his enthusiasm. Now if we could only discover what this was all for. As if in answer to his thoughts, a panel at the base of the pedestal opened. Jarod peered in and saw a large pulsating cylinder. He reached in slowly and the cylinder slid outward and into his reach. Not questioning why or how, Jarod removed it and placed it in his zippered pouch. With its removal, everything shut down.

Daniel pointed up and they slowly rose, breaking the surface, port and aft of the boat. Jarod swam to the ship and pulled himself onto the aft platform then helped Daniel. Removing his mouthpiece and mask, he asked Daniel, "What the hell happened?"

Before the archeologist could answer, a deep reverberating voice spoke. "You have awakened the power of the Ancients for which I thank you."

*****************************************************

She looked down at the two Tau'ri sitting on the small platform, clad in suits for underwater exploration. She was pleased to find the ship unguarded when she pulled alongside in her "borrowed" boat. Not long after her arrival, she felt the increase of power. They had found the key to the Ancients' site! She would take the apparatus from them and learn its secret before she killed them.

She raised her right hand, her ribbon device glowing with power. "Dr. Jackson, climb the ladder and join me on the deck." She aimed the device at the second man. "Do not disobey or I shall use this on your comrade." Jackson stood, tossed his fins onto the deck, and then climbed the ladder. Once he was on the deck, she motioned him to stand in the corner. She then trained the device on Jackson, using the same threat on the other man. After a slight hesitation, he joined Jackson.

"I want you to give me the device you removed from the Ancients' site," she demanded.

The other man looked at Jackson. "Daniel, what is going on?"

Could it be this human knew nothing of the Goa'uld and Ancients? Surely, they did not keep the existence of other worlds secret? She allowed Jackson to answer, amused at his situation.

"She is a Goa'uld, an alien parasite inhabiting a human body. They visited Earth before, masquerading as gods from different cultures, enslaving humanity."

"Supporting your theories but you can't tell anyone."

His easy acceptance surprised her based on what she had learned during her time here. Most Tau'ri scoffed at the idea of alien life, intelligent or otherwise. Yet, they had mastered the Stargate and killed many major System Lords. To halt their advance, she needed the device. She aimed her ribbon device at the second man. "Dr. Jackson, I know you have faced this many times before, but your friend has not. Give me the device or I shall use this on him!"

"You know me, but I don't know you. You might just use it on him anyway."

"I am Agrona." She waited for recognition.

"Nope, doesn't ring a bell. Must be a minor deity."

She held her temper, not wanting to destroy either of them before retrieving the Ancients' mechanism. "Now where is the device?" She could feel the tendrils reaching out from her hand towards the man's head. "Tell me now!"

She could tell that Jackson was ready to break and tell her. He would never allow a friend to be harmed. A slow satisfied smile spread across her face. She would be able to return successful to Ba'al.

At that moment, both men disappeared in a beam of light. The Asgard had once again stepped in to save Earth! She let out a growl of frustration. She had one more thing to do before heading back to her ship. She would not return to Ba'al without something to show for all this time on Earth.

***************************************************************

On the Centre jet, Lyle used binoculars to try to spot Jarod's boat. He was in contact with Willie and Sam who had taken a speedboat in order to take Jarod the moment he was spotted. Lyle had a description from the harbormaster and the name. The man had nerve, that was for sure. No luck so far. They were in the right direction, just not out far enough.

"Not much longer before we have to head back, Mr. Lyle," said the pilot. "I didn't have time to finish refueling."

Lyle ignored the not so subtle placement of blame. "How much longer?"

"About fifteen minutes."

"I think we'll need every one." He scanned to the right. Hold on a second. He ran the description through his head. The ship was definitely Jarod's. "Willie, Sam, I've spotted him." He relayed the coordinates. "Approach with care. We don't want him seeing you too soon."

"Yes, Mr. Lyle," came Willie's voice. "We have a visual--"

The explosion buffeted the jet and the pilot swerved to avoid the cloud of flame that expanded into the air. Stunned, Lyle lowered the binoculars. There was no way anyone could have survived the blast, even Jarod. There wasn't another ship or land for miles. "Search for any sign of Jarod! We need to know one way or the other!" I will not accept a maybe!

*******************************************************************

After facing down Agrona, Daniel then found himself in Jack's office. Jarod was there too. Thank you, Thor! "Jarod, you okay?"

"A little disoriented, but physically fine. You've been holding back."

"Usually, I can't get him to shut up."

Daniel turned to the door to see Jack entering his office. "Hey, Jack."

Jack stopped and faced Jarod. "Bet you're regretting contacting him."

"Actually, no. It's been most...enlightening. I met my first alien today."

"Daniel?"

"She was waiting for us when we returned to the ship. She called herself Agrona."

"And who's she when she's home?"

"The British goddess of slaughter," Jarod supplied.

Daniel looked at him. The man was full of surprises. Not many people would know an obscure British deity without looking it up. "She knew me, Jack. It was very disconcerting."

"We are rather infamous in some circles, Daniel. My question is, how did she get here? We know it can't have been through the Gate and no ships have been reported."

"Excuse me, but could she have arrived during the fight over Antarctica?"

Daniel almost choked. How could he know about that?

Jack tried denial. "'Fight over Antarctica?' What are you talking about?"

Jarod relayed what had happened months ago, not the story given to the public, but the real story. Finished, he looked at Jack, waiting for a reply.

"Daniel, help Jarod find a change of clothes and then you can both tell me what happened."

Daniel smiled. "Thanks, Jack."

"Yes, thank you, general." Jarod reached out his hand.

Jack shook it. "You know too much already to make up some story."

Daniel ushered Jarod out into the hall. Two men dressed in scuba gear underneath a mountain drew some curious stares, but Daniel merely smiled and it was accepted as one of the many strange things that occurred at the SGC.

"Daniel, where are we? I don't even remember how we got here."

"Um, let's just say you had another close encounter. The Asgard are a benevolent race sworn to protecting other races against the Goa'uld. We help them out too."

"And they transported us from the Caribbean to Colorado?"

"You've been doing research. Yes, we're in Colorado." He stopped outside the guest quarters. "It's not much, I know, but there should be some fatigues or a flight suit in the closet. I'll come back and get you once I've changed out of this."

Jarod nodded as he walked slowly into the room, looking around. "Thanks, Daniel, for trusting me."

"No problem, Jarod. As Jack said, you've already seen more than most. If you're done before I get back, you might just want to sit and gather your thoughts. The briefing just might be a little overwhelming."

Daniel left Jarod and headed to the locker room where he quickly changed out of the wet suit and into his base fatigues. On the way back to get Jarod, he made a quick stop at his office and was happy to see his duffle and Jarod's things from the boat. He pulled out the file on the Ancients' script and put it next to his camera. He also picked up Jarod's laptop. On the way, he worked over in his head how he would explain to Jarod exactly what he had walked into.

He knocked on the door to Jarod's temporary room. "Jarod, you ready?" The door opened and Jarod stepped out wearing a flight suit. Somehow, it seemed to fit him as if he had worn one before.

"I think so."

Right." They walked through the halls on the way to the briefing room. "I guess I should fill you in on what's been going on. It started in Giza in the 1920s..."

****************************************************************************************

Teal'c climbed the stairs to the briefing room. O'Neill had called the meeting due to the surprise return of Daniel Jackson with a civilian, a man who knew more than he should. He was taken aback that O'Neill was allowing this man to see within the SGC without escort. He must believe him to be a potential ally.

Col. Carter was already there, the exhausted ZPM resting on the table in front of her. Was there a connection between what she had been working on and Daniel Jackson's trip?

O'Neill walked out from his office. "The boys not here yet? Leave it to two academics to be late."

"So now they're off in Atlantis without an immediate way home," Daniel Jackson was saying as they two men entered the briefing room.

Teal'c took time to observe the man while he was still at ease. He was tall, near six-foot with dark hair and brown eyes, a small mole under his right eye. Being faced by two officers, he immediately straightened, coming to attention as if he had served in the military before. He was not all he appeared to be even though he was not Goa'uld.

"Daniel, make the introductions and then we can get started."

"You've already met Jack. This is Col. Samantha Carter, a Theoretical Astrophysicist and a top-notch soldier. This fellow over here is Teal'c, a Jaffa, one-time First Prime of the false god Apophis, and great friend."

"Thank you, Daniel Jackson."

"Guys, this is Dr. Jarod Dodson, a friend from online. He found an underwater site off Florida that had Ancient script all over it." He sat and the visitor followed suit.

"Did you get a chance to translate any of it?" questioned Col. Carter.

"Only some of the pictures that Jarod had recorded earlier. It's only partial, of course. I won't be able to get the full meaning until I complete the translation."

"I will gladly go with you to this place to guard against intruders," Teal'c volunteered.

"I don't think that will be necessary, at least not yet." He handed Jarod Dodson the camera and laptop. The man hooked them up and nodded that all was ready.
"You see, we found something at the site."

On the screen, Teal'c watched as one of the men in underwater suits reached out his hand over a glowing surface, causing other machinery to come to life. "Jarod Dodson carries the Ancient gene."

*********************************************

Whoa! Wait just a second here! On top of having the Pretender gene, I now have this Ancient gene? Daniel had told him of the Ancients, the race that built the Stargate, and how they had all this advanced technology that no one knew how to use. It could only be activated by those who had this gene. And apparently, he was one of those.

O'Neill pulled the laptop closer to him and played it again. "Looks like the real deal to me. Carter?"

The colonel looked at the playback once more. "He activated it just like you did on Proklarush Taonas."

"I thought you said you brought something back from the site, Daniel."

"Oh, right. Jarod, you want to take that out?"

Jarod put the zippered pouch on the table and opened it, revealing the Ancient gadget. The moment he touched it to lift it from the bag, it began to glow once more. It felt strange and somewhat familiar at the same time. But why? Maybe this gene provided some sort of link to their technology, limiting those who could use it.

"Oh, my God," exclaimed Col. Carter. "A working ZPM! We'll need to run tests on it." She reached out her hand and Jarod pushed it in her direction. She lifted it gingerly and gazed at it in wonder.

"Do we have anyone on had to run the tests now that Beckett's gone?" O'Neill asked.

"There should be," said Daniel. "Jarod seems to be like that pilot--"

"Sheppard," supplied O'Neill.

"A natural. He does it without even trying."

Jarod sat there taking it all in. Could his Pretender gene and this Ancient gene be one and the same? Maybe the presence of one increases the potential of the other. He would have to tell them. They'd find out doing the test anyway.

"There is something I have to tell you," he said to no one in particular.

The others seemed to remember he was there. "Sorry, Jarod," Daniel apologized. "We were talking about you like you weren't there. What is it?"

He took a deep breath. "I already have a genetic anomaly. It gives whoever possesses it the ability to become whatever they want to be."

"What?" O'Neill scoffed.

"I read a few books on a subject and then I can do it. I've been a cardiologist, an FBI agent, a US Marshall, psychologist, dentist--"

"We get the idea," O'Neill stopped him.

"That's why you were in Key West," put in Daniel. "You weren't on sabbatical at all."

"No, I wasn't."

"But how did you learn of this? Why do you do it?" Carter asked.

"I was taken from my family as a boy and taken to an organization known as the Centre. They told me my parents died in a plane crash and that I would live there. They honed my talent and used it for what I thought to be beneficial purposes. It wasn't until years later that I learned they had twisted my simulations to their own purposes, killing God only knows how many innocents.

"I escaped and began to use my gift for more positive purposes in order to make up for the past. I'm also trying to reunite with my family while staying ahead of the Centre who want to take me back." Finished with his narration, Jarod poured himself a cup of water from the carafe on the table and drank deep.

"Wow," commented Daniel. "That's some story. No wonder you started up interesting discussions."

"When you're doing these..."

"Pretends."

"Pretends, didn't anyone catch on?" questioned Carter.

Jarod thought back. "Not that I can recall."

"Let's get that test done anyway." O'Neill brought things back on track. "Daniel, you want to take him to the infirmary?"

"Sure thing, Jack. C'mon, Jarod."

Jarod stood and followed his new friend out of the briefing room. What have I gotten into?

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