Author's Note: Not only am I alive, but so is this story after 6yrs! True story- I was looking through someone's recs and Changing the Death Toll was mentioned, so I went back and read it and didn't hate it or the sequel and this chapter just flowed.
So thanks to all who have recced this story though the quiet years.
Jack returned from his food-scouting trip frustrated. He and Afep carried the sap that would get the kids through this day, but where would the food for next month come from? He had recorded notes on the pocket PC – Blackberry – datapad that Ro’hane had rigged for his use. Jack had a ton of notes but not a clue as to how he was going to filter them into something usable. It was a shame that Buffy’s ‘spidy sense’ didn’t protection from poisons. Or that she didn’t have enough practice to use it in such a manner. He did have a bag of fruit that nearly every herbivore had snacked on. They could cook it and have a little bit for dinner. Trial and error seemed to be their only solution to the food shortage, but Jack dreaded the possibilities.
So after dinner and when his stomach first started to complain, Jack wasn’t sure if it had been the fruit or his dreading that had caused the difficulties. Then Natal rushed outside the temple and vomited, Bail a second later.
Jack resisted the urged to swear, but was glad that they hadn’t shared the cooked fruit with the toddlers.
Buffy looked at the mess and wrinkled her nose. “Anyone else who feels the need to toss their cookies, please do it in the outhouse.”
Jack winced even as he started to walk in that direction. They would have to move the john a lot earlier than he had planned if it was stunk up with the smell of vomit. By the time everyone went to sleep, Buffy was the only one who hadn’t thrown up. She was a bit perturbed with all the diapers she had to change, since the caring younglings were otherwise occupied. Jack ran the ‘sick room.’ It took two days for the food poisoning to flush through their systems. Afep nearly died. A week later, he still wasn’t doing much more than sit at Vayla’s side.
In a vain effort to reduce their dependence on the ration bars, Jack moved the group’s second meal to fish and the Gerber Tree sap. They had been using the sap as a water replacement all along. Jack wasn’t a huge fan but he had consumed far worse. Afep and some of the babies were strict vegetarians by race, so they couldn’t eat the fish.
Jack had to find a solution and fast. He couldn’t push this responsibility onto Buffy. She could try every fruit in the forest and probably would only react to the worst of the poisons. She would provide a false positive to their food search. Jack
was the one with all the experience off-planet. He couldn’t depend on Carter’s doohickeys to indicated danger or Daniel’s translation to point to the truth or Teal’c’s vast experience to lead the way.
It was all on him. Well, Jack had no doohickeys and no Teal’c and there wasn’t someone to ask. He was living in a temple though. There should be some
writings somewhere with answers. If Daniel could find answers in the rubble, so could Jack.
He explained his mission to Buffy. She accepted his reasoning without question and didn’t argue when he requested Ro’hane and Natal as assistants. Both of the children were equipped with blaster and a lightsaber. They had their directions. They would return that day in time for Buffy to get the evening meal.
Jack stomped through the temple with one and only one goal in mind: Find the Library. Oh, he wanted so much more than some paintings on the wall. He wanted written confirmation of which fruits and tubers were safe for consumption. With only a fraction of his mind, he taught the kids how to clear a room and ensure that nothing was following them. Jack would have to reinforce and clarify the topic in the future, but he didn’t care right now. So long as they weren’t eaten by a snake during the mission. Natal had already killed two and Ro’hane one.
Jack had left all of the shooting to the children, completely out of character, but he was focused. He was going to find that damn library. Jack should have been systematic about it. He knew how to do a grid search even in a stone maze like this, but instead he walked straight down the hall for a click, to the stairs and then down, down, down. The logical part of his brain said that any information that survived would have to be far from the elements and any culture that knew how to create temples would hold information in the highest regard and protect it as much as possible. He walked through hidden doorways and dark hallways. He was very pleased with the efficacy of the children and the effectiveness of the Jedi version of the flashlight. He walked for miles under the temple, but on a direct path. He shouldn’t be on a direct path. One had to know the destination to walk straight there.
The lizard part of Jack’s brain wasn’t surprised –at all- when he walked into a seemingly empty room with an alien device built into the wall.
Or one had to be called by the destination to walk straight there. Well, Jack had wanted a library and the library had called him.
“Colonel Jack?” Ro’hane called. “This isn’t a library.”
Jack must have been staring for a while for the children to get impatient. He continued to stare at the stupid, familiar Ancient device in the wall. Even a child from as advanced a culture as the Jedi didn’t recognize the potential of that machine. Now that Jack had set eyes on it, he could feel the delicate brush of Ancient technology in his head. Ancients, here.
So that was why Buffy’s PTB had kidnapped him for this trip.
“Holy Hannah,” he breathed. “Emulate Atlantis.” Half of that damn message from the PTB had been for him.
Elizabeth Weir stared at the generic high school picture of a male senior in confusion. The kid had a nice smile and he most certainly knew something that the photographer hadn’t. Why on Earth had General O’Neill sent this to her, on Atlantis, to share with the off-world teams? Rodney and Shepherd finally knocked on the door in answer to her summons.
“What?” Rodney snarled. “I was in the middle...”
Elizabeth cut him off before the scientist could work up a good rant. “Do either of you know why General O’Neill would want us to keep an eye out for this kid?” she handed them the picture.
Both men looked the picture over and shook their heads.
“He’s just a kid, and an American kid at that,” said Rodney. “Does he serious think that he could be some where in the Pegasus galaxy?”
“He’s a kid with some connection to the Stargate Program and he’s lost, suspected foul-play. Who is he?”
“The General said that he’d answer to ‘Jack.’ That’s it. I figured that you two had heard some scuttlebutt that I hadn’t.”
Rodney shook his head. “If it’s an SG1 thing, than we wouldn’t. They keep their own secrets.”
A knock at the door. Shepherd turned and recognized one of the X-304 pilots. He waved the man in. He had a stack of papers and handed most of them to Elizabeth. Rodney got two and Shepherd got three. A quick look-through indicated that they were mostly requisitions, fuel, etc. Rodney was growling about stupid idiots who would send the space crafts back to the Stone Age with their ‘improvements.’
The pilot chuckled. “How did you get a hold of the General’s age reduction photo?”
All heads swung up. “What did you say, major?” asked Elizabeth.
Major Walsh pointed at the high school photo. “That’s the General. The Asgard did something to him and he ended up young. I remember because he gave the introduction dogfights with Jaffa when he was that size. Here was this kid whose voice still cracked, but he knew everything about our craft and theirs. The Asgard fixed the problem after a short while. Pictures of O’Neill as a kid were a hot commodity on the SGC market for a while.” Walsh looked around the table. “Was there something else, sirs? Ma’am?”
“No. You’re dismissed.”
Rodney barely waited until the door shut behind the pilot. “It must be a clone. The Asgard clone themselves, but they have problems with the process. They must have cloned O’Neill. I don’t know why they haven’t asked to clone me yet. They could learn something even if I don’t naturally have the Ancient gene.”
Elizabeth looked at the picture. “So the SGC is missing Jack O’Neill’s clone? And getting desperate in their search? The least we can do is keep an eye out for him.” She handed the picture to Shepherd. “Pass this around and only give as much information as was given us. I’m sure that the SGC kept this quiet on their end, we don’t want to be the people who spilled the beans to their enemies. Chances are that whoever will find this… young man will trip over him and, good or bad intentions, then they will win. If he’s here, we need to find him first.”
Shepherd nodded. “Will do.”