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Several hours had passed since they had brought Jessie home. When Janet finally reappeared, she had them gather in the briefing room, figuring it would be easier to tell them all at the same time about her findings.
"How is she, Janet?" asked Jack.
"She’s in recovery, being closely monitored. It appears she’s in a coma at the moment." Looking at the members of both SG-1 and SG-7, she couldn’t remember seeing them look so lost. She took a deep breath before beginning. "I ran several labs tests and scans, before I took her into surgery. Jessie has bruises on just about every part of her body. Luckily there are no skull fractures, nor swelling of the brain. Facial bones are intact, despite the severe bruise across her left cheekbone, and several along her jaw. Her left shoulder was dislocated; I reset it, and now there is good mobility of the joint. She has three rib fractures on the left, two on the right. There are defensive wounds on her hands, as well as a long cut down her back. Judging from the size and parallel nature to her spine, I would say it was from a whip. It’s infected, which explained the septicemia."
"She has bacteria growing from her blood culture. The infection was severe enough from her back that it became systemic, getting into her blood stream. However, it was probably what saved her life."
Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a plastic bag that contained what looked like a miniature version of a railroad spike.
"This is what I extracted from near her shoulder blade during surgery."
"What the hell is that?" Jack asked.
Daniel took the bag, looking closely at it. "It’s a miniaturized version of a godstick. The individual Maori gods were each represented by different shaped godsticks. This particular shape represents Tu-kai-taua."
"Well, whatever it represents, it’s embedded with a chemical that has neurotoxic properties, and it slowly leaches out. My analysis shows similarities to scorpion venom, except this is much more potent."
"The Kootenay use these in the ritual for selecting the Nadako, their highest ranking warriors. It is said the essence of their god is placed beneath their skin. This is done at sunset, and is removed at sunrise. If they survive, then they have demonstrated the strength and fortitude to serve their god, and earn the right to be a member of the select few." Teal’c’s face was impassive, but the muscle in his jaw was moving rhythmically.
There was no hiding the anger in Janet’s expression. "Sunset to sunrise? We’re talking about a twelve hour time frame, give or take?"
Teal’c inclined his head.
"By my estimation, that damned thing was in Jessie for at least forty-eight hours. It wasn’t placed beneath her skin; it was stabbed straight into her back. Heat seems to slow the toxin down, which is why I believe her fever saved her. It caused the toxin to be metabolized slower, thus slowing the damage."
"What kind of damage?" Mitchell asked, his voice betraying his emotions.
Janet took a deep breath before answering. "She’s alive, and breathing on her own. There was a fair amount of tissue necrosis that I removed. Her neural responses are weak, though. Whether it’s permanent, or will improve, only time will tell. I am concerned how it will affect her mentally."
"What do you mean?"
"Like I said, I don’t see any swelling of the brain, but she is definitely in a coma. A neurotoxin like that, it could affect her cognitive function, her memory. If she does remember, that will bring on a whole new set of problems." Janet looked directly at Jack. "The kind of pain she would have experienced is nothing short of torture. It wouldn’t have been localized just to the area where it was driven in; her whole nervous system would have been affected. If she had black ops training, that would be one thing. Going through it unprepared…" Janet’s voice trailed off momentarily. "She…there were gouges in her skin from where she apparently tried to dig it out herself, but it was beyond her reach."
Sam swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat. "Is she going to make it, Janet?"
The petite doctor looked at each of them seated around the table before answering. "I don’t know Sam. She’s been through a lot. I’ve got her on broad-spectrum antibiotics to fight the infection, as well as polyvalent antivenin to try to counteract the poison. Those are the two things that are the most threatening right now. If she makes it past those, we’ll just have to take it one step at a time."
Janet reached into her pocket and pulled out a small piece of folded paper. "One of the nurses gave this to me after I got out of surgery. She said it fell out of Jessie’s boot when we were prepping her for surgery." She handed it to Daniel. "It’s a gate address, and some other form of writing."
Daniel studied the symbols. "I don’t recognize the address…" He was already rising from his chair. "Casey and I will get to work on this right away."
Jack nodded at them, and they headed straight for their office.
"What is it, Daniel?"
"I’m not sure. If Jessie had it hidden in her boot, then she had figured something out. Kaitsenko probably had Jessica translating the inscriptions trying to figure out the location of the weapon, and if she found it, more than likely she would have sent him on a wild goose chase."
"But why would she have written out the real address? There was a good chance Kaitsenko would find it."
Daniel looked at Casey. "The only reason she would have written it out would have been if she didn’t think she was going to be able to tell us herself."
Casey’s eyes filled with tears, and Daniel pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly to him.
"She can’t die, Daniel, not now. Not with her and Cam just getting together…" The rest of what she said was muffled against his chest as the sobs shook her slender body.
"Shhh. Everything’s going to be all right. You know Jessie; she’s a fighter. She’s going to make it through this." Daniel held his wife close, trying to sooth her, when the thought hit him.
"Case? Babe, have you seen something?"
She turned her tear-stained face towards him, shaking her head negatively. "No, and I’ve tried, but I can’t see anything. That’s what scares me."
He cupped her face in his hands, brushing the tears from her cheeks with a soft sweep of his thumbs. He kissed her gently, soothing her and sending his love to her at the same time. "It’s going to be okay. What we need to do right now is figure out what Jessie has on this paper. If she sent Kaitsenko to a bogus address, it won’t be long before he backtracks and tries to find the real one."
For the next hour they worked on trying to establish a location, but they were unable to find a reference to it in the database, nor in their notes. An attempt at dialing the address was unsuccessful, as the seventh chevron failed to engage. However, it was the symbols that had him most puzzled. They made absolutely no sense, though he has the strangest feeling of déjà vu when looking at it. He was about to start going through the notes again when it hit him like a lightening bolt.
Casey heard Daniel groan. She got up and went over to where he was sitting.
"What is it?"
"I can’t believe I was this blind! This is a code Jessie created years ago at the University for a project--I knew I had seen it before!" He got up from the desk. "Do you have a key to Jessie’s place?"
"Yes, of course."
"If I remember correctly, she saved her major projects. If we’re lucky, the key to the code is at her house."
Paper in hand, Daniel and Casey were headed for the door when Mitchell walked up.
"What’s going on?"
"C’mon, we need your help. We’re going over to Jessie’s house to try and find the key to this code."
Daniel explained everything to Mitchell on the way over. Hurrying up to the front door, Casey unlocked it.
"You have any idea where this might be at?" Casey asked Daniel.
"Her library," Mitchell replied. He led them down the hallway. "She turned one of the bedrooms into a den." Opening the door, Casey and Daniel were greeted by the sight of floor to ceiling bookcases lining all the walls. A loveseat and recliner, a small table and a desk were the only other items in the room.
"Case, you take that wall, I’ll search this one, Cam, you get the other. She used to keep her notes and things in binders, about a half-inch to an inch thick. We’re looking for a handwritten code, probably on a notebook size sheet of paper." He showed the symbols to Mitchell so he would know what to look for.
The next two hours passed in relative silence. In addition to several binders, they also found Jessie kept notes slipped inside books which were relative to the subject. Cam had six binders spread out on her desk, meticulously going through the contents. Casey was going through every book by hand, checking each individual paper she found.
Daniel by this time was sitting on the floor, books and papers spread out around him. "And here I thought I was the only one who kept notes like his," he muttered to himself as he scanned through a sheaf of handwritten pages.
"Daniel, I think I’ve got something here."
Both Daniel and Casey moved over to the desk where Cam had spread out five sheets of paper. He pointed to one section. "Doesn’t that look like one of the symbols?"
Daniel pulled out the paper and laid it next to what Cam had found. "You’re right." Cam stood so Daniel could sit down. Within five minutes Daniel had deciphered the message.
"What does it say?" Casey asked.
"Well, unless I’ve gotten something wrong, it says ‘ward bassack’. He sat there, staring at the piece of paper, tapping the pencil against his chin. Suddenly he remembered a conversation he had with Jessica right after she joined the Stargate program, when he had been teaching her how to translate Ancient.
‘Don’t you think this is kind of weird?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, I understand if they were giving an account of their history, or rituals, it would be a straightforward description. But, if they were talking about battle plans, or weapons, shouldn’t they have tried to disguise what they were talking about?’
‘I guess it would just depend on what information they were recording at the time.’
Jessica shook her head. ‘If it were me, I’d make sure whatever I put down was encoded. Hell, at the very least, write it in reverse.’
"Bassack ward. That’s it!" Daniel was up out of the chair and heading for the door before Casey and Cam had a chance to say anything.
"What’s it?" Cam called out as they raced after Daniel.
"She wrote the address in reverse. That’s why it wouldn’t engage when we tried it the first time. We put it in backwards."
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