Digging Our Way Out of a Hole
"What on earth were you thinking, Daniel? I mean, do the words 'confidential' and classified' sound familiar? You are the one who's supposed to speak more than thirty languages so I'm sure you must have heard them somewhere!" I all but yell at him as soon as I close the door.
"I was kind of thinking that it was way too late for us to be worrying about whether or not things were classified in the first place. In case you haven't noticed, Blair had already figured out most of the truth and the way I saw it, lying to him would only have made matters worse so I was trying to do some damage control... besides, I didn't tell him anything about the SGC."
"No, I didn't, he cuts me out. I told him about Abydos and about Sha're but I never mentioned General Hammond or the Goa'uld or the Asgard or anything else concerning what we are doing now... heck, I didn't even mention Teal'c's name. All I did was tell my brother about my life so chill."
"Chill? Is that the best you can do?" I ask, not quite believing my ears.
"Well, what was I supposed to do? It wasn't like I could deny what they were saying, was it?"
"No, but you should have thought of something," I insist.
"And why didn't you say something yourself? You were there and I didn't exactly see you jumping in with a different explanation," he challenges me.
"Well, no but..."
"So what was I supposed to do?" he pushes.
"I don't know, okay? All I know is that we have to figure a way out of this mess and we need to do it before we reach that steak house," I say.
"Okay, fine, so we have to be careful not to tell them more than they already know."
"And how do you propose we do that?" I ask.
"How should I know?" he snaps back at me.
"How about you keep your answers brief and to the point? You think you could do that?"
"Don't look at me, it wasnt my fault that Blair figured it out in the first place!
"Well, you were the one who was being oh so helpful!" I remind him.
"Maybe, but somehow I think that keeping quiet would have raised a lot more questions than giving a partial explanation, you know? Simply put, if they think they know the whole truth maybe theyll be less likely to go looking for any additional answers."
"Is that so? And this has nothing to do with what you were telling me last night about wanting to recruit Sandburg and Ellison? It has nothing to do with the fact that you want your little brother working with us at the SGC?" I ask, remembering our little chat from last night.
"No, it doesn't. I mean, sure, I won't deny that I think having someone with Blair's credentials and a full blown sentinel working with us would be great but that's not why I told them, I know that decision is not up to me no matter what. I told them because they already knew something was up. Besides, do you really think I want my brother in the front lines against the Goa'uld?"
"So you didn't..."
"Sir, are you sure this is the time and place to be having this conversation?" interrupts Sam, looking rather nervous.
"What do you mean, Carter?"
"Well, sir, I'm kind of worried about the fact that Jim may actually be listening in on us. Daniel was careful not to mention either our enemies or our allies by name before and he was careful to try to keep their attention away from certain issues but right now we may be drawing their attention to precisely what we were trying to keep from them in the first place and that may not be such a good idea. Besides, the names of those enemies and allies have already entered this conversation, as has the fact that what he told his brother was not the whole truth and that may be a problem," she points out.
"Come on, Carter, the man may be a sentinel but we are driving through downtown Cascade in separate cars, there's construction work, radios, conversations and engines all around us so get real. Ellison may have a great pair of ears but there's no way he can hear what we are saying. It's one thing for him to be listening in on what's going on in a different room in the same floor of the same building and quite another for him to be able to hear us now," I tell her. I mean, it's okay to be somewhat paranoid but there's no way they can be listening in on us, not here.
"I hate to say it, Sam, but I'm with Jack on this one," says Daniel.
"Did either one of you bother to read Sandburg's dissertation before coming here?" asks Carter, sounding rather frustrated.
"I tried but the thing was even more convoluted than one of your reports about missions to technologically advanced worlds," I say.
"I didn't really have the time... after all, it wasn't like we planned this trip and there were a couple of translations that..." says Daniel.
"Well, may be you should have! There were plenty of examples in it of just how good Jim's hearing really is and I'm pretty sure that he can hear us, even if it sounds impossible from our perspective," she snaps.
"But you are not sure?" I ask.
"Well, that is one of the major problems with acoustics in general, sir. You see, there are two key elements required to measure sound: pitch, which is absolute --and in that regard I can tell you that Ellison's range is well beyond the 20Hz-20kHz that is considered normal for humans-- and intensity, which is far more subjective. The thing is that on top of the fact that how we perceive the intensity of sound is a rather subjective thing, the scale we use to measure that intensity does not easily lend itself to dealing with sounds below the human range because the scale itself defines the threshold of human hearing, which is an SPL of 20 micropascals as 0 dB and..."
"In English, Carter," I say, letting out a frustrated sigh. I really should know better by now than to ask her for an explanation about anything.
"Basically, sir, even though decibels have been standardized into an equation, the fact that sound is measured in decibels and that 0 dB is the threshold of human hearing means that working with sounds that are below that threshold is counterintuitive because you are dealing with positive figures in negative numbers and that can get somewhat confusing."
"More confusing than your explanation, you mean?" I ask, knowing that I'm going to regret that comment.
"Think of it as the weather, sir," she explains and I can see that she is really trying to dumb herself down but somehow I don't think it's going to be enough. "When it gets too cold we speak of subzero temperatures. In that case we are using a negative number to reflect a reality we can't deny. It is a situation where the use of a negative figure is artificial and that is why kelvins are used when it comes to scientific work. The difference is that while we can feel subzero temperatures we can't hear subzero sounds... and measuring them outside of a lab environment is all but impossible because we live in a noisy world. 0 dB simply doesnt occur in nature. There's always the wind or some insect or even our own breathing and heartbeat. The thing is that even though we can't really hear it a sound of less than 0 dB is still a real, positive sound. The fact that we can't hear it doesn't mean it doesn't exist and that's where things get tricky, especially when it comes to Blair's dissertation and Jim's senses. To make matters worse theres the fact that Sandburg is not a physicist and that has definitely made his dissertation somewhat confusing in that area... not to mention that even though he tried to be thorough in his research and his testing of Jim's abilities, most of his tests were conducted under less than ideal circumstances. Most of the tests he used to document Jim's senses were based on his empirical observations and were conducted without the aid of any scientific equipment. When dealing with sounds Sandburg couldn't possibly perceive or measure in a rather noisy environment, that becomes particularly significant. Still based on what he did observe I'd say that chances are that Jim can hear us."
"And couldn't you just have said that in the first place?" I ask. I knew that if I allowed her to go on for long enough Carter would eventually reach something remotely resembling the point... even if it took her half an hour to get there.
"I did, sir. I told you I wasnt sure and then you asked me why I wasn't sure," she reminds me.
"Never mind," I say. Okay, so maybe it was my fault but still, she should know better than to go technical on me by now.
"The point is, sir, that if Ellison can hear us, mentioning the things we were trying to avoid before may not be the best idea. In that regard I think we should probably play it safe and assume that he can hear us," she insists.
"Yeah, but we only have a few minutes and we really need to figure out how to handle this once we reach that steak house, so, what do you suggest?" I ask.
"I think we should handle it carefully, gather as much information as we can get, watch our tongues... and then let General Hammond worry about this one, after all, in the end what comes out of this whole thing is going to be his decision anyway. The only problem is that if theyve been listening in on us up until now, then chances are that they have already come to the wrong conclusion about our intentions here," says Carter and I cant help but groan as I go over our conversation in my mind.
If they have been listening in on us we are basically screwed.