December 13

13.

They were standing in a forest. As far as they could seem there were no people aside from themselves nearby. Around them birds were singing, and the weather was nice and not too cold for the season.

"All right. What the hell happened! Why aren't we in Washington any more?" O'Neill demanded.

"Um, I think we are. That is, we're where Washington would be. If it existed here," Sam explained, carefully.

"Daniel!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"I meant 'seen from my perspective'! Teal'c turned the wrong corner in the wrong direction," Daniel said, trying to explain.

Teal'c inclined his head. "I apologize. I did not realize what you meant."

Jacob sighed. "It wasn't anyone's fault."

"Okay, just tweak the cube again and send us somewhere else," O'Neill ordered.

Teal'c handed the device to Daniel. "I believe you are more proficient in its use."

"It wasn't your fault, Teal'c. It was mine," Daniel said, and looked at the settings. He adjusted them. "Oops..."

"Oops? What do you mean 'oops'?" O'Neill demanded.

"There's no power left in the device. None. Not even enough to light up the text or the corners," Daniel explained.

"What?" Sam exclaimed. "There should have been enough to several more adjustments!"

"Samantha, could the change have been larger than the others?" Martouf asked. "Could that have drained it?"

Sam hesitated. "I don't think so. The settings were only changed a little." She frowned. "Unless... I guess it is possible this corner." She pointed. "Adds some multiplication factor. We haven't used it before."

"You said that half of the settings are for the size of the change, and half for when in the past it is introduced, right?" Jacob asked.

"Yes," Sam agreed.

"So what is that corner for?"

"When the change happens. We think." Sam sighed deeply. "I guess we might have made a change very far back in time. Even if it wasn't very big, it might have consumed a lot of energy from the device."

"That sounds likely. I don't see how such a small thingie can change everything in the universe anyway," O'Neill said.

"Would a change that happens a long time ago become amplified or disappear over time?" Martouf asked.

Sam shrugged. "No way to know. Not with what we know. In any case, I'm guessing this change was amplified - resulting in the area here being uninhabited."

"Teal'c, you still got that zat, right?" O'Neill asked, hopeful.

"Unfortunately I was relieved of my weapon. It would appear Bra'tac is as observant in this timeline as in our own. As I mentioned earlier, he did not trust me. My only weapon is a knife."

"Well, that's more than the rest of us have," Daniel said. "So it's something. We'll probably need it. I suspect the animals here are hostile." He looked unhappy.

"All right. What I'm getting from all of this is that you don't really have any idea what has happened, and that we can't currently change it. Right?" O'Neill asked.

"Well, I suppose you could put it that way," Sam admitted.

"Awesome. I so hoped I had gotten it wrong." He shook his head. "Okay. We need food and shelter, so we can't stay here. Any suggestions?"

"I don't sense the chaapa'ai. If I understand correctly, the distance to Stargate Command from here is small enough that I should be able to sense it," Martouf said.

Jacob nodded. "You're right. It's near the upper limit, but we should be able to detect it. Since we're not, it's probably not there."

"Okay. Other ideas?" O'Neill asked.

"Assuming the Goa'uld were once here in this timeline as well, we should walk south," Jacob suggested. "We might find some of their technology left behind in Mexico, at least."

"Oy! Mexico! Do you realize how far we will have to walk?" O'Neill exclaimed. "We don't even know if the Goa'uld were ever here!"

"No, but assuming the planet is populated at all, there should be a better chance of meeting someone that can help us if we walk south - and eventually it will be winter. It will be harder to survive if we walk north," Sam said.

"Talking about surviving. What about food?" Daniel said. "I'm pretty hungry, and I'm guessing we all are. None of us have eaten for days now!"

"I have. I was given food a few hours before I freed you," Teal'c told him.

"Thanks, Teal'c. Good to know," Daniel groaned. "Couldn't you have brought us some?"

"Regrettably, I did not have the opportunity to do so."

"Never mind, Teal'c. We'll find something. We've got that knife of yours. It must be possible to make some sort of trap and catch a rabbit, or maybe a bird," O'Neill decided.


Working together, they had made snares and caught two large rabbits. They had also managed to gather enough dry materials and firewood to be able to make a campfire on a sandy patch on the beach of the Potomac river.

"We should try to catch some fish as well," O'Neill suggested, while Martouf and Teal'c were preparing the rabbits. "Do you think we could make a net out of the rabbit's skin?"

"Certainly, but it will not be large." Martouf smiled at him. "Sorry. I believe it would be better to make a net out of sinuous grasses of some kind. Lantash's first host knew how to make such a net, and Lantash has his knowledge."

"Then, by all means. Go fetch some 'sinuous' grasses and weave us a net," O'Neill said, sitting down on a rock near the fire.

"I will do so as soon as I finish this." Martouf added the herbs they had found to small pockets he had cut into the rabbit, then wrapped it in clay and placed it in the fireplace. This way it would cook without getting burnt, and hopefully be less dry than if it was spit-roasted.

Teal'c had done the same to the rabbit he was preparing, and then set to light the fire.

"It'll be dark soon. You shouldn't walk too far away," Sam said, when Martouf had cleaned his hands in the river and was about to leave.

"I will not. I saw some grass nearby that I believe can be used."

"We should probably see if we can find some more hay," Sam said. "It's a little chilly already, and we don't have any blankets. Daniel, dad - will you help me?"

"Follow your own advice and don't stray far!" O'Neill warned. "I heard a wolf howl earlier."

"It was far away. We are quite safe," Teal'c told him, then crouched down to watch the fire.


They had been walking south for about a week, and were now around the lower part of North Carolina, following the coast as much as they could.

"It doesn't make any sense that we haven't met any people," Daniel said. "It doesn't even look as if this land was ever inhabited."

"It is a bit strange, I agree," Sam said. "Dad, Martouf, the Goa'uld were never in North America, were they?"

"Mexico was the furthest north, at least for most of them. But this is millennia after the last of them left Earth. Well, except for Seth, and Hathor and others like them," Jacob said.

"The timeline is not the one we know. Is it not possible that the Goa'uld were never here?" Martouf said. "Or even that they are still here."

"Sure, both are possible." Sam sighed. "And either case could have affected which areas of Earth are populated."

"It's pointless to discuss it when you don't know anything about it," O'Neill grumbled.

"Well, we probably got another 2500 miles to go before we hit an area where we're likely to find any left-over Goa'uld technology," Jacob said. "We can just as well discuss that as anything else."