Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Stargate.
Judging by the looks on the Airmen’s faces, SG-1 really needed a shower. Actually, Jack suspected that they were way past the stage of just needing showers, and were now well into the stage where they could be labeled Bio-Hazardous. Of course that couldn’t be helped. Thor wasn’t exactly the kind of guy who would hang around the briefing room, while Jack and his team took a nice, long, hot shower. The Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet was too busy for that. He was so busy in fact, that he would usually just beam SG-1 someplace, and then leave. So when Thor did offer to stick around for debriefing, Hammond had decided that to sacrifice the air in the briefing room, rather than risk Thor having to leave while SG-1 was in the shower.
Jack listened to Carter fill the General in on the last two weeks, while he tried to work out the kinks in his neck. He was looking forward to actually sleeping in his own bed for once. Gou’uld cells, and the floors of Asgard vessels did not make suitable mattresses for men his age. Though he doubted it would make much of a difference. He hadn’t really been able to sleep through the night for months now. Ceci’s ghost, and the ghosts of two little children, Charlie and Lizzy wouldn’t let him rest.
They were always around, these ghosts. Always asking the same question: “Why did you fail us?” During the day he ignore the ghosts, he could distract himself. But at night there would be no distraction. He would have to face them once again. And it was difficult to fall asleep with the constant mantra of ‘you failed us’ filling whatever room he was in.
“Would you like some more Coffee as well Sir?” Carter asked. Her voice snatched him out of his morbid thoughts and looking over at her he knew that that was her intention. SG-1 had always been one of the best things that ever happened to him, but during the last three months they had been positively God sent. They had silently and sometimes not so silently supported him.
After Ceci had dropped the bombshell on him, it was SG-1 who had helped him sort though all of the files that Ceci had acquired. He had known almost as soon as Ceci had left his house on that May afternoon, that he would never be able to find out what happened to his daughter without his team. If nothing else he had to tell Carter about Elizabeth Johnson, because he needed her computer skills, and it would have been unfair to ask her to keep it a secret from the rest of their team. Teal’c’s help had also been invaluable. While the Jaffa had been unable to help with the research he had kept Jack sane thorough the last few months. It had been Teal’c who had talked Jack out of quitting the SGC so that he could devote all of his time to searching. The big guy had pointed out that if the planet was obliterated by the Gou’uld, then there would be unable to find out what happened to his daughter, since he, and everyone else on the planet would be dead. T was good at seeing the big picture like that.
Instead Jack had talked to General Hammond, and the two of them had agreed that SG-1 was to be put on stand down for a couple of months, barring major emergencies. This had been one of those emergencies. The Tok-Ra had insisted that they needed SG-1 to carry out their plan against one of the minor System Lords. He wasn’t a big player but he had found his niche building and supplying the other Gou’uld with weapons and ships. The Tok-Ra had theorized that destroying him and his base, would inconvenience the Goa’uld, quite a bit, and would hopefully give the Tauri and Tok’Ra an advantage.
Of course everything had gone the FUBAR way, and SG-1had realized that it was a trap only after they had found themselves in a cell. Thor had impeccable timing, as always, and he had beamed them out just as they were about to be executed. Apparently the little guy had decided that he needed some more help with ‘dumbing down’ process. So they had spent another week chasing all over Thor’s galaxy after the Replicators.
Carter handed him a thermos, and Jack gratefully refilled his cup. Lately he had been drinking as much coffee as Daniel, but it did allow him to function normally after only a few hours of sleep a night. And he doubted he would be able to sleep soundly until he fulfilled his vow to Cecilia. And that didn’t look like it was going to happen any time soon. The only lead they had come up with during the last few months was some ancient references to the Watcher’s Council’s.
Surprisingly it wasn’t Carters research skills that had unearthed the information, but Daniel’s musty books. When he had first told the team about his daughter, and her kidnapping, Daniel had muttered something about having read something somewhere about the Watcher’s Council. It had taken the young Archeologist less than a week to track down several medieval texts that mentioned the Watcher’s Council. From what Daniel had put together, they had learnt that the Council used to be an obscure cult in the middle ages. It seemed to consist of men who believed in the Ancient Goddess Sineya, who manifested herself in a teenage girl, giving the girl strength and speed, and in return protected her followers from demons and devils. The cult also had a habit of sacrificing the girl in a ritual called the Cruciamentum, before the girl reached adult hood. They called themselves the Watchers because they trained and prepared the girl for Sineya’s possession, and then killed her, so that the ‘goddess’ could move on to a younger and less scarred girl.
Up until the whole sacrificing bit, Jack thought that Sineya sounded a whole lot like a Gou’uld. But neither Teal’c nor any of the Tok’ra had ever heard of that name, and Daniel hadn’t been able to find any other references to her. The younger man had also mentioned that it was possible that the cult had died out, and then been reinstated during the last century, by a nutter who had stumbled across the same texts that Daniel was using now. That would explain, Daniel claimed, why there were no references to them past the fourteenth century.
Jack heard General Hammond wrapping up the briefing. He glanced at watch and noticed that the they had been in debrief for only twenty minutes. He tried not to let the smile show on his face. Apparently the smell must have been even worse that he had first assumed. But who was he to look a gift horse in the mouth?
“Well, Thor, buddy, it was great seeing you.” Jack started saying goodbye to the little grey alien. “And I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but we hope that you won’t be needing too much help in the future.” He smiled to let the alien know that he was joking.
“Actually Thor, I had a question that doesn’t concern the meeting.” Carter said, causing everyone to stop gathering up their things, and sit back down.
“Of course, Major Carter.”
“It’s about the beaming technology. How do you lock on to the person that you want to beam up?”
“Everyone has a unique genetic code, Major Carter.” Thor answered, blinking up at Carter slowly. “The beaming technology, as you call is able to distinguish between the different genetic signatures."
“I suspected it was something like that.” Carter gave Jack a look, that he wasn’t quite able to understand, and then continued: “What if you only had half of a genetic code?”
And just like a light bulb going off in his head, Jack understood what Carter was trying to do. Thor apparently did not, and said so.
“Well say you had the DNA of only one parent. Could you find the child?” Carter clarified.
“It would take a lot longer. The scan would track down all close relatives of the parent in question Major Carter, and I would have to insert other information for the child to help narrow down the search, Major Carter. May I ask why you are inquiring?”
Jack’s second in command gave him another look, this time obviously asking for permission to fill Thor in on the situation. He knew he should give some sign for her to go ahead, but he was having to much trouble doing anything but beaming at his beautiful, brilliant, astrophysicist. It was so simple. So obvious. And he had no idea how he had ever managed to survive without her.
Apart from Daniel’s Ancient Texts they hadn’t been able to find any other leads on Elizabeth. And the thought of the children-sacrificing creeps was enough to make Jack snap out of his euphoria. He gestured to Carter to let her know that he would take over from here, and then turned to Thor.
“Would you be able to find someone who is dead?” It wasn’t a question that he really wanted to think about it, but the solider in him forced it out. The reality was that his daughter had been missing for ten years, most likely kidnapped by some Goddess worshiping nutters. Even Ceci had given up any hope that her daughter could still be alive for all this time.
“That would depend on the condition of the body O’Neill. If the body was well preserved and there is enough genetic material left to track then the sensors on my ship will detect the corpse. If the body was cremated, or has decomposed too much, then my sensors will not pick up anything.”
So there was a good chance that even if he bared his soul to Thor, the only thing he would get in return would be the dreaded confirmation that his other child was also dead. Heck, there was a chance that they wouldn’t even find her body, and wouldn’t be able to find who killed his little girl. But it was still the most promising lead they’d had in three months, and if there was even a chance of Jack coming closer to fulfilling his oath to Ceci, then retelling the painful story was only a small price to pay for it.
“I have a daughter.”
Thor blinked and looked surprised: “I was not aware you had offspring, O’Neill”
“Well neither was I” He muttered, feeling a pang of anger at Cecilia, for not telling him sooner. Thor now looked confused, and Jack felt his amusement replacing his anger. Who’d thunk it? He managed to get illicit two different facial expressions from the usually expressionless alien. Then he decided to pretend he hadn’t said the last part out loud. As much as he liked the little guy, there was no way he was explaining about one night stands to him. Though to be perfectly fair, he and Ceci had a little more than a one night stand, but he didn’t want to explain Summer Flings to the Asgard either.
“She has been missing for ten years.” He said instead.
“And you would like my help to find her?” Thor asked. When Jack nodded, he continued: “I have time, so we can start looking for her now, O’Neill. You will have to tell me everything you know about her, so that I can enter some parameters into the computer”
“We’re coming too.” Daniel said quickly, throwing a questioning look at General Hammond. The portly General had just nodded, when the members of SG-1 and Thor were engulfed by a while light and found themselves on an Asgard vessel.
It didn’t take Jack very long to fill in the ‘parameters.’ Jack knew disgustingly little about his daughter, after all. Female. Age sixteen. And that was about it.
Thor started the search, but warned them that it could take a very long while, since they did not have a complete genetic code, and they knew so little about her.
His team, Jack noticed, was lingering very close to him, silently supporting him. They had gotten very good at it during the last few months. He gave them a tired smile, to let them know that he knew what they were doing, and then settled down against a wall to wait. He had thought that once he got so close to getting some answers, he would be excited. Instead he felt drained.
In a moment of weakness, about two month ago, Jack had called a friend of his, who worked in a Police Department in LA. Tom investigated several kidnappings during his career. Jack had wanted to find out what the chance Elizabeth had of being alive ten years after her disappearance. Now he wished he didn’t know those statistics. The odds were so against Lizzy and he wasn’t sure he was really ready to give up all hope.
Carter and Daniel were both questioning Thor. The Major was asking questions about technology, and Daniel seemed to be trying to understand Asgard Grammar structure. Teal’c looked as stoic as ever, and seemed to be paying very close attention to Thor’s answers. Jack was thankful for their attempts at pretending that everything was normal. After all, as long as they weren’t too obvious about it he could maintain his manly pride by pretending he couldn’t see the concerned glances that were occasionally directed at him. He could pretend that everything was normal too. He forced his mind away from Lizzy and tried his hardest to focus on Thor as well.
It took over half an hour, before the big computer started making some new noise. Thor and Carter both studied the screen intensely, and Thor turned to him:
“I believe I may have a match O’Neill”
Jack just sank further into the wall. He really wasn’t prepared for this. It was only a great deal of self-control that stopped him from demanding that Thor beam them back into the base, because he, Jack O’Neill, had changed his mind and really didn’t want to know what fate Lizzy had met. Not yet at least.
“Sir!” Carter exclaimed excitedly. “There are biometric readings.”
“Biometric readings, Carter?” he asked, and felt a great stab of pride, because his voice had been almost steady. Surely that couldn’t mean what he thought it meant.
“There is a pulse, and Synaptic activity.” Carter was grinning “She’s alive, sir.”
“Let me see.” Jack practically flew over to the screen. Carter showed him some lines that did sort of look like the lines that the terminals in the infirmary displayed. “Where?” he asked.
Thor started moving the little stones around, and another screen displayed what Jack recognized as the East Coast of the U.S. There was a little blinking dot on the screen, which Jack assumed must be his daughter. Thor moved some more stones around, the picture zoomed in, and even though the map wasn’t labeled, it was easy to recognize Manhattan, now displayed on the screen.
“Sir, if we can get a precise location, at this point in time, it shouldn’t be too hard to track her down in person.” Carter was saying. Jack was glad that someone was doing the thinking because he was too elated to think anything beyond ‘she’s alive’.
“I can lock on to her genetic code, and beam her aboard.” Thor offered.
“NO! came three very strong protests from the human members of SG-1. As much as Jack wanted to meet his daughter as soon as possible, he didn’t think that getting kidnapped by four very stinky people and one Roswell alien was the right way to make a good first impression. He waited sixteen years to meet her, and three months to find out what had happened to her. He could wait another day, so that he could shower and get to New York in person. Well he and his team. He doubted that they would let him go on his own. Carter and Daniel looked about as elated as he felt, and even Teal’c looked thrilled. Thrilled in a very calm, Jaffa way, of course.
“We really appreciate your help, Thor, but most people on our planet don’t know about aliens, and the Stargate.” Daniel started explaining. “And we could get into a lot of trouble if you beamed somebody aboard who wasn’t cleared to know about it.”
Thor blinked, which everyone took to mean that the Asgard understood, why they were refusing further help.
Jack watched as the Major fiddled around with the map and her own computer. As a thought occurred to him, he asked “Carter how will we find her from just one reading? I mean New York is huge, and what are we supposed to do once she moves?”
Thor, apparently still eager to help, offered a solution: “I will enter her genetic code into my computer to insure that it will be easier to locate her next time if the need arises.”
“Actually sir, I think this location, would be her home, or at least a place she feels comfortable in.” at Jack confused look, Carter elaborated “I am not a doctor, but I think these readings indicate that she is asleep. Her heart rate and these… Holy Hannah!”
Jack never did find out whatever else indicated that Lizzy was asleep, because at that moment something went wrong with the computers. He didn’t need to have Carter’s grasp of technology to know that lightning and flashing screens, and the panicked looks on the faces of those who did understand the doohickeys, meant that nothing good was happening. Before he even had a chance to yell a question at Carter, the bridge became filled with the white light of the beaming technology, and a form appeared on the floor.
“Thor! I said NO beaming!” He yelled already moving towards the figure on the floor. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Daniel and Teal’c doing the same, leaving Sam and Thor to deal with whatever difficulties they were having with the computers. Not like the three of them could help with the technology anyway.
“I did not initiate any such command, O’Neill. There seems to be some malfunctionl. It is possible that the ship took some damage during out battle with the Replicators, and the initial diagnostic scans did not reveal the problem.”
Jack wasn’t really listening to Thor, because he had reached the person on the floor. His mind started filing away details: female, young, wearing a hospital gown, casts on both her legs and, her arm, and numerous bandages. And she still hadn’t moved. He quickly put his fingers on her neck and released a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, when he felt a gentle fluttering against his fingertips. Unconscious, and not dead then. Probably not sleeping, because even the dead couldn’t sleep through the racket that was coming from the control terminals.
“Jack, Could she have hit her head on the floor when she was beamed up? I mean it is malfunctioning right now.” Daniel observed. He must have reached the same conclusion as Jack about the girl’s state of consciousness.
And before they had a chance to check her head for recent injuries, the Bridge of the Asgard vessel suddenly got very quite. Jack glanced over at Carter and Thor who were looking intently at the now not-flashing screens.
“Carter?” he didn’t need to elaborate. She would understand the unspoken question.
“Sir, there was apparently some sort of glitch, possibly as Thor said caused by the replicators. It seems to have sorted itself out, for the moment.”
“I will transport the five of you back to the SGC O’Neill, and then I will shut down all non-essential systems, to run a more detailed diagnostic.” Thor said as he did just that, without waiting for Jack to say goodbye.
Usually O’Neill would have been annoyed to find himself suddenly beamed back down on Earth with so little warning, but right now, he just wanted to get Janet to look at the girl. The hospital gown, the casts, bandages, and the unconsciousness were making him very nervous.
SG-1 appeared in the briefing room, with Jack and Daniel still kneeling next to the girl. SG-2 who had probably been in briefing looked surprised, but General Hammond just looked resigned.
“What in God’s name happened now Colonel?”
“Sir, we need a medical team in here first.” Daniel answered for Jack.
Not that Jack had even heard the General’s question. His whole attention was focused on the girl lying on the ground. Her breathing was more irregular now, and her eyelids seemed to be twitching. After what seemed like an eternity, she finally opened her eyes, and Jack felt his heart constrict.
He had known about his daughter for three months now, but that hadn’t been enough time for it to really sink in. Up on Thor’s ship he had barely began to accept the fact that he had a living daughter. He hadn’t been prepared to meet her, so some tiny voice in the back of his mind had quietly been whispering that the malfunction could have beamed up anybody. So what if she was the right age, and the sensors had been focused on his daughter. That there was no proof that this was Elizabeth. Of course now he couldn’t use that excuse any more.
Her eyes were green with flecks of yellow. Just like Cecilia’s eyes. Just like the eyes of the little girl in the pictures that Ceci had given him. Elizabeth’s eyes. His daughter’s eyes.
He snapped himself out of his stupor with the thought, that if he was confused and shocked then she must be feeling a hundred times worse. He tried to think of something reassuring to say, but all he could com up with was “It’s all right.” So he said that.
Elizabeth’s lips moved and she mumbled a one word question. Jack thought it sounded like “Sand?” but he couldn’t be sure. Then her eyes rolled back until all he could see was the whites and she started convulsing.
Five six, turn, one, two, three, four, neon green spot, five, six, turn, one two, spot again, three, four…
“Jack, I think that’s Sam coming this way.” Daniel interrupted his pacing.
Jack looked up from the fascinating grey concrete, to see the blonde head of his second in command hurrying towards him. He breathed a sight of relief. Hopefully he would get some answers. The Doc and the Rottweilers she called nurses hadn’t been very forthcoming.
“Sir.” Carter nodded to him, and then greeted Daniel and Teal’c. “How is she?”
“Apparently she had massive internal damage. Looks like something put a lot of stress on her internal organs. Her heart actually stopped twice, before Janet managed to stabilize her. They say she’s okay but they won’t let us in there until they figure out what went wrong.”
“I can help with that, sir. Thor isolated the program that malfunctioned. Apparently in his home galaxy, before the Replicators became a problem, they had some sort of creature that did not have a physical form but could possess those that did. So Asgard vessels are all equipped with technology to detect and remove these beings. These creatures were wiped out years ago, so the detection and removal systems, have taken some damage from the years of neglect. The battle with the Replicators completely fried the system, and the diagnostic that Thor ran didn’t show the damage, because nowadays this is one of the most unimportant systems on board. When we were tracking Elizabeth from space, the system activated and pulled her on board trying to remove a parasite that wasn’t there. Basically we think it started pulling her insides out.”
“A parasite, Carter? Are we sure that there isn’t some Goa’uld connection? Because first we had the Watcher’s Council, which worshipped a very Goa’uld like Sineya, and then we have Thor’s Thingamabobs trying to pull out a ghostly Goa’uld. I’m starting to get nervous here.”
“Thor said the creatures were nothing like the Goa’uld, minus the possession bit, and they have been extinct for years. Elizabeth displays no symptoms of a possession. So it was just a glitch in a neglected system” Carter assured him.
“So a coincidence Carter? You know I hate those.”
“Actually, Jack, I think we may just have a tainted perspective.” Daniel joined the conversation. “We work with Goa’ulds all the time, and so it is likely we start seeing them everywhere, even when the situation is only a little bit similar. I mean with Sineya, there was no mention of glowing eyes, or of advanced technology, but we see the word Goddess, and we immediately connect it with the Goa’uld. And with the parasite from Thor’s galaxy…
“Okay, okay, I get it. I’m paranoid.” Jack rubbed his temples, and then sniffed the air discreetly. “Carter report to Frasier. Tell her there is no danger of us getting infected. And then go take a shower.” He said the last part with a grin. A few hours ago the three of them had smelled just as bad. But while Carter had talked Thor into letting her help with the diagnostics, Jack had found a place outside of the infirmary and bugged every nurse and doctor that had come out for news. Daniel and Teal’c had come along to do the silent support thing that they had gotten so good at in the last few months.
Finally after Elizabeth had been stabilized, Janet herself had come out, and told them that they were keeping Lizzy isolated, until they knew what caused such massive internal damage. She had also told them in no uncertain terms, that even if they found that the condition wasn’t contagious, Janet still wasn’t going to let people so ‘unhygienic’ near her patient. So the three men (well, two men, one Jaffa) had trotted off to the locker room to wash two weeks worth of smell and grime off of themselves. And then they had come back to take up their vigil in the hallway again.
“Yes Sir.” Carter said with a grin to match his, and hurried into the infirmary. A few minutes later Sam came out, and headed towards the locker room. In another few minutes one of Janet’s nurses left the infirmary and approached the group waiting in the hallway.
“Dr. Frasier says that you may now see the patient….” The nurse informed them with a cheeky smile, “…as long as you pass the smell test.”
A.N.: I know I promised more Zabby in this chapter, but it got too long so I broke it up into two parts. Next Chapter is the one that will have Zabby in it. Cross my heart.
I would also like to thank all the people who reviewed. It really restored my confidence in my OC writing abilities.
And one last note, everyone please give a round of applause to Allen Pitt who figured out the ‘beaming technology to find Elizabeth’ bit of the plot, way back when after Chapter one. Pre-cog abilities, maybe?