Children of the Light
Jack rummaged through the latest shipment, hoping Hammond had been able to fulfill his request. For most people three weeks enforced vacation in a palace by the sea would be a welcome reprieve. But the members of his team weren’t like most people. Only Teal’c appeared unaffected. Of course, he had spent the first week back on Earth, returning a few days ago to keep his friends company, or so he’d said. Still, he was doing his kel-nor-reem thing more often than normal.
However, it was Carter and Daniel who were most on edge. While Hammond sent books, laptops and whatever else the two scientists deemed essential, P4X-347 wasn’t equipped with an internet connection, apparently, a requirement to conduct experiments or make translations. This respite was neither restful nor healing for the two young people.
As to be expected, Daniel was suffering from a guilty conscience connected to the deaths of Lt. Barber and the rest of SG-5, forgetting he himself had been a victim.
Jack shuddered as he remembered carrying Daniel’s lifeless body through the Stargate. Which, inevitably, stirred the memory of finding Daniel on the balcony ledge outside his apartment. It was a toss up on which experience had been more frightening.
Pausing in his quest, Jack took a deep breath to try to settle the nausea threatening to empty his stomach, and reminded himself that Daniel hadn’t jumped from the balcony or died of withdrawal. He was in the “light” room with Teal’c trying to translate more of the text engraved on the pillars. So much bad had happened in Jack’s life, he knew how to be grateful for the good.
A smile curved his lips as his hand encountered a mesh bag. This was very good. Breaking open the package, he stuffed the small items into his pockets. Activating his radio, he called his second-in-command. “Carter, meet me in the light room, and bring Loran with you.”
The acknowledgment, while militarily correct, lacked the major’s usual enthusiasm and curiosity. Jack’s smile grew broader. She wouldn’t be bored for long.
Walking into the control room, Jack tried not to remember the alien device had been responsible for the deaths of four good men and had almost killed his best friend. Standing over the sitting Jaffa and a kneeling archeologist, he unnecessarily asked, “Whatcha doin’?”
“Trying to translate this script.” Daniel pointed to the small lettering circling the base of a pillar.
“Why don’t you take a break?”
Sitting back on his heels, Daniel pushed his glasses up and rubbed his eyes. “Why? It’s not like there’s anything else to do in this place.”
“You could play.” Jack pulled his hand out of his pants pocket. Between his thumb and forefinger was a small tubular piece of foam. Pressing his fingers together, the projectile popped from his hand, hitting Daniel squarely in the chest.
While Daniel glared owlishly at the fallen object, Jack popped two more of the missiles toward Teal’c. One missed completely, the other struck the Jaffa’s right arm.
“O’Neill, what is the nature of this attack?” Teal’c inspected the trifle that had struck him.
Before Jack could explain, Carter and Loran entered the room. Using both hands, Jack sent more of the colorful toys in their direction. Some hit their target, others flew harmlessly past.
The scowl that had been twisting her face disappeared as Carter scrambled to acquire ammunition. “Finger poppers!” she exclaimed, expertly firing back at her superior.
A tentative smile on his face, Loran followed her lead.
Rising to his feet, Teal’c caught several of the projectiles in midair. He sent them back with a speed that made his hands a blur.
Jack was surprised and delighted when he heard an uncharacteristic giggle issue from his 2IC’s lips. Pulling more of the missiles from his pocket, he shot them off before glancing down to see if Daniel had gotten into the spirit of the game.
Sliding his glasses back over his eyes, the archeologist was inspecting one of the toys like it was a sacred relic.
“Shoot, Daniel,” Jack encouraged.
Obediently, Daniel held his hand up. Squinting at Jack, he popped his fingers. The colorful foam burst forth - striking Daniel between the eyes.
Surprised, Jack could only watch as Daniel tried again, with the same result. Laughter gurgling in his throat, Jack quickly crossed to his friend’s side as Daniel stubbornly prepared to try again. Without a word, Jack gently turned Daniel’s hand so the fingers were pointing outward. The projectile popped out - landing mere inches in front of Daniel’s feet.
Patting his friend on the shoulder, Jack pulled a handful of the toys from his pocket and handed them to the younger man. “Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it.”
Jack expertly maneuvered the FRED and sent it through the Stargate with the last of their equipment. It was amazing how much they had accumulated in three weeks.
“O’Neill,” Teal’c hovered at his side, “I have been unable to locate four of the finger missiles.”
Studying the relaxed faces of his team, Jack placated, “That’s all right, Teal’c. I don’t think the maid will mind.”
Motioning Carter and Loran to lead the way through the wormhole, Jack studied Daniel, worried by the frown creasing his forehead. “Daniel, is something wrong?”
“Not wrong, exactly,” Daniel conceded. “I was just thinking, what if the next people who visit here are archeologists like Loran’s parents and they find those ...?”
“Finger poppers,” Jack supplied.
“They’ll think they’re artifacts.”
Enjoying the image of mystified scientists, Jack put an arm across Daniel’s shoulders and steered him toward the Stargate. “Let’s go home, Daniel.”
This "story" is dedicated to the room 532 finger poppers of Mediawest Con # 23, particularly Yum@ who was its inspiration. And yes, we did leave “artifacts” behind.