The cube mentioned in this chapter was discovered by Willow in her dormitory back in Sunnydale, shortly before she left. It's discovery is told in the prequel to this story. But if you haven't read it, don't worry, it doesn't play an enormous part. But, really, go and read it, it makes everything so much easier.
As Willow was led through her tour of the base, she was in awe at the sheer amount of room in the SGC. She'd previously thought that it would just be a room for the Stargate (which she hadn't yet seen, but was dying to) some sleeping quarters and an infirmary.
But there were whole floors dedicated to researching the artifacts the teams brought back, which she couldn't wait to start doing (they had lasers, for goodness sake! She wasn't Xander, but didn't the prospect of lasers excite anyone?) and a library wing (which she expected was where Daniel spent a great deal of time - she wished that Giles could see it, he'd be over the moon).
But, as, at long last, she was lead to the 'gate room, all that she had just seen was as nothing compared to the majesty of the Stargate itself. She hadn't expected it to be nearly so big, and it looked so... solid. Willow could easily imagine it being dug up at some archaeological site or other, but interstellar travel?
"It's quite something, isn't it?" said Daniel, definitely not having planned to be here at the same time as Willow.
"My, yes. And you travel through that everyday?" Willow replied, no taking her eyes of the 'gate. It wasn't active at the moment - Sam had described what it looked like when it was - and she couldn't imagine what it might be like to step across the event horizon to a whole new world.
"No, not everyday. But fairly often." Daniel watched Willow's face intently, smiling slightly at her obvious excitement. She looked a little out of place here, in her new military garb, but then again, he probably had when he'd joined the program at its inception.
Willow suddenly remembered that, in all the excitement, she'd forgotten to give Daniel the strange cube that she had found shortly before coming here - which had actually inspired her to come here in the first place. "Hey, Daniel, I've got something for you, back in my room? D'you have time to come and see it?"
Daniel raised an eyebrow at that - a young woman inviting him back to her place to "Show him something"? - but quickly dismissed the admittedly not unwelcome thoughts that the doubtless innocent question provoked and decided to go along with her. "Sure, why not? Everything seems quiet at the moment, so let's go."
Back at her room, Willow was rummaging through a drawer - she'd barely been here a day and already she was losing things - thinking how nice it was not to have to share it with someone. Buffy had been a nice enough roommate, but being woken up every time she patrolled was not conducive to a good night. Willow vaguely wondered how long it would be before she missed having Buffy around...
Then she found the cube, and held it aloft with a cry of "Aha!"
Daniel stared at her as though she'd gone insane. When enough time had passed for him to be sure she was serious (he'd gotten used to Jack's numerous pranks) he said gently "Willow, your hand is empty."
Willow glanced at the translucent cube, inscribed with the language of the Ancients, as it flickered in and out of visibility. She wondered if there was some way, perhaps a spell of some kind, that would reveal it to Daniel, but the she shrugged and said "Hold out your hand."
Daniel did so, hesitating a little, and wondering whether Jack had already convinced Willow to take a part in his pranks. He hoped not.
Willow tipped the cube into the Daniel's hand, and as soon as it left hers and touched his, it vanished from her sight. Daniel, though, could see it as clear as day.
Although Daniel was by no means fluent in the Ancient script, the little he knew coming from Jack's brush with the Ancient repository, he knew enough to puzzle out the symbols' meaning.
It said, roughly: "Smash in need
Well, thought Daniel, what harm can it do? (A thought which had already gotten him in trouble several times) Then he dashed the cube at the ground.
When nothing happened for several seconds, he picked it up again. The symbols had changed, now reading "No, really, only in need.
" Daniel let out a chuckle at that, but was silenced when the alarms indicating an unscheduled incoming wormhole went off.
He tucked the curious cube into his pocket, and promptly forgot all about it as he said to Willow, even as he rushed out the door "Come on! It looks like you'll see your first wormhole today!"
Fortunately, Willow's quarters were just down the corridor from Sam's, and as Sam was often needed to fix problems with the 'gate, sometimes late at night, Willow was in a prime location to get to the 'gate room in record time.
Walter, who, as far as Willow could tell, had no other purpose but to read off the screen, open and close the iris and on occasion dial the Stargate, said "Incoming IDC. It's the Tok'ra."
"Fantastic." said Jack, who, like the rest of his team, had cultivated the habit of getting to 'gate room promptly in such circumstances. "Can't even get away from the snakes at home."
Willow, who knew nothing more about the Tok'ra than what Jack had told her ("They're like the Goa'uld, just not evil.") which led her to suspect that they were parasites who took over the host but weren't
interested in conquering the galaxy, was understandably slightly nervous, enough that her first sight of an active wormhole wasn't nearly the experience she'd hoped it to be.
She really hadn't expected an alien to wear a tight leather thingy that made her look even more skanky than Cordelia.
General Hammond ordered SG-1, which had by then assembled in the 'gateroom, to meet the Tok'ra emissary in the meeting room. Obediently, they did so, leaving Willow at a bit of a loose end.
She wandered around the room for a minute, examining machinery that she couldn't even begin to guess the purpose of (to Walter's mild annoyance) before Jack poked his head round the door and said "Willow? The General would like to see you in his office."
Willow, wondering what she could possibly have done to get kicked off the base so soon, shyly nodded as Jack escorted her.
Hammond was intently examining an alien wristband of some kind when she went in, but he looked up and smiled at her, dispelling her fears (if only he'd been her principal rather than Snyder) saying "The Tok'ra emmisary - you know about the Tok'ra, don't you?"
"A little." Willow admitted. Hammond went on briefly to explain in a little more detail about them than Jack had.
"Anyway, the Tok'ra have discovered, on a dig, some bracelets belonging to an extinct civilization known as the Atanik. Apparently, they provided the wearer with great strength and speed. However, the Tok'ra's symbiote renders them incapable of using one, which is why they've brought them to us. They've brought four, and SG-1 has already agreed to test them. However, Teal'c, also having a symbiote, can't use one either."
"And you'd like me to wear one, sir?" Willow asked. She knew of no other reason the General would've told her - need-to-know and all that - so she said "Why me?"
"Your magic, Ms. Rosenberg. If these bracelets boost strength and speed, is it not possible they boost magic as well? So, will you test one?" Hammond answered.
Willow thought it over for a moment. "Yes, sir!" she replied excitedly.