While the engineers worked on a plan to remove the ship from its icy crib, tests were run. The cavern's walls were soon pockmarked with holes left by core samples. Doctor Leland, who was a bit of a loner with excellent credentials - both pluses should she wish to be involved - led the team to try and determine the age of the Ancient ship. If that was what it was.
Jonas was somewhat pensive about the whole thing, although that didn't mean he was quiet about it. "You think that was the ship Ayianna arrived in?" he asked me, not long after we'd returned to the SGC.
"It's certainly possible," I said. "Of course... it's just as possible that Ayianna wasn't the only one on it."
"You think there were others on that ship." It was a statement, not a question, but I nodded anyway. I didn't see how any one woman, no matter how gifted, could manage a vessel of that size. And then there was the fact that Ayianna had been discovered some distance away from the ship's resting place.
We had brought back very little from the Ancient ship save pictures. As news of the plans to move the craft to the US filtered through - a system of barges and cargo planes and far more bizarre systems of transportation - I became more and more nervous that the vessel and its technology would be lost. It made me sick simply to consider the possibility. There had been so much there, things we had somewhat recognized and others that were completely, deliciously alien. I wanted to set eyes on each and every one of them, find out what they were, what they did...
Not long after we returned from the Antarctic, while the ship was en route to Area 51, the Colonel came down with a nasty chest cold. He quickly shunned Janet's offer of an infirmary stay, saying only, "I swear to God, that place is out for my blood", meaning the South Pole, before driving himself home. I wanted to be concerned about him, I really did, but my attention was doubtlessly elsewhere.
Jonas, Teal'c and I went to Area 51 to look over the preparations being made for the ship's arrival. A huge new structure was being built for it, one that would hold the vessel partly below the surface while keeping it shielded from any nosy satellites. Looking at that hole in the ground reminded me of how enormous the ship was, and likewise the enormous impact it would likely have on humanity. I had no forgotten the things that Janet and I had postulated regarding the Ancients.
They seemed so closely related to humanity.
What if a ship full of Ancients, or the beings that would become the Ancients, had landed on Earth millennia ago? What if their ship had been damaged and they had been forced to stay? What if they had traveled to a populated area of the globe and found other beings, creatures somewhat similar to themselves?
What if the Ancients were the evolutionary missing link for which anthropologists had been searching for ages?
I was stunned to find Doctor Rene Leland at Area 51. I had understood the reasoning behind keeping her on in Antarctica, since that was where her expertise lay, but far away from the ice and cold... she seemed out of place. Standing in the new structure, I noticed her on the other side of the sunken hole, talking animatedly with an SF. "Is that who I think it is?" I asked Doctor Stein, the project's civilian leader.
"Rennie Leland?" Stein asked. "Yes, that's her." He gave me a grandfatherly smile. "Do you two know each other?"
"Yes," I answered, before I could think better of it.
Driving home, I found myself heading towards the Colonel's house. It was odd... my thoughts had been elsewhere, and my internal compass had pointed me in this direction. Feeling somewhat guilty for ignoring him in favor of the Ancient ship - even though I was fairly certain he wouldn't be offended, and that he would understand - I decided to stop by and see how he was feeling.
He looked surprised to see me. Dressed in sweats, his eyes tired and his face somewhat pale, he nevertheless let me in. "You're probably not contagious," I assured him, looking for a place to sit that wasn't covered in Kleenex.
"I still look like hell," said the Colonel, which seemed odd; I'd certainly seen him much worse. I took a seat on the couch and he collapsed into the armchair. "How're things shaping up?"
"You mean with the ship?" He nodded. Of course he would want to talk about work. What else was there to discuss? "We're ready for it. I can't believe they're bringing it all this way," I confided. "It might have been easier to just learn how to fly it," I joked.
The Colonel looked interested. "You think that's possible?"
I shrugged. "It depends on a whole hell of a lot. We've located what we think are the engines, but we have no idea what state they're in."
He nodded, turned away, coughed hoarsely and then turned back. "The thing looked in pretty good shape to me."
He was right. "I guess that says something for Ancient construction," I said. "But as far as learning how to operate it... yes, I think that's possible. I don't know if you noticed..."
"There was a lot of stuff in that ship that reminded me of the Goa'uld."
I paused, surprised by his keen observation, and nodded. "There were some features that seemed... Asgard as well. What do you think that means?"
I think both of us knew what we thought, but neither felt like mentioning it. It seemed so strange, so morbid, and maybe we were superstitious enough to want to refrain from 'jinxing' the situation. Things got quiet after that, and quiet led to uncomfortable, and I decided it was best to leave. But as I gathered my coat, the Colonel said a curious thing.
"Feel free to drop by again."