Summary: 1960s sci-fi, dinosaur suits and little grey aliens. All in a day's work for the gang.
Thanks to Joy for the beta as ever.
"Do you think we should get back to Earth?"
I look up at Jack from my current position (head somewhere near his navel) and screw up my nose.
"Oh, I don't know. They're probably worried about you. Hades might be coming."
"If you let me get on with what I'm doing, you'll certainly be doing that."
He laughs. Hardly surprising. We've been at it since he got here and we decided to kiss and make up. We've kissed, touched, stroked, gasped, moaned (lots of moans), sucked, fucked and done pretty much anything we can think of. I sucked him off when he was tied up, then I rode him just after he was untied. Then, when he'd recovered, he got his own back, flipped me onto my stomach and fucked the life out of me. So, while I rest, I'm just rather enjoying myself in the vicinity of his belly button, that's all.
"Daniel. Much as the idea of spending the rest of my life in bed with you holds more than a certain appeal, we really do have to go back. Besides, don't you think that three times in a row is enough? You might wear it out."
His voice is soft, suggesting that he's not going to fight me if I say 'no' to going back. But he's right, I guess. We should. It's not fair to make the others fight if we're not there.
"I suppose so," I sigh. "We'd better shower first, though."
He reaches down to my - admittedly sweaty - head and strokes the side of it. When he takes his fingers away, he shows me that there's dried blood on it. Ah.
"I'd say so," he agrees.
I reluctantly roll off him and then off the bed. Putting my hand out to him, I pull him up. We stop for a moment and kiss. It's like we can't stop it.
I untied him as soon as I could. I got what he was saying by tying himself up for me. It almost reduced me to tears. It scared me, too. Every time I've tied him up - and there haven't been many - I've always made it easy for him. This time he was telling me not to make it easy. To take what he takes.
We make it into the bathroom silently. We haven't really spoken much. It's just that every time we start to talk, one or the other of us will just get carried away and we end up having sex again. More than we usually do and certainly sooner than we usually can, fountains of youth not withstanding. Actually, since we were slimed...
"You know, I've realised something," I say while we wait for the water to reach the right temperature.
"I think we've gained something else since we evolved."
"Oh? What?" He steps under the water and... dammit! Not now. We're here to wash, not to fuck.
"Stamina," I say, stepping in behind him.
He turns around and takes my head in his hands and then starts to wash my hair. God, I love it when he does this.
"Yeah, I noticed I wasn't as tired when we were digging the foundations to the guys' house."
"That too," I agree.
He stops dead, thinks about it and then chuckles.
"Ah. That." I shut my eyes as the shampoo starts to trickle down my face. "Thinking about it, you're right. We've been horny for days."
"And it's not exactly failing to happen, is it? No matter how soon after."
"Extra oxygen in the blood," he says sagely.
"That's as good an explanation as any," I agree. "I think there's hope for humanity yet."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, simple. If evolution means that they'll be smarter, a bit stronger, have more stamina and be more horny, they won't have time to fight. They'll be too busy competing in sports, reading and fucking."
He laughs out loud. "Sounds good to me."
I feel him pull me to stand under the water to rinse out the shampoo and I risk opening my eyes. He's staring at me intently. I smile back at him.
"God, Danny," he whispers.
Next thing I know, he's pushed me against the wall and he's kissing me again. I'm thinking that we're going to be a bit delayed on our return.
Oh yeah, that feels so good. No way am I going to be looking for a chair when we get back to Earth. This is the third time he's fucked me this afternoon. Hear me complain, not. He can't help it. Whenever we shower together, he gets turned on. It's always had this effect on him, don't know why. Although if I think about it, I always get horny when I see the water running down his face, his body... Okay, I get it.
And I'm getting it. My hands are against the wall, I'm bent over, my ass sticking out and he's sticking my ass. Well and truly. His hands are on my hips and he isn't holding back. We haven't exactly been gentle on each other today. Typical of us, I guess. In the past, when we got back together again, we always spent the rest of that day in bed, fucking each other raw. It's as if we're needing to mark each other, possess each other.
He's pushed as far into me as he can, not moving as he pumps inside me, holding so tightly I know I'm going to be covered in bruises. Finally, he pulls out, turns me so I'm leaning against the wall, drops to his knees and swallows me whole.
This is the life.
I don't like not knowing what's going on with the guys. To be honest, I'm scared witless. I have to try to trust Jack to make it right.
When Daniel opened his eyes and Jack pleaded with him to not leave him, I watched for a moment but then made myself scarce. I guess I didn't want to listen in because I was too afraid to hear them split up for good.
Dammit, Sam, have faith in them. They're crazy about each other in a way you've never seen before. If I could turn their passion into electricity, I'm sure I could light the SGC.
Thor's been and gone, and although he didn't bring a ship this time, he says there'll be another one soon. He's delighted with the extra neutronium (of which we decided to keep some this time, just in case it has a use), saying it will most certainly help him keep the Asgard High Council on our side. He's also promised to check out the Replicators' apparent foothold in our galaxy.
We're not sure how we're going to fight them, but we're going to have to think of something before they decide to leave their system. If Teal'c's right, and we have no reason to think otherwise, then they're turning themselves into a ship so that they can move. We also have absolutely no idea who is going to be their first target. It could be us. It could be the Goa'uld. We can't take the chance that it is.
"Do any of you have any idea of Doctor Jackson's thoughts in relation to the future of the glider fleet?" the General asks, mainly looking at DJ.
"Not really," he replies, looking at the rest of us and getting shakes of our heads.
"Not really? You have a clue then?" Hammond pushes.
"Only insofar as he mentioned there would be a need for negotiation. That suggests to me that he's got an idea which involves someone else; probably the Russians or the Canadians. It could be either," he shrugs.
"I have a feeling that it has something to do with hiding out a large fleet somewhere no one will see it, and they're probably the only places on the planet which both have the space to be absolutely sure that no one will live anywhere near a base large enough to hold about twelve hundred gliders, and have connections with the SGC or NORAD."
"That makes sense," I agree. "I mean, I don't want to prejudge Daniel's idea, but you know him. He wouldn't mention something that big unless he really thought it was for the best and would work."
"I do indeed."
Any further discussion is forestalled when we hear the gate engage. All of us stand up and move to the window so that we can see who's coming. All of us except the General, who leaves us to go to the control room.
"Coming?" John asks, looking at us.
I guess we'd better go. No one seems to be coming through the gate.
"Who is it?" John calls out.
"It's Colonel O'Neill's code," the tech calls out. "Uh, Colonel," he adds, looking most confused. Ah, he's on the latest shift to take over, he hasn't seen us before. Well, he knew us when we were working here, but he hasn't seen us as we are.
"Open the iris," Hammond orders.
The iris grinds open and we wait for them to come back.
Ah, there they are. Holding hands as they walk through the gate.
I do believe that they have made up, Samantha.
I'd say so, honey. I'm glad.
As am I. Let us hope that it is the last time that they fight like that.
Somehow, I doubt it. You know what they're like.
I am afraid that I do.
We hear a cough which is trying to disguise a growl and failing. I don't have to look to see that it's General Parker who isn't too thrilled at the idea of the guys being together. Frankly, I couldn't care less. If anything, I'm enjoying his discomfort. Our general is smiling. I think he'd picked up that there was something wrong between the guys and he would be as worried as us about it.
"Welcome back, gentlemen," he calls out.
We watch as Jack waves back to us and then the guys make their way to the gateroom door. Daniel looks nervous again. I don't know what it is, but each time he's arrived in the gateroom, he's had that look on his face.
"DJ, have you figured out what's wrong yet?" I ask, sidling up to him.
"No. Perhaps it's just that neither of us has ever liked being surrounded by a lot of people. It's different if we're out there doing something, but here, we're just surrounded. I'm not feeling as anxious as Daniel is, though. At a guess, his..." He leans closer and whispers, "Increased empathy, as well as the telepathy, has made it worse."
That could explain a lot. Daniel was always empathic. Damn, I'm sounding like he's like that woman from Star Trek. I don't mean it like that. He couldn't actually sense people's emotions. But he could anticipate collective emotions of groups of people as well as using his knowledge of body language in individual cases. That tingling feeling in the back of his neck got us prepared to run or fight just in time on many occasions. It also told him whether we could take a chance on trusting the locals.
It's not really surprising that he's the one to get hit with an increase in actual empathy. I'm not exactly good at it. Jack is, but he's got to want to sense other people's moods before he does it. Usually it's only when he has to, when it's tactically advantageous. He's better at reading body language. Especially Daniel's.
It's hitting you again, isn't it?
Yeah. I think I know what it is now.
Oh? What is it?
It's a mix of two things. One is the same thing that hit DJ. We're surrounded by a lot of people who are staring at us. We really don't like that.
Okay, I can buy that. But you're not usually too bothered by it.
True, but we've been living in peace and quiet for the last eighteen months or so. DJ too if you count his memories, or rather my memories from the moment we moved to Remoc. Whenever we've been in crowds since then, we've either been on a mission, or we've been partying with people we like. We've become accustomed to the quiet.
I get it. What about the other thing? The one that affects you?
I can feel their emotions, Jack. I'm trying to shut off their thoughts, but I can still feel it.
What are you feeling?
Awe. Confusion. Some are very glad we're back, mainly those who knew us before. They feel like we're here to save them. They're also scared because of the fact we're back. They think that something so big is going down that they may not live to see the end of it.
There's definitely an 'and'.
He's silent for a moment and then he says, I can sense hostility.
Because we're together and not hiding it?
That's one reason. It's actually less than you'd think. Most are either okay with us or uncomfortable about us, but there isn't much active hostility from that side of things. It's more to do with the fact that they've been the ones keeping the SGC going. They don't know what we've been doing and why we've been doing it. Some think we're traitors. Others think that we're going to take the 'glory' if we defeat Hades. Not that they really know what's going on, but like I said, they can sense that something major is going down. They don't see why we should suddenly turn up.
I'd say so. And I'd say that if we're going to have trouble, that's where it's going to come from. Parker is barely containing his rage.
Yeah, even I got that.
I think it's what made me so upset with you, too.
Why do you say that?
It put me on edge, more than I probably even realised. If you think about it, that's exactly the sort of thing that would make me more irritable. I'm sorry for overreacting.
That's okay, Daniel. I understand. It doesn't matter anymore, does it? We're fine now.
He looks at me and smiles before saying, Yeah. We're just fine now.
We stop talking when we reach the others. Sam ignores Parker's questions to us about where we've been and hugs us both. Teal'c grasps our arms. MIB do what each of them feels is appropriate, but it's mainly more hugs.
"Jack, Daniel," George says gently. "I'm glad you're back."
"Yeah, sorry we took so long," I reply. "Daniel was really tired after going through the healing device. His injuries weren't desperately severe but they needed a lot of healing. I've been through that myself and I know how much it takes out of you."
He nods in understanding, pointedly ignoring the hickeys we're both sporting. He also ignores the fact that as he ushers us into the briefing room and indicates for us to sit down, Daniel remains standing. The gang don't ignore it. They're snickering. Bastards.
"So? What's the news?"
We've been told about Thor's visit and I filled Daniel in on the things he missed out on from the 'visits' to the possible planets (including Sam's 'removal' of lots more precious metal, something which amused him), and now Daniel's been asked to outline his idea for a more permanent glider base. I had to persuade him to sit down as he was pacing up and down the room and generally driving us nuts.
Parker looked like he was going to burst when I had to hold Daniel's hand to pull him to sit. Mercifully, Daniel's outburst of 'Fuck! Ow!' when he did sit was mental. Parker was even more angry when my team and I burst out laughing and he had no idea why.
"Okay, well, it's obvious we need to hide a lot of gliders. And training the pilots in the classroom is not as much use as training them for real. We need to find them a base where they can fly without being spotted by the public. As much as the USA is a huge place, we don't have that many areas where there are no civilians. Personally, I'd be reluctant to send the gliders to Area 51."
There are mutters of agreement around the table.
"It's not just because of the lack of trust between them and the SGC, either," he continues. "It's just that even though what goes on inside the base is kept secret very well, there are too many people who gather on the edges of the base precisely because they know there are secrets in there. I mean, the fact that it's a secret base isn't a secret."
"Agreed," Hammond says. "So what is your idea?"
"Either we go to the Russians, which would be my first choice because of the promises we made to them about sharing technology, or we go to the Canadians. Both countries have vast uninhabited territories. Also, they both have pilots who could join ours.
"We're going to need at least two thousand pilots if we're going to make sure we have a fully battle-ready group at all times. It would be easier if we could spread the load out between at least two countries, because there would be fewer pilots suddenly working on a secret base than from just the one. Yes, I still think that bringing the Navy in would be a good idea, but this would make it even easier."
"How would we build a base without outsiders knowing?" Parker asks, his voice full of disdain. "Even the most uneducated populace would spot hundreds of large trucks being taken to the middle of nowhere, as they'd have to come from somewhere."
Daniel takes a deep breath, his mind broadcasting to those of us that can hear it.
Stupid man. Haven't you learned anything today?
"We don't use trucks," he says.
"We can't just fly these things in! Airstrips don't turn up because you want them to! And there are other countries out there, like the Chinese, who have spy satellites. Don't you think that they would become suspicious of a new secret air base suddenly turning up out of nowhere?"
Daniel is drumming his fingers on the desk, his patience is rapidly running out.
"There wouldn't be an airstrip! God, man, have you no imagination?"
"This is ridiculous," Resch snorts. "You seem to be living in cloud cuckoo land. Tell me, where are you going to get the money to pay for all of this?"
"Haven't we given you enough?! For God's sake, including this second lot Sam found, we've given you over $12,000,000,000 worth of precious metals."
"Which, if you'd think about it, would cause a market crash," Resch spits. "It's not something we can spend!"
"If you put the metals on the market in one go, yes it would cause a crash and have too many questions asked about its origin. Anyone with half a brain could figure that out."
Ouch, what a bitch. That's my boy.
"But I'm sure Fort Knox knows how to hide large quantities of gold and other metals. I'm also sure that many of the black ops agreements and missions could be paid for using the ingots, as could trade agreements with off-world planets. Think about it, we'd get what we wanted and it wouldn't even register in the Treasury's records. How much money 'disappears' into the black hole of military R&D? You'd be able to use it to pay for that, bit by bit, without having to answer to any official audits.
"You could get a government organisation to melt it down to make the standard-sized ingots here, to mark them as official. When the market is low on quantities of these materials, release some. You'll get good prices then. Some of the metals are pretty rare. No one has to know where they come from. Word can be released that the US had stored more than we'd said in the past. There can be ways of doing it that won't crash the markets.
"Dear God, I thought you were an accountant. If you don't know how to hide this sort of thing, I don't know who would."
"That does not answer the question of just how we would build a glider base without anyone knowing about it," Parker puts in.
Daniel flips. I get why. After all Parker's seen today, you'd think that he'd get it.
"Gimli! Get me out of here!" he yells, not touching his transporter button on his bracelet.
To our amazement, it works and he's gone.
"I think you just got your answer, General," DJ drawls, then he presses his bracelet and disappears too.
Hammond's got it.
"We could use one of the cold war H.A.R.P. bases north of the Arctic Circle," he states. "Getting the Russians involved would be a good idea too, for the reasons Daniel states. And I'm sure the Canadians would help out."
"Tok'ra tunnels," Sam suddenly adds. At George's querying look she says, "Get Dad to supply some crystals. They design them to make what you want. That way it wouldn't matter what the weather was like up there. You could have a massive base, built in minutes and for no cost, except for the equipment needed. No building costs anyway. Using transporter rings, you could get the pilots into a hangar in no time.
"The only above ground building you'd have to do would be to make a huge hangar or two, big enough to hold all of the gliders. Maybe you could keep Prometheus there if you don't want her to stay in orbit. Given Daniel's reasoning that most, if not all of our secret bases are known about, going somewhere so far out of the way that no one's going to go there for a day trip would be your best bet."
"How would you build hangars that large in a place so hostile?" Parker asks, a little less impatiently now. I think he's starting to buy a clue.
"You don't. You build it somewhere like Groom Lake," I point out.
"Oh, and what, we carry it there by helicopter?" Resch snorts.
"Jeez. Tell me something Resch. Where did Daniel just go?"
"I assume he went to your ship," he sniffs.
He looks at me oddly, then the light finally dawns.
"The transporter," I elaborate. "A transporter which has already dumped a whole load of metal and nearly four hundred gliders on Earth without breaking a sweat. Don't you think - strike that, you don't think. Just trust me, your ships have the transporters, too. It would take moments to put everything and everyone where you wanted them to go."
I look at George and he's grinning.
"You know," he says. "I think that might work. I'd better get onto the President again."
As General Hammond walks out of the room to speak to the President, a man knocks on the briefing room door. O'Neill calls to him to enter and he walks in, looking lost, and then looking confused. He is wearing a uniform, but not that of the Air Force. His is white.
"Uh..." He looks around and sees the O'Neills, Samantha, Frankie, Kar Shel and myself and looks even more confused. His eyes search out someone in uniform and spots General Parker, so he stops and salutes. "General, Sir, I'm Lieutenant Commander Philips. I've been sent here to liaise between this base and the Navy, but..."
"But you don't know what this base is and you don't know why you're liaising?" O'Neill states, smiling at him. The young man turns and looks at O'Neill, obviously desperate for further information. "I'm Jack O'Neill," he says. "Colonel. Retired. Sort of."
"Sort of? Sir, could you please tell me what I'm supposed to be doing?"
"You'll find out soon enough, kid."
He is about to say more when the Daniels reappear in the room. The lieutenant commander has gone as white as his uniform. Daniel looks at him, frowns, then he smiles.
"Are you Anthony?" he asks.
"Um... yes?" comes the reply. The commander does not even seem to know his name.
"Great! I'm Daniel Jackson. Uh, please, call me Daniel. Have they told you what's going on?"
"Please. Not 'sir'. I'm not military. Just Daniel." He turns around and looks around the room.
Where's Paul? he asks.
Still on the phone getting things organised, I think, O'Neill answers.
"Come with me," he says to the commander. "I think I can explain a few things. Er... Where's General Hammond?"
"He is speaking with the President, Daniel," I inform him. "It would seem that he likes your idea."
"Oh, great. Okay then. Come on, let's go find... Well, just come with me."
He puts his hand on the bewildered commander's arm and leads him out of the room.
"Did you see his face when they appeared?" O'Neill asks, his face grinning broadly.
DJ is chuckling. The noise is infectious and spreads through his team and to mine. Only Kar Shel and I are refraining from the laughter, though it is difficult. However, Parker and Resch are looking more furious by the moment. Their anger just fuels our amusement.
"Hey, DJ, are you going to tell me what was up with Daniel and Gimli?" O'Neill finally asks.
"Sure. But not here. But isn't it time you guys started thinking about getting some sleep?" he suggests.
I look at the clock and realise that he is correct. It is late evening and we could do with some peace before retiring.
"We should retire either to Annwn or to Gimli," I say.
"Let's go to the ship. Hang on, I'll go see Hammond first."
O'Neill knocks on Hammond's door and then steps in when he is called. Parker is annoyed that O'Neill would disturb a call to the President. When O'Neill comes back out, I see that he is not wearing his comms bracelet. I put my hand on his shoulder and transport us both to the ship.
O'Neill walks to the control panel and calls Daniel.
"Hey, Daniel. Time for bed."
"I've got to find..." He stops. I assume he is speaking telepathically. O'Neill is laughing.
"Sure, let's do that."
He calls Hammond on the communicator and a moment later, Lieutenant Commander Philips arrives on the peltac.
"WHAT THE FUCK?!"
He turns around and sees O'Neill laughing hard at his predicament.
"Welcome to Gimli," he says. "Don't worry, all will become clear soon."
"Ack, just call me Jack," O'Neill informs him. "Like I said, I'm sort of retired. From the military if not from the field. This is Teal'c..."
He introduces the commander to all of us and we see that he is still bewildered.
"Are you all related?" he finally asks.
"In a manner of speaking," I say, unsure as to whether to inform him of MIB's status.
His shoulders drop.
"Lieutenant Commander. Do not fear. As O'Neill says, all will soon become clear. We are just awaiting the arrival of someone."
"Okay." His voice is quiet and we see him looking around and finally, he looks out of the view screen. "Are we in space?" he asks.
"We are currently in orbit of Earth," I confirm.
"But... There wasn't anything on the news, there was no fuss..."
"They cannot see us. We are cloaked."
"Cloaked. Of course. This is like a bad episode of Star Trek."
"It's not so bad," DJ tells him. "Although you might change your mind when you hear the whole story."
"Daniel, I'm really busy. If you want these things, I have to organise it."
I let out a sigh, put my hand on his to stop him phoning yet another person and say, "Paul, it's ten o'clock here. Wherever in the States you're phoning, unless they're 24/7 organisations, they won't be there. I know you, you're running on DC time. Come to the ship with me. You can sleep there. We're all going to spend the night on Gimli."
"But nothing. Jack's organised it. Hammond knows where we are, where you will be. He's got a communicator and he'll call us if he needs us. Besides..." I pull him to stand up and he goes with the flow. "I've got a little surprise for you on board."
"You have? What now?"
I don't tell him but transport us both up there instead.
Paul's face is a picture. So is Anthony's. They're both stunned so I decide to move things along a little.
"Major Davis. Meet the Navy's new liaison to the SGC. Lieutenant Commander Philips. I do believe you know each other."
Paul turns to me, his mouth wide open in shock. "Daniel?"
"Well, the Navy needed a liaison," I say. "Hope you don't mind."
The shock starts to wear off and he comes close to me and hugs me.
"Thank you. I don't know what to say."
"Don't say anything, hun. Enjoy."
He breaks off and walks to Anthony.
"Ant, it's okay," he smiles, putting his hand out to him. "Come on, I'll explain everything."
"I wish you would," he moans. "I have no idea what's going on. I was happily in my office at the Pentagon when I got the message to go home and pick up an overnight bag. Next thing I knew I was at Andrews and being flown down to Colorado. In the base, which is the weirdest place I've ever been, I end up seeing..." He waves his hands at us. "This lot. Then those two," he points at DJ and me, "appear from nowhere. Before I can figure out what's going on, I'm in orbit! Please, Paul, tell me what's happening."
We're all laughing. Cruel, I guess, but his face is a mixture of awe, confusion and annoyance. Not to mention pleasure at seeing Paul. I know, I shouldn't do it, but I scanned his mind briefly. He's crazy about Paul. That's all I needed to know.
"Why don't we go to the galley?" I say. "We've got coffee."
Paul looks at me and raises an eyebrow.
"Why am I not surprised?" he drawls.
"So you see," Paul finishes after explaining about the SGC. "We need someone to inform the admiral in charge of the Navy's side of the operation of what's going on and basically sticking up for the SGC back at the Pentagon. That's not really officially part of your job, by the way, but it's kind of a necessity. I'm guessing that Daniel had something to do with you being chosen."
"Why not?" I ask. "Come on, Paul, it makes tactical sense as well as anything else. You guys are going to need to work together a lot. It makes sense to have two people, who know each other and get on well, do the job. And if there are any fringe benefits for the two of you, then that's all to the good."
"You know about us?" Anthony asks.
I look at Paul and grin.
"Yeah. Don't worry, your secret's safe."
"At a guess, Hammond knows?" Paul asks.
"I didn't mention anything," I assure him. "I just said that I happened to know of someone of the right rank and experience who could probably do the job as well as anyone. He didn't ask, I didn't tell." To relax Anthony a little more, I say, "He won't ask. He knows about Paul and me, even if we've never discussed it."
"What do you mean, Paul and you?"
I put my hands up in surrender. "Let Paul explain it later," I say. "But don't worry. We're friends. Best friends. Nothing more now. I promise." I let out a deep breath and add, "I've kind of got my hands full as it is."
Paul chuckles and reaches up to stroke my neck, undoubtedly pointing out the various marks left behind when Jack decided to remind me of how he feels.
"I'll say. You're okay now?"
"Daniel, I meant after the injuries. What do you mean 'we'?"
"Ah. Nothing. Don't worry about it."
"Dan! Tell me."
I shrug. "Jack got a bit jealous when I mentioned that I'd suggested Anthony for this position, that's all."
"Dan, you can't lie to me. And?"
"And we had a fight and temporarily split up. Don't worry, it's over. And he's not really jealous anymore. It was just a fleeting thing but I picked it up and ran with it. I couldn't help it, my nerves were on edge at the SGC and..."
He puts his hand on my arm to stop me.
"Promise me you won't do something that could hurt you guys again."
"I promise. It wasn't like I set out to make him jealous and it's not as if he's even conscious of it. He's way better than he used to be, honest."
Anthony is staring at us open-mouthed.
"You and the Colonel?" he squeaks. "Which one? I mean, there are two of them."
"Jack's the younger looking one," I say. "He's mine. John is with DJ."
"Right. Are you going to tell me what's going on there?"
"Later. Come on, it's bedtime. We need to sleep. I'll take you to a room you can use as quarters. There are plenty of them after all."
I see Paul look at me as we stand up and clean the things we've used. He looks like he's concentrating so I relax my mental barriers.
Dan? Can you hear me?
I can. Can you hear me?
Yeah. Okay, this is weird. But...
But you need to know what you can tell him, right?
Yes. You don't need to worry about his ability to keep secrets.
I'd kind of guessed that. You can tell him what you think he needs to know. Including everything, Paul. I trust you and if you say you can trust him, then I'll trust him.
Thank you. And you can trust him, Dan. I have no doubts about him.
Neither should you. He's crazy about you. I get waves of emotion from him and they're all positive towards you. I think you've gotten yourself a good one there, babe. I'm happy for you.
We're walking silently to the room Jack's picked out for them. I know where it is as he's already told me. I think he's up to something in there, though.
I know you are, Paul says, slipping his hand into Anthony's. Anthony is shocked, but I just grin at him.
"You're safe here, Anthony. Make the most of it. If you guys ever want to really get away from it all, let Hammond know you want a break and get him to call us. It only takes a short while in the ship if you don't want to gate somewhere together. I'll come and get you and bring you to Annwn."
"Our homeworld now," I tell him. He's only heard about the SGC, so he doesn't really know about us. "We have a lovely little home there, but there are other places to stay. Teal'c's in the process of building a cabin for him and Sam to use, but I guess they'd let you use it if you wanted to. We're also about to build another house in our field for MIB to move into, in case Hades decides to claim all the unclaimed territories. They might not want to use it for some time, so you'd be free to use that. Believe me, living there is much easier on the nerves. No worries about hiding out or anything."
"Um... thank you," he replies, still looking a bit lost, poor thing.
"We're here." I open the door and show them in. I can't help it, I start laughing and so does Paul. Anthony looks shocked.
Jack's chosen a room that looks like it was meant to be used by an important person on the ship. More than that, he's found all of the tackiest soft furnishings that had been placed on the ship. Not that there were many, but there were definitely some. But where he got the red roses from, I do not know. There are some questions better not asked.
There's a tube of lube on the table next to the bed, rather pointedly sitting there as if to say 'use me'.
"That's Jack for you," I laugh. "I was going to say 'get some sleep', but I think I'll just say make sure you get some sleep. Goodnight."
Paul catches my hand, pulls me for a hug and then briefly kisses my cheek.
"Thank you, Dan. This means a lot to me. Oh, and give this to Jack for me."
He kisses me on the lips. Our mouths are closed and it's over very quickly, but there was a tenderness there that I know was meant.
"Will do. Night all."
I turn and leave before Anthony can get the wrong idea about Paul and me.
Even though I know it's wrong, I try to tune into Paul's mind as I walk away from them, thinking that as he and I have already communicated in the past it might be easy to do it. It is. I hear more or less what I expected to hear.
"So? Daniel?" Anthony's prompting.
"Was my lover," Paul says calmly, "is now one of the dearest friends I have ever had in my life. Ant, there's no competition between you and him. There's no competition between Jack and me for his affections. He loves me. I love him. But, we're friends. Nothing more, nothing less. He's been the one behind you getting this job to make me happy. You wouldn't have got the post if you hadn't been up to doing the job, Hammond wouldn't have allowed that, but you were first on the list because Daniel wants us to be able to spend time together."
"He really does love you."
"Very much. I can't explain it, hun. It's not like it is with most exes. Then there's usually some enmity. But there isn't any between us whatsoever. He even felt guilty about going back to Jack... Er, it's a long story."
He's not wrong there. I realise that I've stopped walking and that I'm propped up against a corridor wall.
"His guilt was because he was afraid that I would think that he'd used me, or that he didn't love me in the way that he said he did."
"Is that how you'd felt?"
"Absolutely not. I know Daniel. I wasn't kidding when I said he's incapable of lying to me. I knew then as I know now, he loved me and still does love me. Probably more than a lot of couples love each other. The only problem was that he loves Jack more. They need each other in a way you don't see others need each other. You'll get that as you get to know them better. I don't feel like I was second best, I don't feel like I was used and I certainly have never felt that he didn't love me."
"Good, because if you did, I'd fucking tear him apart."
I can hear Paul laughing at that.
"You sound a lot like him. He'd do the same to you if you screwed me over."
He's right, I would.
"So. We're here, on a spaceship, with a bunch of weird people, one of whom loves you more than life itself..."
"Uh, two. I'll explain about DJ tomorrow."
There's a pause then I hear, "Who said anything about them? I was talking about me."
I think I'll leave them alone now.
Is it morning already? Hard to tell when you're on board a ship. I look at my watch and see that it's 0600, Annwn time, which is similar to Earth's gate time by coincidence. A little earlier, but not much. So I guess I should get up.
"Samantha. Are you awake?"
"Just about, honey. Give me a moment."
I don't have my eyes open yet, but I know that he's watching me. My body automatically stretches out, my back popping, my arms wide open. Now I open my eyes and see him smiling.
"Are you trying to tempt me to return to bed, Samantha?" he teases.
"Do I have to?"
He laughs a little and shakes his head.
"Unfortunately, we have much to do today."
This is true.
"Is there any coffee brewing in the galley?"
"There is indeed. If you hurry, you should get there just in time to have a fresh cup."
Sounds good to me. But then this bed is warm and comfortable...
Okay, so I got up. I'm as bad as Daniel for an early morning coffee.
I turn around and see a very sleepy-looking Paul enter the galley with an equally sleepy Anthony behind him.
"Hi guys. Did you sleep well?"
"Uh, yeah, it was okay," Paul yawns.
I pour them a couple of mugs and they take them gratefully.
More noise at the door of the galley attracts our attention and we see Jack, closely followed by a very sleepy Daniel. MIB are already up and about and looking very chirpy. Damn them.
Daniel takes the mug I offer him with a grunt in lieu of a 'thank you', and when Jack sits on one of the chairs, he heads straight for him, takes a long drink, puts the mug on the table and facing Jack, he straddles his thighs and puts his head on Jack's shoulder. His eyes are shut again.
Jack's trying not to laugh, but his arms wrap around him automatically.
"I thought you guys were going to get some sleep," I tease.
"We did! Straight to sleep, out cold," Jack replies, nodding in Daniel's direction. "Give him a minute. The coffee will start to percolate into his brain and he'll be back with us."
"Is he always like this in the morning?" Anthony asks.
"Oh yes," we all reply.
"Unless we're on a mission," I add. Well, I won't not tell the truth. "But that's different."
Dammit, the coffee pot is already empty! I'd better get some more made or else Daniel will remain half-asleep all day.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Anthony nudge Paul and wait to see what will happen next.
"We'd better get back to Earth," Paul says.
"They might be wondering where we've been all night," adds Anthony.
"I told Hammond we'd bring you up here," Jack says. "You know, to show you," he points to Anthony, "around. I didn't make an excuse for Paul, he doesn't really need one. But as you're new, it doesn't hurt for you to see what's up here."
"Yeah, I appreciate that. I think it's going to take me a while to wrap my head around everything I've learned."
"I wouldn't worry," Paul soothes. "I'm still trying to do that. You'd think that after all these years I'd be used to it by now, but there's always something weird going on."
"We'll follow you down," Jack says when the guys stand up. "Tell Hammond we're going to have something to eat first."
"Okay. We'll see you down there," Paul replies. Then he smiles at Jack warmly. "Thanks for everything. Including the roses."
Jack laughs out loud. "You're welcome."
They've gone and MIB have joined us at the table. Daniel's still sleeping. I don't get it. He doesn't usually sit like this on Jack's lap; in fact, he complains if Jack tries to make him do it. He must be exhausted.
Didn't he sleep well?
Yeah, he did. But the last few days have taken their toll emotionally. The atmosphere at the SGC really sets him on edge. I think it's literally worn him out.
Will he be okay to work today?
Oh yeah. Just give him a few minutes.
"You said you'd figured out why Daniel was transported to Gimli without using his transporter control," John says out loud, speaking to DJ but grabbing all our attention. If I'm honest, I'd admit to forgetting that had happened.
At the mention of his name, Daniel stirs and turns his head, his eyes blinking.
"You fell asleep again, Daniel," I tell him. "Come on, there's more coffee made."
He slides off Jack's legs and flops onto a chair at the table. I can't remember seeing him look so tired. It's all throughout his body, his shoulders drooping, his head on his arms which are folded on the table in front of him. When I put the mug next to him he looks up and aims a smile in my direction before drinking it.
"So?" John prompts.
"Oh, yes," DJ replies, staring at Daniel as if he's willing him to wake up. "Well, you know Thor said that the ship's computer recognises our brainwave patterns?"
"He said that each person's patterns are as individual as fingerprints," I agree.
"Well, we think that it literally recognised his desire to get away from where he was."
"So the ship is constantly tuned into us?" Jack asks.
"Yes. It is an Asgard ship after all. It may look like a ha'tak, may be one in initial design, but the computer, the engines... the very heart of the ship is pure Asgard. Think about it. Thor always seems to have a connection to his ship, doesn't he?"
"It responds to his needs," Frankie nods.
"We don't know but we assume that the Asgard are, at the very least, telepathic among themselves, just as you guys were initially."
Daniel raises his head and tries to sit up.
"It's like there are different sorts of telepathy. We initially got the Asgard version," he croaks, then drinks some more coffee. His voice a little clearer, he says, "Because we got that, the ship recognises it. Any Asgard ship would be able to pick us out of a crowd, but I think that Gimli would get to us quicker."
"Why?" Jack asks.
"Don't you feel it?" Daniel asks back, looking genuinely confused.
"Feel what, Daniel?"
He looks at me, even more confused.
Now he's frowning, either getting angry with himself for imagining things or getting frustrated with us because we're not as in tune as he is.
"Shut your eyes," he orders. "You, too, Teal'c. I don't see why the ship couldn't connect with you, too. After all, Tiwaz gave you Asgard telepathy, didn't he?"
We shut our eyes as ordered but I still don't get it.
"Open your minds. Hear her."
Nope. There's noth... Oh, hang on, what's that?
"I think I feel something," Jack says, just as I'm about to say it, too.
"As do I. However, I am not sure what it is I am feeling," Teal'c adds.
"You don't have to know what it is. It's Gimli. That's all you need to know."
"So how did she know what you wanted?"
Somehow I know that the others have opened their eyes so I do, too.
"I don't really know," Daniel sighs. "I've been feeling this connection to her but it's not tangible. I don't understand it myself. All I can think of is that it's the same, or similar, to the connection Thor has to his ship. We consciously think of transporting to the ship. It learns the patterns of our brains as we manually press our controls and then recognises them when we just think them."
"But that could lead to us transporting out of wherever we are and it not being the right moment to actually act," I say. "After all, you wanted to get away from Hecate before it was convenient, or rather before it was tactically the right moment."
"True. But yesterday, I called Gimli by name. I'm sure she knows her name already. I don't think she'll react to random wishes, but more likely she'll react to definite commands. That would make more sense to me because otherwise, the Asgard wouldn't be able to function with their ships constantly acting on their thoughts. Stray thoughts could literally kill you if the ship reacted before you were ready."
"That makes sense," I agree. "And you're right, Thor rarely gives a vocal order to his ship, and often doesn't seem to press anything to make himself transport anywhere. It has to be the reason it works."
"You don't think that any of the other ships' crews will get the same connection?" Jack asks.
Daniel shakes his head. "I'm pretty certain - well, as certain as I can be - that we have this because of Tiwaz." He turns and looks at MIB and so do we all when we see his face. "Guys? You feel it, too, don't you?"
DJ nods slowly. "I think it's because Thor programmed the ship to recognise our brainwaves. After all, they're just electrical signals, like yours are in a way."
"Of course," Frankie agrees. "If you see someone thinking when they're hooked up to scanners, you see the different areas of their brains lighting up, depending on what they're thinking. Undoubtedly, ours do the same thing. And we have the internal radios. Thor must have adjusted the connection to compensate for them not being biological brains, but allowed for the radios to function as your telepathy does."
Jack nods as he begins to understand them, but I think that something else is bothering him, something tactical.
"Jack? What's up?"
"I... I'm not sure. I'll get back to you on that one."
"Okay. Anyway, we'd better hurry up. We've got to get to the SGC."
I think I know what's bothering me about this mental connection thing. Well, it's not just mental connection, but a practical problem with having large ships in orbit and crews not necessarily on board them.
We're back at the SGC, helping George organise the setting up of the new base. Paul's either helping him, or when he has the chance, he's acquiring what we've asked for. And there are some pretty odd things on the list. Anthony's on the phone to some admiral or other, basically begging for as many Navy pilots as possible to be spared as well as a submarine crew, or more likely a crew made up from experienced submariners.
That might sound odd but it makes perfect sense. As the Air Force are going to control one of the ships and the Navy will have the other, we'll need more naval personnel than just the pilots. Sub crews are used to long periods underwater, away from bases and so on. In fact, they're probably better suited than anyone else to flying spaceships.
If the problem that I'm worried about can be overcome, there's no reason that a lot of the new glider pilots, when they've finished their training, can't go back to their normal bases. That might help free up more than would otherwise be available.
In the meantime, George has called the rest of us in for an update meeting, to try to figure out where we're all at.
Turns out that the Russians are keen to help out, as are the Canadians. They've been officially brought into the loop and, as we'd hoped, one of the old cold war radar stations in the Arctic Circle is being given over for the glider base. The al'keshes can live there as well, and there's enough space on the ground to land all of the ships for repairs if necessary. As they can be cloaked, there'd be no problem with hiding them from spy satellites. Sam's even talking about cloaking the hangars if it looks like it might be necessary, using a naquada generator to power a large version of the personal cloak we use.
Not that she's said that in front of anyone that isn't Hammond, though. That's still an SGC secret. We'd come up with some other 'alien' excuse if it happens. It's just a pity the gliders aren't cloaked. It would take way too much time to do that, though, and Sam hasn't figured out how the Asgard cloaks work anyway. The downside to the personal ones, as Daniel found to his cost, is that they're not terribly reliable.
Jacob's been contacted and the Tok'ra are going to supply enough tunnelling crystals to create an entire base for about three thousand people under the ground. The SGC can 'pay' them in pure naquada I suppose. All the powers that be need to do is supply it with the tech stuff and creature comforts like cooking facilities, leisure facilities, computer equipment, food and so on and so on and so on.
Area 51 will be the drop off point for all materials and one of the ships in orbit will transport whomever or whatever needs transporting to the base. That way, nobody in one of the out of the way towns and villages in the Canadian outback - or whatever they call it up there - will see truck after truck trundling up whatever roads there are to the base.
A very specific base has been chosen, one which has a no-fly zone all around it; something to do with radar tracking, I think. There'll be less chance of a passing jumbo jet being buzzed by hyped up pilots as a result.
The Russians are going to be in control of two of the ha'taks, the Canadians will get one and we'll have the other two. It's as much to do with practicality as politics. As Daniel pointed out, you can't suddenly have thousands of your people working on new secret projects without someone noticing, so splitting them up between us will also mean that fewer people from each country are needed.
We'll need to supply fewer than a thousand people from the US, and that includes all of the different shifts of the crews, and all of the ground personnel. A lot less than we would have had to have supplied if we'd been controlling all five ships. For tactical reasons, which include locations of patrols and so on, the al'keshes will be assigned to each ha'tak. Two each.
When all the gliders are here, we'll try to split them up equally between them; a fifth of the total with the Asgard engines, and a fifth without will go to each mother ship. At least we'll make sure it's as fair as possible. That way there'll be less political wrangling than there could be otherwise. When you need to do things in a hurry, as we do now, you need to smooth the path as best you can.
The US has Prometheus, too, and while she doesn't have any of the gliders or al'keshes, she does keep the balance of power on our side which keeps our government happy and stops them freaking that we've given three ships away. There'll be more gliders allocated per ship than have come here on their ships because of the extra ones we gave them, which is why they need to live on the ground, as there won't be the room in the glider bays for the extras.
All of this brings me onto my worry.
"How will the various ships recognise their crews, their al'kesh crews and their glider crews?" I ask, bringing the meeting to a grinding halt. "I mean, specifically."
At their bewildered looks, I add, "Look, our ship recognises us specifically. It can find us anywhere. But unless we can program each ship to recognise the brainwaves of everyone connected to it, how will it know who to transport where? And that sort of programming is probably not practical, especially as you have people coming and going from the military."
I don't mention that with the SGC, it's mainly people coming in. Those 'going' are usually well gone. Six feet under if we can find the bodies.
"I think I see where you're going with this," Sam replies. "If there's a glider battle in progress, how would each ship be able to track its own people?"
"Exactly. If you're going to allocate the gliders to each ship, even if they're going to live on the ground, the ships will still need to know the pilots, especially in case of an emergency. For example, it's not going to be practical to put glider pilots in astronaut suits as they won't be able to get in the seats or operate the controls. And if they're in battle and one of the gliders is damaged, the pilot won't have long before he's 'spaced'."
John and I grimace as I say that and we all look at DJ, who pointedly looks at the pen he's playing with. It takes all of our strength not to just get up and hug him. That was too close.
"An Asgard ship," I continue, trying to forget that time, "could, if it was tracking each glider, transport the pilot back to the ship before any damage is done."
Unfortunately, Parker's still here. Resch has gone, thank God. Probably to complain to his masters, but we don't care about that. The President has heard our side of the story already and he's definitely coming down in our favour. The 'unfortunately Parker's still here' thing is now coming into play.
"You're speaking of over two hundred gliders!" he exclaims. "How would a ship track all of those at the same time?"
Ew. Sam and Frankie snort when they hear that and it's not a pretty sound.
"You're thinking like a primitive Tauri," Frankie replies scornfully. "Each ship has an Asgard computer. It could track all 1200 of the gliders and more if it needed to."
At Parker's foul look back at her, she shrugs. "If you were to put together all the computing power on this planet, it still wouldn't match that of an Asgard ship's computer. The Tollen were right. The Tauri really are primitive."
"Leaving that observation to one side," I say, hoping to get the subject back on track. "What are we going to do? I mean, we can't supply everyone with control bracelets."
"I think I have an idea," Sam says.
"Oh? Will you enlighten us?"
She glares at me. Okay, I admit, I sounded sarcastic. I try smiling in apology. I can only assume it works because she does. Enlighten us, that is.
"Dog tags?" She's done it again. And I thought Daniel went off on tangents.
"We brought six different types of metal here, not including the bars of neutronium we kept back. There are going to be six groups, if you include Prometheus as a separate one. So, if we make new alloys, for example, neutronium and gold, neutronium and silver and so on, and allocate each alloy to one ship, it could use the neutronium to pinpoint the group of people connected with the project and the alloy to pinpoint the specific crews."
"That's all well and good, Sam," Daniel argues, "but if each ship, not including Prometheus, has al'kesh crews and glider crews to take care of, how will they know who's who and to be transferred where?"
"The al'keshes will have their own transporters, but I see what you're saying. Okay, if the ha'tak crews' alloy is 50:50, the al'kesh crews' will be 25:75 and the glider crews' alloy will be 75:25. The computer could find, sort out the crews and transport them all within a blink. The scanners on each ship are so powerful that they could detect even the slightest amount of neutronium."
"Why neutronium?" Hammond asks.
"Because there isn't any on the planet. It could only be part of the project. And if it's not, we'd need to know why there was neutronium here in the first place."
"Why dog tags?" DJ asks.
"Because all military personnel have to wear them all the time. If we made pins they could more easily get lost, or if the crews were away from base, people might notice them and start to ask awkward questions. Nobody sees the dog tags, partly because they're hidden but mainly because you know they're going to be there, there's nothing unusual about them."
"They'd look a bit different from the normal dog tags," I point out. "And if we're thinking that these people will be home on leave, there could be husbands and wives or kids who'd see them."
"We can always coat them in tin, so that they look like ordinary dog tags. Whatever, it doesn't matter. As long as the computers know what they're made of, it won't be a problem."
"Very well," George says. "I'll get someone to look into making them like this. Given the nature of them, it would probably be better to have the machines that are used to stamp them out supplied to us, and for us to create our own alloys. We wouldn't want any awkward questions about unknown metals after all.
"In the meantime, how are we going to get our main crews up to the ships if we don't have the sort of controls you have?"
"Use Prometheus' transporters to get the first crews up," I suggest. "Then make sure you keep a permanent crew on board. They can beam up the next shift before being beamed down. Once you have someone on board, it's simple. Prometheus lives on the ground, so you'll always have access that way."
"Don't forget, the ships will have Goa'uld rings on them, too. If you're going to have rings at the base, you're going to need to be able to operate them. The Tok'ra are in a particularly good collective mood at the moment," Daniel puts in, "so now would be a good time to ask them to help there, too. If you can at least get hold of a few ring controllers, you'll be able to put people on each ship when you need to without launching Prometheus."
Our discussion is abruptly halted when Thor appears at the head of the table in his chair. Parker is most shocked, but we all greet him as if we were expecting him.
"I have brought another ship for you," he states.
"That's great. How many's that so far?" O'Neill asks.
"That will be three, Jack. Forgotten how to count?" Daniel teases. I believe that O'Neill has kicked him in return.
"Thank you, Thor. We very much appreciate your assistance in this matter," Hammond states.
"Ya know, we're going to have to name them," O'Neill interrupts.
"Why?" Samantha asks.
"Because how else will the crews know whose ship is what? I mean, the Navy name their ships, don't they? If they didn't, their sailors could all end up on the wrong ships."
"You have a point," Hammond concedes. "Any ideas?"
Daniel is smiling.
"Well, the first one should be the Enterprise."
We find that amusing, although Thor does not understand why.
"Why is that, Daniel?" O'Neill asks, trying not to laugh.
"Wasn't it the name of one of the earliest purpose-built aircraft carriers? And I'm sure it has a long history as a name. It won't be the USS Enterprise, it would have to have different initials. Um... The UES," he says. "The United Earth Spaceship Enterprise. Got a good ring to it, wouldn't you say?"
Even General Hammond is finding this amusing. Daniel has an historical point, but I do believe that it is mischief which has made him suggest it.
"Sounds good," O'Neill states.
"If you could leave the naming ceremony until later," Thor says, "I am in need of your assistance with the Replicator problem."
"Oh? What's up?" DJ asks, also struggling with keeping a straight face. I feel that my friends are in a silly mood.
"I have a plan to destroy them, but it needs refining. Your input would be gratefully received."
We all look at each other and nod.
"You want us to bring our ship?" O'Neill asks.
"That may prove useful."
"Okay. We'll be with you in a moment."
Before anything else is said, Thor bids Hammond goodbye and disappears. Daniel starts to chuckle and his laugh soon gets louder, as do the laughs of my friends.
"Well, we'll be back later," O'Neill says to Hammond. He touches his bracelet and says the inevitable.
"Beam us up, Gimli."
Thor has indicated that we should make our way to where the Replicators were discovered. As we start to move, I see John staring out of the window at Earth.
"We shall return soon," I say. Perhaps he is still longing to see his family.
"We shall return soon."
"You were not anxious about leaving Earth?"
"Then why were you staring out of the screen?"
"Oh that? Nothing."
"John, don't you lie," DJ interrupts. "Teal'c's right, you were staring. Is something wrong?"
I did not believe it was possible for an android to blush, but apparently, I was incorrect in my assumption.
"Could you say that a little slower?" Samantha asks.
"I was trying to tune into ESPN." At our looks of disbelief, he elaborates. "Look, they say that all of the TV signals leave Earth, don't they? Some say that I Love Lucy is being watched by aliens. And they're not even the reruns. I was just wondering if I could catch some hockey, that's all."
"How?" Daniel asks.
"You know, the radio thing," he replies, tapping his head. "I figured that all sound waves must be within a certain range or else human ears couldn't hear them. So by fiddling with my internal radio, I was hoping to either hear the commentary or maybe even see the images in my head."
"Did you get anything?" O'Neill asks.
John does not look happy.
"So? What was it?" DJ pushes.
John puts his hands in his pockets and looks at his feet, then he scuffs one shoe against the other.
"John?" Frankie urges.
"Barney," John replies grumpily. "Now I've got that fucking tune going through my head."
He does not seem to like it when we all laugh.
He likes it even less when Daniel starts a 'discussion' about the various merits of alien civilisations tuning into Earth programmes about purple dinosaurs.
We've arrived at our prearranged co-ordinates and Thor's beamed us over to his ship. We're just outside the solar system where the Replicators are. Thor's scanned into the system and has confirmed that they're still there and growing in number by the minute. One of the moons around a rocky planet is full of raw neutronium, which is why they're there most likely.
"What's the plan?" Jack asks, and we wait for Thor to elaborate.
"Since you found Mjollnir, I have expanded the basic technology and incorporated it into my ship. It is still at the initial phase of development however."
"Have you tried using it on Replicators yet?"
"I have, O'Neill. Once, and somewhere other than here, as I did not wish to alert this group of my new tactic."
"Cool. What happened?"
"The blast wave did as I expected, and shattered the whole into the multitude of the parts. However, within a few moments, they seemed to recover and before long, they had coalesced back into their original formation."
"So you want us to figure out a way to stop them rejoining?" Sam asks.
"It would help."
Life would be easier for me if I didn't have that fucking 'Barney' song rattling through my head. Maybe then I'd be able to think of an idea. Trust John to want to...
Sam's called my name with that usual tone of 'huh?' that she has when I come out with a weird statement.
"Daniel, I don't think a guy in a purple dinosaur suit is going to be much use," Jack drawls.
"No, the radio waves. John's, er, little dilemma, shall we say, made me think about them. They have to connect somehow, otherwise how would they know where one block connects to another and how would they react to the universe around them? If we can interrupt that communication somehow, maybe we could stop them getting back together again?"
"Okay, I can see where you're going with that," Frankie says, "but how would we get rid of them when we'd accomplished it. Would the weapons work?"
"If the Replicators are spread widely, there could be no guarantee that all of the individuals would be destroyed," Thor sighs.
"So we need another element to this plan," Sam puts in. "Something foolproof. Something that not even the Replicators would be able to fight against."
We're all silent for a while as we try to come up with a plan but we don't seem to be getting anywhere. Sam asks Thor to bring up an image of the solar system and he does, projecting one of the holoimages onto a large space in the middle of the bridge. Sam's wandering up and down it, looking at the various planets, and then the sun.
"Oh no. No more blowing up suns," Jack says.
I agree. It's been done to death and besides, I'm not convinced it would work against the Replicators. The shock wave might just propel some of them out of the way. I know that the shock wave of an exploding star is so huge as to be literally beyond my imagination, but I'm not prepared to take any chances. If there are going to be any left, I don't want them to be able to leave this place.
"No, I wasn't going to suggest that," she replies. "But..." She points to the sun and says, "This is a very large star. There's no natural life in the whole solar system, so we can assume that conditions weren't favourable for it to start."
"Or it all died off," Jack answers. "I mean, given that there's a gate on one of the planets, it had to have at least looked like there was going to be a suitable place for colonisation or else the Ancients wouldn't have put it here in the first place."
"True. Now, how can we turn this to our advantage?"
"Not sure if we can. One thing's for sure, despite not being of a mind to blow up the sun, we're going to have to get rid of the moon with the neutronium on it. And the gate. Because if whatever we do to the Replicators doesn't kill them all off and leaves just one on the moon..."
I don't bother finishing as they're all finishing that statement off in their minds. It would slow them up, but that's it.
"I'm thinking that the jamming system has got to be our first priority," John states. "Trouble is, how do we know what the frequency is that they use? We'll only get one shot at this, I'm sure."
"We need to listen into their 'conversations'," Kar Shel states, probably a little obviously. "Thor, are your scanners that sensitive?"
"They are. But, because their size is so small and their output is not something normally detectable, we will need to get inside the system and closer to the Replicators than I would like. I am certain that they are aware that they have been discovered."
"Okay, we'll figure out a way to broadcast the jamming signal to them first, then when we've figured out what we're going to do, we get into the system, scan like crazy, program in the frequency and do what we're going to do."
"We should leave the jamming until after we've actually split them up, though," I point out. "Because when they're collectively together, they may well figure out what's going on fast enough for them to change the frequency."
Not that I know what I'm speaking about, but these buggers are devious, so I wouldn't say it wasn't possible.
"Right, so Sam, Frankie and anyone else that knows what they're doing, devise the jammer. I think that having one on both ships wouldn't be a bad idea," Jack says. "Just in case. Thor, can you blow up the moon?"
"Okay, so we're halfway there. All we need to do now is find a way of getting all the Replicators together without getting them together."
DJ's eyes seem to be glazing over. I'm about to tell him that it's not that bad, that they'll come up with a way to do that when I realise that he's staring at the image of the sun.
"Careful. You know they say staring at a sun will hurt your eyes."
He shakes his head and looks at me as if I've cracked. Sheesh. And I thought he knew me well. That happened years ago.
"Yes. It's the sun."
"We use the sun."
"DJ, we already decided that blowing up the sun probably wouldn't work."
"No. Not that. Gravity."
He's got Sam's attention by saying the magic word. 'Please' doesn't hold water with her, but speak 'astrophysicseeze' and she's anyone's.
"We use the gravity of the sun. Thor. Can our ship's engines and shields withstand both this sun's gravity and the radiation if we were to get really close to it?"
"They can. You could stay just inside the corona for up to a day in Earth terms."
"That's fourteen hours more than a Goa'uld ship can stay," Sam says in awe.
"Sam, that doesn't mean you can go play with stars," Jack warns. She gives him the finger in return.
"So we get them to chase us," he says.
"Think about it. Thor stays outside the solar system. We enter it. We give them something to chase. I don't know, I'm sure you'll think of something," he says, looking at the ladies. "Then we head towards the sun. Now, when they're cohesive and forming a ship, I'm sure they'll have the engine and the shields to protect themselves the way we can, so they'll follow us."
"That is most likely," Teal'c confirms. "They have no fear."
"Right. Well, when we get real close, Thor comes in, whams them with the Hammer, they split up, we jam their communication and with no shields and no engines, they'll fall into the sun because of the gravity. Sam said it's a big sun, the pull of the gravity must be considerable."
"It is," she replies. "We wouldn't have to be too close for things to be pulled into it, but the closer they are to it, the faster they'll be pulled in to the point where they melt. That won't even have to be too close if we can keep them separated. If they join up together again, they might build shields to protect themselves from the heat."
"So the closer to the sun we can get before they're separated, the better," I say. "Just in case the jammer doesn't work."
We all look at Thor.
"Well?" Jack asks. "Whatd'ya think?"
With a straight face, Thor replies. "I do believe that you have come up with yet another dumb idea. This could well work."
Thor is helping Frankie and me with the jamming device. We have to broadcast 'loud'. Loud is a relative term. It has to be extremely powerful. It also has to be able to broadcast powerfully irrespective of the frequency and not allow the sun's natural noise to interfere with it. Much easier said than done.
"Wait a minute, if we can broadcast at all possible frequencies at the same time, we won't have to take the chance on scanning them."
Thor looks at me and blinks. Then he states the obvious.
"We are only assuming that they do communicate using radio waves. There are other means of communication and there is also the possibility that there is another method of communication with which we are not familiar."
We have to concede the truth of that statement. After all, we're not broadcasting with radio waves per se when we're speaking telepathically. Although electrical impulses undoubtedly have a part to play in the process. Hang on...
"Thor, how does Gimli know what we're thinking?"
"Is that relevant?" Frankie asks.
"Yes. Think about it. You guys communicate with your internal radios. We do it by thinking. Gimli's reacting to our thoughts."
"You have already bonded with your ship?" Thor asks in surprise.
"Daniel did it first and he told us we could do it, then we did it. It was pretty easy. I mean, we're only just starting out down this road, we don't know how long it is or how far we'll go, but when Daniel called out to Gimli to transport him, and without him touching his comms button, he was transported back to the ship."
"That is unusually fast," Thor states. "I suspected there was a possibility of it happening, but I did not say anything because there was also a possibility that it would not work. I did not wish to disappoint you if that was the case."
"That's okay. But how does she know what we're thinking? Could the Replicators communicate in the same way?"
"That is a possibility, but it is a very remote one. The ship detects your psionic waves. These waves are not detectable except by someone or something which is attuned to you precisely. Your ship is so attuned to you all. Except for MIB. Their connection is more conventional."
"Radio waves," Frankie says.
"Something very similar."
I hate it when these aliens go all superior on us.
"Can we include psionic frequencies in the jamming systems?" I ask.
Thor walks to a computer console and presses some runes. We wait in silence until he finally says, "I believe that we can. It could take some time to accomplish, however."
I'm not sure how much time we've got, but we're going to have to do it. There's a possibility, no matter how remote, that it could be the answer. It's a case of covering all our bases at once.
"It could be easier if one ship uses radio and the other ship uses psionic jammers," he puts in. "And it would be much quicker to accomplish."
"Okay, so we'll do that. Tell us what we have to do."
So he does.
Sam? How's it going?
We're getting there, Daniel. Frankie and I have nearly finished creating the radio jammer on Gimli. Thor's doing his thing with the psionic wave jammer on his ship. Hopefully, we'll be ready soon.
Because we're watching the scans of the Replicators. They seem to be leaving the moon.
Oh? What are they doing?
Forming one very, very large ship.
Okay. We'll work faster. Let Thor know what's going on, will you?
I pass the message onto Frankie and see her respond. Her hands move so fast that I can barely see them. We should be ready in a couple of minutes. I hope.
Okay, we've got the word that all's ready. Of course, we can't test anything out because we don't want to alert the Replicators. According to the scanners, they're nearly all off the moon. I'm thinking we'd better wait until they are, unless they've decided to leave a few behind to restart the process. If we don't spot any more moving soon, we'll go in.
Thor's adjusted something on our ship to make it look like we're carrying something extremely interesting. I have no idea what it is, some weapon or other. We don't have it, but the Replicators won't know that. The hope is that they'll follow us so that they can catch us and board us. At least the hope is that they follow us. I don't like the 'catching and boarding' bit of that idea.
"It's hard to tell, but I think that all the Replicators are off the moon," DJ calls out. "There's too much interference from the neutronium in the moon to be absolutely sure."
"That'll have to do. Hopefully Thor will be able to deal with any that are left on it when he disintegrates it."
Now all we have to do is disintegrate them before they do it to us.
We're creeping into the solar system. We're having to make it look like we don't want to be seen, so we're cloaked. However, we're leaving just enough clues so that they'll spot us. Thor's waiting on the edge of the system. He will be with us as soon as he can. All we need to do is whistle. Or something.
Frankie and Sam are scanning like crazy, both to see what these creatures are doing and to see what frequency they're communicating on. Or frequencies. They said that the jammer we have will be less powerful if it has to broadcast on all frequencies and if they can pinpoint a single one, or a short band of frequencies, then it will be more effective.
So far, not so good.
Maybe their idea that the Replicators communicate with brainwaves or whatever they are is the case. If that's true, we're going to be relying on Thor for a hell of a lot. I just hope the little guy is up to it.
We're approaching the moon. More to the point, we're approaching the ship. It's powering up its engines.
"Any sign that we've been spotted?" I ask.
"Okay, we need to get their attention. Any ideas?"
"You mean you want to buzz them?" Sam asks.
"Yeah. Whatever happens, they've got to follow us to the sun."
The big downside of them being near this moon is that they're billions of miles away from the actual sun. The moon is about three quarters of the way out of the damned solar system.
"I've allowed an electrical pulse to escape," she says.
"That's got their attention," Daniel calls.
"Okay, now hint at what we've got on board. Supposedly."
Sam allows a faint broadcast out. Not a vocal one, it's just some signal or other which contains interesting physics shit.
"That's definitely got their attention," Daniel says. "Guys, we'd better move it."
The ship's heading our way. We power up the engines a bit more and run for the sun.
"Are they following?"
"Yes. Let out another pulse to let them know where we're going."
We don't dare decloak. If we do, they might think it's a trap. Which it is. We need them to think that we don't want to be discovered.
"Let out pulses at regular intervals," I order. "So's it looks like it's a malfunction or just something connected to the 'machine' they're interested in."
"Done," Frankie confirms. "There'll be a regular pulse going out automatically."
"How long before we near the sun?"
"Three minutes and twenty seconds. That's when we'll need Thor here."
"How long will it take him to reach us?"
"From his position, about five. If he's watching us as closely as we think he's watching us, he's probably already left and is following us. He'll have to keep well out of the Replicators' range, though."
"So we might need to hide out for a few minutes? Great." I stare out of the view screen and say, "Head straight for the sun's corona. You can decloak when we get there. Make it look like we've had a malfunction."
"But they'll head straight for us!"
"That's the idea."
"Not until Thor's here!"
"Ever heard of evasive manoeuvres?"
"Of course, but..."
I put my hand up and she stops talking. I know what we're up against and I have no intention of letting any of the metal menaces get anywhere near us.
Gimli. I don't know if you understand me but I'm going to need you to respond to me so fast, no one's going to know I'm giving orders.
Okay, I feel a bit of an idiot speaking to the ship like this, but if Daniel's idea is true, then maybe we'll have the edge we need. The Replicators don't need to communicate with their ship, they are their ship. We need to cut down the time between us thinking of a manoeuvre and it happening, no matter how quick that is. I'll be operating the controls of the ship but I'm going to deliberately think about what I'm doing as I do it. I'm really, really hoping that by the end of it, our baby's going to know what I'm thinking and will do it herself.
"Thirty seconds," Daniel says.
"Shields are at maximum. That should stop the Replicators beaming on board."
"We're at the edge of the corona."
"Leave it five seconds and decloak."
"Done. They're heading right for us."
"Okay. Hold on!"
I watch the scanner screen as their ship comes close. I wait until they're close enough then push the engines so that we literally leapfrog 'over' them and head off the way we came, without leaving the protection of the sun. The radiation from the sun is interfering with the scans, especially as we get further into it, so I pull out a little.
"One minute until Thor is due," Daniel says. "Get ready to leave the corona."
I turn back and fly right at them, pulling to the side at the last minute and heading just outside the sun's edge. As predicted, they're following us.
"Where is he?"
There's no sign of Thor!
"He'll be here," Daniel soothes as O'Neill turns us one way then another.
"Yeah? Well, he'd better get here soon! You did send the signal, didn't you?"
"Yes! Just before we entered the corona, just as we planned. Now will you calm down?"
"Not until I've seen Thor!"
We have to get away from the Replicators' ship as soon as we see him. Although the new weapon's range can been narrowed to point at whatever is the target, there is the possibility that we will be hit by individual Replicator pieces and that one or more might stick to our hull. We cannot take that chance.
We come to a halt. As predicted, the Replicators do the same, near to us. We look like we are dead in the water, even though we have not been damaged by any of their hits. We wait for Thor to give us the signal and when we hear it, O'Neill slams his hand on one of the controls and the ship speeds up and away from our position. Two seconds later, we stop and see the effect of Thor's Hammer on the Replicators.
The magnitude of the weapon's strength is now apparent. The Replicators' ship was as large as ours. It is now in many millions of individual pieces.
"Jammers on full!" Samantha calls out.
We watch in anticipation. The blast wave had pushed all of the individual Replicators towards the sun. We were on the edge of it anyway. They have all fallen inside the corona. If they can find each other, even if a few can find each other and create a shield against the heat, there is the possibility that some may survive.
"Thor. How's the jamming going, buddy?"
"It would seem to be working, O'Neill. Scanners do not show any body larger than four Replicators in size joined together. It is possible that they have managed to find each other, but it is also possible that they did not separate to begin with."
"Keep watching," O'Neill instructs. "First sign of a single Replicator emerging, blast them again."
"My weapon is already fully charged," Thor replies, as if he had already decided to do just that.
"So now?" Daniel asks.
"Now, we wait," John states.
I fear we could be waiting for some time.
"Uh, guys? Did anyone double-check the moon for more Replicators?" DJ asks.
"Ah hell. Thor? Did you hear that?"
"I did, O'Neill. Should I leave the sun and explode the moon or should I wait here?"
"I'll be fucked if I know," O'Neill mutters. He says louder, "Go, do your thing with the moon. We'll watch the sun. If anything comes out we'll hit it with our weapons."
"I want to know, if Thor can make things disappear, can blow up moons and so on, why can't he make Replicators disappear?" DJ muses.
"Yeah, I want to know that too," Daniel agrees.
They look at the women who both shrug. "They're resilient little buggers," Samantha replies.
"Resilient. Right," Daniel says.
O'Neill moves right next to him and wraps his arms around Daniel's waist, but does not take his eye off the scans. The peltac falls silent as we keep watch.
We're on our way back to Earth. We waited an hour and decided that we can be 99.99% certain that none of the Replicators survived their fall into the sun. If any of them did, by some miracle, they won't have any neutronium to rebuild themselves. Thor said that the best they could manage within that solar system would be to make themselves with some iron. One of the 'rocky' bodies is apparently nearly 100% iron, and not just iron ore but the actual metal. Don't ask, I don't understand it either.
Anyway, if they were made out of iron, destroying them would be pretty easy. After all, before long, if they entered an atmosphere where there's water, they'd rust and seize up. Not to mention that without either more naquada or neutronium, they couldn't build a hyperspace engine, so they'd be stuck there.
Thor's taking back our plan of action to the Asgard High Council. He liked what we did and is sure that that will be a useful course of action against other groups of Replicators in future. Doesn't hurt to do good things for our little grey friends. I have a feeling we'll need their assistance against Hades soon, anyway. As Earth is part of the Protected Planets Treaty thing, they have to come to our assistance. But if they're up to their eyeballs in small metal bugs, that might not be possible.
And of course, it might not just be Earth that's a target. Whereas some planets like Cimmeria will be protected, others like the pleasure palace won't be. There are a lot of planets which are no longer under Goa'uld control, quite a few of which are ones we've had a hand in freeing. A lot of our friends could be targets and we just don't know it.
While we travel back, we're double-checking our ship for signs of any Replicator infestation. We don't think they got on board, but we can't be sure until we've looked over the ship with our own eyes. And ears for that matter.
Before we left the system, Thor confirmed that they use a particularly high radio frequency to communicate. So, we've got our internal scanners listening out for that frequency, and to be sure, a few different ones either side. So looking isn't really necessary, but it's giving us something to do. We've already checked out the most obvious target. The engine room. No sight nor sound there, so that's hopeful.
"We'll be there in five minutes."
I hear Sam's voice call from the bridge and decide that I've done enough searching. I'm feeling tired. Just wish I didn't have to walk up there.
"For what?" Sam asks.
"For beaming me up here. I was on the other side of the ship and..." I see by the look on her face that she has no idea what I'm talking about. "Er, thanks Gimli. Appreciate it."
Well, it doesn't hurt to be polite, I guess.
The others appear on the bridge moments later, looking as bewildered as Sam.
"Gimli did it," I say.
"Why?" Jack asks.
"Probably because I was feeling tired. At least in my case. Don't know about you guys."
"I guess she wants us all together," DJ shrugs.
There's no apparent other reason so we accept that. The chatter level is low as we enter the Sol system. Our eyes automatically go to the scans and it seems like a collective breath is let out when we see that the only ships in the system are ones that are supposed to be there.
"Time to get back," Jack mutters.
We beam directly to the briefing room. None of us want guns pointed at us. Nobody's in here at the moment, so we split up to look for George and anyone else we can find. I think we just need a few minutes on our own, to be honest. Having said that, I've gone to George's room.
"Daniel. I see you're back. Did the mission succeed?"
"Hi. Uh, yeah. As far as we can tell. We can't be 100% certain, of course, but whatever happens, it will take that bunch of Replicators out of the loop for quite some time."
"I'm glad to hear it, son."
Hang on, something's up.
"George? What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, Daniel. But someone is here to see you."
"Why don't you come with me?"
I follow him and find myself heading to one of the conference rooms upstairs. As we're going, the others join us, directed there by other personnel.
Any idea what's going on, Daniel? Jack asks.
None. Just that someone's here to see us.
Ah. I wonder who?
Haven't got a clue. Anyway, we'll find out soon enough. We're there.
George opens the door and walks in, holding the door open for us to enter. We all walk in and then we look around. Then it all becomes clear, especially when John calls out, "Ma?"