Carter was just about to hit the first symbol when Jack remembered what he'd meant to do. "Hey," he said, "hold up there."
She froze, then turned, giving Jack a quizzical look. "Sir?"
"Everyone just... hold on a second. Daniel! C'mere."
Daniel looked up from where he was engrossed in conversation with Shamda, frowning a little. "I'm sorry. Is there... is something wrong?"
"No no no. I just want you to pay attention. This," Jack said, pointing at the Stargate, "is incredibly cool. The first time you see this thing open you are gonna remember for the rest of your life, except right now you don't, so you have the opportunity to see it for the first time twice. I feel that you should take advantage of this."
Shamda patted Daniel's arm, smiled, and stepped back, leaving Daniel to approach the cluster of people standing around the DHD. He came quickly enough, but still looked like he was braced for a blow. Damn. If he didn't get over that soon, Jack was sure he was going to end up throwing his back out in sympathy.
"So," Daniel said, only a little hesitantly. "How does it work?"
Jack looked meaningfully in Carter's direction; she blinked, then sprang into action. "Well, this thing is the DHD. It's like a telephone... that doesn't mean anything to you, does it?"
A small smile, more rueful than embarassed. "Sorry."
"Okay. Well, basically, any planet you want to go to has a particular set of six symbols that stand for that planet. To make the Stargate - Chappa'ai - go there, you just have to hit those six symbols, plus the symbol of origin for the planet you're on. Now, each symbol represents a particular constellation in the skies over Earth - you figured that out about seven years ago now, that's when we learned how to use the gates."
Daniel reached out, letting his fingers trace along one of the symbols in the outermost ring of the DHD. "So the system must have started on your... Earth, then," he said, casting Carter an uncertain glance. "I mean, if the symbols stand for Earth constellations..."
She smiled brilliantly, obviously encouraged. "Well, that's a subject of some debate, but yeah, that was your opinion and I've always agreed with you. It makes sense. Actually, we have some added information about that we learned last year while you were gone..." Jack cleared his throat, and Carter subsided. "Sorry, sir. Anyway, how it works is you punch in the address, and this gate connects to the one on Earth through a wormhole."
"I'm guessing there isn't an actual worm involved here," Daniel said.
"Oh, but don't you wish there were?" Jack asked cheerfully.
Carter ignored him and soldiered on, in the home stretch now. "So the gate here transmits a signal containing your specific energy pattern to the gate there, that gate re-integrates you, and you step out of that gate a couple of seconds after stepping into this one. Easy as pie."
Daniel frowned. "Re-integrate? Doesn't that imply a disintegrate step?"
"Gate travel is really very safe, Dr. Jackson," Jonas offered. "We do it all the time."
"Hmm." Daniel looked at the gate a little skeptically. "Well, I'm already assuming you're not creating this Daniel Jackson person out of thin air. I suppose I can put up with a little disintegration, right?"
"That's the spirit!" Jack said. "Okay, Carter, now you can dial us home. Daniel! Keep your eyes on the big gray ring. You're gonna love this."
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