A/N: And now we go back in time a few hours….
Jack O’Neill walked out onto the temple’s gray-stained wooden balcony, wide enough to line up half the SGC’s offworld teams with room to spare, and looked out over summer-green trees cloaking the mountain slope down to a tile-roofed city. “This place? Is way too pretty.”
Familiar footsteps thumped out behind him. “Jack.”
“Seriously.” Jack gripped the railing, testing how well it was anchored. Wouldn’t do to have a fight break out and go plummeting down a hundred-odd feet because he thought the railing would stop him. Not that there seemed to be anything here to fight. Just chirpy local-equivalent-of-bird songs and dust sparkling in stray shafts of early morning sunlight; the first warm breaths of what promised to be a stifling summer day. “There’s nobody here. Dragon statue fountains, mini-waterfalls trained off the roof on the rising-sun side, not a speck of litter from a stray acolyte grabbing lunch when nobody’s looking… and no pine trees. Isn’t that one of the rules of the universe? Every planet the Goa’uld colonized has pine trees.”
“Abydos,” Daniel Jackson reminded him, making sure to get a good panorama of the city below for the videocamera.
“Okay, almost every planet.”
“And just because nobody’s here right now, doesn’t mean they won’t be back later.” Daniel did a slower visual sweep, pausing on what looked like possible buildings of interest. “Even if no one’s used the Stargate since Ma’chello left, it’s probably still a center of worship. It could be they only come up and clean the place out once a year for specific ceremonies.”
Jack tried to shake the railing again, and hmphed. “Or it could be they all up and left real quick, because Ma’chello.”
“It probably would be a good idea,” Daniel allowed, lowering the videocam to take his own look. “I’m not going back to PY3-948 anytime soon.” He paused. “But if this place were completely abandoned… like you pointed out, there are good water sources here. We should see animal tracks. Nests.”
And they hadn’t. Okay. So… probably people, just probably not right now. Which could be subject to change with not much warning. Better to keep their eyes open. If only because it would suck to be stabbed with a pointy stick by some justifiably paranoid local mistaking them for Ma’chello’s best buddies. “Teal’c?”
A quiet tread, and a glint of sun off gold from the wide sliding doors; Teal’c carried the most muscle of all of them, but the Jaffa moved stealthy as a Special Ops veteran. “All seems quiet, O’Neill.”
“Good. Quiet is… good.” Jack headed back inside, stopping just inside the track of translucent panels. The red-painted wooden columns holding up the ornamented ceiling were thicker than he could wrap his arms around; they ought to be solid enough. But all the delicately-painted lamps hanging from above were dark – probably because it was daylight, imagine that – and the shadowed interior twitched at his nerves. Seeing the MALP in front of the Stargate, and the nice, friendly, intact DHD helped. A little. “Major?”