Anyway, when I got to the two-page point I figured I might as well do something with it. And that something is to annoy Yam (who I know is still waiting for more Sleepers; sorry hun) and maybe somehow inspire myself to keep going. Even though it will be almost impossibly weird.
So... no promises that I'm ever going to finish this. Read at your own peril.
"How do I explain a life that has lasted for billions of years? It is almost as if I must start with an apology for being alive when everyone I once knew is dead. But because my love for them still lives, I believe their souls forgive me. But does the universe? I wonder."
-- The Starlight Crystal, by Christopher Pike
It started with a phone call in the dead of night. That in itself was not unusual. The nature of my job demanded sacrifices, and one such sacrifice was a full night's sleep. I always woke quickly, however, no matter how late it was. Knowing that I was needed just stirred something inside me, something deeper and more primal than mere duty.
The Colonel was on the other end of the line. God only knew why he was still at the SGC, but I didn't give it much thought, at least not after he said, "They found something."
I sat up, switching on the table lamp and rubbing my eyes to clear them. "Who found what?"
"There was an earthquake at the South Pole." Immediately I kicked the covers off and swung my legs out of bed. "Some geological service went to check it out, and they found..."
I moved quickly to my closet, pulling out clothes with one hand while the other held the phone tightly against my cheek. "What?" It wasn't like the Colonel to be this deliberate. His stalling could be indicative of many things.
When he finally spoke, it was with an uncertainty. "A ship. We think it's a ship."
Hurry up and wait. I had driven to the base like a mad woman that night, but of course nothing I could do could speed the information coming from McMurdo. We had to be very careful about who saw what, of course, and this meant a delay while we transported people with the right security clearance. Hammond didn't want to let us go until the initial reports were confirmed. I think we were all paranoid that this would turn out to be nothing. Paranoid because it could turn out to be so much.
A ship at the South Pole. Where the first Earth Stargate had been. Where Ayianna had been found.
We waited all that night, migrating from the control room to the commissary to the lounge as a team. The prospect of discovery hovered in the air. Teal'c did not meditate, Jonas did not ramble, and the Colonel made no sarcastic remarks about our tense state of being.
We were in the briefing room, sitting silently around the big table with steaming mugs before us, when General Hammond walked in. A quick glance at my watch told me that it was seven in the morning.
"Pack your things," said the General. "They're ready at the airstrip."
Antarctica did not hold fond memories for any of us, but particularly the Colonel. He had, after all, almost died there twice. It wasn't easy for me, either. I had almost watched him die twice.
The research station huddled beneath the white dome, hedged by snow and ice and dark gray sky. The crater where the ship had been found was only a half hour away, but we stopped at the station first to recharge our batteries. There were no familiar faces from our last stay, but that was not unexpected. It was a Major Christian who, along with his staff, greeted us brusquely upon our arrival.
"There is one small problem, sir," said Christian as we stowed our bags. "We're afraid one member of the survey team saw a bit too much. We were afraid to release her along with her colleagues... the last thing we need is for the press to start flocking up here looking for aliens."
Her name, said Christian, was Doctor Renee Leland, and she had been the one to discover what lay half-hidden under the breach of earth. Depending on what she'd found, containment could possibly be a very important matter. But first we wanted to see what that was.
An hour later the helicopter had landed as close to the fissure as it dared, and the Colonel, Teal'c, Jonas and I, bundled up in protective layers, were making our careful way across the ice. The earthquake had caused a long, narrow crack to form in the snow-covered ground, and some ice had been thrust up out of what seemed to be an underground cavern. Christian was quick to show us the route that Leland had taken down into the crater; it was slippery and treacherous, but not unachievable.
It was indeed a ship; that much was instantly obvious. If Leland had seen anything, she had, after all, seen too much. It was so huge that it seemed impossible that it could be anything but some sort of star faring vessel.
According to Christian, sonar scans and preliminary explorations through the massive cavern showed that the ship was between five and six stories high and as long as three and a half football fields placed end to end. It was also roughly elliptical in shape. The hull, we could see now, was a pearly gray, smooth as a stone polished by eons of running water. There were small circular windows, and peeking through one Jonas announced he could see tables and chairs. Tables and chairs, it seemed, intended for humanoid forms.