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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Meeting of the Minds


z-Olivia Jenings-Izumi

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Olivia was early to lunch. That was unusual, but she'd gotten on the mat first for PT, and then Caine had let her go a little early because she'd taken a bad fall. A quick trip to Medbay for pain-relievers had been followed by a hot shower, and she was feeling a little better. She could rotate her arm without pain now.

"Hi," a semi-familiar voice said. Olivia had spent hours listening to lectures and films of that voice, and still she couldn't have been more shocked to look up and see Dr. Daniel Jackson looking at her. He had a sheaf of papers in one hand and a tray of food in the other.

"Hi," she managed, looking around a bit uncertainly. She'd always wanted to talk to him, but she'd never worked up her courage. She'd also had a bit of hero worship for him, and didn't want to subject her mental constructions of him to reality. It looked as though he'd taken the choice from her.

"Dr. Jenings-Izumi?" Dr. Jackson asked.

"I am," Olivia said, managing to sound half-way normal.

"May I join you?"

"Oh, yeah!" Olivia said, waving to the seat across from her. "Oh, well, I'm supposed to eat with my team..."

He didn't stop his descent into the chair. "SG-21, right?" She nodded and he said, "I hear good things about you guys."

"It's all my teammates," Olivia said with a proud smile. "They do all the work. I just store all the random facts."

"Yes, I read about your memory boost," Dr. Jackson replied, smiling and meeting her eyes. "It's fascinating, if I may say."

Olivia felt heat crawl up her cheeks and was glad her blushes weren't very easily spotted. "It has been a heck of a thing, yes," she admitted. "I'm still adjusting."

"It is difficult to adjust to," he said as he picked up his fork and tried something on his plate.

Olivia blinked. "You sound like... have you been to the Artifact, too?" she asked, getting excited. "I mean, your theories are so brilliant, I'd believe it! And if you've been enhanced further, that'd just be an incredible boon to history and science!"

Dr. Jackson's face flushed as he laughed a little. "No, I'm not a Specialist," he admitted, "but thank you for the compliment. I Ascended once."

"Oh," Olivia said, looking at him. "But I thought that was permanent."

"Well, it's a long story," he said, setting down his silverware, "and one which I'd like to tell you sometime, but I wanted to talk about this today." He pushed the sheaf of papers at her.

Olivia blushed again to see the manuscript of her book. The words, In the Eyes of the Gods: In Defense of Dr. Daniel Jackson's Theory of the Source of Early Civilization seemed like an indictment. When she'd written the book, Dr. Jackson had been missing for several years, and she had assumed that he was gone from academia forever. She'd never thought that he'd see this book. "Oh," she said, touching the cover. "Have you read it?"

"I have," he said with a grin. He was clearly enjoying her chagrin. "I read it before you became a Specialist, but never had the time to contact you. And then I found you were here, but with the influx of Specialists, I again didn't have the time. And I know you're busy with training, but I'd really like to talk to you about the book."

Oh, crap. He's going to point out every mistake! It was every academic's worse nightmare to be called out onto the carpet by the undisputed expert. "I know that the Anasazi theory was shaky," she said quickly, gritting her teeth slightly. "But I included it because I felt it was a relevant counterpoint to the premise of the book. It showed a primitive culture that was advanced without being part of a shared outgrowth of civilization."

"I would have used the Phoenicians," Dr. Jackson said, tilting his head. "Don't you think that their particular civilization would have been a better example of your point?"

"Maybe," Olivia admitted, "and I considered them, but I wanted to get further away from the Mediterranean."

"Rather arbitrary reason, isn't it, Doctor?" Dr. Jackson asked. He was becoming animated; clearly, he'd been wanting to discuss this for a while.

"Call me Olivia."

"Then call me Daniel."

"Anyway, it was, though I was trying to remove the possibility of Egyptian influence," she admitted, "but I see now that there's a better reason to include them."

"Their unique culture?"

"Kinda," Olivia said. "They developed an amazing culture despite Egyptian influence. They didn't build pyramids. They built boats and explored their known world. That mindset is so far off of the Egyptians that they would have served as a perfect foil."

"As I thought, when I read it," Daniel said, smiling. "But other than your attempt to undermine your own thesis - which, interesting tactic, by the way - I felt that your theories were solid."

"They seem so trite now," Olivia sighed.

"Of course," Daniel said. He smiled encouragingly and said, "Olivia, when I went through the StarGate for the first time, I had the same realization. My ideas, my precious theories were so important to me, and I was completely wrong. It took a trip off-world to make me realize how wrong."

"I understand, Daniel," Olivia said, smiling at him. "I really do." They shared a moment of understanding, then she asked, "What did you think of my analysis of Ramses III and his rule?"

Daniel grinned. "I loved it, and let me explain why..." They fell into a detailed discussion of the various theories that Olivia had covered.

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First Instinct: There is someone sitting in my team's area.

Second Observation: That is someone I recognize.

Third Reaction: That's Doctor Jackson of SG-1 ... talking to my squint ... this should be good.

Caine sat down nonchalantly next to Dr. Jackson as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

"Dr. Jackson, Doctor Jenings-Izumi, what's being discussed?"

The next generation had best learn from the previous generation and you didn't get more previous than SG-1. Caine didn't know if Olivia had invited him over, or if Dr. Jackson had come seeking something from Olivia. It didn't matter. What mattered was the opportunity for Knowledge.

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Gwyn spotted Caine joining Olivia and a man who he didn't recognise from the back of his head, so he continued over and around to sit next to Olivia. Putting his normally loaded tray down as he sat he stuck his hand to the man he now recognised.

"Dr Jackson I presume grin, Gwyn Jones. I hope you won't mind SG21 joining you two?"

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As was usual, Sgt. Perault loped into the mess hall wearing his shades, though unusually he was about 10 minutes behind everyone else. He had been spending time on the range with the SG weapons of choice, getting familiar with them by firing roughly 200 rounds with each one. He got whatever he aimed at, even his three-round bursts making one slightly larger single hole rather than a cluster of three. It was a meditative exercise for him, almost, the practice of skills that were now as inherent as they were earned. He didn't like the guns overmuch, though. The SMG was fine... if you liked flattening pistol ammo against hard targets. The rifle was good at least, a Steyr AUG model that had a decent range and reasonable kick. Now that he was technically 'special forces' though, he intended to try requisitioning his own arms, or maybe the same arms for the whole team. He'd seen some fancy new toys in the hands of the elite troops while still in the Army before, and the Air Force had to have better funding than the Army, right? Right.

He was mulling that over as he grabbed two trays-worth of chow, complete with the necessary four cartons of milk, and headed over to "SG21's table", as he thought of it. He slowed as he saw Jackson sitting there, apparently engaged in conversation with the others. Sliding his trays onto the table, he coiled into the seat next to Olivia and nodded in turn to the others, finishing with the blond-haired man across from Livy.

"Major, Gwyn, Doc, and Doc. Hey." Courtesies extended, Perault dug in to his food, keeping an ear on the conversation.

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"Daniel, this is most of my team," Olivia said, pointing to each person as she gave their name, "Major Damien Caine, Gwyn, as he said, and Sargent Declan Perault. We were talking about the way the Egyptian culture might have progressed without Ra's influence."

"Good to meet all of you," he said, nodding easily. "Olivia has some interesting theories-"

"Come on!" she said, her laugh verging on a giggle. "I formally renounce all previous theories until such time that I can review them and reassess them based on my new IQ and new information."

"So you don't think they'd have become small-time traders and farmers?" Daniel asked, a smile curling his face. "A nation of 'shepherds and grain-growers?'"

Olivia looked chagrined, but she was smiling, too. "That was one hypothesis of several," she pointed out. She was having fun with this, she realized. Hanging out with Daniel was better than she'd hoped, and so she dared to add, "Most of Egypt's neighbors were shepherds and grain-growers. It isn't that far-fetched that they'd continue to follow that mold. I mean Ra forced them to look up-"

"'At the stars, and realize that there was more than the dirt and the grain that came from it. Whatever it was that wrenched their gaze up, it built a fire in their bellies that could not be extinguished or denied.'" As Olivia blinked at him, he said, "It's my favorite line from your book."

Quietly, in the back of her mind, Olivia's hero worship became something much more personal and emotional.

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Caine shrugged,

"How does that help us know, theorizing what they might have become without Ra? I mean, Mesapotamian civilization became a cluster of competing city-states vulnerable to barbarian predation. The Egyptians became unified."

"What does that mean for us and the cultures we are going to find out there," his well-defined arm langiudly makes a motion with his fork.

"History translates into the present, but I'm curious as to how?"

He is, after all, face to face with two of the top minds on the subject.

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"Hmm, maybe I should see what you current writing style is like in your after action reports Major? Sadly I feel such finesse and poetry of phrase may well be more from the personal spirit of the authour and so unamenable to tuition."

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"Seriously, I doubt the Major expects that," Olivia said with a laugh. "But if he does, I'll help with the writing. It was my gift from the Artifact, so I should help the team with it."

There was a moment of silence, then Daniel said, "Major, you asked how history translates into the present. The answer is that history is constantly informing the present, either by actions that actively change the present and future or by lessons that influence human reactions."

"Sometimes, speculating on what didn't happen can help teach lessons about what did happen," Olivia said. "In situations where we'll be going into societies that were based on Earth ones but had their development altered or retarded by removal to another planet. Hence why these theoretical discussions do have merit in our case."

"Also, Olivia and I like to geek out about history," Daniel admitted as he and Olivia shared a smile.

"You are the reason I'm here," Olivia said, her voice growing a little shy.

"Really?" Daniel asked, tilting his head.

"Yes, when I was taking some time off college, my dad gave me some history books. Yours was one of them. They awoke such a love of history in me, and that lead to my writing about you, and ending up here." Her smile was warm and just for Daniel. "So thank you."

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"Heh, with my gift I can spot everywhere I'm going wrong, but it doesn't tell me how to put it right."

Gwyn looks up from his food to Daniel and Olivia, "I'm sorry to say that I hadn't read either of your works until I came here and found them in the library. I take it then that we should spend some time considering alternate history type scenarios? What would happen to the Mayan's if they were moved to a location that didn't have access to gold and were not attacked by their rivals? Things like that?"

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He listened as he tore through his first portion of food without stopping then, the edge taken off his hunger, paid closer attention. It seemed fairly straightforward, what they were saying. The aliens had influenced early Earth culture, and to a degree that had shaped how the world was now. Check.

He, however, had nothing to add to the discussion. He could appreciate learning from the past, but he knew little to nothing about it. So he kept his mouth shut and his ears open, chewing slowly.

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A ripple of air announced his arrival as a slight quantum stream marked his last trajectory before simply wisping away into nothingness. He was already in a sitting position and stabbing at his 'food' deciding where to start first.

He didn't say anything, just kept his head low and planned the best C.O.A. for conquering his meal.

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“I find alternate history to be an excellent way to – Hello, Jaunt,” Olivia said, nodding at her last team member. “Daniel, this is Jaunt.”

“We’ve met,” Daniel said, smiling at the young man. Like many things Daniel did, it was a sincere expression.

“Good,” Olivia said, nodding. She wasn’t sure how she felt about the newest member of the team; she didn’t know him very well. She hadn’t had a chance to find out his real name, something she planned to ask at a good moment. This wasn’t it. “As I was saying, the study and exercise of determining a valid alternate history can teach you many things about real history. And here, yes, we can use various assumptions to try to understand the cultures that we will find through the StarGate. Some cultures will be eerily similar.”

“Yes, like the Shavadai,” Daniel agreed, nodding. “Their culture was virtually unchanged from when they were Mongols.” He shook his head. “That was a bad mission.”

“We covered that situation briefly in the Woman’s Special Briefing,” Olivia said, looking a bit unsettled. “I’m glad that I wasn’t the one involved in that situation.” Her smile was subdued. “I don’t think I would have done as well as Carter did.”

“Hopefully, you won’t have to,” Daniel said, then glanced around the table. “Are you all familiar with SG-1’s first encounter situation with the Shavadai?”

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"Why don't you enlighten us, Doctor Jackson. It is a valuable lesson for my team and I feel we could really benefit from your experience."

He had only read the mission brief summary in the After Action report. Much had been left out, like how people dealt with their feelings on such a mission and about what nearly happened. Now that he had Olivia, and some sense of dependance on her by the Sargeant, it was worth having them face up to one of the myriad risks they were taking.

The team had to survive, both as individuals and as a coherent entity. This was about one of those times that a superb team could have fallen apart and didn't.

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"The Shavadai call their planet Simarka," Daniel said, flipping into lecture mode with the speed of a toggled switch. "They are based on the Mongols, and had experience very little cultural shift. Women are property, to be bought and sold. They are to hide their faces and not speak to a man in public unless he asks them for something." He gave them a grim smile. "You can all imagine how someone like Captain Carter would take that. We did get her into the local garb, on O'Neill's orders.

"One of the young men was in love with a local girl promised to another warlord. He kidnapped Captain Carter, planning to trade her for his love, Nya. The ploy didn't work and Captain Carter was taken captive by the warlord, Turghan. With the help of another, more forward-thinking warlord named Moughal, we attempted an escape, even as Captain Carter was helped Nya escape. We got Sam by training her for a gun, but Nya was recaptured, and we went back for her. Captain Carter had already been declared a chieftain among our people - with a bit of elaboration in terms they could understand," Daniel added with a grin. "Since she was a chieftain, she fought against Nya's punishment. She kicked Turghan's ass, and saved the girl."

"The scary thing about discussing this in the seminar is that Captain Carter couldn't provide any kind of answer for us," Olivia said, frowning. "She said we'd have to rely on our guts and make our own choices. I'm not sure what I would have done. Probably not what she did. It's very nebulous, very unsure."

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Gwyn looks about as serious as any of you have seeen him as he replies to Olivia.

"Unfortunately Olivia I think that is going to be the case nearly every time we go through the Stargate. We'll only have what info we can extract by examining the initial remote video. After that we will have to improvise our responses at any culture and/or technology that we find on the other side."

Then he grins, "We don't need to worry though, we have Olivia's big brain and historical knowledge for us poor men to hide behind. Seriously though, your training and the reasoning you showed in your research to defend Dr Jackson is going to be a great benefit to us in the field."

To save Olivia's blushes he turns to Jaunt, "I know you've only just joined our team Jaunt, but have you had any thoughts about what we might find on the other side of the Gate?"

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The question was a good one. You had better keep an open mind about what lay beyond, because there could be all types of twists and turns, and all kinds of cultures.

"Remember guys, it was Carter who was stolen away on Simarka. They didn't have her 'big brain' to pull upon. That is why it is important that we all know a little something about the cultures we might come across and be able to act accordingly. Getting other cultures to work with us is part of our mission."

That was something they beat into your head in special forces, but not something that most of the team would be used to. Moral judgements would abound and that had to be nipped in the butt.

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"With respect Major, Carter's brain capacity is not an issue with regards to Simarka. Dr Jackson here is the historical and cultural brains for SG-1, where Carter is more orientated to the hard sciences like myself. Although you point is well taken, and I will add some anthropological texts to the historical ones I'm already reading."

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He chewed the inside of his lip for a moment before speaking up, somewhat to his own surprise. He'd probably feel a wave of academic disapproval for this one. Fuck it. If he spotted a flaw in reasoning that could get people killed or worse, he'd call it.

"Major, guys. I know that we're supposed to respect the cultures we come across. But you can take a good thing too far, y'know?" He leaned forwards slightly, regarding the two Doctors through his shades. "Fine, they have the right to their own ways. Great. Who cares if they don't like democracy, civil rights and baseball. But I remember someone once said somethin' about free expression endin' where your fist and my nose meet."

"What I'm tryin' to say is that it's all very well wringin' our hands and talkin' about some of these cultures havin' rights to their traditions, but they don't have the right to force those on us. I saw too much of that shit overseas. Makin' female troops cover up and not lettin' them drive jeeps so the local rag- um, Arabs wouldn't get offended. It left a foul taste in my mouth. Then there was the quaint native tradition they had in Somalia of using women and children as human shields while they shot from behind them at our guys. Hell, the women would come out and try to cut up our dead and wounded too." He swallowed his anger for a moment, but there was quiet force in his voice when he spoke again. "I say any asshole that wants to take a member of SG21 into slavery while we're out there ain't long for the goddamn gene pool, 'Prime Directive' or no."

Even with his eyes shaded there was a certain deathly chill to the sergeant's expression, his usual diffidence gone. There was no doubt at all that he meant what he said.

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"My Prime Directive is that my team gets back alive and intact. No question about that in my book. Beyond that, I would like to see the various members of the team understand why someone in an alien culture has acted in a certian way and how we can avoid unnecessary confrontations."

"Basically, if they are total scumbags, we need to know how to back away. It is not our place to put up will all the crazy shit the universe cares to throw in our path."

Caine scans the table, stoppingon Olivia and Doctor Jackson.

"I'm a military man. My mission will a military cast to it. We all come homes, the mission gets accomplished, and the bastards pay."

He said it like it was the most natural thing in the world.

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At first his horror story had the predictable response on the historian; Olivia paled and frowned, looking about ready to cry - or rise from the table in righteous anger. But as Declan finished speaking, Olivia gave him a smile. It was a smile that reminded him of why he didn't end his life after the traumatic hike; that smile said they needed him. She needed him. Maybe he couldn't keep the monsters away, but he would try.

Caine got a similar smile, just more somber. He'd been less passionate; every bit as emphatic, but the way he'd spoken, it was as if the world had already conformed to what he believed. Plain, simple, straight.

It'd be what would get Olivia through some of the trials she would face.

"Well, we didn't exactly wring our hands," Daniel said, sounding a bit irritated as the military men finished with their pronouncements. "We got Major Carter back. The problem was less about respecting their culture and more about getting her back before nightfall, when we were assured that things would cross an unacceptable line. We were outnumbered, and while we could have managed a wholesale slaughter, we didn't. And we freed her."

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"So I guess we are saying that rule one is that everyone comes home, as intact as possible. Rule two would be to respect and work within their culture as long as it doesn't interfere with our mission, and if it does to ignore it, oppose it and/or subvert it as necessary to the mission and rule one?"

He carefully keeps his face blank as he looks around the table, before looking back at Dr Jackson.

"Given that we should really have some background in the type of cultures we may encounter can you give us some idea of the range of historically based cultures you have come across. Obviously the Egyptian based ones of Ra are at one end, and presumably the Norse type ones of Asgard influence are at the other. Or have their been ones of more recent terristrial cultural basis than that?"

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Originally Posted By: Jones
"Given that we should really have some background in the type of cultures we may encounter can you give us some idea of the range of historically based cultures you have come across. Obviously the Egyptian based ones of Ra are at one end, and presumably the Norse type ones of Asgard influence are at the other. Or have their been ones of more recent terrestrial cultural basis than that?"

"No, not really," Daniel said, squinting a little as he thought. "Remember, the StarGate was buried on Earth during Ancient Egypt, so very little interaction has happened between the Goa'uld and Earth since then. And we've seen one of two scenarios: either the transplanted cultures held fast to their customs and didn't change them for centuries; or they did change them and became unrecognizable. Now sometimes, that lack of innovation occurred due to the Goa'uld interference, but some, such as the Asgard, simply stagnated. Of course, the Goa'uld were destroying civilisations that became too advanced.

"Of those that did advance and weren't destroyed, it's not easy to see where they came from after a long time," he continued. "We find correlations between them and us, but that's all."

"Fascinating," Olivia murmured, staring at Daniel, her dark eyes wide.

"That's when you really have to scramble to figure out what the culture is and what you need to do in response," Daniel finished, nodding at Jones. "Adapt, ignore or oppose."
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Gwyn acknowledges Daniel's point before continuing, "Hmm, if they've had a number of centuries of drift with increasing technology is there going to be much of the original culture left? On a related note what are the langauges like out there? I'm familiar with Arabic, Latin, and I grew up with Welsh but I doubt that would be of much use. Is there any guides we could look at to help with learning things Gou'ald, Ancient and Asgard?"

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"The interesting thing is that in most of the areas they touched down became civilizations that we recognize today. At least we can put together with the proper linguistics expertise. Once we can open communications with the natives, we are one step closer in dealing with the Goa'uld presence."

"That's were our reconissence efforts can really pay dividends. We can record their speech, take pictures of their writings, and, of course, get video of them. First Contact is one of the parts I love about this job - re-uniting people with their Mother Planet."

Caine seems sincere and yet again sound like a believer in the Cause.

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Daniel smiled at the Welshman, "You'd be surprised perhaps. We haven't encountered them directly yet, but there are Goa'uld that impersonated some of the UK deities and myths. The Tok'ra have told us about Morrigan, and Conn and several others."

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Daniel laughed. "I doubt all were aliens, but yes, many were. The thing that has us the most puzzled is that we know that Earth was free and didn't face interference after we buried our stargate, but other cultures from different parts of the Earth seem to have been transplanted to other planets from time periods after the gate was buried. Some of that might be a result of traffic through the second stargate that was found in Antartica, but it had also been buried for a very long time and personally I have my doubts about it being the source, although I don't have any proof."

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"Prolly an underground railroad for a third gate." Jaunt shrugged. "If these guys are as smart as you say they are, and they popped up around the time you said they did, then logically they'd have put a gate in every heavily populated area of the world. So Asia, The U.S. and Canada, and Europe. Don't know why they'd have on in the chilly hind end of Antarctica though, unless you believe all those stupid stories about Atlantis... which you eggheads prolly do."

"Just out of curiosity... is Santa a Goo-Wald? I just wanna know how much postage I'll need for my wish list this year... what's the going rate on 'light years'?"

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Daniel laughed again at Jaunt's words and continued the discussion the the same earnest and excited way he always seemed to talk about history, "No, there's no alien Santa, and no, as far as we know there were only 2 stargates on Earth. We know the Ancients placed only one gate on each world, Earth had two because at some point Ra brought the second one to Earth. Because we found an Ancient outpost also in Antartica with a DHD we suspect that it was the original gate, and that Ra must have discovered Earth by traveling here by ship and once he had he brought the second gate to make travel to and from Earth easier. Of course if that's true then we are back to the drawing board on how the other peoples were transplanted from Earth after the Egypt gate was buried."

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"I don't get it though. Why use a gate? If you have a ship that can travel light years, just make one, a really big one and scoop people up and use the ship to move em around." He shook his head. "Just seems like a waste to me. Goo-Wald tax dollars at work."

"Hey... there aren't any Goo-People out there," He nudged to the outside with his fork, meaning 'the world at large'. "You know, like my math teacher? The guy had to have been from another planet."

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"Well maybe it's stating the obvious, but if Ra came here by ship then surely other races could have taken groups away by ship? Haven't you found other planets that were either contacted by, or under the protection of the Asgard for example?"

He turns to Jaunt, "Nice try, but when the Ancients came and built the gate in the Antartic there was no major civilisations elsewhere on the planet, so why bother with extra Stargates? When Ra came back with the other gate the Egyptians were the only main guys around, indeed there was very few people around North America so they certainly wouldn't have bothered putting anything here."

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Daniel looks at Gwyn thoughtfully, "That might very well be the case. Ships are the most logical explanation, but it's still hard to believe. There is evidence that the Goa'uld don't necessarily share their gate addresses with each other. Ra as supreme system lord had a large number of addresses which we found on Abydos, and he seems to have had more than any of the others. There is also evidence that the intentionally hide their assets from each other. Earth seems to have been some kind of exception to that rule though. We know they share some resources that are too scarce like Naquadah rather than tear each other apart trying to take it from one another. Perhaps the people of Earth were considered a resource like that." He glanced back at Jaunt, "Oh and gate travel is instaneous, or nearly so, it only takes about 3 to 4 seconds to travel from world to world through a gate, using a ship could take days and that would use fuel as well."

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"Whoopie... so basically you're just sitting here talking about a bunch of stuff you don't really know about because you don't have enough facts." He nodded his head. "Cool, maybe later we can all tell only half a of a story... I'll bet that'll be just as interesting too."

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"I'm sure your a smart kid Jaunt, but comments like that don't show it. I've seen you sketching stuff in the briefing, do you always do the final version straight away or do you have to build things up with preliminary outlines that you then develop? These conversations and the many more we may have are like that, they are the base outlines from which we try to figure out the sort of things we may face in the future so that when we will be more prepared when we do face them."

He nods over to Sgt Perault, "You've had a sparring session with the Sgt and I'm sure he taught you some stuff as well, and perhaps you've seen in films or in the gym other people doing the kata for their styles. It looks like a dance or pretend fight. That is another analogy for what we are starting to do here, a kata in most styles is the person going through thier part of a set or choreographed fight. So all those strikes and blocks they make are against imaginary opponents. Basically its a form of practise, so that in a real fight if someone throws a punch at you from that direction you, and more importantly your muscle memory is already familiar with the block/strike combination to use against it."

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"In other words," Olivia said, looking at Jaunt with a touch of impatience, "if you consider the possibilities while in the 'lab,' then you are less likely to be surprised by them in the field."

What the heck? Can't this kid think far enough ahead to realize the value of speculation? "Perhaps if you're not interested in talking and learning, you should go do something else. I am interested in talking and speculating with Daniel and the others." She kept her tone bland and calm, without irritation or rancor. It was a suggestion, nothing more or less.

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