The next few hours were spent covering up what they could of Daniel's involvement in the incident with the crystals. Several other people with knowledge of the events were sworn to secrecy, which wasn't very difficult. No one in the SGC had a fondness for the NID, whereas they all liked or at least respected Daniel.
One of the biggest concerns was that, if the NID took the crystals and opened them up, they'd be able to figure out how they worked. The thought of that kind of power in the hands of the NID made everyone nervous. Hammond placed a call to the president, requesting that control of the crystals be allowed to remain in their hands until it was determined whether or not the crystals posed a serious danger. He added that, unlike the NID, the SGC could conduct off-world experiments with the crystals that would not endanger Earth's populace. Once the general told the president what the crystals might be capable of doing if someone fooled around with them, the president agreed that it would be safest to leave them at the SGC, at least for now.
The NID representative arrived at three o'clock. The second Jack met Colonel Stark, he knew that the man was another Maybourne wannabe.
"Colonel O'Neill," the man said stiffly, wearing that same irritating smirk on his face that Maybourne had.
"Colonel Shark . . . uh, Stark. Sorry. Little slip of the tongue there."
The man glowered at him. "I'd like to see these crystals that your team discovered."
"Not much for pleasantries, are you."
"I'm not here to socialize, Colonel. I came for one purpose, and I see no reason to waste my time with other things."
"I agree. I see no reason to waste my time on you either. So, let's go see those crystals."
Jack took the man to Sam's lab. Colonel Stark looked at the crystals. "So, how do they work?" he asked Sam.
"I have no idea, sir."
The man glared at her. "No idea?"
"None, sir. We attempted to see what is inside the crystals without opening the case, but the material that the case is made from cannot be penetrated by CT scans, and we don't dare try an MRI because of the chance of an adverse reaction due to any metal parts inside the crystals. We've been hesitant to open the crystals, fearing that it might damage them or cause a negative reaction."
"I assume that you've written a report on the tests you've conducted."
"Yes, sir." Sam handed him a copy of the report, which he skimmed through.
"This says that the devices are possibly controlled by the mind of the user."
"So, just handling the crystals isn't dangerous."
"No, sir," Sam told him. "We handled them both on the planet and here on the base without anything happening."
"Yet you witnessed the natives of the planet using the crystals."
"No, sir, we never saw any of the Dicharins using the crystals. They only spoke of using them, and the ones they used were not like these."
"They were red, and they do this nasty little thing when you use them," Jack told him. "They suck the life right out of you like soda pop from a straw."
That thought apparently intrigued Stark. Jack could almost see the man's brain considering the possible weapons applications for the red crystals. The idea turned Jack's stomach.
"And do you have one of these red crystals here?"
"Well, we're going to want several to study."
"Oh, I don't think so," Jack said nastily. "You see, we have a little policy about not stealing technology from the people of other planets."
"You obtained these crystals. You can get more."
Jack shook his head. "Not gonna happen. The Dicharins need those crystals to keep this really creepy bad guy off their backs. As long as they're on that planet, they have to have those crystals."
Stark stared at him as if he didn't believe a word of what he said.
"Read the report on P7Y-359," Jack told him. "That thing almost killed a member of my team and is responsible for the yearly deaths of hundreds of Dicharins. We're not going to be responsible for the deaths of still more by taking those crystals."
Stark continued to glare at him. "Very well, I will read that report, and if I feel that it is within the best interests of Earth to obtain more crystals for study, you will receive orders to do so."
"Do the words 'not a chance in hell' mean anything to you?"
Ignoring Jack's statement, Stark turned back to Sam. "So, you claim to have no idea how the devices work."
"No, sir. We don't even know yet exactly what they do. The activation of the device was accidental, and I didn't have the proper sensors set up to record everything that occurred. We've really only just begun to study them. It will probably take weeks or even months to learn all we can about them."
"Was the test recorded on video tape?"
"No, sir, it wasn't. As I said before, we were not intending to activate the device. The purpose of the test was simply to obtain readings on the energy the crystals generate."
"Then you have no idea how you managed to activate the device?"
Oops! Sticky question. Jack jumped in before Sam was forced to either lie to the colonel or say something that would reveal the truth.
"Look, Stark. She's already told you that we don't know how the things work. What happened was an accident. It wasn't planned, and, for all we know, we might not be able to get the crystals to work again." Okay, that wasn't quite a lie. They really didn't know for sure if Daniel would be able to do it again.
Stark gave him another glare. "Well, I can see that I'm going to get nowhere with this line of questioning, at least for now. So, you claim that you don't know how they work. Then tell me what you know about who made them. Was it the aliens on the planet where you found them?"
"No," answered Daniel. He had been laying low in the corner of the room, staying quiet and out of the way.
Stark turned to him, his eyes appraising him. "And you are. . . ?"
Daniel rose to his feet and came forward. "Doctor Jackson."
"Ah, yes. The archeologist."
The dismissive tone of Stark's voice instantly incited both Jack's and Sam's anger.
"That archeologist is the one who opened the Stargate, Stark, and he's got more brains than all of you NID people and half of Congress put together," Jack told him. "No, I take that back. All of Congress put together."
Not used to hearing Jack defend him like that, Daniel didn't say anything for a moment. He sent a silent look of thanks to his friend. "As I was saying, the people of the planet Dichar didn't make the crystals. Oh, and they're not aliens. They are completely human, descended from people who were taken from Earth by the Goa'uld thousands of years ago."
"So, who did make the crystals?" Stark asked.
"We have no way of knowing for sure, but my research indicates that it's possible the crystals were made by the Ancients."
"The Ancients. That's the race you encountered on Kheb."
Daniel nodded. "Among other places."
"Yes. That child, the one called . . . a Harcesis, was one of them, right? We could have gained a great deal of knowledge about the Goa'uld from him if you hadn't allowed him to leave when he was here."
"Colonel Stark, if you really did your homework on the Ancients, you'd know that we had no choice in the matter," Daniel told him. "The Ancients and other Ascended are incredibly powerful beings. We've seen them wipe out a troop of Jaffa with lightning, create a tornado of sand, move objects without touching them and generate fire merely by willing it. They appear to possess complete control of the elements. In their natural state they have no physical body, being creatures of energy. How would you have suggested that we keep Shifu from leaving? Lock him up in handcuffs?"
Stark focused his glare on the archeologist. "You were one of them for a year, weren't you?"
"With the help of Oma Desala, I ascended to the same higher plane of existence, but I wasn't an Ancient. The Ancients were an advanced raced of humans who lived on Earth a very long time ago and learned how to ascend."
"And can these Ancients help anyone ascend?" Stark asked in a nasty tone of voice.
"One of the requirements for ascension is an open mind, Colonel Stark, so I'd say that it's not something you can look forward to in your future."
Sam hid her smile. She glanced at the colonel and saw that he wasn't bothering to hide his.
Stark's face darkened in anger. "You should watch your mouth, Doctor Jackson. People with smart mouths tend to get hurt."
Uh oh. Sam saw the look that flashed through Jack's eyes at the thinly veiled threat. He stepped between Daniel and Stark, standing mere inches from the NID man.
"And you should watch out who you're threatening, Stark," he said in a dangerously low voice. "If you've read my file, you know that I spent a fair bit of time in Black Ops." He stared piercingly at the colonel, his eyes as cold as a glacier.
Message received. Colonel Stark backed up a step. To cover his momentary loss of composure, he walked away a few steps, then turned back to face them.
"All right, Doctor Jackson, why do you believe that the crystals are Ancient technology?" he asked.
Daniel handed him a folder. "I did an Internet search and found some references to the crystals and to creatures like what we discovered on Dichar. It's all in my report."
"Very well. I'll read yours and Major Carter's reports and the report on what happened on the planet. I will want to talk to all of you again later."
Stark turned on his heel and left the lab.
"Well, he sure did leave in a hurry," Jack said. "Was it something I said?"
"Actually, I think he might have had go change his shorts," Daniel remarked mildly.
A snort of laughter escaped Sam's mouth. She sobered quickly, however. "So, do you think we'll be able to keep him off the scent?"
"Yeah, I think so," Jack replied. "Guys like him don't have a lot of brains. If it was Maybourne we were dealing with, then I might be a little worried. The guy's a first-class snake, but he's also smart." He looked back and forth between Daniel and Sam. "I hope that you two made your reports as incomprehensible and as full of mumbo jumbo as you could."
"Of course we did, sir," Sam replied.
"I added a five-page-long explanation of how the invention of roadways impacted civilization and how, therefore, the Ancients can be credited with revolutionizing our ways of transportation," Daniel told him.
"Ooh, now I bet that's a real page turner," Jack remarked. He smiled. "I can't wait to see the look on Stark's face when he finds out that he can't take the crystals with him."
Jack and the others got the privilege of seeing that look two hours later.
"I've read all of the reports," Stark told them. "From the data gathered during the test, the devices show a lot of potential as a possible weapon. I will be taking them with me when I leave."
Jack held up a finger. "Ah ah. Not so fast. You're not taking those crystals anywhere."
"I have full authority to take possession of them."
"Well, you might want to talk to the president about that. You see, he agrees that it's safer for us to keep them. He doesn't want a nerd in some lab playing with the things and, oh, maybe swallowing up Nevada in a black hole or something. That really wouldn't help the tourist trade."
Stark's face turned red with anger, and he turned to Hammond, who had just come up to them. "What is the meaning of this, General?" he asked, just barely managing to keep his voice down.
"It's exactly what Colonel O'Neill told you, Colonel Stark. The president agrees with me that, for the present time, it is best to keep the crystals at the SGC. If such a time comes that we determine they do not pose a threat to the Earth's populace, then you may have them. Until then, we will keep the NID informed of our findings. Now, I believe that there is a military transport leaving in an hour. You'd better hurry if you're going to make it."
Looking like steam was just about to start shooting out of his ears, Stark spun around and stormed out of the room.
"Sweet," Jack murmured with a smug expression. "That made my whole day."
"Now that that problem's been taken care of, it's time to turn our attention back to the situation on Dichar," Hammond said. "You have a green light to relocate the population to another planet, and the president has agreed to the use of a Naquadah bomb to destroy Bendrak."
Everyone was happy to hear the news. SG-1 made plans to return to Dichar in the morning. While they were there, Hammond would be arranging for a disassembled Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter to be delivered to the base. Able to carry sixteen tons of supplies, cargo, vehicles, artillery and troops for a distance of five hundred nautical miles and with the capacity for heavy-lift operations, the huge chopper would not only serve as a means to quickly transport the Dicharins to the Stargate, it would also aid in clearing trees from the landing pads that would have to be made at each village.
As for locating a suitable new home for the Dicharins, two possibilities had already been found. A UAV was going to be sent to the first one within a couple of hours since it was now morning on the planet. Another UAV would be launched through the gate to the second world tomorrow.
Pleased with the events of the day, all the members of SG-1 decided to go out to eat.
"Did you see the look on Stark's face when Hammond pretty much told him to take a hike?" Jack asked, grinning.
"Colonel Stark did, indeed, not look pleased," Teal'c replied.
"If he'd stuck his head in a bucket of water, he'd have generated steam." Jack sat back in his chair. "Yep, it's days like these that really make me happy I'm where I am."
"And we're going to be able to help the . . . natives relocate to a new home," Daniel said, catching himself before he said the word Dicharins.
"Yeah. I'll give you the honor of telling Gennae, Daniel. I'll also put you in charge of contacting the other villages. The people of Gennae's village really took a liking to you."
After an enjoyable dinner, Daniel and Sam said good night to Jack and Teal'c and went home. Jack took the Jaffa back to the base.
"May I speak freely, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.
"Sure, Teal'c. What's on your mind?"
"I have noticed a great difference in your behavior toward Daniel Jackson since his recent death and return to life. Such a difference was not so evident after he descended, though it is true that your behavior toward him did improve from what it was before he left."
"And you're wondering why there's such a big change this time."
Jack thought about his answer for a while. "Because I finally realized that I needed to stop acting like an ass and really be a friend to him. I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but the attitude I showed toward Daniel way too many times is one of the biggest. I let my pride and stubbornness nearly destroy our friendship. This whole thing really woke me up and made me see that I needed to change. I'm not saying that there won't be any more rough spots, but I'm going to do my best to show Daniel that I respect the kind of man that he is and that I. . . ."
"Love him as a brother," Teal'c stated softly.
The two men were silent the rest of the way to the base, each of them thinking about regrets and that, sometimes, you got lucky enough to get the chance to make things right.