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4. Discoveries

They had walked for a couple hours more, and found a place fairly deep inside the forest, where they hoped no one would bother them. It was late night, several hours after midnight.

The spot they had picked was protected against the wind on three sides, as well as over their heads - it was a sort of shallow cave.

After collecting firewood, they had built a fire - with matches they had found at the gas station. They cooked the sausages and made hot dogs using the buns, ketchup, and mustard. It had been a fairly good, if not exactly healthy, meal.

"I was thinking... if we can get to a computer somewhere, I could probably hack into Stargate Command... and perhaps figure out what's going on," Sam said. She drank the last of her diet coke.

"That sounds like a good idea, but I'm not sure where we'll find a computer around here... if we even knew were 'here' was!" Jacob looked at his can of regular coke, and the 'best before' date. He still had a hard time accepting they had actually time travelled.

"It's Christmas - a lot of people will be on vacation, and schools will be closed. We'll find you a computer, Carter," O'Neill promised.

"We should do an inventory of what we have - food, weapons, and such," Jacob said.

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea. What did we get?" O'Neill asked.

"We still have some sausages and buns, ketchup and mustard, of course..." Sam said, looking over the bags. "Also some fruit, two loaves of bread, ten cans of various ready-made food, 4 cans of beans, three tubes of cheese-spread, one glass of jam..." She frowned. "And in the bag we placed in the stream to keep it cold, there's two tubs of yoghurt, and a gallon of milk. I think that's it for food. No, wait... there's also chocolate and a bunch of granola bars... and some bottled water and a few cans of soda."

O'Neill nodded. "Sounds good. We should be able to survive for some days on that. It won't be fun, but it's doable."

"As for weapon, we have got one zat'nik'tel, one folding knife with various other utensils, and the wooden staff Teal'c found beside the gas station," Martouf told them.

"Various other things... two boxes of matches, some tea candles, a ball of twine, and..." Sam counted. "Ten emergency foil blankets. Also a small medikit with bandages and some painkillers."

"Sounds better and better." O'Neill smiled. "I've been camping with less!"

"I got a pad of paper and a pen - but I didn't get the newspaper," Daniel said.

"What do you want with the paper and pen? Keep a diary?" O'Neill wondered. "We don't need a lot of crap to carry around!"

"It's always good to have. Who knows when there's something we need to write down?" Daniel defended himself.

O'Neill shrugged. "I guess. Okay - time to sleep. I'll take the first two hours of guard duty, then I'll wake you up Carter. Then Martouf, then Teal'c."

"Would it not be the most logical if I stand guard?" Teal'c said. "I am the only one not in need of sleep."

"You need to do you kel'no'reem-ing," O'Neill pointed out.

"I was not greatly injured in the crash, and it should take no more than an hour for my symbiote to make the repairs, and refresh me. You can alert me after that, O'Neill, and I shall take over guard duty."

Martouf put some more firewood on the fire, and then they all settled down for the night - or what was left of it anyway - wrapping themselves in a foil blanket each. It would at least help them to stay warm.


The next day they continued walking. Sam's leg still hurt, but it was at least not worse, and her concussion was no longer causing her to have a constant headache, so that was something, at least.

She did not want to slow down their progress, and with the help of the painkillers they had found at the gas station, she was able to keep up with the others. The others were all a little worried about her, but accepted her reassurances that she was all right. Now and then, when the path became rough and uneven, Martouf would put an arm around Sam and support her, and she accepted, gratefully.

Most of the day they walked through a dense forest. Around mid-afternoon, the small track became a gravel road, and then, near evening, they exited the forest. They stood looking at a highway, with two signs pointing in different directions. One said 'Peach Grove, 4 miles' and the other said 'Laketown, 5 miles'.

"What do you think? Left or right?" O'Neill asked.

"It's late. Let's pick the closest one. We don't know anything about either place anyway." Daniel said, sounding tired.

Jacob shrugged. "Yeah, why not?"

"Okay, Peach Grove it is," O'Neill decided.


"Looks like they have a school. Maybe we could take a look, and see if we can get to a computer with an internet connection?" Sam said.

O'Neill nodded. "It's possible. It looks fairly easily accessible. Jacob?"

Jacob was studying the school buildings and the surroundings. "It looks deserted... still, something's making me uneasy. It's probably nothing." He made a decision. "Let's check it out - carefully."

The street outside the school was completely deserted, so they walked into the schoolyard and started looking for an open window someone might have forgotten to close before everyone went on holiday.

"It doesn't look like any of the windows have been left open." Martouf observed.

"Crap!" O'Neill said. "Cameras - by all the doors. Who puts surveillance cameras on a school in a god-forsaken place like this? Come on, let's leave!"

They spent some time walking around in the quiet streets of the city. Now and then they met someone who was out walking, or a car drove past them, but most of the time they were the only ones out. Presumably people were home for the evening, doing the last Christmas preparations, or maybe they had already left to go on vacation or to visit family for the holiday season.


"Maybe there's a computer in there," Sam suggested, pointing at a small building on the edge of the city graveyard. .

"That looks like the church janitor or groundskeepers office - I doubt very much he's got a computer. At least not one with internet access," O'Neill said.

"We're more than 11 years into the future. Internet has got to have become more ubiquitous," Sam insisted.

"There does not seem to be any of those surveillance cameras on this building," Martouf said.

Jacob considered it, then nodded. "Okay, let's check it out."

They carefully snuck closer, making sure no one was nearby. Sam walked up to the window and looked inside. The room was very dark, but she could see the stand-by lights from several kinds of electrical devices, and she also imagined she could see a monitor. "I think there may be a computer in there..."

Martouf stepped up beside her, and looked into the room as well. "I agree. There is something that could be a kind of computer screen in the room."

"Or a tv!" O'Neill said, then shrugged. "All right. Let's see if we can find our way inside."


"Did you find a modem? Can you connect it to the internet?" Daniel asked.

"They've got broadband - always on," Sam observed, as she was trying to figure out how to get a command shell. The computer was running a version of Windows that she had never seen before.

"They sprung for that - for their janitor?" O'Neill sounded surprised.

"It's probably not only academia and larger organisations and schools which have that now. We're in the future, remember?" Daniel told him.

"Yeah, yeah..." O'Neill said. "Carter? Any luck?"

"Just give me a moment, sir."

O'Neill nodded. "Okay. The rest of you - check out the place. See if you can find anything edible or other useful stuff."

"There's a bathroom with a shower," Daniel said, opening a door.

"Maybe we should take the opportunity to bathe, then?" Martouf suggested.

Jacob looked at the only window, and the thick curtain they had pulled across it. The graveyard was at the edge of town, and the building was located close to a small group of tree - and with the window facing away from the road. They would probably be quite safe here. He shrugged. "I don't see why not."


"Wow!" Sam said.

"What did you find?" O'Neill asked.

"I finally managed to get into the central database at Stargate Command." She shook her head. "Well, first... as you probably expected, we've all been declared MIA, presumed dead. They think we were all killed by Heka, those 11 ½ years ago."

"That sucks! But I guess it was to be expected," O'Neill said. "It's going to be hard proving who we are, with no ID or anything - unless there's someone who knows us and will vouch for us."

"Couldn't we go to our homes? There must be something there we can use," Daniel suggested.

"We don't have anywhere to go. Your homes will have been sold, and your stuff given to relatives," Jacob reminded them. "But I guess we can contact some of our friends."

"They will have been told we're dead, besides, I can't really find anyone I know at Stargate Command!" Sam said. "Everyone we knew seems to have been transferred away, have left, or are dead!"

"What? That doesn't make sense! It's not been that long," O'Neill insisted.

Sam took a deep breath. "General Hammond was transferred to something called 'Homeworld Security', but he died a few years ago. There was a civilian oversight committee which had someone there for a while, then a man called 'Hank Landry' got the position of commander for Stargate Command. He was transferred away some time ago."

"Hammond is dead?" O'Neill shook his head slowly, looking sad.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Jacob said. "George was a good friend."

Sam nodded. "Yes." She sighed, then continued telling them what she had learned. "Siler has been transferred away - as has Harriman. That explains why you couldn't get hold of him."

"What? Harriman transferred away?" O'Neill just stared at her. "Siler? I didn't think they would let anyone transfer either of them away"

Sam shook her head. "I think a lot of things have changed. Janet is gone... to the Tok'ra."

"The Tok'ra?" O'Neill wondered.

"Yes, she was badly wounded back in 2003, and chose to become a host to survive. Apparently, the alliance between Earth and the Tok'ra was fairly strong back then. It's not anymore... actually, I can find no contact between Earth and the Tok'ra recently. We seems to have had an alliance with the Jaffa also - they're calling themselves the 'Free Jaffa'. That alliance is gone now. As are many of the System Lords - that's one of the few good things that have happened. Someone called Ba'al seems to have become the new Supreme System Lord, though, and it appears he's rebuilding the Goa'uld empire."

"Ba'al?" Jacob said. "He was a fairly minor System Lord - back in 2000. He was starting to gain some power, though, but Supreme System Lord? That's a bit surprising."

"More than a bit," Lantash insisted. "But it is good to hear many of the System Lords are gone, even if it is unfortunate one of them has become this strong. Why have the Tok'ra allowed one Goa'uld to gain so much power?"

"Yeah, don't you guys try to keep them evenly matched, so you don't have one that's too strong to touch? Or something..." O'Neill said.

"I... found something that may partly explain it." Sam looked apologetic - and sad. "There has been several large attacks on the Tok'ra, and at one point one of their largest bases were almost completely wiped out. The Tok'ra may not have enough people left to keep the Goa'uld fighting."

Both Jacob and Lantash looked stunned. Jacob recovered first. "Or the attacks have caused the survivors to flee, including many of those undercover."

Lantash nodded. "Yes, and if many System Lords are dead, then those Tok'ra who were undercover at their courts, will have had to find new positions. It takes time. Most likely our network of operatives are not yet fully back to strength." He sighed. "But it is distressing, troublesome news indeed."

"Yeah, all of what you've found is." Daniel frowned. "It sounds like there's something very wrong at Stargate Command."

"I agree," O'Neill said. "We should not attempt to contact them until we know more - preferably from someone we know and trust."


They had stayed for several hours, giving all of them time to shower, and relax a little. There was little in the way of food or other useful items in the building, but they did find a box of cookies and a bag of potato chips. In addition, they took a warm blanket, a flashlight, and a backpack to carry things in. There was also a small amount of money, which they took as well.

Feeling somewhat better, they set out to find a place to hide for the rest of the night. Since the next day would be Sunday, December 23rd, and since there had been a notice in the janitor's calendar for early work for him that day, they decided the place they were hiding would not be a safe place to stay any longer.

"Some sort of old barn would be the best place to hide - or maybe a cabin in the woods," O'Neill said.

Jacob nodded. "I agree. We'll just have to keep looking."

"Another thing... if we're going to... be on the run, for a longer time, then perhaps we should use some of that money we took to buy clean socks and underwear?" Daniel suggested.

"I vote in favour of that," Sam said.

Jacob sighed. "Not a bad idea, but let's first see if we can find some more food, shall we?"


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